Closing up the Cottage for the Season

October 19th 2010
Closing up the Cottage for the Season

What to do for the off-season: Some say cabin others say cottage; whatever you term your getaway home, the question remains: What to do when closing up for the fall or winter season.

Depending on the type of property you have there are specific tasks to keep in mind before heading home:

Here is a brief description of the different types of vacation homes:

Recreation Property - In a subdivision on a mountain ski resort or beach area with full services and conveniences.

Cottage - Recreational property on a beach with electricity and water.

Cabin - In the Toolies, on a lake, no power, no services, no conveniences. Bathroom complete with a moon door.

Recreation Property:

Water System

- Shut off water system by turning off pump or shutting the valve if on city water.
- Drain the pressure tank.
- Open all faucets.
- Break a union close to the valve so water will drain out clear to shut-off valve.
- Drain pump and run a few seconds to be sure all water is out of lines from the pump.
- To stop sewer gas, flush toilets and dip water out of flush tank and bowl, stuff plastic bags full of insulation into bowl.
- Drain flexible spray hoses in showers and sinks.
- Drain water heaters.

Sewage System

- Force as much water out of traps as possible with a plunger (Kitchen sinks, bathroom drains, floor drains and sump pump)
- Add antifreeze to trap.

Heating System

- Electric heating systems require no maintenance other than shutting the power at electrical panel.
- Turn off burner emergency switch.
- If electric heat, install low-heat thermostats. By doing this, your home could be maintained at about 5 C without a freeze-up, rather than 13 C, which is the lowest temperature most thermostats can be set.


- Washer: Shut off water supply line and drain water from drain hoses.
- Dishwashers: Remove inlet and outlet connection to valve. Operate valve to remove any water. Remove drain hose from pump and drain.

Stored items

- Remove food or containers that contain liquid that can freeze.
- Put non-perishable food items in sealed plastic containers.

Keep pests out

- Cover Chimneys tightly to keep out raccoons, rodents and birds. (Note: Leave note that this was done previously)
- Cover any entry points in the foundation or eaves where squirrels, mice or other small animals can enter.


- Apply window shutters, which can be easily removed.
- Drain all water lines back to entry system (pump and pressure system). Drain any storage tanks including hot water heaters.
- Leave all water faucets in open position so they drain back.
- Empty toilet tanks but leave water supply on. Sponge out bowl and stuff with insulation in a plastic bag to prevent sewer or septic odor.
- Shut power off at main panel box and propane off at tank.
- Lock doors and other out buildings with exterior padlocks.
- Keeps all access under cottage skirted/covered to keep out animals and rodents.


- Leave all non-perishable food items in sealed plastic containers.
- Store some water in plastic bottles, 3/4 full to prevent freezing and cracking. Twelve one-litre bottles would be advised.
- Leave wooden matches in waterproof containers.
- Keep warm clothing and blankets stored in plastic containers with lids.
- Do not lock your doors in the event someone shows up in the backcountry lost, cold and hungry. Believe me, they will leave you a note of gratification.

It's Just That Easy!