Tips to Close Up the Cottage

August 23rd 2006
Tips to Close Up the Cottage

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. Perhaps, the summer if you happen to be a snowbird with property down South.

I will address the question in a generic fashion, but 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.

  • Appliances
  • - 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 - 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!