Cottage Closing Time Is Fast Approaching! Are You Ready?

Cottage on lake with colourful trees

Some Helpful Tips At Cottage Closing Time

With the last long weekend of Summer officially over, the Labour Day blues might be setting in. Back to school, back to a rigid schedule and back to the reality of a cold Canadian winter around the corner.  Most cottages that aren't winterized (three season) traditionally get closed during the Thanksgiving Day long weekend, which falls on October 8th to 10th this year.  Although it would be nice to wash up the turkey platter and drive home until next season, there's a lot more to it.  There are some things you need to take care of in order to ensure that your cottage is not only protected today, but that it will be ready for you to enjoy next Spring when the promise of nice weather returns once again. Below is a guideline to help you with your own cottage closing checklist.

Take Care Of The Outside Of The Cottage

Winterizing the outside of the cottage doesn't have to be an overwhelming task. Follow these tips to ensure a welcoming and hassle-free opening in the Spring:

  • Take care of the windows – Board up the gazebo and any screen windows that you might have on the cottage, guest house or bunkie. This task is important because you don't want any uninvited animals to break in while you're away, making the cleanup in the spring all the more daunting.
  • Prepare the canoes, kayaks and other toys – If you have any canoes, kayaks or paddle boards and you want to make sure that they're there to greet you next year, you'll want to stack them on either a sawhorse or a rack that's a good distance away from the lake or the road. The key is to make sure they're not visible to a passersby that might like to have them for their own. It's always a good idea to chain them together with a sturdy, bolt cutter proof lock.
  • Stow away the picnic table – If there's room inside your cottage, store it in there. This helps to preserve the wood from harsh conditions, promising years of use, and it can also double as a solid surface to stow boxes on during the winter. If it won't fit through the door, protecting it with a tied down tarp should help do the trick.
  • Take care of the barbecue and propane tank – One of the best aspects of cottage life is the enjoyment of cooking and eating outside. However, many people neglect to properly clean their barbecues, making for quite a messy chore before firing it up on the May 24 long weekend. You need to clean it thoroughly, and then disconnect the propane tank and separate it from the grill itself. Take them both and stow them away in a secure, protected area, if possible.
  • Tools – If you spend a lot of time at the cottage, you probably have quite a few tools for random repairs and impromptu projects. Take some time at the end of the season to clean them and store them in a locked shed. Tools are expensive and add up quickly, so you want to protect them as you would any other investment.
  • Inspect your roof – The winter can be harsh on a cottage, and you won't be there to look after it. Make time at the end of the season to do an inspection of the roof. If you notice any damaged shingles that need replacing, go ahead and do so. You'll want to clean out the gutters to allow for melted snow to properly drain once spring rolls around. Finally, take a few moments to trim any tree branches that might be nearby and risk dumping even more snow and ice onto the roof over the the winter.
  • What lurks under the cabin – You want to take care of any garbage that you might have stored under there. Take it to the local dump. This will help improve the air and water flow to your cottage and discourage homes that little animals might like to make during the winter. You might want to spread mothballs underneath  to help keep mice and other animals from trying to get inside your cottage, as well.

How to Close Your Cottage From The Inside

You don't want to neglect the inside of your cottage. Here are some things to think about:

  • The wood stove – You want to make sure you clean the stove completely. Close the damper vent and inspect the chimneystack. You want to look for any rust or tar buildup that might have accumulated over the spring and summer. Look at the gasket and seal and repair or replace, if needed. It's a good idea to oil the hinges, levers, and other moving parts of the stove, as well. This will get it ready for next spring and allow you to cook from the very first weekend.
  • Look at the refrigerator and freezer – You definitely don't want to neglect these two appliances. Take out all remaining food. Properly dispose of any that you won't be using and take home what you can. Disinfect both appliances and wipe them clean. In order to take away any odours, consider place an open box of baking soda inside. 
  • Bed and Furniture – Cover all mattresses in the cottage with plastic sheets. Cover up any chairs or sofas with plastic sheets as well, as this will help to keep the mice away. It's also a good idea to place some sheets of fabric softener in the drawers and closets to help keep them fresh smelling.

Following this cottage closing checklist will go a long way towards making your Spring opening a lot easier!