Top tips for closing up your cottage for another year

The long, lazy days of summer are almost over and that means it’s time to start thinking about closing up your cottage for the winter.

As summer starts to wind down some of you will be thinking about closing up your cottages for the winter. Other than the obvious chores, like getting rid of any food in the fridge and storing away outdoor furniture, there are other maintenance items you should take care of before calling it a season. Here are some things that should be on your checklist:

Wrap pipes

A winterized cottage will have a reliable heat source and insulation—as well as a vapour barrier to stop condensation from forming inside walls. Because it’s winterized you don’t have to worry about the pipes freezing as much, but if any pipes do pass through a cold zone, such as a crawlspace, garage or along an non-insulated wall, make sure they are properly wrapped with foam.

A non-winterized cottage will not be insulated, so the pipes can definitely freeze. Wrapping your pipes with foam is a good precaution, especially if you plan on visiting the cottage over the winter, or at the beginning of spring.

Shut off the water

Make sure you shut off the main water supply and drain all the pipes before you go. After shutting off the water, turn on one of the faucets to make sure no water is left in the pipes, otherwise it can freeze and cause a pipe to burst.

Turn the heating off, or down

Cottages across the country can have various heat sources. Depending on the system you have – make sure you turn it off safely and properly. And always turn off the gas before leaving.

If your cottage has a furnace you can either shut it off completely, so you’re not wasting energy, or you can set it to the lowest temperature – around 10 degrees Celsius – to help minimize frost build-up in your cottage over winter. If you have a water heater shut it off too. And if your cottage has space heaters turn off the power supply on the main panel.


Unplug all major appliances. Some people might shut off the power to their cottage completely at the fuse box, but if your cottage has a sump pump it will eventually stop working too, which can lead to flooding. Exterior lighting and security systems won’t work either, so you might be better off unplugging individual appliances and/or turning off the power supply to these appliances at the electrical panel.

Septic tank checkup

Most cottages have a septic tank for sewage. Your septic tank should be on a service schedule. Typically, it should be serviced every five to eight years, in some cases every three to five years, depending on usage. If your septic tank is due for a checkup, get that done before winter so that it’s ready for next year.

Check the exterior

Walk around the exterior of your cottage and check for any openings critters can get in through. If there’s a chimney make sure it has a chimney cap or cover on it so critters can’t get in.

We also recommend checking the roof. Some cottages are in areas that get a lot of snow over the winter. And too much snow can cause roofs to buckle or cave in. Save yourself some grief by ensuring your roof is in good shape, otherwise there could be significant damage the next time you see it.

Keep the sump pump going

If there’s a power outage over the winter, the sump pump could stop working and that could lead to flooding in the basement. That’s why many sump pumps have a battery backup. Other models have a wireless alarm, which will notify you if the pump stops working.

Another option is having a generator backup for your sump pump. The generator can be hooked up to your electrical panel — you’ll need a licensed electrical contractor to do that — so if the power goes out it kicks in.

Clean the gutters

Clogged gutters can cause water to back up underneath shingles and get into the roof structure below. It could also lead to ice damming, which can damage the roof as well. It’s a good idea to wait until all the leaves fall to clean out the gutters to ensure they’re clear for winter.

Closing up the cottage properly before winter is key to making it last. Richlawn has been providing property maintenance services for 30 years. Let us help you with your fall lawn care maintenance. Contact us today to inquire about our fall lawn care maintenance programs.