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Tips on Closing the Cottage

The days are getting colder and shorter and nature is preparing to hibernate for the winter. This is also a time for some to prepare to close up the cottage. There is no better way to celebrate another great summer at the cottage than to close things up on the Thanksgiving weekend.

For most, the closing of the cottage is an arduous, objectionable, yet absolutely necessary season’s end chore (or list of chores). It just seems to lack the excitement and expectations of the spring opening. Although opinions on how to do this vary, everyone agrees, it is a must in protecting your cottage investment over the winter months.


  • Close up the kitchen. Packing up all of the food is the safest choice of action here. Liquids in glass bottles do not store well over the winter months as the contents freeze, expand and can break the glass. It is advised to pack all canned goods also and take them home. Dry goods can be stored in glass jars or tins, but not in any plastic containers as these are not critter proof.  Best bet is to take it all home and start fresh in the spring.
  • Wash, defrost and unplug the refrigerator. When it is completely dry, prop open the door (a piece of firewood works well) to allow dry air to circulate.
  • Pack up extra clothes and laundry in every room. Strip the linens from the beds, wash them, dry them completely and store in a cool dry place – a cedar chest is ideal. Cover the beds with newspapers or old linens. Or, to keep rodents off of the beds, stand mattresses up against the walls.
  • Drain the plumbing. Drain absolutely everything including the hot water tank, washing machine, toilet and dishwasher if you have one. Shut off the main water valve and any water supply valves. Put antifreeze in anything that can’t be drained (i.e. the toilet trap).
  • Shut off the electricity. Shut off the branch circuit breakers first before you shut off the main switch. If you have a fuse panel, unplug or switch off all appliances before you switch off the main power.
  • If you have a sump pump, check to make sure it is working properly. Over half of home insurance claims paid out in Canada in 2013 were related to water damage.
  • Clean up the fireplace and/or woodstove. Close the chimney damper or block the stove pipes, clean up all of the ashes, then sweep and vacuum up the floor. Finish by filling the wood box; it will be cold when you arrive next spring and you will want to start the fire first thing.


  • Disconnect the propane tank from the BBQ and store it in an appropriate place out of direct sunlight. Your BBQ manual will have specific details for your tank. Just remember to handle with care.
  • Check for overhanging branches. Trim all of those are hanging over the cottage and a concern. Inspect the roof and clean out the eaves troughs.
  • If you have a screened porch, sweep and/or vacuum the floor. Put away any rugs, and store all porch furniture inside the cottage.
  • Bring in the garden and any outdoor things. The safest measure here is to bring it all in. The chairs, planters, garden tools, hose, BBQ (without the tank) and all of the water toys are safer stored inside for the winter. Secure trap doors, shed doors and any other openings.

When all of this is done and the car is loaded, back out of the cottage closing up and locking all of the windows and doors. Whew, now you are ready for a long winter break, rest assured that things will be ready to go come spring.

This is a basic list; feel free to reply with things you routinely do at the close of your cottage season. Call us at 1-800-361-0941 to share your cottage closing tips.




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