Closing the Cottage for Winter – A Checklist

Hi Cottagers! Thanks for coming to The Cottage Chronicles! It’s nice to see you. I have been concentrating on closing up the cottage in our previous posts, and by now, I am sure you have it pretty much done, but just in case….

I thought it might be worthwhile to throw in a short checklist you can use to make sure you have got everything done and your cottage is ready for the ravages of winter.

So here goes:

1) Shut the water off and drain the plumbing system. If you don’t know how to do that see our previous posts for more info.

2) Make sure all the windows are closed tight and locked. Remove the screens if possible, this will save them from the bad weather.

3) Throw a few mothballs around, in the attic, and even in the main cottage. This will help discourage critters from moving in while you are away.

4) Defrost the refridgerator and unplug it. Leave the door open a little, by hanging a dishtowel or rag over the top of the door. This will keep the refridgerator from taking on nasty closed up smells. An open box of baking soda placed inside the fridge will also help neutralize odors.

5) If dampness is common in your area, buy some anti-mildew boxes, that you can hang up around the cottage. These are inexpensive, little boxes of a powdery substance that does wonders to eliminate mildew. They are also great to use in your boat if you have fabric seats etc, and if it has a canvas or plastic roof.

6) Pack up all the food, including canned goods, and take it home. Use it, don’t save it for next year. Don’t leave any because it can freeze over the winter and also might attract animals.

7) Put the roto tiller through your vegetable garden, and add a little fertilizer, compost, or even some fall rye, which is similiar to grass, but grows in the cooler weather. Not only will it attract deer, it will also add nutrients to your garden when you till it under in the spring.

8) If you are storing gasoline over the winter, for the boat, lawn mower or anything else, make sure you put some gas stabilzer in not only your gas cans, but also your machinery gas tanks. It is a good idea to start the motor and let the gas and stabilzer run through the system. It will keep the carb from gumming up over the winter and result in an easier time starting the engine in the spring.

9)Double check that your boats are all away from the water, possible falling trees, and direct sunlight. Make sure all the locks on the boats are locked and lightly oiled. If you have outboard motors, drain the water out of them, and even better, take them home and store them in your warm basement. They will be less likely to be stolen, and if there is any water left inside, it is not likely to freeze.

10)Gather up all your yard tools, shovels, boards and other items left laying around and put them away, either inside or under your cottage. This will take away the temptation for someone to throw an old board through your window, or use a tool to break into your cottage.

11) Tell your neighbors, (particularly any that live nearby year round) you are finished for the year, and ask them to keep an eye on the place. Make sure they have your phone number at home in case they need to reach you.

12) If you are not planning to keep the place heated, and don’t have an alarm system or any such thing that needs power, shut the power off at the main switch box. Unplug all your televisions, radios and lamps.

13) Mow your lawn and either rake the leaves for the compost, or mulch them and leave them on the grass. It’s also a good time for a little fall fertilizer or lime, spread on the lawn.

14) Inspect the roof and replace and missing or broken shingles. Check the caulking around the chimney flashing. if you have a chimney that needs a screen over the top to keep out the animals, inspect and replace it if necessary. Be careful, don’t fall off the roof….When you are finished on the roof, put the ladder away, remember the goal is to not leave anything around that thieves can use to break in to your cottage. A handy ladder might help them reach a window…

15) Make sure your wharves and boat skids are all pulled up beyond the highest water mark, and for confidence, tie them to a nearby tree.

16) Close all the window blinds and curtains, and if you have any windows without blinds or curtains, put a sheet or a piece of cardboard etc, over the windows to keep prying eyes out. People don’t usually try to steal what they cannot see. By the way, if you are leaving anything of value at the cottage, (and I don’t recommend you do) like outboard motors or expnsive fishing rods etc, make sure you hide them. You might be glad you did.

17) Have one last walk around the place before you leave and look for anything left out, or windows not properly closed and locked.

18) Make a list of any repairs, or supplies you might need for the spring, and take it home with you.

19) Lay the makings of a fire in the woodstove, so if you come down in the cold winter, it is all set to light quickly. If you do’t get back until the spring, it will be already to go.

20)Thank your God you have a cottage, reflect for a minute or two on the happy moments it has brought you, and the ones to come.

There you go. That wasn’t too hard, and it will pay off in the spring, when you arrive back for another season at the cottage.

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2 thoughts on “Closing the Cottage for Winter – A Checklist”

  1. As a widow learning how to do this on my own at my husband's dream cottage, your site is so helpful. I now need to buy antifreeze and mothballs and figure out the draining… thank you. Sharon