Threats to Your Cottage in the off-season

Many seasonal cottagers have already closed up for the season. Some may have concerns about their property “back at the lake” during the fall & winter.

Here is a consideration: For your peace of mind & for insurance reasons, have someone in your immediate cottage area check your property on a regular schedule & report back to you. Some insurance companies may not want to pay for any claim on a cottage property that is not checked every couple of weeks.

Here are a few off season threats.

  • Frozen Plumbing: Take extra time to completely drain every water line. Be sure every tap has been turned completely open to avoid any air locks. Pour plumbers prestone in every goose neck (a little extra for good measure). The toilet tank “in-line” may need to be loosened then tightened due to a possible vacuum in the line. Clothes washers & dish washers also need special attention, in the machine itself & in the machine drain system. Check to insure your hot & cold water lines have continuous gravity drain. Check your hot water tank & water source pressure tank to insure complete drainage.
  • Exploding jars of food:  If you are not heating your cottage during cold weather, check & double check to be sure every canned & jarred food item is taken home. Freezing & thawing may cause cans & jars to expand, break or explode, a mess you do not want during opening in the spring. Also, remove all items that could attract rodents to squeeze their way through minute openings and take up residence in your cottage over the winter.
  • Break-ins: This is a big concern for many. Break-and-enters top the list for wintertime threats to your cottage. Take valuables home, never leave alcohol at the cottage and come up with ways to “crime-proof” your property. Create a cottage buddy system or neighbourhood watch so that would be criminals are aware your property is being watched. People are not the only creature to break into your cottage. Racoons just love breaking into a cottage & taking up residence for the winter. If you have a fireplace be sure the flue is completely closed. For mice, be sure to get every crumb cleaned away, including your toaster & oven. Set several mouse traps even if you feel your property is mouse free.
  • Rooftop ice damming:  Check your roof (shingles, steel, tile or what-ever) & eaves trough to be sure they are in excellent condition to protect your cottage from a heavy snow load & possible ice too. Late winter freezing & thawing can create a large ice dam build-up, leading to leaks, structural & cosmetic damage. You may consider hiring a local individual to roof-rack for you, as needed.
  • Slip & Slides: If you ask someone to check your cottage or rack your roof, review all possible slip & fall hazards. If an individual is injured do to your neglect, you could be held liable for failing to maintain a safe area.
  • Wind Damage:  Once again, have someone check your cottage after high wind periods during the winter for any damage to the roof or windows, and report back to you immediately.