The leaves are turning to beautiful reds, oranges and yellow and there is a cool crispness to the air. As memories linger of how fantastic the summer was, we start to think about preparing the cabin for the weather to come. With that comes snugging-up the house for the cold, wind, rain and snow. If you have a summer camp or cottage, it means putting in a little extra work before saying goodbye until next year. Let’s be honest – if you are a true New-Englander, you will typically wait to winterize your summer home until the leaves have fallen and the weather person has been talking about the threat of the first real freeze.
You will want to start with a thorough look around the property for any roof damage in need of repair or small openings that will need to be filled and caulked to prevent any critters from moving in for the winter. You will also want to schedule your chimney to be cleaned and inspected if you have one so that it is good to go in the spring. Once that is done be sure to close the dampers and have a chimney cap installed if you don’t have one already. This will help prevent water intrusion as well as keep debris and critters out of the chimney.
You will want to clean and put away your outdoor furniture, your lawn mower/equipment, emptied flower pots and deflated water toys and if you happen to be on the water and have a swim dock, bring that to shore. Clean your gutters out so that they can perform as intended while you are away. Once done with all your outdoor water needs, be sure to drain and remove hoses and put those away for the winter as well.
If you are planning to leave any linens for the winter, be sure to have them stored inside plastic totes with either moth balls or dryer sheets to discourage mice from trying to access them for nesting material. As for food, bring it all home with you for the winter. You want to be sure that there is nothing left (food or otherwise) that could potentially freeze or explode. The fridge should be completely cleared and cleaned out, unplugged and door left propped open. Clean and unplug all the other appliances as well.
After the house is shiny clean and sparkling, take a final walk through making sure that all of the windows are closed and locked and take photos as you go. That way if any damage happens during the winter while you are away, you have photos for your insurance company.
If you intend to leave heat on for the winter, be sure to insulate your pipes, especially in crawl spaces and consider installing an alarm to alert you if the temps drop below your setting. If shutting everything off including the heat, turn off the propane. Some people choose to turn off the circuit breakers but if you have a sump pump or security system, you will need to leave power on for those.
Last but certainly not least, shut off the water supply, drain the pipes and blow them out with an air compressor. Add an anti-freeze to the drain lines after the supply lines have been drained. If doing this, be sure that the anti-freeze you choose is appropriate for home use. Automotive anti-freeze is NOT intended for home use.
Now that you are done closing up your cottage/cabin for the winter, there is nothing left to do but hunker down and wait for the chirping birds of spring to invite you to open back up. Think Spring!