NC)—Preparing your cottage for old man winter's blustery arrival is an important process and can help to avoid a myriad of problems come spring. Regardless of whether you'll be stopping by occasionally during the winter months to check on your cottage, or closing it down completely, following a checklist will safeguard against unpleasant surprises when you arrive in the spring. Here's what needs attention:
• Safely store boats away from the water: Make sure your boats are well away from the water and locked safely to a tree or to an outdoor structure. It's advisable to oil the locks with a little WD40. Drain the water out of outboard motors and store them out of sight or take them home.
• Pack up all food, including canned goods, and take it home. Frozen cans may split open and attract animals, and it's surprising just how resourceful rodents can be at getting into your dry goods.
• Defrost the refrigerator and unplug it. Leave the door open and hang a towel over the door to keep it from closing. An open box of baking soda inside the fridge will work to neutralize odours.
• Shut down the water and drain the plumbing system. Shut off the water and then flush toilets, open taps and drain water tanks. Siphon off excess water from toilets into a bucket with a siphon pump. Some cottagers install RV antifreeze to protect against the freezing of any remaining water.
• Turn off the furnace and baseboard heaters: If you have a furnace, check and clear your chimney or ventilation pipe of obstructions such as foliage, nests or animals, as a blockage could cause serious risk of carbon monoxide gas poisoning when the furnace is restarted. Inspect and replace animal screening over any outside openings, once you have cleared any obstructions. Baseboard heaters are responsible for many cottage fires during the winter - be sure to shut them down.
• Lay the makings of a fire in the woodstove. That way, it's ready to go if you arrive during the cold winter. And, when you're back in the spring, you have a fire ready to go.
• Spread around some mothballs. This will help discourage animals from moving in while you're away.
• Tightly close and lock all windows and sliding doors. Installing a 2" x 2" wood barrier along the bottom of the window or door, cut to fit between the slider and the window or door jam, can help to ward off break-ins. Put out of sight, or take home small electronics, tools, ladders, garden tools, fishing gear and liquor. Close all curtains and blinds to keep prying eyes out.
• Unplug all televisions, radios and lamps. Shut the power off at the main switch box.
Now you're set to enjoy another season at the cottage when you arrive back in the spring. Over the winter, take a moment to reflect on the Canadian recreational property market.