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Cottage Closing or Winter-Use Essentials

Guthrie Insurance

Top tips on how to prevent winter damage to vacation cottages.

As fall begins, one of our insurers, RSA Insurance, has put together a comprehensive guide on how to close up cottages properly to help ensure you are being proactive with the necessary risk management tips.

Closing your cottage

Closing up your cottage in the fall (unless of course it is winterized and used year-round) is important because you never know what sort of winter damage you may find when you make your way to it for the first time the followiong spring. Set aside the last few days before you close it up to make a thorough inspection of your cottage and to repair to things that are not in good order.

To reduce the likelihood of unwanted surprises, here are some important things to remember:

•Do a walk-around inspection. Check the siding, caulking around windows and doors, eaves and flashing, chimney and eaves troughs. Trim back overhanging trees and cut back dead or damaged branches everywhere.
•Replace and test batteries in smoke alarms and CO2 detectors.
•Block any new mouse holes with steel wool.
•Close any propane tank valves.
•Turn off the main power.
•Lock all doors and windows.
•Leave keys and your phone number with a neighbour or someone else you trust, who can check the cottage regularly.
•If you are insuring your cottage on a semi-protected, fire-hall basis, make sure your roads are kept open year-round

Draining the plumbing system

A lot of costly spring repairs are made necessary by improperly drained pipes, pumps and tanks that have frozen and cracked or burst over the winter. If you have never drained your cottage's plumbing system before, you should have a licensed plumber take you through the process, in your cottage, step-by-step. Be sure to cover the following:

•Check all pipes and connections before you drain – mark any leaks for repairs.
•Check that supply lines all slope down to a low point under or outside the cottage.
•Turn off the power to the water pump and the hot water tank. Drain the hot water tank.
•Open all the taps inside and outside the cottage, then open the drain valves to let the water drain out. Leave them open through the winter.
•Flush all toilets and remove any remaining water in the tank or toilet bowl.
•Drain and disconnect any outside tanks and pumps.

Winterize the system

Your plumber should also cover the following procedure for winterizing your system:
•Pour two cups of Propylene Glycol Antifreeze into each drain (sinks, showers and bathtubs).
•Pour four cups of Propylene Glycol Antifreeze into each of the toilet bowls and tanks.

For winterizing appliances such as your washing machine and dishwasher – check the manual or with the local appliance retailer for proper details.

** Important: Even if your cottage is used year round, if it will be unoccupied for more than 96 hours at any time do make sure you drain the water system or have it checked (inside) daily to make sure your heating does not get interrupted. If your heat shuts off and water pipes freeze, having failed to take these steps may result in a denied claim.

For more information on this or any other aspects of Cottage, Home or any other insurance matter, please contact us at -

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