If you happen to be one of those cottagers that prefers the summer months up in North Muskoka, or the kids school, hockey or other activities won’t let you get up during the winter, it’s important to take some precautions around winterizing your cottage before you just take off.

Burst pipes, collapsed roofs and flooding are just a few of the things that might await you in the spring if you don’t winterize properly.

Here are some tips to keep your cottage safe and intact over the winter months:

Clear Out the Pipes

It gets cold in North Muskoka in the winter.  Cold enough that if there is any water left in the pipes or tanks or pumps, you just might find yourself with cracks or even worse. Shut off the power to the water pump and hot water tank, then open up all the drain valves in the cottage and open up all the taps inside and outside of the cottage.  You may have to blow excess water out of the pipes and through the valves with an air compressor if there is any left behind.

It is also a common practice to pour a small amount of antifreeze down the sink and tub drains and shower stall drains, just to ensure no freezing takes place.  You can also winterize your sewage system by flushing toilets and bailing out tanks and bowls, then pouring a few cups of antifreeze into each one to prevent freezing and cracking.

Find a Friend 

If you’ll be absent for the winter, you may want to find a permanent resident or property maintenance company you trust to help you out.  Break-ins during the off-season are an issue in North Muskoka, so if your place looks lived in, you’ll have a better chance of being left alone.  Heavy snow accumulations on the roof and around the cottage  have also lead to roof collapses and flooding in the past.

Having someone come around and keep the snow off the roof and away from the structure will help, as will shoveling the driveway.  If you’ve left the hydro on, those check-ins can also give you peace of mind that no fires have started.  If you don’t know anyone in the area that can help, you can always hire a local company to get the job done.

The Little Things

Some of the lesser details that many cottagers forget before leaving for the winter include:

  • Emptying, cleaning and unplugging the fridge.
  • Close all the windows properly and lock them up.
  • Cover the windows with curtains or shades so no one can see inside.
  • Lubricate any padlocks on boats or doors so they’ll be easier to open in the spring.
  • Look for spots that hibernating pests might enter and make sure they are securely covered up.

Keep in mind that all cottages are a little different from one another, and each town and area has different characteristics and issues to consider when it’s time to winterize.