Warmer weather and sunnier skies are upon us. With the Victoria Day long weekend (aka the unofficial start to summer) on the horizon, thousands of Canadians are preparing to reopen the cottages for the season once again. Of course, you can’t just jump straight into enjoying a weekend away at the cabin without a little maintenance work first. Unwinterized properties that have been vacant for the last several months will need some love and attention to get them up and running again post-winter.
If you’re thinking of re-opening your cottage this weekend or sometime soon, here are a few tips to make the process smooth and simple:
Start the reopening process before you arrive
Before you make the long drive to the cottage, begin the reopening process a couple of weeks before you plan to access the property.
Start by calling your utility providers to turn on the power, internet, gas and any other services you may have paused during the off season. While you’re at it, it doesn’t hurt to schedule a chimney inspection and a cleaning of your septic tank or outhouse to ensure your cottage’s major systems are up to par. Check in with your insurance provider to make sure that the policy for your property, boats, ATVs and trailers are up to date. Don’t forget to pack your reopening essentials too, like batteries, tools, keys and cleaning supplies.
Take a walk around the property
Upon arrival, do a thorough walk about your lot to look for signs of weather damage. Inspect the roof for missing shingles, blocked gutters, leaks or any branches that may have fallen during the winter. On the ground, keep an eye out for signs of rot on your deck or siding, broken windows or wildlife that may have made their way indoors during the winter.
Once inside, inspect your cottage for dampness, pests or unpleasant odours. Get some fresh air running through your cottage and flush out any stale smells by opening all of the windows and doors. This is also a good opportunity to look for any mould or mildew that may be lurking around window sills and entryways. If there is any serious damage to the property, be sure to alert your insurance provider immediately.
Restore the utilities
Once your property looks safe inside and outside, it’s time to boot up the electricity and water again.
When closing your cottage, you likely drained the pipes and shut off the water supply. Before you turn on the taps, inspect your pipes for leaks or cracks that may have occurred from freezing — a burst pipe is not a fun way to start out the cottage season! If pipes were disconnected, be sure to reconnect them before starting your water pump, filling your water heater and replacing the filter. Once you turn your main valve on, allow water to run through one faucet for a few minutes to flush the water lines. Water systems vary by property – some draw from a well while others draw water from a lake – so enlist the help of a professional if necessary.
When it comes to turning your cottage’s electricity back on, inspect your metre and power lines before flipping on the main switch. Go room by room to ensure major appliances, lights and outlets are working as they should.
Restock the essentials
Before you officially break out the Muskoka chairs and settle in, remember to check those smaller to-do items off your list. Ensure that your smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors have fresh batteries and replace the filter in your central air system if you have one. Don’t forget to refill fire extinguishers and top up the first aid kit with new supplies before you kick back and relax.
Looking for insights into Canada’s most popular cottage country markets? Check out the latest findings in the Royal LePage 2023 Spring Recreational Property Report.