In Ontario, spring is traditionally known as “cottage opening season,” and the Victoria Day holiday this month is often the weekend when cottage life launches in earnest for the summer.
Already, the long weekend is a short time away! Before you can dive in and start enjoying your seasonal cottage during Canada’s short but very sweet warm season, you need to go through the cottage re-opening process.
You may be reading this while trying to prepare to open up your new cottage for the very first time. Or perhaps you are an old hand at cottage opening and just need a HVAC-focused refresher.
Either way, we present our favorite timely tips from a near-century of helping clients with all kinds of cottage HVAC projects!
Cottage Reopening: What to Do First?
Whether you plan to reopen your cottage on the long weekend, earlier, or later, there is no doubt you will have some getting-your-hands-dirty chores to tend to! Even the most airtight, locked-up-tight cabins are no match for the many wily insects and small critters determined to over-winter inside your cottage.
As well, you can expect to encounter some dust and musty air the first time you open up your cottage each spring.
What you don’t want to do is get so stressed out about your lengthy cottage reopening to-do list that you forget to attend to the big items first!
Here are the big items:
- Check for exterior and interior damage. First of all, you need to check around and inside your cabin to see if anything has been damaged. You definitely want to do this before you restore power, just in case there has been any damage to electrical lines, fuel tanks, etc.
- Create a fire-safe cabin space. Check fire extinguishers, change carbon monoxide and smoke alarm batteries, clear away debris around your HVAC equipment and property, clean exhaust vents and dryer traps, clean or replace filters, power up those flashlights, clean out fireplaces and woodstoves as well as chimneys (in which animals sometimes nest), and generally ensure risk of fire is nonexistent.
- Now, turn the cottage power back on. This may mean reactivating electricity, propane, or some other power source. You need to reactivate your cottage power to do the other items on your to-do list.
- Tend to your water and plumbing system. Next is getting your water (cold and hot) and plumbing restored. This can be simple or complicated depending on what type of system you have. If this is your first time reopening a cottage with a well or a septic system, you may want to enlist a professional to show you the ropes.
- Turn other appliances back on. Even with the main power restored, you may still need to individually reactivate major appliances like your fridge/freezer, washer/dryer, dishwasher, air conditioner, heating system if there is one, etc. Clean and check each appliance before restoring power.
- Time for spring cleaning! Now that all of the major cottage re-opening chores have been successfully completed, you can roll up your sleeves and tidy up so you can enjoy cottage life for the summer.
Coping with Cottage Moisture and Mould
Sometimes, despite your best efforts, you reopen your cottage only to discover moisture damage. This may be as mild as a bit of mildew invading your bathroom grout or as serious as a mould colony that has taken over elsewhere.
It is perfectly fine to tackle small cleanup jobs yourself (any job less than 10 square feet/0.92 square meters), although it is far safer to call in professional remediators for larger mould colonies.
But once you have the moisture under control, how can you make sure it stays gone for the summer and beyond?
Our sister company, Clean Air Solutions Hamilton, specializes in custom indoor air quality solutions for all size spaces. For cottage spaces with ducted HVAC systems, we highly recommend a two-pronged preventative approach:
- Retrofit your existing central HVAC system with a heat recovery ventilator. If you have a ducted system in your cottage, the hands-down best way to stabilize moisture levels throughout the year is to retrofit your system with a heat recovery ventilator. This nifty gadget improves indoor air quality while removing excess moisture.
- Attach a HEPA air filtration system or UV air purification system to your HVAC. Either system will remove dangerous airborne matter from your indoor air supply. Both are very low-maintenance and long-lasting. You don’t need both, so pick the one that makes the most sense for you.
For non-ducted systems, there are portable versions of the HEPA or UV purifiers you can add to clean the air in smaller spaces.
Schedule Your Spring HVAC Inspection & Tune-Up!
You didn’t think we were going to close without mentioning this oh-so-important cottage safety and energy efficiency appointment, did you? It is so important to have seasonal air conditioning and heating equipment inspected and maintained at least once—ideally, twice—annually!
Our seasoned technicians will also do a thorough equipment cleaning, so you can check this chore off your list.
The inspection is also a time to give your system a thorough tune-up, which will help trim your energy bills as temperatures heat up in the next few months. In this way, the minimal cost of the inspection and tune-up can more than pay for itself as well as ensure peace of mind!