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It seems as if it was only last week we were helping our clients prepare to close down their cottages for winter.
And now here we are with the first day of spring just days away! The Victoria Day long weekend isn’t far behind that.
But first, your cottage will need some post-winter TLC.
We hope these early tips will help you get a jump-start on cottage spring cleaning, so the moment your schedule permits, you can plan a getaway to truly enjoy the start of the new season!
Pre-Opening Cottage Inspection (Exterior & Interior)
The first thing most cottage owners like to do is give the premises a thorough exterior inspection. This helps you get the “lay of the land,” so to speak, and identify priorities to tackle first, particularly if you are new to this.
Over the years we have learned that no matter how carefully you plan your cottage’s pre-winter protective closing, winter depredations have their way of making their presence felt.
Some years, it may be unwelcome furry or six-legged visitors that have found a nifty little entry point under the eaves or the front porch to shelter from the cold.
Other years, it may be damaged or missing screens or windowpanes, a roof leak or snow-damaged electrical wiring or propane connections.
A few lucky years, maybe nothing is amiss—but it is still worth doing a thorough exterior check, just in case!
Then you can move on to the interior and do the same. Bring a little notepad or use a device app to make notes on areas that appear to need extra attention, cleaning, or repairs.
Power It Up—With Caution
The next step most people like to take when opening up a cottage for the warm season is to restore power to the cottage.
This should be done with care and only after you have completed a thorough initial inspection of the exterior and interior electrical wiring and circuit box.
If you see any visual signs that indicate there may be damage to these or other electrical components, it is best for safety reasons to contact a professional electrician to assess and repair the damage before proceeding further.
As the Canada Safety Council mentions, many cottage owners will power down the cottage for winter by switching off the main breaker. If you chose to turn off the main circuit breaker, you will want to check that all fuses are tightened before you turn it back on again. Then you can proceed to restore power to each individual appliance.
But if you left the main breaker on to power exterior lighting or the cottage security system, then you will need to check first to see if there are any tripped breakers and reset those. Then you can tighten the fuses as needed and turn each appliance back on and check to see that all is in good working order.
NOTE: If your cottage power comes from propane, before you turn it on, you will need to inspect and check each component of your propane tank, connections and hoses similarly, using soapy water to check for leaks. Also, be sure to open all the windows and doors for ventilation before you turn the propane back on!
Restoring the Water Supply
Every year, some cottage owners arrive in the spring to discover their water pipes have frozen and burst. However, it feels safe to say that no one who has forgotten once to drain their pipes, wrap, and prep them for winter will make that mistake again!
Before you restore water to your cottage, it is also a good idea to clean any sediment out of the hot water heater, check your filtration system (if any), have the water itself tested for purity, and clean out your well as needed. Then you can turn the water back on safely.
Heating and Air Conditioning
If you plan to open up your cottage in early spring, you may find the weather is still quite chilly and you’ll need to turn on the heat if you have a furnace. (If you run a woodstove or fireplace, it is crucial that you check the chimney for any blockages before starting a fire. The fireplace may also need a cleaning.)
Similarly, once spring arrives in earnest, you will want cool indoor air to enjoy after your outdoor adventures.
Before you take your HVAC system for a spring test-drive, we recommend that you take the following basic actions:
Remove any safety cases, lids, blankets, or wraps you installed for winter protection.
Do a thorough exterior cleaning around the unit, sweeping away dirt and debris from the unit, vents, and grills and inspecting for any visual signs of damage.
If you have an outdoor HVAC, be sure all the unit panels, condenser coils, wiring, and insulation is intact.
Clear any debris out of the condensate line and drainage pan and check to see that it is placed properly to safely drain.
Change out the air filters (or clean and replace a reusable air filter).
Go ahead and power up the unit and check to see if all seems to be operational.
Even when everything appears to be working perfectly, we always recommend scheduling an annual inspection and maintenance check for your HVAC and heating units. Taking a safety-first approach here can keep your cottage safe year-round and help ensure minor issues get fixed while they are still minor.
To schedule your inspection and maintenance service appointment in the Hamilton, St. Catharines, and Oakville areas, please contact us.