The Canadian summer season is sweet but brief. It seems as though just when we’re getting used to relaxing at the cottage, the nights start cooling down and the days get shorter once more.
Before you know it, it is time to start closing up the cottage for the cold season ahead.
As they say, an HVAC system is a terrible thing to waste (well, they don’t say this, really, but they should). An improperly prepared air conditioning and heating system may sustain damage during the winter or worse.
We never want to see that happen with your seasonal cottage HVAC system! So we thought now would be the perfect time to post the important tasks you should do to help you prepare your air conditioning and heating system to be home alone until you return to reopen your cottage next spring.
Do a Thorough Fall Cleaning
The first thing you will want to do is a good cleaning. This is not just for aesthetics, however. Loose paper, debris, boxes and other flammable items left lying near the HVAC system can easily ignite under any number of mostly preventable circumstances.
Also be sure to move any chemicals, old rags, books, magazines, newspapers and paper goods out of the area. Aim for a minimum of a 3-foot safe zone all around your HVAC system.
Next, go ahead and give your HVAC system itself a nice sweeping and wipe-down. Not only will this give you the chance to do a close inspection of the exterior of your units, but it will remove any trapped dirt and debris that could get pushed down into them or become a fire hazard.
Schedule Your Annual HVAC Service
While it might not seem intuitive to have your HVAC system checked out by a pro right before you are preparing to not use it for several months, to your spring self, this might look very wise indeed!
Cottage opening season is fun but also stressful—it can be a lot of work! The last thing you want to discover when you arrive to reopen your cottage again next spring is that your HVAC system is not functioning as expected.
When your technician arrives to do your system’s preventative maintenance inspection and checkup, you can also receive valuable tips to help protect and winterize your units while you are away.
Power Down (Or, Lower the Thermostat)
If you are not sure whether to power down your cottage components completely or simply power off certain appliances, you can talk with your technician about this as well during your preventative HVAC maintenance service.
There are two common methods and both have their pros and cons. The first is to turn off all power to your seasonal cottage.
This method is safest in the sense that you won’t have to worry about any malfunctioning components while you are unable to reach your cottage to do repairs in the winter. However, it can leave your pipes vulnerable to freezing. Regrettably, it may also leave your cottage vulnerable to thieves.
The second method is to power down certain appliances, such as your refrigerator and air conditioner, while leaving other appliances on, such as your heater and security system. This way, your cottage is protected from vandals or thieves and you can simply reduce your thermostat setting to prevent frost buildup and frozen pipes.
If you choose this method, consider setting your thermostat to around 10 degrees Celsius (50 degrees Fahrenheit) or higher to protect against damage from freezing. Draw your blinds and shades to help keep any available warmth inside the cottage. This will also help protect it should a rogue winter storm affect the windows.
Do a Check of Your Air Ducts, Registers and Vents
Even if you do plan to turn off all or the majority of power to your seasonal cottage, that doesn’t mean wildlife won’t still think your exhaust vents, registers and air ducts look like a mighty fine place to spend the winter!
You may not be able to spot all potential entry and exit points, but you will certainly be able to find and seal some. If you haven’t already, consider installing protective netting or other barriers to keep rodents, insects and birds from camping out in these enclosed, sheltering spaces.
Repairing any loose, damaged or missing shingles will also help shore up your roof against falling ice, snow or winter storm debris. As a final touch, seal up your chimney, stovepipe and flues as applicable to make them inhospitable to wildlife.
If your seasonal cottage has gutters, you will also do yourself a favor by cleaning these out before you close your cottage for the winter. Clogged gutters can quickly create a safety and structural issue once a winter storm cycles through and deposits water that freezes all that debris into the ice.
Weight alone can open up new entry points for wildlife to enter through your roof or eaves as well as allowing water to seep into the interior of your cottage.
Don’t Forget Your Water Heater
While it may be tempting to turn off your water heater completely, a better, safer measure, to guard against pipes freezing and bursting, is to turn the thermostat setting on your water heater to the lowest temperature possible.
Adding insulation around your water heater tank and pipes is another smart move to help guard against frozen pipes.
Get in Touch
Here at Shipton’s Heating & Cooling, we have nearly a century of expertise in all things HVAC. From tiny one-bedroom apartments to condos, homes, seasonal cottages and commercial workspaces, we haven’t yet met an HVAC issue we couldn’t sort out!