Batten Down the Hatches

By: Richard Carrigan, Cottage Closing Expert

The end of summer can be bittersweet. It’s a time for reflection on the things that we did, the things we missed out on, and the plans that fell through. Cooler weather brings a change in the imagery that surrounds us. What was once luscious and green is now a vast collage of yellows, browns, and reds. The shores are littered with fallen leaves and debris that tell a story of days passed, and for those blessed with owning a summer getaway, the time now comes to batten down the hatches. Closing your cottage or trailer properly is not only good for the well being and maintenance of the residence but is also necessary for insurance stability should you ever need to make a claim. Your best bet is to have a checklist that is easy to follow, allowing anyone to complete the task should you be unable or simply passing the torch to the next generation. As always, every property is different, so be sure to use this list as a starting point and fine-tune it to your own needs.


• Flush your water pump and plumbing pipes so all lines and tanks are empty

• Pull the hose or water line from the lake If removable, pull your dock out of the water. Be sure to store it far from the waters’ edge or chain it well to a tree or other support so it doesn’t float away in the spring thaw

• Clean out the gutters and inspect your roof for any damage that could cause leaks

• Check for cracks or splits in walls or windows and fill with spray foam or caulking to avoid pesky intruders

• Rake up any fallen leaves and cut the grass if necessary. Tend to gardens

• Winterize and cover your boat and gas-powered tools

• Collect all outdoor furniture and water toys and store them inside or well out of the elements

• Clean out and store BBQ

• Check propane levels

• Clean out the fire pit of coals and debris Inspect your septic tank if you have one. It’s better to plan ahead if maintenance will be needed in the spring


• Tidy up and vacuum. Get into the seams of couches and underneath your tables. Any food left will only entice critters to set up shop while you’re away

• Wash all dishes and put them in cupboards

• Empty your fridge and cabinets of all food. Leave your fridge and freezer ajar to avoid musty smells in the spring. Something as simple as using an empty ice tray as a prop does the trick!

• Install mouse and insect traps/poison in known trouble areas. Make a list of locations so they’re easy to find in the spring

• Shut off the entire electrical panel unless some breakers are used for heat or a sump pump through the winter. Unplug all major appliances as a minimum

• Open all faucets and taps until fully bled. Leave them cracked slightly

• Pour antifreeze down all drains until P-traps are full, down the back of your toilet as well as the bowl, and into the back of your washing machine once it has been drained of all water. We also pour some into the dishwasher and run it for 10 seconds with the water off so it finds its way into everything

• Close the damper and clean out your fireplace

• Close all windows and drapes to avoid sun bleaching and install any storm windows if applicable

• Wash all bedding and pack into well-sealed rough totes

• Pack up personal items such as medications and phone chargers and bring them home

• Cancel or suspend all internet, phone, and cable services until spring

• Check batteries in smoke detectors

• Make a list of things needed in the spring such as garbage bags, tin foil, soap, etc

One of the biggest perks to closing the cottage is getting to call dibs on all the delicious snacks and beverages left over by family and visitors from the past few months. It’s a good way to get a head start on bulking up for the cold months ahead. Try your best to pick a sunny day to head north one last time and give yourself the entire day. Be sure to keep this list in mind or feel free to attach it to your fridge for the future. For now, though, it’s time to break out the turtle necks and all things pumpkin spice and we’ll see you on the other side of winter!