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Five cottage winterizing steps

Published on November 3, 2023


With winter just around the corner, it’s time to close your cottage for the season. Have you thought of everything that needs to be done, indoors and out? Here are five steps to help you properly winterize your home.

1. Check your heating system and insulation

Electric baseboards, wood-burning stoves or fireplaces… the system used to heat your cottage deserves your attention.

Keep your cottage minimally heated

Did you know that electric baseboards are the main cause of cottage fires? That being said, entirely turning off the main heating system will cause other problems. Keep the temperature somewhere between 5 and 10°C. This should prevent pipes from freezing and bursting. It's also an easy way to save a little money.

Sweep the chimney

A fireplace can be warm and inviting, but carbon monoxide is hazardous to your health. Once a year, ideally in the fall, clean the chimney. The same goes for the flue pipe on the wood stove.

Caulk your doors and windows

Caulking is the best way to keep cold air out and prevent heat loss. This will make your cottage less drafty and improve its energy efficiency. It might also be a good idea to change the seals.

2. Prevent water seepage

Turn off the water

When it comes to the effects of cold and frost on pipes, don’t take any chances. After turning off the water supply, drain the pipes and:

  • Empty the hot water tank by connecting a hose to the drain.
  • Empty the toilet tank by flushing.
  • Check that there is no water in the dishwasher or washing machine.
  • Purge the water pump.

Finally, pour two cups of plumbing antifreeze into the fixtures (sink, shower, bath, toilet, dishwasher, etc.).

Maintain the exterior

A comprehensive inspection of your cottage could save you a lot of trouble.

  • Look for damage to the roof, foundation and walls.
  • Repair your cottage to make sure it’s watertight.
  • Drain the roof for optimal water drainage.
  • Clean the gutters

3. Clean out the pantry and fridge

After winter, no one wants to see open cereal boxes or mouse droppings in the kitchen. Don't leave any perishables or canned goods in the cupboards. Empty bottles have to go too because sugar attracts insects.

Thoroughly clean the countertops, cabinets and appliances. Defrost the freezer and leave the refrigerator door open.

In short, thorough cleaning is the best way to prevent rodents and unpleasant odours!

4. Protect your belongings

Store your belongings. This will protect them from the elements and keep them in good condition. It’ll also dissuade would-be thieves.

  • Put away the garden furniture.
  • Take your boat, canoe, pedal boat, etc. out of the water.
  • Keep bikes in the shed and disassemble the trampoline and hammock.
  • Put away the lawnmower, garden hose and tools.
  • Clean the barbecue before storing it.

And don’t leave any valuables in plain sight.

5. Hire a snow removal company

For the winter, hire a contractor to clear the snow from the driveway and other access routes to your cottage. Consider having them remove the snow and ice from the roof too. If you can’t do it yourself, it’s best to work with a trustworthy contractor.


Finally, to keep your cottage in good condition, remember these three words: vigilance, caution and prevention. Be aware of what your home insurance covers and follow our tips, which should help you avoid having to make a claim. That way, you’ll be able to close your cottage with peace of mind.

Your insurance broker is there to help you prevent losses. Contact him or her!