The May long weekend (also known as Victoria Day weekend, and May 2-4), is considered by many Canadians as the official launch of summer. It’s also a popular weekend for cottage and cabin owners to open their home-away-from-home for the season following a long winter away. As two-thirds of Allstate summer-home claims are weather and accident related, we’d like to offer a few tips to help you start the season off right.
9 steps to get your cottage ready for the season
- Prepare. Before you hit the road, make sure you put together a tool kit of the supplies that may be needed this weekend, including a hammer, nails, drill, batteries, duct tape, and the phone number of a few local professionals for larger repair jobs. Also be sure you have all the cleaning supplies you may need, including dish soap, sponges and mops (see our Spring Cleaning article for more tips).
- Inspect. Once you arrive, inspect inside and out for any damage or issues that may have come up over the winter that will need to be taken care of immediately.
- Inside: Look in all rooms, closets and cupboards for signs of mice or other animals who may have moved in, and inspect for any water damage by looking at walls and ceilings.
- Outside: Check power and phone lines to make sure nothing has been damaged over the winter. Look for overhanging branches from large trees. Check that all windows and screens are intact. Also have a look at the chimney, roof and under the cottage at posts, pads, and beams.
- Clear. Clean out eavestroughs and downspouts to make sure they are not clogged with leaves and debris. This will help water flow away from your home during rainstorms, and help reduce the risk of fire. Have overhanging and weak tree branches removed and trim all branches and shrubbery which could get too close to walls and cause damage.
- Clean. When a home is left unattended for long periods, rodents and other pests often move in. If you have spotted signs of uninvited guests (such as droppings), be sure to disinfect counters and dishes and check your oven for nests before turning it on. To help resolve the problem, consider setting traps, and be sure to plug holes where you suspect they may be getting in.
- Water. Some cottages have pumps that are immersed in the lake while others have land-based systems. Be sure to follow the recommended steps for your water system to get it up and running. Just be sure to reconnect pipes, inspect water lines for damage, and to fill the hot water tank shortly before turning things on. Failing to fill the tank could burn the tank out and result in costly damage. For any maintenance and repairs, if you’re not sure, contact a professional for assistance.
- BBQ. Of course you can hardly wait to fire up you barbeque and get cooking, but be sure to clean it before use. Also check propane tanks regularly for leaks, loose connections or blockages.
- Stay safe. Replace batteries and check the working condition of all smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. Also ensure you have a working fire extinguisher stored in an accessible location. Have electrical connections checked and maintain fuse boxes, heaters, wiring, stoves, and other heat sources regularly. Prepare for the unexpected – create a family emergency preparedness plan and kit for the cottage.
- Boats, dock and water equipment. Ensure your dock is in good condition and anchored properly. Check for loose boards, inspect and replace floatation if required, and make sure all hardware, like dock rings and cleats are securely in place. Check the condition of any boats, including fuel lines and tanks. Check that all required safety equipment is ready and in good condition.
- Insurance checkup. Talk to your insurance agent to review your cottage and watercraft coverage to ensure everything is up to date, and that you have the coverage you need.
Now while it sounds like this weekend may be filled with a lot of chores, just make sure you also take some time to relax and enjoy the weekend.
Do you have special cottage plans this summer?