While many people think that cottagers don’t open their cottages until the first long weekend in May, the real truth is, if they want to be able to enjoy the cottage for the long weekend, they have to head up, unpack and to do the Spring Cleaning and Safety Checks first. In April.
I know everyone is in a hurry to get back inside to open up the doors and windows and get the stale air out. But first… the house has been closed up, so start with a safety check around the cottage.
Check the roofline and the shingles as far as you can see. Check your trees and make sure that nothing has broken and fallen on your roof, making it unsafe to enter. While you are looking up, check your hydro lines and make sure they are where they are supposed to be.
Now that you looked at the trees, you can see there are branches with Winter damage and will need to be trimmed back. You looked at the roof and seen the eaves-troughs have got leaves in them.
Next, check the windows and the doors. Look for damage and to see if anything is broken or is open. You wouldn’t want to walk-in and unexpectedly find out you have a family of raccoons who has moved in. They don’t play well with others on a good day, let alone if they feel cornered or trapped.
The other thing we learned, the hard way. Is to check where your water is coming in and out of the cottage.
As we found out last year, our water lines had broken in the ground and were the first to fix, on the honey to do list.
Now you have done the outside safety check and you know that you are going to need to add another day of Spring Cleaning to do the outside. But, it’s safe to go in.
As soon as you open the door, the first thing you will notice is, its’ damp inside. Let’s go back to that tip I shared with you. This one: “as crazy as it sounds, it feels colder outside than it does inside, but open the door and the windows for thirty minutes and exchange the air. The colder air is easier to warm up than the damp air is”.
While you are leaving the doors open, that’s a good time to put the chairs and tables back on the porch.
At the Love Shack, we leave our pilot light on all Winter. We do this for these reasons: I was told when we put in the Cast Iron Stove that if we left the pilot light off during the winter, that being by the lake, the pipes would rust from the dampness. I was also told if we turn off the pilot light that we should do or have done, a safety check on our lines before we turn on the Cast Iron Stove.
As it turns out, it’s cheaper to run the pilot light through the Winter than to have a safety check done each Spring, and a rusted pipe would cost us more than what it cost us to run the pilot light for ten years.
It cost me about $60 to run the pilot light all Winter including turning on the heat when I go up each month to check on the cottage. The bonus is, I also have heat in seconds and I don’t have to mess around with lighting the stove.
Safety tip: Make sure that your chimney is clear and nothing has nested in your stove, furnace or fireplace before you turn on any heat.
If you don’t know how to check your pipes and chimney, then have it done for you. Here is why. A friend shared this terrible story with me.
They had a cottage that was shared by the family for many generations. One Spring when they went to open the cottage, they lite the stove and in a short time, the chimney and roof were on fire. While they were gone for the Winter, an animal had built a nest in the chimney. The nest caught on fire, causing the chimney and then the roof to catch on fire. The family cottage burned to the ground.
Once you have your heat turned on, I recommend leaving your front door open for thirty minutes. There will be dust sitting in the vents and the stove. The fresh air is the best solutions to getting that out of the house.
Before turning on the frig, stove, toaster, coffee maker or any other small appliances, check behind them and in them for signs of mouse droppings, dead mice, and frayed cords. Give the toaster a shake to make sure it’s clean and clear.
Now that your hydro is back on, you can turn on your water. After you fill your hot water tank, let is heat for an hour before checking the temperature to make sure its safe to use without causing a burn. Hot water tanks have a tendency of going once they are returned off. If you don’t have warm water in an hour, you might have to replace or repair the hot water tank, but before you call your repair guy, check your breaker to make sure the switch is on.
Run your taps in the kitchen and bathroom for a few minutes to flush out the lines and check for leaks. And don’t forget to fill the back of the toilet and give it a couple of good flushes.
If you drink your water in your well or holding tank, don’t assume because it was fine last year that it is still fine. Make sure to get it checked before you start drinking it.
Well, you have done it, you are ready to start the Spring Cleaning.
Welcome back to the cottage… The Most Wonderful Time of the Year.