Tips for Closing up Your Summer Property in the Fall

Prepare your summer property for the off season, and you'll ensure many more summers of holiday fun

Credit: Flickr/April Westervelt

In the fall and winter, make sure to keep all access under your cottage covered to keep out animals

Whether it’s a cottage, cabin or urban recreational property, properly closing up your summer home will protect it from the colder months and ensure it runs like new when you return next summer

It’s hard to believe September is almost here, and it’s almost time to close up your cabin or cottage for the fall and winter season.

For every type of vacation property, there are specific tasks you can undertake to ensure it weathers the winter months in good condition.

Recreation Property

If you have a recreation property located in a subdivision, on a mountain ski resort or a beach area with full services and conveniences, here’s what you’ll need to do:

Water System

  • Shut off water system by turning off the pump or shutting the valve if it’s on city water.
  • Drain the pressure tank.
  • Open all the faucets.
  • Break a union close to the valve so water will drain out clear to shut-off valve.
  • Drain the pump and run it for a few seconds to be sure all water is out of lines from the pump.
  • To stop sewer gas, flush toilets and dip water out of the flush tank and bowl, then stuff plastic bags full of insulation into bowl.
  • Drain flexible spray hoses in showers and sinks.
  • Drain water heaters.

Sewage System

  • Force as much water out of traps as possible with a plunger (kitchen sinks, bathroom drains, floor drains and sump pump)
  • Add antifreeze to trap.

Heating System

  • Electric heating systems require no maintenance other than shutting the power at the electrical panel.
  • Turn off the burner’s emergency switch.
  • If electric heat, install low-heat thermostats. By doing this, your home could be maintained at about 5 C without a freeze-up, rather than at 13 C, which is the lowest temperature at which most thermostats can be set.


  • Washer: Shut off the water supply line and drain water from drain hoses.
  • Dishwashers: Remove inlet and outlet connection to valve. Operate valve to remove any water. Remove drain hose from pump and drain.

Stored Items

  • Remove food or containers that contain liquid that can freeze.
  • Put non-perishable food items in sealed plastic containers.

Keep Pests Out

  • Cover chimneys tightly to keep out raccoons, rodents and birds.
  • Cover any entry points in the foundation or eaves where squirrels, mice or other small animals can enter.


If your cottage is a recreational property on a beach with electricity and water, here’s what you’ll need to do:

  • Apply window shutters, which can be easily removed.
  • Drain all water lines back to entry system (pump and pressure system). Drain any storage tanks including hot water heaters.
  • Leave all water faucets in open position so they drain back.
  • Empty toilet tanks but leave water supply on. Sponge out the bowl and stuff it with insulation in a plastic bag to prevent sewer or septic odor.
  • Shut power off at main panel box and propane off at tank.
  • Lock doors and other out buildings with exterior padlocks.
  • Keeps all access under cottage skirted/covered to keep out animals and rodents.


If you’re out on a lake or in the woods without power, services and conveniences, here’s what you’ll need to do:

  • Leave all non-perishable food items in sealed plastic containers.
  • Store some water in plastic bottles, ¾ full to prevent freezing and cracking. Twelve one-litre bottles would be advised.
  • Leave wooden matches in waterproof containers.
  • Keep warm clothing and blankets stored in plastic containers with lids.
  • Do not lock your doors in the event someone shows up in the backcountry lost, cold and hungry. Believe me, they will leave you a note of gratitude.

For more home improvement information, go to