Winterizing Your Cottage On A Budget
You might think this post is a little late. I was thinking the same. But you know what, it’s never too late or too early to prepare for the unexpected. Maybe you are planning on buying your first cottage this spring, or next fall. You might as well plan ahead and make sure you research a lot about winterizing your cottage. Is there really a smart way to winterize your cottage?
I hope I have given you an answer with this post. This is specially true if you end up purchasing a three season waterfront property and would like to make your home an all season just like us.
We bought an all season waterfront property. At least that is what it’s supposed to be. Again, we have under estimated the hidden cost of those extra expenses that comes with winterizing a cottage. Having a wood burning fireplace and electric baseboard heaters does not make your cottage 100% winterized.
Yes, you may be warming up inside no problem. But the main part is your water system. We get our water from the lake, so come winter time when the lake is frozen, your water system, pipes, of course also freezes. Our first attempt on a budget winterizing option is to use an RV Anti -Freeze. We have also bought 10 drums and filled these with water that we calculated should last us the whole winter. My husband then just switched the water supply to come from the drums.
Our First Winter Disaster
We thought we were a genius! Winterizing was not so bad and hard after all. Until we had our first “disaster”. I called it a disaster as it involved a great deal of money for us at that time. We have no budget for disasters like this!
So, number one thing to keep in mind, is to smartly start a budget dedicated for all things unexpected. If you already have one going for your primary home, double that for your secondary waterfront home.
Everything was going well. Poured the anti-freeze as per instructions. Switched water supply to our drums (See the set-up in the photo above). Fireplace going along with the electric heaters. Then boom. Spring time, and time to turn on the dishwasher. It didn’t just froze like we suspected. The pipes inside the dishwasher broke. My brand new, stainless steel dishwasher was toast after less than a year. Heartbreaking.
We bought it a little cheaper as it was from a scratch and dent store. But never the less, it feels like money down the drain for something that could have been prevented. When you have a dishwasher, make sure you pour your anti-freeze inside the dishwasher as well. We took care of our kitchen and bathroom sinks, but forgot this part.
Another Winter Disaster
Dishwasher, check! Sinks, check! Shower, not checked! Yup, another thing to keep in mind. This came out of the blue for us. I was very upset, because again, how can winter out smart us twice! We have just finished a major bathroom renovation, and it just totally slipped our mind. We have spent quite a bit on this project, thanks to a major contractor dilemma(more on this later). And the shower system we installed, at $800 was a big splurge for us. (I’m a shower person! And I have to give up the bath tub.)
You can just imagine our horror coming home to the cottage and discovering the shower not working. Frozen! This time it’s the knob and the handheld shower. The rain shower head was spared. Good enough to stop a major brain freeze that was quickly developing for me!
How could this happen? The solution we can think of was to just replace it with a cheaper look alike hand held shower. All these personal failures have only given us the much needed knowledge to handle the proper winterizing checklist every cottage owner should have.
What We Have Learned
So here we go, the smart way to winterizing your waterfront cottage, our way.
- Start switching your water supply as soon as the first sign of frost. End of November or early December. Don’t wait for the snow to come as the lake can freeze quickly before you know it.
- Make sure you heat your basement or where your water supply is located properly. Making sure it is not going below zero. Buy extra heater if necessary. This will also help keep your basement dry. We have a heater and a fan going to make sure there is no moisture build up.
- Invest in a good Air Compressor . Use this to blow out all water, liquid, in all the pipes that runs in your house. Including your kitchen and bathroom sink, toilet and your shower. When there is no water in your pipe, nothing will freeze and burst.
- Then add your anti-freeze everywhere. And don’t forget the dishwasher. If you have washer, simply turn off the water supply.
- We also started to monitor the temperature inside the cottage. Since we heat our basement, we want to monitor how warm it gets upstairs too, and adjust accordingly. It could be costly if you don’t monitor.
- Do not leave any canned soda inside the fridge if you want to keep it clean and spare yourself the big clean up. On a very cold day, these cans will burst inside the fridge. This happened to us a couple times. And believe me, it is messy!
- In cottage country, hydro is very expensive during the winter months, so make sure all your electrical supply and water supply is turned off before you leave for the week. You don’t want your pump going too when you’re not there.
So that’s our list, on how we smartly winterized our cottage for the last 5 winters. So far for a couple years now, there has been no new “disaster”. I definitely hope and pray that there will not be one for awhile.
We cannot predict these things. But so far we think we got this. Very hard lessons learned. But we managed to turn things around to prevent more. You can maybe learn from us too. Be prepared, so when it is your time to deal with your first winter at the cottage, you will be ready and definitely way smarter than us when we had our first winter.
Good luck! And hope I have impart something to you, one way or another. Thanks for reading!