Private Office: Operating in Muskoka Ontario

Preparing Your Cottage for the Winter: Everything You Need to Know

The My Muskoka Real Estate Team hopee you have the chance to enjoy the last days of fall at the cottage! It is always difficult to think about the coming winter and snow. Whether or not you spend time at your cottage or cabin during the winter, now is the best time to prepare for the changing seasons. These energy, safety and maintenance tips can help you keep your “home away from home” safe and secure for this upcoming winter season. Following these tips and tricks makes it easier for you and your family on May two-four weekend when opening up the cottage for the summer.


  • Consider turning off the water, and even the hot water tank breaker while you are not using the cottage
  • Seasonal cottagers who close up for the winter drain water heaters, empty pipes and add anti-freeze to drains
  • Failing to drain pipes may cause them to burst due to freezing


  • Turn off all breakers and electrical panel
  • Unplug all major appliances if the power remains on
  • Leave thermostat at 10 degrees Celsius, turn off all heaters and fans
  • Board up all screen windows to avoid damage to the screens and the interior of your cottage
  • Arrange a service and operational check to your generator


  • Plug any small openings from the interior and exterior and have the chimney capped
  • Charge mousetraps and place them around the cottage
  • Remove any remaining garbage from the cottage and storage sheds to prevent bears


  • Remove all food items from the cupboards, fridge and freezer
  • Take this opportunity to disinfect the cupboards, fridge and freezer
  • Leave the doors wide open to prevent mold or mildew.


  • Clean out the fireplace and woodstove.
  • Make sure you dispose of any coals and ashes safely and soak with water.
  • Ash provides calcium for our lakes so please leave old ash into the forest and shorelines. Lake osteoporosis is an issue.
  • Close the flu and dampers.


  • Cover mattresses with plastic matrress covers
  • Drape plastic over all furniture to protect them from mice or other pests
  • Fabric softener helps keep mice out, place in drawers, on furniture, in closets, or anywhere mice could make a home


  • Clean your eavestroughs, downspouts and inspect your roof. Make sure the downspouts allow water to drain far enough away from your structure to prevent issues with the foundation.
  • To prevent moss growth on shingles, aside from sweeping pine needles away, place a strip of zinc along the roofline.


  • Survey the trees and branches for potential hazards
  • Rake leaves to make spring chores easier


  • Inspect the septic tank. Make sure the filter is clean. Do not have the tank pumped before winter
  • If there is a sump pump, consider a battery back up in case of winter rains to prevent flooding


  • Make arrangements for regular snow removal from your driveway and/or roof when needed.


  • Remove materials like old magazines, newspapers or books, flammable solvents.


  • If you use an oil tank, get it inspected to avoid any leaks developing during the winter season
  • Disconnect the propane tank from the BBQ, store the propane tank in an area that is protected


  • Cover and secure all your windows and doors to make your property less attractive for potential thieves
  • Make sure there are no valuables visible from the outside. Place security stickers visibly


  • Safely store and secure outdoor furniture, the BBQ, canoes, kayaks, paddle boards, paddle boats, floaties, seadoos, and planters to protect them from the elements
  • Gather clothing articles that are no longer used and consider donating them to a local charity


  • Be sure a trusted neighbor or friend checks on your home while you are away
  • Provide your updated contact details in case of an emergency
  • If your home is insured as a seasonal property you should have it checked regularly
  • If the property is considered a secondary home, insurance companies require a record of someone who checks in regularly


  • Review this checklist to ensure everything is finished
  • Take pictures of everything, in the event of a break in, or weather damage this will make the insurance process easier!
  • Inspect the whole property, including the inside and outside of the cottage
  • Lock all buildings and sheds
  • Do no leave any valuable items