As the serene warmth of summer transitions into the crisp, chilly embrace of fall and winter, ensuring your Ontario cottage is winter-ready becomes crucial to avoid potential insurance claims. Proper winterization not only safeguards your property but also helps prevent common winter-related mishaps. With a few proactive measures, you can protect your cottage, and keep insurance claims at bay.
Inspect and Seal
Start by conducting a thorough inspection of your cottage. Check for any potential entry points for cold air, such as cracks in windows, doors, and walls. Secure your chimney, seal any openings, and reinforce windows by boarding them up to prevent animals from gnawing through the screens to gain entry. This measure serves a dual purpose: safeguarding against harsh winter conditions and deterring potential break-ins.
Inspect Your Septic Tank
For the optimal maintenance of your septic system, it's recommended to schedule pumping every three years, which can significantly prolong its lifespan. If you observe sluggish drainage from sinks or washing machines, or if your toilet exhibits a weak flush, these are indicators that your septic tank may require pumping. Unpleasant odours, standing water, or unusually verdant grass growth above the tank are further signs that the septic tank is reaching full capacity. In the worst-case scenario, if it backs up into your cottage, without sewer backup coverage, you'll be responsible for the expenses to rectify the situation.
Frozen pipes are a significant concern during winter. To prevent burst pipes and potential water damage, insulate exposed pipes and drain the water supply. Consider using antifreeze in toilets, sinks, and drains. Turning off the main water supply and draining the pipes is a foolproof way to protect them from freezing. Don't forget to maintain your sump pump to prevent your cottage from flooding when the snow thaws. It might be wise to consider purchasing a generator to ensure the sump pump continues running in the event of a winter power outage.
Heating System Check
Adjusting the indoor temperature is crucial. To avoid freezing or bursting of pipes, it's recommended to set the thermostat no lower than 10 degrees Celsius. It's also suggested to turn off the gas supply before departing for the winter.
If you choose to keep the hydro on, be sure to disconnect unused appliances such as the water heater, fridge, stove, TVs, and other devices. This action helps eliminate phantom power and lowers the potential fire hazard.
While unplugging these devices, seize the chance to examine outlets and plugs. If you observe any signs of melting or burn marks, it's crucial to investigate further to avoid potential electrical fires throughout the winter period.
Remove Outdoor DebrisClear the surrounding area of the cottage from any debris, especially dead leaves, branches, and other flammable materials. These can be potential fire hazards, especially if your cottage is in a wooded area. Safely dispose of these materials to reduce the risk of fire damage to your property.
Clean the Roof, Gutters, and Downspouts
Maintaining the gutters and roof is crucial, especially if your cottage is close to wooded areas or surrounded by trees. Once all the leaves have fallen, it's essential to clean out your gutters. This step ensures that melting snow and rain can freely flow through the gutters. Neglecting this maintenance could result in water accumulating under the shingles, potentially causing a leaky roof and necessitating a claim with your cottage insurance provider.
Additionally, the accumulation of snow on the cottage roof might lead to leaks or, in severe cases, cause the roof to collapse. Before closing the cottage for winter, it's vital to ensure the roof is undamaged and doesn't have any missing shingles. Make sure to look for any structural damage, cracks in masonry, sagging areas with standing water or loose shingles. Trimming any overhanging branches that could deposit excess snow on the roof while you're away is also advisable.
Secure Outdoor FurnitureStore or secure outdoor furniture to prevent damage from winter storms and strong winds. Snow and ice can cause havoc on unprotected items, leading to potential insurance claims for damaged property. Protect your investment by safely storing or securing these items.
Arrange Regular Check-Ins
If your cottage is located in an area that experiences extreme weather conditions, arrange for regular check-ins or hire a caretaker. Having someone periodically visit your cottage can help identify any issues early, such as leaks or storm-related damages, allowing for timely interventions and preventing extensive damage.
Take this time to review your Ontario cottage insurance policy. Ensure it adequately covers potential winter-related damages and aligns with your property's current value. Speak with your insurance broker to clarify any doubts and make necessary adjustments to the policy if needed.
To learn more about Ontario cottage insurance, click here.
Winterizing your cottage isn’t just about ensuring a cozy season; it’s about safeguarding your property and minimizing potential insurance claims. By taking proactive measures and preparing your cottage for the cold season, you not only protect your investment but also ensure a stress-free and enjoyable winter retreat. Stay ahead of the curve and savour the magic of winter at your cottage worry-free!
Disclaimer: The information provided on this blog is for educational purposes only and is not intended as professional insurance advice. The coverage, terms, and conditions of each insurance policy are unique and subject to individual circumstances. The information provided does not guarantee the availability or suitability of any insurance policy for your specific needs. You should not rely on the information in the blog as an alternative to professional advice from your insurance broker or insurance company. If you have any specific questions about any insurance matter, please consult a licensed insurance broker for personalized advice and guidance.