Closing up your lakeshore cabin is never as exciting as opening it up, but it’s important to protect your waterfront property during the off-season.
Follow these nine steps as you close up your cabin for the winter:
- Bring in the dock. You may have to hire some help.
- Winterize the boat yourself, or take it to your local marina.
- Dry out and store fabric accessories (life jackets and cushions).
- Check your windows for air leaks.
- Check rafters and eaves for critter entry points.
- Bleed the pipes and shut off the water supply.
- Vacuum and check the furnace.
- Unplug every appliance, big and small.
- Hire a caretaker to check in while you’re gone.
1. Bring in the dock
Unless you have a dock that can withstand ice, you’ll need to bring yours in this winter. Roll-in-and-out docks and floating piers should take 2-3 people, but you’ll have to call in reinforcements if you have a standing dock.
2. Winterize the boat
To winterize your boat, follow the manual, this 10-step general process or hire your local marina to do it for you. Remember to cover the boat securely or to get it professionally shrink-wrapped to protect it from the elements.
3. Store cushions, rafts, life vests
At the start of your last weekend Up North, begin drying out anything made of fabric — including:
- Outdoor furniture cushions
- Boat cushions
- Life vests and wetsuits
- Pontoon canopies
- Tubes or blow-up rafts
To prevent mildew, make sure these items are 100 percent dry and store them in a well-ventilated area.
4. Check for window leaks
Shake windows to see if they rattle. If the frames aren’t secure, add caulk to the perimeter to seal them off. Chip off any paint or debris that prevent the windows from closing and locking tightly.
5. Check corners, roof and eaves for entry points
Check corners, floorboards, eaves and other nooks and crannies for holes that may be big enough to let in unwanted winter critters (and remember, adult mice only need a hole the size of a dime). Seal up the gaps using steel wool, which mice and squirrels cannot chew through. (Don’t forget to check behind refrigerators, ovens, beds and other larger objects that don’t get moved often. Those are the most common places for small holes to go unnoticed.)
6. Turn off the water and plumbing
If you plan to shut down the cabin for the entire winter, you’ll want to bleed the pipes and shut down plumbing completely. Begin by shutting off your main water valve, then follow these tips from This Old House to make sure you cover all your bases.
7. Check the furnace
If you won’t need heat for the entire winter, turn the furnace off. Vacuum the inside and check its filter to ensure it’ll be up and running in the early spring months. If you don’t have any replacement filters on hand, order them now and have them delivered to your primary residence. Your early-spring-cabin-fever self will thank you.
8. Unplug all appliances
Start with the kitchen and move through every room to be sure that nothing is plugged in. Don’t forget to check behind couches for power strips. Have someone check your work — this is a great job for eager kiddos!
9. Hire a “check-in” caretaker
If you have a friend or neighbor who stays in town year-round, ask them to check in on your place from time to time. You’ll rest easier if you know that someone is alerting you to suspicious activity and checking the interior for water damage or critter invasions. If it’s not a close friend, be sure to offer compensation so that they are motivated to keep the deal.
Prep for spring. Buy now!
If you buy a lakeshore home or cabin now, you won’t miss even one day on the water next spring. Browse lake homes and cabins for sale in Minnesota and western Wisconsin. See one you want to reel in? Contact Edina Realty or your agent to get started.