Posted in: Lakeshore, Homeowner tips

Tips for opening your cabin or lake home after a long winter

opening our cabin or lake home

Key insights

  • Check your insurance, registration and utilities before heading up for the first cabin weekend of the year.
  • Know what to look for before you turn on systems, appliances and electricity after a long winter away.
  • Spend a few hours taking inventory of all the basics you’ll need to enjoy a perfect season on the water.

You’ve been looking forward to it all dreary winter and now the time has come to open up your cabin for the spring and summer! Follow these insights to get your lake home in peak warm-weather condition, while still leaving time to enjoy those first perfect weeks of cabin season.

opening lake home infographic

Make a plan before you leave home

While it can be tempting to wing it, it’s best to give this first weekend a little bit of thought. Don’t forget to:

  • Call to turn on any services you shut off over the winter, including electricity, water and trash collection.
  • Check the insurance policies on your lake home and boat. Contact Edina Realty Insurance if you’ve purchased a new jet ski, boat or wave runner that you’d like to insure — or to confirm your policy has been renewed for 2020.
  • Check your boating registration and renew it if necessary. In Minnesota and Wisconsin, watercraft licenses must be renewed every three years.
  • In both Minnesota and Wisconsin, you’ll need a fishing license if you’re 16+ and plan to catch your dinner. Be sure to renew your license before you head out with your rod and reel.
  • If you plan to put in a dock, and you need help, call your crew a few weeks in advance to see if they’re available.

Focus on systems and safety

After a long winter away, you’ll need to be sure that your home is safe to inhabit again before you turn on your water and other systems.

  • Check the furnace and put in a new filter.
  • Check pipes for rust or damage before you turn on your plumbing and water heater. If you’re not sure what to look for, hire a plumber to do a basic assessment.
  • Be on the lookout for signs of critters. Check screens and windows for holes and gaps, electrical cords for fraying or bite marks and cupboards, pantry and other areas for mouse activity.
  • Inspect your deck and eaves for signs of rotting.
  • Test the batteries in your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.
  • Test and replace the batteries in motion sensor lights on the front door, deck and on the way down to the lake. If you don’t have motion sensors, consider adding them for extra safety.

Check in on basic necessities

Whether you’ll spend the whole summer or special weekends at your lake home, you’ll want to be sure it’s stocked with the basics. Run a quick inventory review before heading to the store for replenishments.

  • Go through your pantry and throw out any expired food, as well as anything that looks like it may have been subjected to a critter invasion.
  • Turn on the refrigerator and freezer for several hours before stocking it with perishable items.
  • Check that you’re stocked up on sunscreen and bug spray. Remember that sunscreen lasts at its original potency for up to three years. If you’re not sure when your bottles were purchased, buy a new set and label the purchase date so you can avoid tossing out bottles in the future.
  • Check the stock of your bathroom toiletries. To save money and stay green, buy shampoo, conditioner and body wash in bulk bottles rather than using travel samples.

Plan for next year

Even with the best-laid plans, you’re likely to forget the exact size of batteries you need, or the magic solution that helps spruce up your rusty showerhead. At the end of your first weekend up north, write out a cabin-opening supplies checklist that you can use for years to come. Include:

  • Battery sizes for smoke, carbon monoxide and outdoor motion detectors
  • Furnace and air filter specifics
  • Vacuum bag sizes
  • Tools you need to check or turn on specific systems
  • Rags and cleaning cloths
  • Cleaning solutions
  • Toiletry basics
  • Critter traps or deterrents

You’ll thank yourself next year when your organizational habits give you even more time on the lake on that first perfect cabin weekend.

Hoping to buy a lake home this summer?

Buyers don’t want to miss one day on the water, and the market is already heating up! Start by contacting Edina Realty or your agent to learn more about options in your desired lake home area.

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