Closing the Cabin for another season

Monday, September 22, 2008

All good things come to an end. And so it is with each season at the vacation cabin, cottage, or mobile home. But it's important to take some simple steps to safeguard and protect your property from damage.

Mornings with a nip in the air, ripening apples and pumpkins, orange, red, and yellow appearing on the leaves, the corn and beans turning... there's no doubt that fall has arrived. If you have a vacation home where winter temperatures drop below freezing, then you will be turning your thoughts to closing for the season.


Water is your biggest issue. You need to drain all the lines by turning off the water pump at the circuit breaker and opening all the taps and valves and a drain valve. Blow the remaining water out with air after draining using a compressor or a hand-operated diaphragm pump. Leave the faucets open.

Use a non-toxic RV antifreeze (propylene glycol) in anything that can't be drained, such as the drain traps. Failing to use antifreeze in areas with extreme cold could result in freezing of the pipes and their subsequent cracking, which could result in hundreds or thousands of dollars in damage.

*Hot water tank.

Turn off the gas or electric circuit to the water heater and drain the tank (from the valve at bottom) to avoid damage by freezing.

*Toilet tank.

Turn off water valve for toilet and flush to empty tank. Pour RV antifreeze in tank and bowl.

*Sinks and tub traps.

After the water is off and the lines have been blown clear, add antifreeze to all drain traps. Don't forget the washing machine drain, if you have one!

*Thorough cleaning to prevent pests.

Next to water, pests are the biggest concern. Remove ALL food when you are closing the cabin - even a box of cracker crumbs may attract mice! To prevent damage from undesirable rodents, inspect both the interior and exterior of your cabin to make sure there are no openings through which these pests may enter. You may want to use mouse poison - with caution.

Wash and wipe cupboards inside and out so there are no crumbs or food bits remaining. Wipe down counters, appliances, and tables. Empty the refrigerator, clean thoroughly, unplug, and prop the door open. And, use a disinfectant cleaner to eliminate all odors from garbage and recycling containers and lids.

Strip the beds and wash all sheets as well as any used towels, dishtowels, or soiled clothes. If you can't wash them, take them home with you. Oils from your body, traces of food, and bacteria in the fabric can attract insects and vermin.

If your linen or clothes cupboards are open, cover them with plastic. Use large green garbage bags. You may want to put mothballs in linens to further protect them. Some recommend cedar chips as another way to deter moths and other fabric eating insects.

Unplug the TV, stereo, microwave, refrigerator, and electric blankets. Basically, unplug everything! OR... turn off the main power supply on the circuit panel to prevent any electricity use during the winter.