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May 12, 2021

5 min. read

Once the weather warms up, cottage season ramps up in full force. If you’re lucky enough to be a cottage owner, that first trip up will involve a little work. Before you can start enjoying lazy days on the dock and breezy nights on the deck, or even listing your cottage for rent, you’ll be faced with opening your cottage. Start by arranging to have utilities turned back on before you arrive. Then, once you get to the cottage, follow these seven simple steps to start enjoying cottage life in no time.

Three boys jumping off a dock on a lake.

1. Start at the top.

Check your roof for any missing shingles, holes or damage caused by winter weather. Holes can cause drafts or allow water to seep in. If you notice anything that you can’t repair yourself, call in a professional to help.

2. Walk around.

The great Canadian winter can cause cracks in foundation, broken windows, damage to porch screens, decks or chimneys, so inspect for these. If you’re lakeside, check your dock and water toys for damage too.

A group of people walking with a ladder in the yard.

3. Inspect the septic system (if you have one).

You should empty your septic tank every five to seven years. Unsure when yours was last emptied? Call a professional. Also speak to one if you notice any of the following: bad odours, water pools/damp spots around the septic tank, gurgling sounds in the plumbing system and slow draining bathtubs, showers and sinks. You don’t want water or sewage coming up your toilets, drains and sinks, so take the time to inspect carefully.

4. Check inside for mould or mildew.

If your cottage has sat unused for months, you’ll likely be greeted by stale air. Open the windows to let fresh air in and check for mould and mildew around the sills. Check the walls and in bathrooms too. You can clean smaller patches yourself with the proper products and safety gear. Bigger ones will require a professional.

5. Check for critters.

Nobody wants these types of guests at the cottage. Check drawers and cupboards for droppings; look for shredded paper or fabric nests; inspect food packages for chew marks; note any bad odours; look for holes in walls, window screens and floors that may be entry points. If you find any of these, proceed with caution. Then, purchase traps or call a professional.

A raccoon is sitting on the edge of a building.

6. Test your carbon monoxide and smoke detectors.

Carbon monoxide and smoke detectors save lives, so test yours before you start using your cottage again. Test your detectors by pressing and holding the test button. You should hear a loud sound; if the sound is weak, replace the batteries. Also, check the date on the back of your smoke detector, as these usually have a 10-year life span. While you’re at it, make sure your flashlight batteries are working too.

7. Make sure your cottage insurance is up to date.

It’s a good idea to review your seasonal property insurance policy before cottage season each year. Does your cottage insurance policy include all the boats, paddleboards, ATVs or jet skis you’ve purchased? Are you properly covered for fire, smoke and water damage? A good cottage insurance policy will cover damage caused by bears, burglary and vandalism. It will also protect you if you decide to rent out your cottage. A licensed CAA Insurance Agent can tell you what your policy includes – even if you’re insured with another provider. Get a free, no-obligation policy review by calling 1-888-307-6504 or get a quote on cottage insurance and find out how to save 10%1 if you’re a CAA Member.

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Terms and Condition

1To qualify for the discount you must be a current CAA Member in good standing (CAA Membership dues paid in full by Membership expiry date). Eligible CAA Members may qualify to receive a Member Loyalty Discount based on Membership tenure and Roadside Assistance usage.

Property Insurance is underwritten by CAA Insurance Company. Certain conditions, limitations and underwriting guidelines apply.