Winterizing Your Cabin

by Rachel Laurendeau on November 22, 2012

If it’s time to close up the cabin for the season, you’ll have to make sure it has been properly winterized. This will save you money on energy, water and maintenance and will also help prevent expensive problems from arising during the cold months that the cottage remains empty.

Winterize the plumbing
The main water shut-off valve should be turned off and all of the pipes drained. You will also need to shut off the hot water tank and drain it. The MPCA recommends using RV antifreeze, “which is rated for potable water lines and is not as toxic as regular antifreeze.” If you aren’t sure how to go about winterizing your plumbing, you might want to talk to a plumber for instructions or have them come out and show you how to do it.

Winterize the water well
If the water you use at the cabin comes from a well, you will also want to ensure that you have protected that system from the cold. Freezing water left in a water tank can damage the pressure bladder or even rupture the tank. It is as simple as turning off the electrical power to the water pump, then attaching a garden hose to the pressure tank’s drain valve and draining the water outside.

Winterize the septic system
You should have your septic system pumped out regularly. The frequency will depend on the size of the tank and how much it is used. Spreading a thick layer of leaves or straw over your septic system will insulate it and help keep it from freezing.

*Never use antifreeze in your drinking water system.

If you will not be using your cabin in the winter and are winterizing the plumbing, you can turn the furnace off completely. If you plan on using the cabin periodically, you can turn the heat down to 50F to ensure the plumbing pipes don’t freeze.

Since you are doing general maintenance, you may want to change or clean the furnace filters and cover the air conditioning unit, too.

Drain all appliances that use water. Check the owner’s manual for specific instructions. Did you know that most appliances use electricity even when they aren’t in use? Unplugging all appliances will conserve energy and prevent fires.

Talk to your insurance provider or check your policy to find out if you need to take any other steps to comply with your insurance policy. In some cases, dwellings need to be checked periodically in order to maintain insurance coverage.

Winterizing your cottage is an important part of protecting your property and preventing potential problems. Come spring, you’ll be happy that you took these simple home improvement steps.

Resources: MPCA,

Related blog posts: Going South? How To Winterize Your Home

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