Weekly Hack: Top 3 tips to solve winter cottage problems

Updated: February 12, 2020

winter visit By Quattrophotography/Shutterstock

Planning one last long weekend winter visit to the cottage? Awesome! Just be prepped to handle these common winter problems, and it’ll be smooth sailing (or skiing, or snowshoeing) for you and your guests.

Problem: Septic odour in the bathroom.

This is almost always caused by poor venting. You don’t notice it in the summer because you’re using the plumbing frequently, and sewer gases either obediently exit out the plumbing vent stack, or stay in the pipes. When the plumbing sits dormant, however, the P traps can become dry. With no water in them, there’s no seal to keep stinky gases from drifting out of drains. Blech.

Solution: Start using the plumbing again, and the stench should go away. If it doesn’t, the problem could be that the vent stack on the roof is blocked by ice or snow. To investigate this, use binoculars or the zoom on a camera. Getting on the roof in the winter is dangerous business; you really don’t want to attempt it if you don’t have to.

Problem: Window condensation.

As soon as you arrive for a cottage visit, you crank the heat. Because coldness. The trouble with this move? When combined with all the other ordinary indoor activities that are happening on the weekend (people showering; people cooking; people breathing), it causes the humidity inside the cottage to sky rocket.

Solution: Ventilation. Crack the windows, or run any interior fans that are ducted to the outside. Even better? Keep the heat on low (5°C) when you’re not at the cottage, or have a neighbour stop by and turn on the heat before you arrive. You can also invest in tech that does this for you.

Excess moisture can lead to mould, which is no good. Check out the Canada Mortgage and Housing Association’s info on cleaning and dealing with interior mould.

Problem: Stone cold electronics

There is some debate as to just how damaging cold weather is to electronics, especially items with liquid display screens. But all experts agree that asking a frozen electronic device to perform while frozen is likely to mess with its gadgetry. It also just seems kind of cruel.

Solution: Wait until the device has come to room temperature before you use it.

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