Even if you’re not opening up the cottage until May 2-4, a trip up to do a post-frost check of your property is a good idea—because there are some things that shouldn’t wait until the summer to be fixed. At the very least, you can plan your maintenance activities for when you do open up.
1. Replace missing or shifted shingles
Freeze-thaw cycles wreak havoc on shingles, so pull out your birding binoculars and look up…way up. Check for any missing shingles that will need to be replaced or shifted shingles that need to be re-fastened, and make sure there aren’t pine needles or other debris collecting in the valleys between your roof peaks.
2. Repair broken gutters, downspouts, soffits, and fascia
If there was a lot of snow, or several freeze-thaw cycles, your eaves or downspouts may be damaged. Check to make sure they’re secure, and to see whether your soffits and fascia are intact.
3. Fix exterior walls
Look for any damage, or water stains that might indicate that your eaves aren’t doing a good job with runoff. If you have a wood exterior, check for holes that may allow pests to enter, and feel the siding and trim to make sure it’s solid, not spongy or rotting. Do a full walk-around to make sure there are no spots with siding missing.
4. Address foundation cracks
If there are cracks in your foundation, call in the pros. You won’t be able to just caulk it and make the problem go away—a specialist will have to deploy injectable epoxy to ensure that the cracks don’t get worse. Make sure that you trim back any plantings around the foundation so any wood behind them can dry out.
5. Weatherproof windows
If the caulking or weather stripping around your windows is damaged or broken, replace it. Also, repair or replace any screens that may be torn—you’ll be happy you’ve done this once the bugs start flying.
6. Check for and fix leaks
Check faucets, drains, and pipes for leaks or condensation. If you’ve got a dishwasher or a fridge with an ice-maker, check for water stains or puddles, along with bulges or cracks in pipes. Address any leaks right away—if they’re dripping now, they may have been dripping for a while. The more water, the more potential damage.
7. If you use rock salt, wash off your walkway and steps
Stop leftover salt from leaching into your wood, concrete, and grass by thoroughly washing off any surfaces where salt has been scattered.
8. If you had icicles in the winter, check the attic for leaks
See whether water has gotten into an attic or third-floor crawl-space and address any leaky spots. Black streaks on your framing or soggy insulation are tips that water has gotten in.
9. Change air conditioner filters
If you’ve got an air conditioner, change the filters now, before the warm weather hits hard. Check hose connections for leaks (Sensing a theme here?), and clear away any overhanging branches or debris.
10. Deal with pests
Look around to see if critters have made their way inside during the winter. Holes, chewed insulation or other fibres, piles of sawdust, and droppings are all signs that four-footed beasties may have colonized your interior. Set traps, put down poison, or call an exterminator to make sure you don’t have uninvited guests once you open up.
11. Sand and stain your deck
Might as well get the deck maintenance out of the way before people want to walk all over it. If the weather is nice, sand and stain your deck to keep it looking great for another season. Repair any broken boards or loose steps while you’re at it.
12. Clean your grill
Again, better to get this chore out of the way before the family is clamouring for hamburgers. Give your grill a good deep cleaning, and check to make sure all the connections are working properly. Grab extra propane or charcoal, just so you’re all set for opening weekend.
What are your must-dos before opening?