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HOUSE & DOCK
Winterizing Your Lake House
It is time to
think of protecting your lake house from cold weather, snow, ice, and winter
winds. You will want to make sure that your year-round lake retreat is ready
for winter. Even though you will be there from time to time, you will need
to ensure that some basic winterizing is done to protect it. If you get your
lake home ready now, when you come back for your winter getaways, you'll
have a terrific weekend! Here are some tips to make sure everything is
battened down for winter. Even if you plan to leave some heat on in the
house, winterizing means you’ll be covered in case of power outages.
Protect Your Lake Home From Fire Hazards
- Unplug electronics and
appliances in case of a power surge or lightening strike.
- Clean and dispose of
ashes from fireplaces and woodstoves.
- Remove all
combustibles including paint, turpentine, household cleaners, etc.
- Drain gas out of
mower, trimmers and other lawn equipment as well as draining the fuel
line. This will avoid varnishing in the carburetor, which would result in
a repair next spring.
- Remove all containers
used for fuel storage.
- Remove rags used for
gas, oil, turpentine, etc.
- Check smoke detectors
batteries and test them. A neighbor may be able to hear them go off in
- Check for any openings
that pests may use to find their way into the house. Stop up any places in
the foundation or around the eaves, windows or doors where squirrels,
chipmunks, mice, snakes or other small animals can enter. Put mousetraps
or other mouse control devices in basement, in closets and kitchen.
- Check the chimney to
be sure it is covered to prevent animals and birds from entering.
- Remove food,
cosmetics, or medicine containers that contain liquid that could freeze
- Food in paper or
plastic containers should be put in large metal containers to protect from
mice or other rodents.
- Remove or hide
valuables, or any articles in the house that can be sold and converted to
cash such as guns, radios, TV sets, and tools.
- Lock all doors and
- Remove any tools a
vandal may use to enter your buildings.
- Ask a local permanent
resident to check on your property periodically.
- Have your furnace
checked annually. If you have air conditioning, pour bleach into the
condensate pump to keep the condensate line clear.
- Do a thorough
cleaning. Stains that sit for six months are much more difficult to
- Make a list of what
needs fixing. Make a note of any part or model numbers so you can get
parts over the winter.
- Make a list of things
you want to bring back in the spring or on your next visit.
- Check with your
insurance agent to be sure you have your lake house properly insured. Find
out whether it is insured at replacement value or at actual cash value. If
you have any new items make sure they are added to your policy.
- Check into local home
management service companies. They will "manage" your property by doing
such things as removing your dock, cleaning the gutters, irrigation shut
down, water softener salt, etc.
- Invest in a security
system. They can do everything from warning of a break-in to alerting you
at your winter residence if there were a fire, etc.
General Outdoors Tasks
- Check roof for loose
or damaged shingles and make repairs accordingly so you don't have leaks
in the spring.
- Seal or cover
vulnerable windows to prevent breakage.
- Remove boat, lift, jet
skis and other recreational items. After a thorough cleaning, check them
for any damage. Jot down any items you need to purchase for repairs. It is
easier to wait for a replacement part during the winter months than during
the summer when you want to be enjoying things.
- If your boat is in the
water, do not take it out of the water until you are ready to winterize
it! Water remains in the lower unit of inboard/out drives and plumbing
until flushed in the winterizing process. This water can freeze and do
damage to your boat in a matter of hours if the temperature drops below 32
degrees. If your boat remains in the lake it is much slower to freeze.
- Blow out sprinkler
system if you have one.
- Rake up or mow any
thick areas of leaves covering grass to prevent mold from growing on your
grass in the spring.
- Electric heating
systems require no maintenance other than shutting off the power to the
- For hot air heating
systems turn off burner emergency switch
- Drain humidifier,
which is usually located on the furnace.
- Forced hot water and
steam systems: Drain all water in the system unless the liquid contains
anti-freeze. It is wise to have this type of system drained by a plumber
unless you are well informed on the procedures necessary.
- Winterize your summer
home as you do your winter home. To help conserve energy when the home is
not occupied, install a low-heat thermostat. By doing this your home could
be maintained at abut 40° F. without a freeze-up, rather than at 55 F.
which is the lowest temperature at which most thermostats can be set.
Water Tasks to Prevent Broken Pipes and Leaks
- Disconnect hoses from
outside pipes to prevent freezing, swelling and breaking of pipes.
- If you are turning the
heat off, shut off water systems by turning off the pump or shutting the
valve if on city water. Drain the pressure tank. Check for traps in these
locations: kitchen sinks, bathroom sinks, bathtub and/or shower drains,
toilets, washtubs, floor drains and maybe a sump pump.
- Open all faucets.
- Break a union close to
the valve so water will drain out clear to the shut-off valve.
- Drain the pump and run
a second or two to be sure all water is out of lines from the pump.
- Flush toilets and dip
all water out of the flush tank.
- Be sure to drain
flexible spray hoses in showers and sinks.
- Drain water softeners
so water will drain back from soft water pipes and controls. Brine tanks
will probably not freeze.
- Drain water heaters.
Determine whether you need a Freeze Alarm. This is an alarm to alert home
and cabin owners before pipes freeze. It automatically calls up to three
numbers to warm of a drop in temperature at a remote cabin or home.
Washer and dishwasher
- Water left in hoses
and internal components can cause damage when it freezes. Shut off water
supply to clothes washer. Remove and drain inlet hoses. Clear water valve
by setting the timer for fill cycle. Press the warm water button and run
the machine a few seconds. Drain water from drain hose. Disconnect
- For a dishwasher,
remove inlet and outlet connection to the valve. Operate valve to remove
any water. Remove drain hose from the pump and drain. Disconnect
- It is also a good idea
to clean the equipment and to protect the finish with a coat of appliance
- Force as much water as
possible out of traps with a plunger.
- Add antifreeze to each
trap so you have at least a 50% solution of ethylene - glycol and water.
Sometimes fuel oil can be substituted for antifreeze.
last tip. Take some pictures of the lake and post them on the refrigerator
or at work, that way, even though the lake home is closed, you can always take a
quick peek at what you have to look forward to next spring.
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