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Tips for Opening Up Your Cottage in the Spring

As cold as the Michigan winter weather is right now weather, we know that these days shall pass. And once they do, it will hopefully mean time to get back the warmer way of life in Michigan. Part of this means the spring rite of passage of opening up our season lake home, cottage or cabin for a summer of enjoyment if you are fortunate to have one.

A couple of years ago we reviewed some tips for closing down and winterizing your cottage. Let’s go over some timely items for opening it back up.

First, your water. With luck and proper care, you didn’t have any plumbing issues over the winter months. If you drained the water out of your cottage, you should not have encountered any problems. But these things can still happen, it is difficult to always fully drain lines if you didn’t use an air compressor to blow them out. Now, turning your water back on is as easy as switching the water pump to “on” on your breaker. Keep in mind if you have any faucets wide open when you drained, if they are still wide open they may spew brown water as water circulates through your pipes for the first time. A tip – bring some toilet bowl cleaner, as new water and antifreeze can leave a black residue in your toilet bowls for the first few flushes.

Second, and this is very important – DO NOT turn your water heater on right away. Your water heater will initially be empty as you drained it in the fall. If you flip it on in your breaker box right away, you can burn up the element in the water heater as it is dry. Wait at least 20 to 30 minutes after turning your water breaker on before turning on your water heater. (this is a good time to turn the water on and go outside to enjoy the fresh air or view of the lake and have a beverage before you turn your water heater on!)

Next, an exterior visual inspection. How did your roof hold up with the snowfall? If you have a metal roof, do all of your sections look intact. If you have shingles, how weathered do they look. Did you lose any shingles? Was there any ice buildup that sheered off gutters? Also, how did your siding or logs making it through the winter? Within this, check all of your windows for any damage or flexing.

Check your chimney and or the furnace outlet that you have. Make sure there isn’t any blockage in any PVC furnace exhaust pipes and make sure the exterior of your fireplace or woodstove chimneys are intact before you build a fire or start your furnace. You may also want to have your wood stove or fireplace chimney professionally cleaned or inspected.

Finally, if you have rain gutters, be sure to make sure they didn’t suffer any damage from wind or ice. Ice can build up in gutters over the winter, which can lead to backups and leaks during spring thaws.

If you have a sump pump, be sure to check that this is working properly as well. Spring in Northern Michigan means snowmelt and rain, which can mean a full water table in the ground. A properly functioning sump pump is important. Installing a battery sump pump in case of failure or a power outage can be good piece of mind as well.

Finally, check your cabinets, especially in the kitchen. Hopefully, you took care of your food and didn’t have any unwanted rodent visitors. If so, get some mouse traps set or call a professional rodent control expert.

Hopefully with good shut down maintenance in the Fall, you will be dealing with minimal issues in the spring as you look forward to a fun season of up-north enjoyment.