The logs are sealed, the cracks are filled, and it’s time to tuck your cabin in for its long winter’s nap. What else should you do to keep your log home safe and dry while you’re away for the winter?
Do not leave any food in the house that isn’t in tightly-sealed metal or glass containers: dry pasta in a canister is ok; dry pasta in an unsealed box is not. Empty, clean, and unplug the refrigerator and freezer and prop the doors open. If you bring bird feeders inside for the winter, be sure to wash them well before storing. Mice will eat anything: flour, dog food, birdseed, even candles! Even with nothing for them to eat, they’ll want in out of the cold, so be sure to close the chimney flue AND install a chimney cap. Laying dryer sheets around the house is a pleasant-smelling deterrent. Traps and poisons might earn you a collection of dead mice come Spring, so be sure to choose the kind that induce thirst and cause animals to leave your property in search of water.
Protect your stuff
Bring in any outdoor décor or lightweight furniture that might get blown around in a storm. Inside, unplug everything. Strip the beds, tip the mattresses upright and cover them with old sheets. Leave all furniture cushions propped at angles and all interior doors open—this will help airflow while you’re gone. Be sure to take, lock up, or hide valuables. Hire a snowplow service for the winter to make sure a fire truck can make it to the cabin if needed. You might also consider an alarm service that can detect and report fires and break-ins while you’re away. If you leave your electricity on, a motion detecting light can help deter unwanted guests of all sizes.
There are many schools of thought on just how “shut down” your cabin should be for the winter. Talk to your insurance agent and consider hiring a plumber or professional winterizing service to do what’s best for you.
If you leave the utilities on…
· Still unplug everything and turn off breakers except the ones that affect heater and water heater
· Set thermostat all the way down to 40 degrees
· Most water heaters have a “vacation” setting—use it
· Shut off your water main, then leave all taps open. This can prevent pipes freezing and bursting if the heater fails
· Pour RV-grade antifreeze (which is far less caustic than the stuff we put in our cars) into sink and shower drains, and into toilet bowls and tanks. This, too, prevents freezing and cracking of pipes and porcelain
· Shut off gas supply to oven, if applicable
If you want to shut it all off…
· Consider hiring a plumber! You’ll need to empty your water heater, turn off, blow out, and disconnect all water lines to refrigerator, washing machines, etc
· Also good jobs for a plumber: turn off and disconnect gas lines and tanks
· You’ll need to empty toilet bowls and tanks (or top off with RV antifreeze) and wrap the toilet bowl in plastic wrap to prevent sewer gases from entering your home—yuck!
Be sure your gutters are clear of debris and any exterior pipes (including crawl space) are insulated. Shutter or board up doors and windows and let police or neighbors know that the house is shut down for the season.