This discussion on maintenance has been provided so you as a new or current seasonal cottage or four season vacation home owner can better understand the requirement for ongoing and vigilant maintenance both inside and outside your cottage or vacation home for a carefree and relaxing cottage experience. It is highly recommended that you begin this process as soon as you take possession of your property while the residence is still empty and definitely every spring opening. This will allow you to see any conditions which may have changed, occurred or become evident since the initial third party building inspection, acceptance of the offer to purchase, closing of the deal and changes based on the winter hiatus. The following aspects are the most immediate once you have taken possession.
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Perform a “Walk About” around the buildings and perimeter of the property inspecting for damaged or down power lines, damaged water lines, fallen trees and branches, torn screens, broken windows and shutters, damaged docks, decks, roofs, and shifting cracking foundations.
Inspect all the walls, doors and windows for caulking and blistering or peeling paint
Inspect decks, verandahs, screened-in porches for any rotten wood, popping nails, loose stairs, corroded connectors, beams, supports and lifts.
Clean off roof and eaves troughs of all leaves and needles
Inspect water intake system, foot valves, water lines and all connections for leaks. Replace all filters.
Inspect power supply and then turn on power. Reconnect, prime and start water pumps. Turn water on.
Open water line to hot water heater and turn on hot water heater. Turn on hot water tap farthest and highest away from hot water source and check for leaks.
Check fireplace and chimney for blockages. Remember winter often brings unwanted visitors who build cozy homes in chimneys.
Test all smoke and CO2 detectors and replace batteries.
Inspect all fire extinguishers for charging and effective charging date.
Replace batteries in flashlights.
Inspect all appliances for chewed wires, corrosion, fit finish and function.
Inspect all propane or gas powered appliances for leaks, fit, finish and function.
Clean and set up porch, deck and dock furniture.
Turn on baseboard or other heaters as required.
Your cottage septic system is the most important and integral component of your cottage or four season vacation home. Peak operating efficiency and effectiveness is the goal. Septic holding tanks should be inspected every two years and pumped out every 3 to 5 years depending on family loading and usage.
Visual inspection requires removing the concrete lids which are usually buried and also heavy. Installing a new concrete lid with a built in green plastic riser would make the septic far more accessible for ease of inspection and is now a requirement for all new septic installations.
The visual inspection will indicate the consistency of the surface scum. The sludge at the bottom should be no more than 1/3 the depth of the tank. Too full and the sludge and floating solids can flow into the weeping tile bed and cause blockages over time. Repairs to the tile bed can be expensive. If the septic tank has an effluent filter in the secondary chamber it should be inspected three times per year.