The Ultimate Guide to Cottage Maintenance

Why Is Cottage Maintenance Important?

Maintaining your cottage is crucial. Imagine that you're going up to your seasonal cottage for a week with your family. You, your spouse and your kids have been looking forward to it for weeks. You were finally able to book time off work, and your kids are on summer break. After spending your entire morning driving there, within moments of arriving, you realize things aren't as great as you imagined. The roof has loose shingles, weeds are growing all over your usually beautiful lawn, the deck is creaky when you walk on it, and your ATV struggles to start.

When you get inside, you see residual water in the middle of your living room, the power isn't quite working, and one of your kids now has hundreds of new roommates in the form of cockroaches who refuse to pay rent. Upon absorbing the scene, you decide to get to work and still do your best to deliver the best week to your family possible.

After you've spent hours and hours roofing, cleaning, gardening, doing mechanical work, handy work, and 'evicting' your new tenants, it's the afternoon of the fifth day, and you’ve missed your chance at an enjoyable cottage experience. Not to mention left a hefty hole in your wallet. The trip has now been more trouble than it's worth, and you go back with the knowledge that your time would have been better spent at home. It would have been best if you thought of proper cottage maintenance beforehand.

How Much Time Should You Spend on Cottage Maintenance per Year?

The average person spends about an hour daily on household maintenance and cleaning. However, expecting someone to spend over 365 hours maintaining their cottage in a year is excessive. Cottage life is different from home life, so one would wonder how much time you spend cleaning and fixing things while you're supposed to be making memories. However, a cottage maintenance regime is a lot less disruptive (and expensive) than cottage repair. An hour per day is usually best for ordinary days, but there are a couple of days that you'll want to spend a little bit more time on cottage maintenance tasks to ensure your cottage, and family, are protected. The first is the day you arrive at your vacation property to make sure you watch for any problems that came up while you were gone. The other is the day you leave to minimize the chances of an accident while absent. Some quick maintenance is essential at the end of cottage season.

Maintaining the Outside of Your Cottage


One of the most critical aspects of your cottage is the roof. You might take a working roof for granted, but you'll notice when something is wrong. It's also one of the most vulnerable since it takes a lot of wear and tear from precipitation, which can be significantly damaging in an especially harsh winter.

Due to all the excessive damage a roof can take in the winter, spring is seen by many as the best time of year to do roofing maintenance. When you do so, check for missing, damaged or dead shingles, peeling and stains on your roof. Make sure to also remove debris from your roof and gutters and to do so in a safe manner.

Deck and Dock

Decks and docks don't just sound alike; they are alike in how they share many of the same hazards and maintenance tips. Many points apply to both of them.

For example, loose screws and nails should either be tightened or replaced. If any boards are damaged, including rot damage, those boards should be replaced as soon as possible. Power washing each of these things once per visit should also be a high priority, especially for docks. Be aware that both decks and docks will eventually have to be replaced entirely, but both will also last much longer when maintained well.

Decks should also be sanded once every few years. Docks should have dock fenders and rubber bumpers to protect the dock (and your boat) from possible collisions.

Windows, Doors and Water Damage

One of the most overlooked aspects of windows is the window screen. It is crucial, though, as neglecting this can often lead to an infestation of bugs. The last thing you want to take back home at the end of a week away is dozens of mosquito bites. Window screens, as well as screen doors, should be replaced as soon as needed. Double-hung vinyl windows are recommended when replacing your old ones with new ones since they are an inexpensive way to keep temperatures stable throughout the year.

When window cleaning, pick a dry, cloudy day. Doing so will allow your cleaning solution enough time to dry, preventing streaks.

Check for any grime, dust or other substances that could clog up your hinges on doors and windows. Be sure to replace any chalking that has cracked or shrunk, as this prevents unwanted water from coming into your cottage or damaging your doorframe. Also, be sure to replace any door that displays wood rot damage.

Clear Outdoor Clutter

While it is essential to ensure things like gardening tools, bikes and other large objects are put away, cottage owners might overlook the much smaller things outside. Property management includes ensuring that you have taken care of garbage removal and that pieces of debris are disposed of is an important part of property maintenance. Failing to do so could attract pests like roaches, ants and rodents.

Ensure your cottage property is clean on the outside before returning home. Remembering things like lawn care so that you can prevent weeds and overgrowth is also best.

Maintaining the Inside of Your Cottage

Living Spaces

This includes areas like a kitchen, living room, hallway and bedrooms; since they're areas you'll probably spend a lot of time, don't neglect them. It's vital to ensure you clean up regularly, just as you tell your kids. This includes food, dishes, and general clutter. It's especially important that you clean up before leaving. If you thought dishes left out for one night were terrible, imagine what they'll be like if they're left out for several months while you're not at the cottage.

Also, make sure you handle things like sweeping and mopping to remove any small pieces of debris before you leave. Having unguarded and wide-open food is an excellent way to invite pests into your place.

Ensure you regularly clean off things like table tops and follow proper hygiene rules. As anybody who lived through 2020 can tell you, diseases can be tough to eliminate, so it's best to keep yourself and your living area clean.


The average person often overlooks plumbing until it becomes a problem, and at that point, it's often too late. The best way to fix plumbing problems is to stop them from starting in the first place.

Some common plumbing problems are clogs, leaks and pressure issues. You can reduce the chances of a clog by ensuring that you and others only flush dissolvable waste down drains and toilets and using a hair catcher, especially in the shower. If you're unlucky enough to have a clog, having a plunger and drain cleaning chemicals on hand is also recommended.

Dripping faucets are more difficult to prevent because they usually result from wear and tear and are generally fixed with a washer. You can help prevent low water pressure from being an issue by installing a filtration system. Even though you can solve either of these problems yourself, it would be best to call someone else if you don't have the know-how.


To avoid a nasty shock, you'll want to maintain your electrical system. It's best that when you arrive and before you leave, you inspect each of your electrical outlets and replace any damaged ones. Unplugging any appliances you aren't using is also a good idea. This will ease the strain on your electrical system and help the device last longer. It's also best to ensure any larger pieces of equipment, including air conditioning, are functioning. Who wants to be stuck without air conditioning during the hot summer days?

Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Detectors

As much as you don't want to worry about these things while vacationing, a vital part of cottage maintenance is ensuring these emergency devices work. Testing them takes a few minutes, and replacing batteries is straightforward. Remember, doing this could save your and your family's lives, so there's no better reason to take a few minutes when you arrive to double-check that everything is in working order.

Check for Pests

It's not just dodging rent that these little guys can do to annoy you. They can also dirty your home, eat your food and damage your furniture. Talk about rude house guests! As mentioned above, you can greatly reduce your risk with proper cottage cleaning, so that's a very simple and important first step.

Mice can usually be found in dark, quiet areas of a cottage where they're not likely to be disturbed, and then come out at night and take food from your pantry. Ants tend to live near food, so the kitchen is the most likely place for you to find them, but they can make their way to any room in the house, so best to check every nook and cranny. If you catch an unwanted guest, having traps ready to go is an excellent measure to take.

Insuring your Cottage

Just like you would never want to leave your home or car uninsured, you don't want to leave your cottage uninsured. Luckily, cottage insurance is available so you don't have to worry about losing a fortune on an unlucky accident where simple cottage maintenance wasn't enough. Since every cottage is different, your insurance should be tailored to your individual needs. Speak to a top-rated insurance broker like Morison Insurance to receive a quote.

Recreational Toys

Ensuring that any fun vehicles you use in cottage country are all working is time-consuming but well worth it. In addition to getting ATV insurance, seadoo insurance, travel trailer insurance and boat insurance, there's a bunch you can do to ensure you minimize the risks that come with all this heavy equipment. Each of these requires a check that the engine is still working well, occasional oil changes, and simple cleanliness. Each of these things also has unique parts that need to be inspected, such as the hull of a boat and the wheels and tires of an ATV. Understanding the ins and outs of each piece of equipment you use to avoid a disaster is vital.

Inventory Check

No matter what steps you take to prevent problems, there's always going to be a slight chance something will go wrong. Make sure that you have a home inventory list in order to ensure that everything you have is covered by your insurance. A home inventory list is a detailed list with receipts of valuable items in your home that you want to protect under your insurance policy.

Emergency Kit and Extra Parts

Keeping a spare outlet cover or two, some drain cleaner and a plunger, pest traps, extra batteries, and anything else that could fix problems that arise is a good start. Keeping your cottage equipment ready to go in case of an emergency will help stop you from facing a worst-case scenario and give you peace of mind. It's also best you take things such as a first aid kit and a flashlight in case a worst-case scenario hits.

You’ll also want to ensure that you have some backup of important items. If you need spare parts for doors or windows, spare tools, batteries, and anything else that could help you out of a tight spot.

This content is written by our Morison Insurance team. All information posted is merely for educational and informational purposes. It is not intended as a substitute for professional advice. Should you decide to act upon any information in this article, you do so at your own risk. While the information on this website has been verified to the best of our abilities, we cannot guarantee that there are no mistakes or errors.

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