PEI

Finally ready to open the cottage? Here are some helpful tips

The cold, wet spring on P.E.I. has presented some challenges for some cottage owners who are getting their properties ready for the summer.

Managing water damage is crucial, says property manager

Paul MacKinnon, owner of Emerald Isle Property Management and P.E.I. Vacation Properties, says he’s had to delay opening many of the 60 summer homes he manages. This summer home is located in Long River. (Submitted by Paul MacKinnon)

The cold, wet spring on P.E.I. and many other places in Canada has presented some challenges for some cottage owners who are getting their properties ready for the summer.

Paul MacKinnon, owner of Emerald Isle Property Management and P.E.I. Vacation Properties, says he's had to delay opening many of the 60 summer homes he manages.

"It's really put us behind the 8-ball this year because it's been so cold so it's really delayed getting cottages open, which in turn delays getting plumbers there, which in turn delays fixing anything that may arise," he said.

"So we're rocking now because the rental season starts in two or three weeks really."

MacKinnon offers these tips for getting your cottage ready for the season.

Check for water damage

Water is the biggest issue when it comes to getting your cottage ready after a P.E.I. winter, especially if it's not on a foundation, MacKinnon said.

Pipes can shift over the winter, causing leaks. (Shutterstock/Andrey_Popov)

With frost heaves in the winter, the piping underneath the cottage can shift, which might cause leaks.

After a thorough check, MacKinnon will get a plumber to come in and turn on the water. They'll turn on the taps and flush the toilets to make sure everything is working properly.

If you're not planning to stay, MacKinnon recommends turning the power off again, so if there was a leak that went undetected the pumps won't be pumping water and causing more damage.

"Water is key," he said. "Control water at all costs whether it's getting in or whether it's in your water pipes."

Check the windows and doors

Especially along the coast, the weather can take a toll.

Rust can be a problem, especially for cottages near saltwater. (Shutterstock)

"The closer you are to salt water has a real effect on stuff, from locks not working to your outdoor lights being rusted out," MacKinnon said.

There's also a good chance the caulking around the windows and doors will need to be redone, he said.

"All those entry points where water could blow through are checked thoroughly in our inspection early in the spring," he said. "It's not hard to see water stains. You'll see it on window sills, you'll see it around trim or staining on the window itself."

Check the electricity

Check to see if the power lines were damaged over the winter.

Are the appliances working? The internet? Phones?

If not, better to flag it sooner rather than later.

Check for rodents

MacKinnon said it's a good idea to be proactive when it comes to keeping pests out of the cottages.

Being pro-active in the fall can help manage any pest problems in the spring. (Robert Corrigan/Columbia University)

For him, that means baiting for mice and ants in the fall. He uses a special bait that dehydrates the mice so there is no smell.

Raccoons and squirrels will try to find warm places in the winter, but if the cottage is secure there shouldn't be a problem.

"They tend to get into sheds and stuff and they can do a ton of damage," MacKinnon said. That's when it might be time to call in the pest control experts.

If you do proper maintenance in the spring, there's a better chance you'll enjoy your cottage more in the summer, MacKinnon says. (Shutterstock)

A cottage should be a place where you can relax and unwind. That's why cleaning and maintenance is important in the spring, MacKinnon said, because a small problem left unfixed in May can become a big problem in July.

"Focus on windows and doors and focus on your water, your exterior, especially if you're on the ocean," he said.

"Keeping up on those things, you'd be fine and you can go and enjoy your cottage and not have a bunch of issues over the summer."

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