Providing Plumbing Solutions Since 1986

Fall Closing Services
for Cottages

Summer is over, and the onset of colder weather means it’s time to close up the cottage for the winter. There is a lot to do, and if the plumbing isn’t done correctly, there will be problems in the spring. Many cottage owners hire out the close-up and winterization, particularly the plumbing, as it is one of the biggest jobs. Plumbtech Plumbing serves the plumbing needs of cottagers from Simcoe County to Muskoka and Parry Sound areas.

Worry-Free Service

There is a lot involved with closing down a cottage. Sometimes things are forgotten, which can lead to leaks, burst or split pipes, pump issues, and more. If someone uses the cottage after the water system has been shut down and winterized, everything will need to be turned off and re-winterized; otherwise, there could be plumbing problems when it’s time to use it again.

The Plumbing System

There are two parts – incoming water and outgoing water or wastewater. Each has to be winterized, as well as every fixture that is attached to water or wastewater.

Draining the Water

All the water lines will need to be drained. If the plumbing system doesn’t drain by gravity alone, the lines may need to be blown out with a compressor. The lines will need to be open to air dry. All the taps, levers, or knobs, inside and out, should be left open. Water will need to be drained at the incoming pump. Any pipes that are hidden behind the walls and underground will need to be winterized. Some may need to be blown out with pressurized air. Plugs will need to be removed and stored safely where they can be easily found for reinsertion in the spring.


Protect fixtures for the winter months and seal the fixtures where needed. For example, tape the toilet seat down so that it won’t be used.

The Hot Water Heater

Special attention is required for some fixtures to work properly in the spring. When draining the hot water tank, turn off any switches as well as the breaker. Tape it down and mark it “off” or “keep off.” Otherwise, the heater element will burn out.

Turn off power

Turn off the power to the pump that supplies water to the cottage. This should also be turned off at the breaker and marked so that it won’t be turned on if the power is used during a winter visit.

Filter systems

Drain the water purification and filtration systems. Some cottagers, depending on the model, remove systems with a UV light and store them at home for the winter months.


Any appliances that use water will need to be drained too. Some appliances will require antifreeze.

Water Pump

Drain the water pump. Remove the plug and store it in a safe place where it can be easily found in the spring. Some cottagers also pull the intake line from the water while others disconnect from the pump. A tap inserted into the line at the shore will also release the water. Leave the tap open.

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Winterizing the Toilet

Toilets require special treatment. Once the water is turned off, it needs to be flushed twice. This will take most of the water from the back of the toilet and the bowl. The remaining water needs to be sponged out. The water supply line will also need to be drained and reconnected before adding antifreeze to the tank and bowl. Tape the seat down to prevent inadvertent use.

Septic Systems

Cottages with a sewage pump leading to the septic bed will need to winterize with a final pump up to the septic bed before adding antifreeze. Turn off the power to it for the winter as well. Some drain the line between the sewage pump and the septic bed and then add antifreeze. It
keeps the line from freezing, and it’s ready to go in the spring.

Holding Tanks

Some cottagers have a holding tank for wastewater. It will need to be winterized, too, along with any fixture, usually a toilet, that empties into it.


Antifreeze will need to be added. There are different types of antifreeze depending on use. Plumbtech knows what type to use, where to add it, and how much to use. Plumbing antifreeze where it’s required, including sink and shower drains.

Reminder Notes

Post reminder notes where needed for anyone using the cottage. It’s a good idea to have a closing to-do list and make sure everything is checked off.

Using the Cottage after it’s Winterized

Many seasonal cottage owners will continue to use the cottage from time to time over the winter months. Some have processes in place that allow for water services to be started again for the visit and then closed down again when it’s time to leave. If this isn’t done properly, there will be problems in the spring.

If the plumbing system has been winterized, you will need to bring drinking water and have access to water for cooking and cleaning up.
Toilets and septic systems will not be useable once winterized because the drains will freeze. Many cottagers will use a portable toilet or an outhouse instead. Whatever is used will need to be turned off and winterized again, including the hydro. Make sure the breakers remain off and marked; otherwise, pumps and motors may burn out.

How Can I Have Running Water in the Winter?

All of the plumbing lines will need to be heated to prevent freezing. Heat will also need to be left on in the cottage over the winter months, which can become very expensive. If the hydro goes out, freezing may still occur depending on the length of time it is out.

For a cottage to be fully winterized, it will require insulation from top to bottom, including a crawl space and a plan for how to handle wastewater and septic systems.

How Do I Handle Post Season Use by Visitors?

Leave reminder notes. If someone uses the cottage after the water system has been shut down and winterized, it could lead to plumbing problems later. Tape the toilet seat down as a visual alert to prevent use.

Beyond Plumbing

While the water and wastewater systems are the biggest component of the annual cottage close-up, there is always more to do to ready it for winter. Boats need to be pulled from the water and, if motorized, will need to be winterized. Food and any liquids will need to be packed up and brought back home.

We pride ourselves on being the local plumbers Barrie and area property owners trust.

Contact us for all your plumbing needs.

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