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Cottage Closing Tips

A “how to” for powering down your seasonal home
photo of a cottage during autumn

With the arrival of fall colours and cooler temperatures, it’s time for cottage owners to think about closing for the season. Whether you turn off the electricity over the winter, or leave electricity on to keep some mechanicals running year-round, the steps below will help you close the cottage with electrical safety in mind.

When I close my cottage for the season, I will...

Keep Power On Turn Power Off Bring a Checklist

1. Check the powerlines

Start by walking the property and taking note of any changes. Check your hydro poles and powerlines for damage. Note any fallen branches or trees. If you see a downed or damaged powerline, keep back at least 10 metres and call Hydro One’s emergency line immediately at 1-800-434-1235. If your property experienced spring flooding, consult our Flood Safety page. Any time water makes contact with electrical systems, there's a heightened risk of electric shock and serious injury. Take steps to get your power reconnected safely.

If everything’s intact, take proactive steps to prevent outages or hazards: hire a qualified contractor to prune trees that are too close to powerlines. If the line is on Hydro One property, request a Tree Trimming service and we’ll send a qualified team to assess the issue.

Need a temporary disconnect?

To help keep you safe, Hydro One will disconnect your power supply free of charge once a year. If you’re planning landscaping or maintenance near powerlines, or working on electrical equipment, contact us to schedule a Temporary Disconnect or submit a Service Request through myAccount.

2. Inspect the exterior

Circle the cottage from outside to identify any damage or vandalism over the winter. Check if animals have torn window screens or created holes in the roof or soffits. Inspect your electricity meter and report any damage to Hydro One at 1-888-664-9376. Check visible wiring to outdoor fixtures, water pumps and other equipment. If wiring is damaged, remove the fuse to that circuit or turn off the circuit breaker, and call a certified electrician. If the area experienced flooding, look for water damage and have an electrician inspect your electrical equipment. Finally, ensure all railings, steps and footings are secure, as heat-and-freeze cycles can cause the ground to heave or shift.

3. Secure the interior

You may be excited to be back, but it’s best to enter the cottage with caution. Inspect each room for signs of mice or other critters, especially the kitchen. If you find animal waste, treat it like a health hazard and call a pest control company. Check appliance cords and electrical plugs for any damage from gnawing animals. Never use appliances or light fixtures with damaged cords; replace the cords first.

4. Power up safely

Before turning to your electrical panel, make sure you’ve inspected all interior wiring and electrical outlets. If any wiring has been compromised or destroyed, turn off the circuit breaker or remove the fuse to that circuit. Then, call an electrician to arrange for repairs. If your electrical panel has fuses, ensure they’re screwed in tightly. Do not use fuses higher than 15 amps, and have some spares on hand.

If everything’s intact and you’re ready to power up the cottage, start by looking at the secondary or “branch” circuits. Make sure they’re all switched off. Turn on the main circuit breaker. Next, energize each secondary circuit one at a time – this helps to protect against a fault to your main breaker. Finally, go from room to room checking for flickering lights, burning smells or sparking fixtures. If you find any, have them addressed immediately by a certified electrician.

5. Turn on the taps

Once the power is safely on, the next step is to turn on your water system. Ensure the drain valve at the bottom of your water tank is closed. Open the hot water tap at any sink, making sure to choose a tap that’s at a higher level than the water tank. Open the cold water shut-off to the tank. Leave the hot water tap opened until water starts running. Turn on the power to the water heater at the fuse box or electrical panel. Finally, check the tank and drain the valve for leaks.

6. Get comfortable

Now that you have electricity and water, you can start to make yourself comfortable. A home needs air circulation, so you’ll want to ventilate your space. Open the windows and get the air moving. Musty smells are a sign of trapped moisture. Address mildew or mold issues by ventilating and drying out the cottage. Test your heating system – whether it’s baseboard heaters, forced air, radiators or boilers – to ensure it’s functioning properly. If you have a forced-air system, it’s a great time to change the air filter.

7. Be prepared

Practise fire safety and emergency preparedness. Ensure your fire extinguishers are fully charged. It’s a good time to replace the batteries in your smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors. In case of a power outage, have an emergency kit ready: bottled water, dry foods, flashlight and phone charger. For updates on power outages, get our outage tools or call Hydro One at 1-800-434-1235.

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