Winter Visits – Do they harm your cottage?


The snow is now on the ground throughout cottage country and it will undoubtedly stay here until the spring. Many cottagers venture up to their un-insulated or lightly insulated summer cottages to enjoy the beauty of nature during the winter months. What you do not realize is that these sporadic winter visits can actually cause quite a bit of damage to your cottage.

Generally, when we arrive at the cottage during the winter, the first thing done is to get rid of the chill. Either by making a blazing fire in the woodstove or fireplace or just by jacking up the heat to get rid of the chill!

After the cottage is warm and toasty, many of us will set off to enjoy the outdoors by snowshoeing, snowmobiling, ice fishing or just playing in the snow. When we come back inside, we inevitably track in a little snow! Add this with the showers and the cooking we do, we are loading the air up with moisture.
When, we just turn off the heat and leave, the moisture in the air condenses – this is especially true where the air comes in contact with cold surfaces. You will begin to see damage in these places in the form of mould, mildew and water stains.

If these winter visits to your summer cottage become a regular occurrence, you will eventually see structural damage occurring. If making winter visits to the cottage is something you want to do, you should consider adding insulation and a vapour barrier. This will help moderate the difference between inside and outside temperatures and prevent moisture from entering the wall.

If you just head up north to the cottage a couple of weekends a year you probably don’t have too much to worry about. But if you want, you can remove the moisture from your cottage by opening the doors and windows while the heat is off. You can do this while you are getting ready to leave. It will make the air inside the cottage as cool and dry as the air outside and prevent condensation from occurring inside. That being said, any cottage that does not have insulation will periodically find some condensation indoors. This is caused by the sun and the heat is produces.

The moral of the story? Enjoy your cottage in the winter – just make sure you close it up properly when you are done so there are no nasty surprises when you come back!

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