How to Protect Your Seasonal Property

The biggest risk to your seasonal property or cabin is that it sits empty. Not only does this make your property a target for criminals, but it also makes it vulnerable to damage. Because no one is around, damage can go undetected and cause far worse problems than if it’s caught quickly. Some of the most common causes of damage to seasonal properties are: 

  • Break-and-enter (theft and vandalism) 
  • Flooding  
  • Frozen and burst pipes 
  • Roof leaks 
  • Wildfire 
  • Wind 

We’ll provide some tips to protect your seasonal property, cottage or cabin from these perils.  

Preventing Break-and-Enters 

Seasonal properties are popular targets for criminals as they’re often empty – meaning there’s no one to interrupt the theft and it will take time to notice something is missing. A break-and-enter can also result in damage to the property. Here are some tips to prevent a break-and-enter: 

  • Install a monitored alarm system.  
  • Install security cameras. 
  • Install motion-triggered lighting.  
  • Ensure your property is secured before leaving – doors and windows locked.  
  • Have someone check on your property regularly.  
  • Use a smart home system or timers to turn light off and on to make it look like someone is there.  
  • Put away outdoor items such as furniture, bicycles, barbeques and other items.  
  • Do not leave a spare key hidden on the property. 
  • Install strong deadbolt locks.  
  • Arrange for the property to be cared for such as lawn maintenance or snow removal, if applicable.  


Protecting Your Seasonal Property from Flooding 

Flooding can be caused by the overflow of a river, lake or other body of water. It can also be caused by rapid accumulation of snowmelt or rain. While you can’t do anything to control the weather, you can do the following to protect your home: 

  • Regrade your property to drain water away from buildings. 
  • Keep snow away from the home’s foundation.  
  • Regularly inspect and fill in cracks and holes in the foundation or concrete around the home. 
  • Check the weather stripping on windows and doors; re-seal if necessary. 
  • Keep eavestroughs clear of debris. 
  • Ensure downspouts drain at least three meters from buildings, preferably in areas with grass or foliage.  
  • Waterproof exterior features where possible.  
  • Ensure weeping tile and foundation drains are in good repair. 
  • If you have window wells, ensure they are clear of debris. You may want to add transparent window well covers to help keep water and snow out while still allowing light into the building. 
  • Install a water alarm. 
  • Use a rain barrel system.  
  • Install backflow valves to prevent sewer backup damage. 
  • Install a sump pump and have a backup battery or generator in case the power goes out. 
  • Landscape with plants to help soak up water and prevent erosion. 

Some of these actions can also help you get discounts on your insurance, such as installing sewer back up valves.  


Preventing Frozen and Burst Pipes 

A burst pipe can cause a lot of damage to your seasonal property. Turning off the water and draining the pipes is the number one thing that will help prevent this type of damage! If you absolutely must leave the water on, make sure you do the following: 

  • Maintain an internal temperature of at least 15C.  
  • Ensure your home is properly insulated.  
  • Insulate pipes, especially those located in outer walls or colder areas of the home. 
  • Ensure the outdoor water is shut off, hoses are disconnected, and consider installing frost-free spigots.  
  • Open cupboard doors to allow warm air to reach the pipes. 
  • Install a water alarm.  

If you’re visiting your property and it is very cold, you can also run the faucet at a trip to keep water moving through the system.  


Preventing Roof Leaks 

A leaking roof can be a nightmare, especially as the damage can go unnoticed for longer in a seasonal property. Here are some tips to prevent roof leaks: 

  • Do not walk on your roof unless necessary.  
  • Leave your roof vents open.  
  • Trim surrounding trees so branches aren’t rubbing the roof.  
  • Clean out your eaves and gutters regularly.  
  • Regularly check the condition of your roof. Check for missing, lifted, curled or cracked shingles. You should also check seals of vents, chimneys and anything else on your roof.  
  • Ensure your attic is properly insulated. Reducing air leakage to your attic can also help keep the temperature down during winter. 
  • Ensure your vents are open and working properly.  
  • Check your attic for evidence of leaks – water stains, black marks or mould.  
  • Repair any issues as soon as they’re found – or hire a professional to do it.  
  • If an ice dam forms, have it professionally removed.  


Protecting Your Seasonal Property from Wildfire 

Wildfires are a major risk for seasonal properties, particularly cabins and cottages, as they tend to be in less accessible, forested areas. Here are some tips for protecting your seasonal property from wildfire: 

  • For general fire safety, you should have battery-operated smoke detectors throughout the property. 
  • Have your chimney and/or fireplace cleaned and inspected yearly. 
  • Install fire suppression equipment such as a sprinkler system. 
  • Choose fire resistant materials for roofing and siding when it comes time to replace them: tile, metal, brick, concrete, stone and stucco.  
  • Treat any wood exterior finishes with fire-retardant chemicals. 
  • Use fire-resistant window treatments or install metal fire shutters.  
  • Place metal mesh on exterior vents and any other openings. They can also be used on eaves. They keep out debris and soot from entering.  
  • Ensure emergency services can access your property and have room to maneuver.  
  • Store combustibles such as firewood at least six meters from your home. You can also cover them with fire-resistant covers. 
  • Consider fire-resistant landscaping such as rocks, stones and sand, particularly near buildings. Concrete patios and pads also work.  
  • Avoid placing plants right next to buildings. 
  • Clear out dead vegetation.  
  • Keep grass short within six meters of any buildings. 
  • Choose planting deciduous trees over coniferous trees. 
  • Thin trees so that they are three to six meters apart (from the crown) and prune them so there are no branches below two meters.  


Protecting Your Seasonal Property from Wind Damage 

Wind damage can occur at any time of year. It can bring down trees and tear off roofing and siding. It can also throw items which cause impact damage to your property. Here are some tips for protecting your seasonal property from wind damage: 

  • Store furniture and other loose items inside where possible. Alternatively, tie items down so they can’t be blown around.  
  • Keep siding and roofing in good repair – secure anything that is loose. 
  • Keep your trees free from dead limbs.  
  • Install storm shutters and close them when you leave your seasonal property. You can also make your own plywood storm shutters.  
  • Install deadbolts that go into the door jamb at least one inch. 
  • If you have double doors, install head and foot bolts to both doors. 


Protecting your seasonal property can be a challenge when you aren’t there. But with these tips you should be able to take additional steps to protecting your home away from home.  

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