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Cottage Corner

Spring Check-up for Cottage Appliances

Springtime! Time for the ritual opening up of the cottage or other seasonal residence. The amount of work and expense is directly related to the effort applied when closing things up last fall.

For suggestions on a safe spring startup of your appliances read below.

General Checks

Check appliances for damaged or worn wiring. Do not use the appliance before repairing if needed.

Check appliance cords and plugs for wear or damage. Replace them if necessary before plugging in.

Since spiders love the smell of gas or propane, check for spider nests in any appliance orifices.

Additional Checks By Appliance

CLOTHES DRYER:

Check dryer vents very carefully. Critters love dryer vents. Think not only mice but also bat nests, bird's nests and bees. Makes sense that they would find the protected location very appealing, plus there can be a build-up of lint in the sharp corners of vents that makes perfect nest-making material. Squirrels like vents for storing supplies of nuts in late fall but they don't necessarily remember to empty out the nut warehouse before spring!

Plugged vents can easily result in a fire. The dryer overheats and the safety sensors are burned out so they can't do their job. That big bonfire you see across the lake could be someone's cottage if the owner didn't do the spring check thoroughly.

Replace any worn lint traps so your dryer is managing ever-present lint properly. Breaks in the lint trap screen allow lint to be drawn back directly into the heating element where it becomes a fire hazard.

Fall Close-up

Block off the dryer vent by stuffing with a towel or old shirt. (Remember to remove before starting up the dryer in the spring!)

Don't use wire mesh to block off the vent because lint will catch there and become a fire hazard. For the same reason, don't use a kitchen stove vent in place of a dryer vent.

CLOTHES WASHER:

Odour-causing bacteria build up in damp and wet places. To get rid of bacteria, run your washer on a normal cycle with vinegar or bleach.

Fall Close-up

Disinfect the washer by running it on a normal cycle with vinegar or bleach. Turn off water supplies. Drain water supply hoses. Pour a litre of RV antifreeze into the washer tub and run the drain cycle to mix the antifreeze with any water still in the pump. Don't use regular antifreeze. Regular antifreeze will harm plastic plumbing, plastic parts and the pump, which is all plastic in newer models.

STOVE:

Any seasoned cottager can tell you sad stories about the fatal attraction between stoves and mice. Pull out your stove; thoroughly scrub flooring to remove any hint of food bits and check for rodent signs. Carefully inspect for any sign of mice activity inside and out of the stove.

Fall Close-up

Any food bits act as a GPS for mice to locate the stove, a favorite place to chew on wires and insulation. The stage is then set for an electrical fire. After a meticulous cleaning inside, around and under the stove in the fall, put mothballs all around the bottom of the stove to deter these ambitious critters. Some folks also suggest fabric sheets.

MICROWAVE:

Clean thoroughly. Check plugs, cords and wiring.

Fall Close-up

Give the microwave a thorough cleaning, inside and out and all around.

REFRIGERATOR:

Clean meticulously inside and out, including under fridge. Check for any sign of mice, etc.

If you didn't drain the water lines in the icemaker or water cooler and allow the filter to dry before closing up the cottage, you could have problems. The yards of tiny coil that cool the water break under the pressure of frozen water and may need to be replaced.

Also check the water valve at the back of the fridge. Does it need replacing?

Fall Close-up

Clean fridge inside and out. Pull the fridge out and clean behind and under it to eliminate any trace of food. Prop doors open to keep the inside dry and have air circulation.

Mothballs around the outside base will deter critters. Some folks also suggest fabric sheets deter little critters.

Drain the water lines in the icemaker or water cooler and allow the filter to dry before closing up the cottage.

FREEZER:

Clean meticulously inside and out, including under freezer. Check for any sign of mice, etc.

Fall Close-up

Clean freezer inside and out. Pull the freezer out and clean behind and under it to eliminate any trace of food. Prop doors open to keep the inside dry and have air circulation. Mothballs around the outside base will deter critters. Some folks also suggest fabric sheets deter little critters.

DISHWASHER:

Inspect the filter and lines in the dishwasher. Disinfect dishwasher by running on hot setting with bleach to kill any bacteria.

Fall Close-up

Add a litre of RV antifreeze to the wash cycle to ensure no freezing damage. Don't use regular antifreeze. Regular antifreeze will harm plastic plumbing and parts. Drain the lines.

Bedroom Checks

The cottage bedroom also deserves special attention.

If you gave your mattresses a thorough cleaning in the fall and encased them in good-quality mattress protectors (ones that can be washed on high heat to kill any bacteria, dust mites, etc.), you are ahead of the game.

When you store mattresses, keep them away from windows because of the potential for condensation. Pillows also should be stored in an area where air circulates. Encase pillows in high quality, washable-at-high-temperature pillow protectors.

Protect Your Investment of Money and Time

As tempting as it might be to use almost-worn-out appliances and mattresses at the cottage, it may be false economy. A seasonal residence deserves the same respect as your primary living space for you to have maximum enjoyment of the precious time spent there.

Do all you can to ensure that your memories at your seasonal residence are all happy ones!