Lake House in the Winter

Protect Your Lake House This Winter

When it comes to winter, there are two types of lakefront homeowners – those who weather the storms and those who head for warmer water. If you own or are considering buying a lake house, but not interested in sticking around for the Finger Lakes snowfall, you’ll need to winterize your home.

Winterization protects your lakefront asset and forces you to understand your home, inside and out. Plus, you’ll return to fewer maintenance issues, so you can jump right into summer.

Properly prepare for winter and check these items off your to-do list:

Inspect your roof and clean out your gutters.

Take a good look at your roof before leaving town to ensure that shingles aren’t missing or unsecured. A weak roof is susceptible to leaks and damage from the weight of heavy snow. Clogged gutters can also lead to water damage, so clean out those leaves!

Seal up air leaks.

Check all areas where air leaks could occur, like dryer vents, windows, and doors. Caulk any gaps in the siding or foundation where air could get in – the first year its air, the next year its water or pests. Consider sealing windows with an insulation kit and laying down draft stoppers in exterior doorways.

Remove your seasonal dock.

Ice can easily damage or destroy a dock over the long winter months. Some docks are permanent, but for pipe docks, floating docks, and other seasonal docks, removal is your best strategy for long term care. A lakefront property manager should be able to advise you on removal and find a local professional that can take care of this for you.

Store seasonal and outdoor items.

Don’t leave out items you enjoy all summer to be ruined by Mother Nature. Store watercraft, patio furniture, garden hoses, and décor in a shed or basement for safekeeping. You won’t have to replace them nearly as often and it will keep them from blowing into the neighbor’s yard or the lake!

Drain or insulate pipes.

This is the most important step in protecting any home during the winter months. Inspect your pipes and seal any leaks you may find. Then, insulate pipes that may be exposed to the cold. This is easily done using pipe sleeves and electrical heat tape or strips of pipe wrap. Adding wall insulation and insulating the gaps where pipes enter through walls will also help prevent your pipes from bursting. For more tips, click here.

Another tip: leave your cupboard doors open to allow heat to get to pipes under the sinks and appliances.

For seasonal cottages with no heat, shut off the water supply and drain your pipes to prevent freezing. Remember to also drain water-fed appliances, like washing machines, to prevent line freezing as well.

Switch utilities to vacancy mode.

If you have occupancy sensors, you’ll want to switch them to vacancy mode. Otherwise, make sure all lights are shut off, exterior water spigots are shut off, and your thermostat is set no lower than 55 degrees. Unplug major appliances so they are unaffected by possible power outages.

Clean out your cupboards.

Remove all perishable food from the cupboards. This might go without saying, but anything you can do to keep pests out of the home is a win. If your cottage is not heated, remove all food to avoid cleaning up a frozen-thawed mess in the spring. If unplugging the refrigerator, leave the door open to prevent musty smells from developing.

Keep an eye on your investment.

There are some things even proper winterization can’t prevent (fallen trees, break-ins). If you plan to be away for an extended time, entrust a neighbor or local property management company to regularly check on your lake house. They can alert you to issues before they cause major damage and maintain a more lived-in appearance. You may also want to contract snow removal services for heavy snowfall that could cause damage to your property.


Your lake house is an investment – in your future and in a quality summer vacation. Winterize your home today, so you can enjoy it tomorrow! For more tips to protect your home any time of the year, call our Owner Services team at (855) 260-3341, Opt. 4.

To learn more about local property management with Finger Lakes Premier Properties, visit our website.

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