10 Areas To Check Before You Leave Your Cabin

by Craig Middleton

After a blissful, long summer at your cabin on the lake, remember to do these 10 things.


Clean the furnace filter to make the system more efficient, while reducing the risk of fire. Make sure you have enough of whatever powers your furnace to allow it to keep your cabin at 40 degrees all winter.


Remember to set your thermostat to 40 degrees before you leave. However, only do this if your cabin is sufficiently insulated. If not, it’s better to turn the heat off completely and drain the pipes. Otherwise, you will only succeed in heating the roof and outside air.


Close the fireplace damper and then cover the front of the fireplace with a heavy sheet of plastic. This should keep any woodland creatures from entering the cabin via the chimney.

If you have leftover firewood, bring it inside for the winter. The wood will be if left outside and may never burn. Outside wood piles also attract nasty things like brown recluse spiders.


Don’t leave any food at all in the cabin. Jars and cans can explode, or at least swell enough to break their seals when it’s cold. Everything else could attract mice, ants, raccoons or even bears.

Empty and unplug the refrigerator, but leave the door ajar a bit. If not, mold can grow on the inside.

Water Heater

When you’re closing up your cabin, drain the water heater and turn off the circuit breaker. For expert advice or assistance, contact a local water heater company in Simi Valley.

To prevent pipes from freezing, drain them and keep your heat at 40 degrees. Never use antifreeze in pipes; it’s bad for the environment.

Living Room 

Check under the furniture cushions for stray crumbs. That could be enough to attract vermin. Next, cover anything upholstered with a plastic sheet. It will help keep your furniture clean even if there’s a dripping roof or an animal infestation.

Unplug all of your appliances; just one strong bolt of lighting could ruin them all


Speaking of mice and other pests, you should also put mothballs in your blankets and bed linens. If you really hate the camphor smell, there are more natural repellants to hang in your closets.

Consider getting, and putting down plastic mattress covers. In case there’s a leak, you might be able to save your mattresses.


Rake leaves and pine needles away from the cabin. Plan on a perimeter of about 30 feet. Dry leaves can be a fire hazard and could be a great place for a small animal to build its nest.

Clean out whatever debris landed in the gutters over the spring and summer. You want to leave them as clean as possible so they don’t back up and cause a leak.

If you can, trim any branches that are hanging directly over the roof. If the branch comes down in a winter storm, it could damage the roof or gutters and can deposit debris into the spaces you’ve just cleared.

While you’re up there, take a good look at the roof to make sure all of the shingles are there and look solid.

Secure Boats, Chairs & Toys

Whatever outside items you have like boats, chairs, or water toys should be secured. Unless you have a garage or shed to put them in, you will need to turn the boats and furniture upside down and cover everything with a tarp that is then anchored in the ground.

Doors and Windows

Lock and double-check all entrances.

Close and lock all of the windows, pull the shades, and close the shutters. If you don’t have shutters, you can easily make some this winter and attach them in the spring. Shutters are excellent protection against prowlers or window breakage and also look great.

Seeing your cabin all sealed up as you drive away will give you a sense of security all winter.

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