Whether you use your cottage year-round or just as a refuge during the beautiful summer months, it’s always a good idea to do an inspection of your heating source when you aren’t using it. That way, if any maintenance is required it can be taken care of before the crisp fall temperatures descend. 

Here are a few simple tips for getting your heat source ready to warm your cottage once the weather gets cooler. 

Maintaining Your Wood Stove
It is always best to burn only seasoned wood in your stove for more heat and less creosote buildup. Debris and residue from creosote can be dangerous and cause chimney fires. You can fight buildup by adding creosote sweeping logs to your stove, but it’s always best to do a complete inspection once a year.

Look for indications that you may have had a chimney fire such as: “Puffy” or “honey combed” creosote, any warping of the metal damper and chimney pipe, cracked or damaged flue tiles, damage to the exterior roof, or a damaged, discolored chimney cap. 

Tap on the flue and listen for the sound of debris falling. If you hear any, you will need to have the flue cleaned before lighting another fire.

It’s recommended to hire a professional to clean your chimney once per year but if you prefer to do the work yourself, you can use the rod and brush system to clean the chimney from the bottom up. This method is safer than cleaning from the top down but you should lay out drop cloths to help contain any falling dust and creosote. Remember to wear safety glasses and a mask for protection.

What to do With Propane Furnaces and Stoves
If your propane tank is located outside, start by inspecting your tank for leaks. If you hear hissing from the gas line, notice a “rotten egg” sulphur smell, or see dead plants around the tank, call a professional immediately. Since all propane heaters and appliances need to vent outside, check all exterior vents to make sure they are clean and free of debris like leaves, overgrowth and fallen branches.

Before the temperature starts to fall, check your tank level. Filling your tank during the summer months can be more cost-effective since fuel prices tend to be less expensive at this time of year. Consider making your tank easier to find in the winter snow by marking it with a tall flag or marker.

Turn on your heaters to ensure they are running properly, especially if they haven’t been used in a while. Check the battery in your carbon monoxide detector and change it if necessary. 

Caring for Your Central Heating System
Whether you heat with oil or natural gas it’s always a good idea to inspect your furnace and have the air filters replaced annually. Dirty, clogged filters can reduce the efficiency of forced-air heating systems and cause failure over time.

Consider adding a dehumidifier if your furnace is located in a crawlspace, so that any potential must or mould doesn’t travel through the cottage when you turn it on. If this isn’t an option, because of lack of space or time, you can do a simple “burn-in” to clear your ducts by turning on the furnace at the lowest heat setting and opening all of your windows. 

If you still have any concerns about dust or mould in your ducts, consider having them professionally cleaned. Or if you prefer, you can always do it yourself with the help of a shop-vac and a few simple tools.

Finally check that all of the windows and doors are properly caulked and that any weather stripping that is cracked or missing is replaced. This will help the warmth in and the cold weather out. Old windows are one of the biggest culprits for significant heat loss. If you will be using your cottage more during the winter, consider replacing them with higher-efficiency windows that will save you money long-term and keep you nice and toasty. 

If it’s time to replace your cottage windows or doors Muskoka Window and Door Centre has experts in to help you keep your cottage or home warm all winter long. Contact us today!