Summer Water Tips at the Cottage – The Victoria Day long weekend is just around the corner. As your plumbers in Toronto, we know that means for many of you lucky folks in the Greater Toronto Area: it’s time to flock out of the city to open up the family cottage in Muskoka, the Kawarthas, or wherever else you might have your summer getaway. Opening up the cottage for the summer is one of the rites of spring that people look forward to the most after a long, harsh winter like the one we’ve just endured.
There are a number of different cottage water systems that people use at their summer homes, from wells and septic systems, to those in less remote areas that are on municipal water & sewer lines. It’s not quite as straightforward to write a guide as it is to cover plumbing in Toronto; since there are so many unique set-ups, we won’t go through the step-by-step process of opening up your plumbing for the spring… instead, we’ll just offer a few basic things to watch out for when it comes to opening up your cottage plumbing system in the spring, followed by some ideas on being mindful of your plumbing system — and the health of your lake — throughout the summer months.
Spring Plumbing Tips – Watch Out for Cracks!
One of the big keys to an easy time in getting your plumbing up and running in the spring is actually the work you do in the fall: if you have correctly closed down the plumbing before you shut the cottage for the winter, that will have already saved you a lot of headaches when you’re opening it up for the season. Hopefully, you know enough to have drained your pipes, and used non-toxic antifreeze (propylene glycol) for the drains and toilets throughout your cottage before shutting the cabin down for the winter. Frozen pipes can be a real pain to deal with when you get to the cottage and all you want to do is start relaxing.
Even if you have done all that, cracks can still occur — you just never know what might happen during the long winter. In many cottages, the plumbing runs underneath the building in a crawlspace-type area. If this is the case with your cabin, have a look at all the visible pipes if they’re accessible underneath the cottage. It can be an unpleasant task, but taking a quick look before you start the process can save you a lot of headaches if the pipes are failing once you turn the water back on. Also, check on your drain pipes within the cottage to ensure that they have not taken on any damage over the winter months. Finally, if your water line is visible, give it a quick check to ensure there’s no major damage to it, or to clear problems from it before turning the water on.
One other quick reminder of a little thing that’s easy to forget: remove the aerators from your faucets and taps before starting with the process of turning on the water. Sediment is likely to build up over the winter and removing the aerators will allow the water to flow freely when switched on. Put them back on when your system is all ready to go.
Summer Water Tips at the Cottage
Hopefully you don’t encounter any big problems when opening up the water and plumbing systems this spring. Once you’re all set, make sure you have a great summer with these cottage-conscious water and plumbing tips:
- If you’re on a septic system, be mindful of what it’s able to handle in terms of capacity — particularly when you have a big group of guests up.
- According to the US Environmental Protection Agency, the average septic tank should be pumped every one to three years. If it’s about that time again, spring is the ideal time to get this work done so that it’s cleared out for the busy summer season.
- Be aware of the location of your septic tank on your property and avoid parking vehicles over top of it.
- We always recommend avoiding pouring harsh chemicals down your drains at home, and that goes double at the cottage. Not only can they end up damaging your pipes, when you’re at the cottage it could have an effect on the abundance of wildlife in the area.
- For the health of your lake, especially those of you on small lakes, try and avoid putting much phosphorous down your drains. The main issue with phosphorous is that it promotes the growth of algae, which is not great for the health of your lake. Some of the big phosphorous ‘offenders’ that we run through our plumbing at the cottage are soaps, shampoos and detergents, and there are phosphorous-free versions available of all these products.
- Conserve water at the cottage! We previously offered 8 great ideas on easy ways to do so. Another thing to consider is ‘taking the plunge’ and replacing the old water-hog at the cottage with a modern low-flow toilet to reduce your water consumption.
Summer’s almost here. Enjoy the cottage, everybody!
Thanks for reading, Summer Water Tips at the Cottage
– DrainWorks Team