Sunday, January 18, 2015

Winterizing your camp....some helpful hints.

camp's worst nightmare
When it is warm inside your cabin and warm outside there is little thought as to what is inside your cabin when you decide to winterize it and let it return to the temperature of the winter cold for a while. Over the last 12 years of winterizing other's camps I have seen a few things and know what works and what does not.
Often times I get the call to go down to shut a camp down and there are things left behind other than water pipes that when frozen often make a mess at best and at worst may make you sick next year. First on the sick note. It is really best not to leave canned food behind to freeze. Although it will often survive and look alright if the seal breaks it may not be fit to eat. Any thing in a glass container should not be allowed to freeze. Also the other thing that happens is people often forget what they have at camp and take up more and use it first. Repeating this process over the years can leave you with food that is often as much as 5 years out of date(which I have found). Also  use caution when leaving meat in your freezer. It isn't uncommon during the summer for us to lose power, you won't be able to tell how many times your meat has melted and refrozen if it is frozen when you come to camp. Also meat needs to be used up or it becomes freezer burnt. The other thing people don't think about are drinks, soda cans, beer cans, and anything under 10% alcohol will not survive a freezing and explode where ever it is. Water in plastic containers may survive with some flexing available, but it is best to take it home as well.
On to the less pleasant task of keeping as much in rodent proof containers as possible, This of course includes any food items in boxes or cardboard containers. But less obvious are things like toilet paper, paper towels, and tissue. Anything a mouse can make nesting material with will get chewed up and stashed in any convenient hole. The other thing mice seem to love are sheets and blankets. It is a great thing to crawl under and leave droppings at best. My grandfather had a steel drum he closed all of his bedding up in including pillows when he closed down. If you do choose to leave everything on plan on washing it before the season. Next on the list is dealing with mice with poison or traps. Some people like the 5 gallon water bucket with a peanut covered roller on it. The  water bucket is filled with RV antifreeze mixed into water and there is a ramp for the mice to crawl over to top of bucket. It is an effective non-toxic way to deal with mice, but leaves a messy mouse stew to dispose of in the Spring. Next are spring traps, which are a one use thing, so once they are sprung they are of little value and the mouse decomposes wherever it is trapped. On that note never leave your coffee pot or any tall container open and where mice can crawl in. We found a decomposing mouse in one and could never eliminate the smell. It went to the garbage. As far as mouse poison goes. Don't get anything a mouse can carry off as they will store it everywhere. I prefer the blocks and when placed in a plastic dispenser are safe from small children and other domestic animals.
On to the water pipes. Turn pump off first. In order to drain them with gravity all pipes must have good slopes and no dead ends if not your only solution is to drain as much as you can and either run air pressure through each line systematically opening each water faucet one at a time starting with the closest, shutting it then on to next. If using a RV pump the process is reversed open farthest until pink water comes out and work your way back. USE ONLY RV ANTIFREEZE CAR ANTIFREEZE IS TOXIC AND SHOULD NEVER BE USED!! It only takes a couple tablespoons of car antifreeze to kill a dog and not much more to kill a human. When using this method you will need to have a by-pass on your water heater to keep from filling the entire tank. When it comes to water heaters make sure they are turned off before drained and that you open pressure relief valve as they drain to get all the water out. Never turn water heater back on until completely filled. When it comes to toilets you must use RV antifreeze. Drain as much water as you can and then use a shop vac to suck out the rest. Pour a small amount in tank and larger amount in stool. Plunge antifreeze through stool trap to get all the water out.
Next make sure every drain has RV antifreeze in it. If you turn off your refrigerator open doors to keep mold from forming. Make sure if you leave your refrigerator on it has the kind of refrigerant that can be run in freezing temperatures...many of the new ones do not. When the weather was still warm like late fall we would often do one last thing before we left. We set off bug bombs to kill any crawlers left behind. Every camp has it's own particular needs so this is not meant to be a complete list. If any of you have horror stories or have learned something by doing wrong I have not mentioned please feel free to comment. Mountain girl, Paula, closing the last camp of the season.

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