Critical Items on Your Annual Cabin Maintenance Checklist

No matter how large or small or whether it is nestled in the snowy mountains or perched on the sunny side of a lake, if you have a cabin, there will be maintenance required.  Sometimes it’s easy to neglect tending to the needs a cabin brings along with it because when you visit it, you’re there for recreation or relaxation. Failure to take good care of your cabin will never work out well though so you might as well tend to preventative maintenance sooner rather than having to make the repairs later.

Dangers of Failing to Maintain Your Cabin

Imagine the sinking feeling in your heart if you get to your cabin destination only to find it’s a pile of burnt wood and ashes. Or, you might get all settled in for the night and discover that rodents have taken up residency. There is a myriad of scenarios that can (an will) occur if you are not maintaining your cabin properly and none of them are good ones. Your vacation will be ruined, and your cabin can become problematic beyond repair. The best way to avoid such an issue is to give your cabin the TLC it deserves in a timely manner.

Required Maintenance for Log Cabins

Since maintaining a cabin can be a fulltime job and you’re most likely only there occasionally, it’s a good idea to prioritize your required maintenance list.

The items on your list will depend on several factors such as its age and location. A cabin that is on a snowcapped mountain will require weatherproofing in a different and to a varying degree than a lakeside cabin that needs to be guarded from the humidity versus the cold weather.


To figure out what your cabin’s maintenance requires and how often it needs to be done, you’ll want to conduct a thorough inspection. Check each room for mold, gaps, cracks, holes, and mold. These are issues that need to be treated immediately.

If your cabin is log, the logs will need to be stained every couple of years. Staining is easy and it will add new life to your logs and will protect it from the outdoor elements. Stains come in two types, oil-based and water-based. For oil-based stains, a primer is recommended.

You’ll also want to seal the joints between the logs. In the event you aren’t able to do the work yourself, it’s worth the money to hire the job out. While you are tending to your logs, don’t forget your cabin floors. If they are wood, treat them with wood cleaner and polish and stain and reseal them if needed. Get more maintenance tips at

If you find you have a bug or rodent problem, calling an exterminator may be your best option, especially if your cabin is empty much of the time. Of course, you can treat the issue yourself, but only if you are going to be there to oversee the process.

Mold issues must be tended to immediately and with caution. Mold in general is bad for your health. Some kinds are deadly. Hardware and home improvement stores carry products that wipe out mold and prevent it from coming back when used regularly.

Be sure to inspect both the inside and the outside of your cabin. Note any other things that need attending to like doors that jam or sinks that are slow to drain.  You can put a star by the ones that are most important or time sensitive.

Different Types of Cabin Maintenance

Cabin maintenance falls into different categories such as structural, aesthetic, electrical, plumbing, preventative, and so forth. Some you may be more comfortable tending to yourself than others.

Structural issues are things that can affect the stability of your cabin. If it is missing some logs or your roof is caving in, you have a problem that could be quite dangerous.  You can attempt the repair yourself, but if you aren’t able to do it, a carpenter must be called.

Cabins that are exposed to extreme weather conditions are prone to have structural issues because trees fall over on them, or snow sits on the roof. A small to medium problem may escalate to a mammoth-sized one by the time you return, so take care of the issue with haste.

Electrical problems can prove to be very serious. A fire can originate from an electrical malfunction. Be sure not to overload your breaker. If your breaker is constantly being thrown, have an electrician take a look at it.  If your cabin is older, you may need to have the electrical system updated.

Plumbing is a common area where maintenance is often needed in a cabin. Those that are in cold climates may be prone to freeze. The freezing and thawing cycle wreak havoc on pipes. Be sure your pipes are properly wrapped with heat tape.

If your pipes or toilet are making noises on a regular basis, it’s a sign that something is amiss. Slow draining sinks are of concern too. Any irregularities should be noted and it never hurts to have a professional take a look if you think there’s an underlying issue. You don’t want to find your cabin flooded when you return.

Aesthetic problems sometimes have bigger issues underneath the surface. If your wall is cracked, it could be a sign of structural issues like a leak in your roof. Make the repair but keep an eye out for situations that return and if they do, look deeper into the issue.

Preventative measures are imperative to tend to regularly. From winterizing your pipes and sealing around the windows and doors to shoveling snow off your roof and overhangs, preventative maintenance helps keep larger problems at bay.

Cleaning your cabin goes along with preventative maintenance. A cabin that is free of dust, dirt, clutter, and trash is less likely to attract bugs and rodents. It is also not a breeding ground for germs, mold, and mildew. Plus, as you clean, you can inspect at the same time.

Perception is Everything

Your cabin is meant to be a place of refuge – where you go to unwind and have fun. By taking care of its needs, you’ll be much more likely to enjoy it for decades to come. Think of the maintenance as a privilege rather than a dreaded thing and you’ll find it’s not that bad because attitude is all about perception.