Last updated on February 7th, 2024
Can I Winterize My Boat Myself?
Preparing your boat for the colder months is a crucial aspect of boat maintenance that can’t be overlooked. This process is known as winterization. While it is certainly possible to handle this task yourself, it requires a solid understanding of the winterization process and your boat’s mechanical systems.
- Winterizing your boat yourself is a viable option.
- Thoroughly clean the inside and outside of the boat.
- Drain and flush the cooling system; use marine antifreeze.
- Change the engine oil and replace the oil filter.
- Prepare the fuel system by filling the tank and adding a stabilizer.
- Disconnect and store the boat battery in a warm place.
- Cover the boat with a suitable cover or shrink wrap.
The boating season ends as the mercury drops below freezing and autumn turns to winter. When that happens, wintering your boat is a prudent decision.
Leaving your boat as it is sets you up for a spring nightmare. Winterizing is essential for keeping the engine, electronics, and other parts of the boat safe, even in regions that don’t experience extreme winters.
All responsible boat owners make plans to winterize their vessels by themselves or with the help of professionals.
If you have been searching, “Can I winterize my boat myself?” I have got the answer. Keep reading to find out if it’s preferable to winterize a boat yourself.
Cost of Getting Your Boat Winterized
Hiring an independent boat mechanic to winterize your boat means losing anywhere from $150-$500.
The variation in cost is due to the quality of supplies and the size of your boat. Mechanics also charge for their travel time, quickly adding $100-$150 to the bill.
Can I Winterize My Boat Myself?
Winterizing your boat yourself is a good idea if you want to cut down on some costs. But prepare to get your hands dirty.
There’s a significant difference in cost when you do it yourself than when you hire someone to winterize your boat. Winterizing it yourself is also quicker and saves you the time of taking the boat to a shop.
Your first time can take over an hour, but you can do the job in under an hour as you get more efficient over time.
Once you get all your supplies, the total cost to winterize your boat will be around $150. It may vary depending on the size and condition of the vessel, as well as your level of experience.
How Can I Winterize My Boat Myself?
As winter approaches, your boat batteries frown, and the engine sulks under hoarfrost. The only sound from the boat is the dripping of condensation and the destructive winter winds passing through the interior.
Indeed, you don’t want your boat to die on the winter bed. So, it would be best to prepare it before winter.
Follow these steps to winterize your boat and make it spring-ready.
Winterize the Fuel System
Whichever kind of boat you own, the gasoline fuel system has to be given special attention.
Start by topping up the fuel tank and stabilizing the fuel. Topping off the fuel tank will eliminate condensation that settles at the bottom of the tank.
The fuel-stabilizing additive will stop phase separation and the formation of gum and varnish in gasoline. It will also discourage the growth of injector-clogging bacteria.
Otherwise, when you start your boat in the next season, the water-saturated fuel will be a big problem for you.
Also, change the engine oil to eliminate moisture and prevent corrosion. Also, consider changing the engine fuel filters and any separators in the system.
Run the Engine
After adding the fuel and additives, run the engine so the fuel passes through the entire system. This step will also help you locate any significant or minor issues needing fixing the following summer.
Drain the Engine
Winterizing means draining water aboard and replacing it with antifreeze to protect the boat against low temperatures.
As temperatures fall, the freshwater inside the boat expands and pushes outward with a lot of force. This force can crack engine blocks, damage the split hoses, and destroy the fiberglass in days.
But, before you drain the water tanks, flush the head with fresh water and rinse off the mud on the anchor and chain.
Now, open the petcocks, remove the water pump hose from the water pump, and let the water drain completely.
Drain Remaining Parts
Drain down any other parts or pump that holds water in it. You want to run raw water washdowns until the parts are dry.
If you feel there is remaining water that can’t drain out, put some antifreeze in the parts, too.
Don’t forget the bilges if you plan to store your boat on dry land. Remove drain plugs and check below decks to make sure the boat is in the correct position to drain out the water properly.
Disconnect the Battery
The battery is one of the most hardworking parts of your boat. If you want your boat to survive till spring, you must protect the battery at all costs.
Lead-acid batteries work best around 25°C, and their capacity drops below 15°C. If you leave it discharged, flooded batteries may freeze.
On the other hand, the battery’s electrolyte levels can dry out with repeated charging and barely any usage.
So, disconnect the batteries, remove them, and store them safely. If you do that, you won’t have to replace it in the next season.
If you store your boat in a cool and dry place like your garage, you don’t have to remove the boat’s battery. Just disconnect it and leave it on board. Or, keep them on the garage floor so they hold more charge.
Prevent Mold and Mildew
When you store your boat for winter, the enclosed parts might develop humidity and lead to mold and mildew buildup.
To keep mold away from your boat, keep it well-ventilated. You can use cowl ventilators, clamshell ventilators, and other devices.
In addition to ventilators, you can also add an engine heater or any other low-temperature heater.
Cover Your Boat
You can choose from the three essential cover wraps available.
They are the least expensive and last one to two seasons. However, they might flap around in a heavy wind.
They are heavier than plastic tarps and don’t flap around as much. They also tend to last up to five seasons. You will need a solid frame to support them.
You will find pre-fitted covers for popular boat models. They are more expensive than the previous options but are expected to last longer.
What happens to a Boat if you don’t Winterize it?
If you neglect to winterize your boat, the consequences can be severe and costly. In a climate where lakes freeze over, the question of what happens to a boat if you don’t winterize it becomes crucial.
The freezing temperatures can cause trapped water in the engine block, water tank, or other onboard plumbing to expand, leading to cracks and severe damage.
The resulting repairs can be significantly expensive, often necessitating part or total replacement of the affected systems. Hence, proper boat winterization is almost mandatory to avoid these potential issues in such climates.
How Long Does Winterizing a Boat Last?
The period for which winterizing a boat lasts is typically one year. This ideal timeframe aligns with the annual cycle of seasons, ensuring your boat is adequately protected during the harshest winter conditions.
However, it’s important to note that some boaters have been able to extend this period to two years or more, depending on the specific methods and materials used in the winterization process.
While this may seem like a cost-effective strategy, it’s crucial to regularly assess the condition of your boat to ensure its longevity and functionality.
Winterizing your boat by yourself is not only feasible but can also be a cost-effective choice. The process involves a few crucial steps. Firstly, clean your boat thoroughly, both inside and outside, to remove any dirt or debris that could cause damage during storage.
Drain and flush the cooling system and fill it with marine antifreeze to prevent freezing. Additionally, change the engine oil and replace the oil filter to ensure smooth operation when de-winterizing your boat.
A crucial step in the process is preparing the fuel system. Fill the tank and add a stabilizer to prevent condensation and the buildup of harmful deposits.
Disconnecting and storing the boat’s battery in a warm place is also recommended to prolong its lifespan and ensure it doesn’t lose charge over winter.
Lastly, cover your boat with a suitable cover or shrink wrap to protect it from harsh weather conditions.