Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Preparing Your Boat and Boat Lift for the Summer

With summer right around the corner, the time is upon us to take our boats, boat lifts and canopies out of storage and get them ready for the months to come. In the winter, lake water freezes, expands, melts, refreezes and expands again. This process puts pressure on anything left in the water and can cause damage to your boat lift and dock. Properly de-winterizing your supplies will ensure that as summer rolls around, you’ll be ready to get back on the lake and enjoy time spent on your boat. This post will ensure that you know the right steps for removing your boat and boat lift from storage and getting your boat and lift ready for summer.

If you had the opportunity to store your boat inside a climate-controlled facility for the winter months, there is a high chance that there is less damage than there would be if you stored it outdoors. However, even if you stored your boat inside, it is still crucial to inspect your boat for any damage. What may be a small problem in spring could turn into a huge headache in the summertime if not handled properly.

First, you’ll want to inspect the engine, making sure that you change the engine oil and oil filter. In addition, check the outdrive oil to ensure that it’s ready. Next, you’ll want to test the battery to ensure that it hasn’t gone bad over the winter. If the battery is completely dry, it’s no longer good. If it’s still full of water, it’s good to go. Make sure to clean off any debris from battery corrosion so your battery can function unhindered.

 After this, you’ll want to refill your cooling system. This is a crucial part of your engine, and if any water was left inside the cooling system over the winter, it may have expanded and caused cracks. Don’t forget to check the hoses for any cracks and drain the filter. If you have an impeller engine, make sure that the rubber impeller hasn’t cracked over the winter. If your engine is a freshwater-cooled engine, make sure that you flush and refill the antifreeze/water solution in accordance with the user manual’s instructions for the engine. Also double check that the ratio of water to antifreeze isn’t off – this could indicate a leak in the heat exchanger. If there is a problem with the ratio, be sure to have your heat exchanger inspected for leaks or purchase a gauge at your local auto parts store to inspect it yourself.

Next, look at your gas tank. If you didn’t add an additive before filling it prior to winterizing your boat, the gas is probably stale, and the gas tank will need to be emptied and refilled. After this, take the cap off of the distributor and clean any debris that has accumulated over the winter. Make sure that when you replace the cap, the connections are tight and secure. Finally, check the belts on your boat. While there should be some give when pushing down, there generally shouldn’t be a lot of movement. If your belts move a lot, this may be an indicator that they need to be replaced. Check for black soot near the pulley, as this is another indicator that your boat belts may need to be replaced.

This may seem like a lot of maintenance to perform. If you’re ready to get your boat back on the water without the hassle, hire a local dock business to take a look at your gas tank, cooling system, engine and battery in addition to other boat components.

For your dock and boat lift frame, be sure to pressure wash these. A wooden dock can accrue algae and become slippery, posing a hazard to anyone who walks on it. Inspect your boat lift awning to make sure there are no cracks, discoloration or mildew on the surface. All of these are indicators that it may be worn out and need to be replaced. Also check the lift's pulley, cables and rail kit for any issues.

This may seem a bit like tedious hard work, but it is well worth it. Once all this is done, you’ll be able to get your boat, boat lift, boat lift canopy and dock all back on the water and enjoy yourself during the summer. Continue your regular boat and canopy maintenance to ensure that they’re protected during the summer months and ready for winterization once the cooler months come back around.

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