As a boat owner, there’s nothing more stressful than keeping up with the maintenance of your vessel. Taking your boat out on the water can serve as a glorious activity on bright summer days, but can be a tiresome project in the winter. Especially if you live in sub-zero temperatures.
That’s why it’s a good idea to winterize your vessel to prevent many issues from occurring with your vessel. Granted this won’t completely stop the cold from getting into every nook and cranny, but it will prevent major damage from occurring – saving you money and time in the long run!
But how do you winterize a boat? Why is it important? Is it an expensive process?
Figuring out the average price for DIY and professional winterizing can be a little exhausting, but we’ve carried out the research for you – so you don’t have to! All of these questions and more will be answered within our handy guide. So if you’re keen to learn, read on at your leisure!
How Do You Winterize A Boat?
Winterizing your boat involves preparing it to withstand the cold temperatures of winter. Essentially, “winter-proofing” it.
Whether your boat has a sterndrive engine, outboard, or a gas inboard, there are universal steps to take to winterize your vessel. It will assure a quick and easy startup when the warmer weather returns. We have included some of the most important steps below:
Step 1: Mechanicals
- Replace Engine Oil – Before draining you should warm up the engine in the water so more impurities will be flushed out. Then replace using high-quality filters and oil. If you don’t do this, the cost to fix this issue can be extortionately high.
- Disconnect The Batteries of Your Boat – Removing and storing the batteries in a warmer location will help to maintain their condition for a longer period.
- Grease And Lubricate the Engine – Lookup the grease fittings of your engine (most will be located in the steering mechanism area), then use a quality marine lubricant to protect against oxidation, rust, and corrosion.
- Protect All Internal Engine Components – While your vessel is in storage, engine oil drains away. This exposes internal engine components to harsh elements in winter and can lead to corrosion and cylinder scuffing. It is essential to take all necessary precautions to keep the interior of your engine as dry as possible. You should also spray your entire engine with anti-corrosion treatment.
- Replace Gear Oil – Drain the lower unit of old gear oil and replace it with a fresh supply. When changing the gear oil, be sure to check for moisture. This will alert you whether you need new seals for the following season.
Step 2: Fuel And Water System
- Stabilize the Fuel – Fuel can deteriorate quickly, causing issues such as varnish to build up within your engine. Adding a high-quality marine fuel stabilizer will help to prevent fuel deterioration.
- Flush and Drain the Cooling Water – This is an essential step that prevents damage from occurring due to expanding water.
Step 3: Cleaning Your Boat
- Remove Your Belongings – Boatyards receive little traffic in the winter, which makes break-ins easy. Remove all valuables, including expensive electronics. It may also be in your best interest to insure the belongings that remain on your boat, even when it’s not on the water.
- Clean Interior and Exterior – This needs to be done at least once every year. Winterizing your boat gives you a great excuse to get your cleaning hat on. You can also mop interior floors, upper decks, and the cockpit as well as polish the hull. Cleaning the hull will preserve the gel coat.
- Cover Your Boat – It’s most ideal to put your boat into dry storage for the winter but if this isn’t possible (due to cost or other factors) it’s a good idea to protect your boat with a durable cover. This keeps the surface of your boat protected from the biting cold. It may be quite expensive, but this is a significant investment you will be able to rely on.
The cost to detail a boat runs from $10 to $50 per foot but will entirely depend on the condition and size of your boat. If you do it yourself, the cost will mainly be to cover the cost of cleaning materials
Overall, you can expect to pay around $100 to clean and detail your boat yourself.
The Importance Of Winterizing Your Boat
Winterizing a boat pertains to the process of protecting parts that are susceptible to the cold. This includes the engine. The process helps to prolong the life of your boat. It is also an important step to take in colder weather as when the temperature reaches below zero, such parts can malfunction if (or when) you try to use your boat.
A well-done winterizing procedure keeps both the interior and exterior of your boat safe from the freeze. Water that may have crept into your boat may also freeze in cold temperatures, and may even cause damage to the interior. But the process of winterizing your boat will reduce the risk of this occurring.
Even if your state does not typically experience below zero temperatures, winterizing your boat is a great step to take to protect it in colder weather. Taking these precautions may even help to reduce the risk of having to pay for costly repairs in the future.
The Cost Of DIY Winterizing
Taking care of the winterizing process yourself is an ideal way to save some money. It may even save you some time. This is because the process itself can generally be done in under an hour if you have the relevant practice and experience.
In this regard, you’re already saving valuable time that you would have spent transferring your vessel to and from a repair shop!
Like any DIY project, you will remain in complete control at all times. This means you can target areas that may need more layers of protection than others. It will all work out as you are entirely hands-on in the process meaning all your products will be of high quality if you choose the right materials.
Unfortunately doing this process yourself does come with its limitations. You’ll have to do a lot of research as many products on the market will do the job for you, and it may be difficult narrowing your options down. It may also be a very stressful thing to do by yourself.
You’ll need to know how to use the materials and products while knowing what winterizing is, and how to protect your boat. Simply, you may have to learn an entirely new process.
Overall DIY Cost
The great thing about winterizing your boat is that it can be done at your convenience and without a professional fee. You’ll probably be looking to spend between $70 and $250 to winterize your boat yourself – although this will depend on the size of your boat, and the products that you will be using.
Overall, it is a far more cost-effective method. If you winterize your boat yourself, it will cost you about $250. This price encapsulates the cost of winterizing the engine and other vital systems on your boat and cleaning it thoroughly inside and out.
How Much Does It Cost To Professionally Winterize Your Boat?
Professional Boat Mechanic Winterizing
Owning a boat takes a lot of responsibility and can be quite a costly venture. This responsibility goes far beyond each time you take your vessel out in open water on a scorching summer’s day. Unfortunately, requesting the aid of a professional boat mechanic may put a large dent in your wallet. But this is to be expected.
Generally, winterizing is not a cheap process. The average cost of winterizing a boat is around $300 but this can change depending on your location and the work carried out.
As a result, professional fees may vary as you’re paying for the services plus the additional labor. This average can go down to $150 if you have a smaller boat or may rise to around $500 if you have a bigger one, or would simply like to invest in other winterizing accessories.
If you don’t have an area to store your boat, this may be another financial worry. Storage prices, again, vary per location. It can be as low as $30 to a hefty $500 per month. This price range will all depend on the size of your boat and where you live.
Boat Shop Winterizing
If you have your boat winterized in a shop, you may have to pay anywhere between $300 -$400 to have the job professionally done. With the added expense of using a shop as opposed to a private mechanic, you can count on the process being handled with top-quality equipment and the work being backed by a guarantee of quality.
You might be leaving your boat in the water over the winter. This is often a better alternative than non-climate-controlled, out-of-water storage, but not as good an option as indoor heated storage. In the case you opt for storage at the marina, having the boat winterized by the same marina where it will remain makes complete sense.
Many full-service marinas charge around $500 to winterize a boat, but this often includes shrink-wrapping the vessel as well as de-winterization in the spring. Few shops or independent mechanics will offer that latter service.
Overall Cost For Professional Winterizing
If you have the work done at a boatyard, you can expect to spend upwards of $500. The exact cost will depend on the size of your boat and the number of engines it has!
Consequences Of Not Winterizing Your Boat
Winterizing your boat is a responsibility that should not be taken lightly. It preserves the vital parts of your boat including your engine and batteries and adds a layer of protection that will greatly benefit your vessel for after-winter use.
All in all, the risk of repair costs caused by not winterizing your vessel far outweighs the hassle of winterizing your boat. Yes, it may cost you, but it is a worthwhile investment in the long run!
The consequences of not winterizing your boat are not simply limited. But these are some of the damages that may occur if you do not care for your vessel in this way:
- Sensitive and vital parts of your boat may begin to crack.
- Frozen water can expand the engine and other parts of the interior. As a result, you may end up with corrosion in the wires.
- A buildup of cold and mildew.
- There may be hacks in the body and the hull.
Repairs of these damages can be costly, depending on the part that is damaged. Fixing the cracks will also not guarantee that it will work like how it used to.
Our Final Say
It generally costs anywhere from $250 to over $500 to have your boat winterized. This depends on the size, condition, and location of your boat, and whether you would like to have it done professionally or do it yourself.
Winterizing your boat may seem expensive, but it will cost you less than having to deal with repairs after winter. You shouldn’t burden yourself with the thought of how much winterizing your boat will cost, but should instead focus on the prospect of having a fully functioning boat to use in the springtime.
Using a DIY winterization process will keep your financial worries at an absolute minimum. But if you choose this method, don’t rush the process! Thoroughly read your boat’s manual carefully, even if doing so adds even more time. You want to do a thorough job to protect your boat.