Steps you may have missed when winterizing your boat

By Greg Kopf, Brand Ambassador at

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By Greg Kopf, Brand Ambassador at As we are in the midst of another winter (and as the winter weather arrives in New Jersey) it is also time to make sure all your summer equipment and gear is safely stored and winterized.

If you already winterized your boat, it is important to double check and make sure that you haven’t skipped any steps to winterize it correctly so when the seasons change again, it will be painless to get it back out on the water.

Ironically enough, the main cause of most problems to boats during the winter months is water. The danger it poses to the internal and external parts of the boat could be costly. Here are some winterization steps that you may have missed to make sure you’ve completed the process.

Did you prepare your engine?

Man Working on BoatGenerally, most boats use an open cooling system which is designed to use the water in which it floats on to cool the engine. Its normal for some water to remain in the engines cooling passages, so to prevent engine damage draining and removing all the water in the engine is the first thing you should do.

When water remains in the engine throughout the winter, it can freeze. When water freezes, it expands inside the engine and can potentially cause cracks as well as other internal engine damage that can be incredibly costly to repair. It is important to clear all the water out as well as pour antifreeze in the engine block to prevent any residual water from freezing.

All boat engines should be fogged if being stored for the winter months. Fogging oil, is an anticorrosive that will protect the internal surfaces of the carburetor and the cylinders.

Draining out freshwater plumbing systems

The freshwater plumbing system throughout the boat is just as important as the engines cooling system. To avoid replacing cracked and damaged freshwater plumbing take proper care and ensure all freshwater plumbing is clear. 

Draining the freshwater system is only part of the freshwater winterization process. You must also use antifreeze to prevent any residual water from freezing. To drain the freshwater system, first open all the outlet spigots on the boat and let the drain run out. Once there is no more water coming out, pour a few gallons of antifreeze into the tank for added freeze protection

If you your boat has a hot water heater, its recommended to drain it out and bypass the inlet and outlet to use less antifreeze. The main point here is to make sure there is no water at all in any of the important parts of the vessel that can potentially cost thousands of dollars in damage if broken. It is common that people forget to take care of all of these pipes, or they do a poor job, so if you have a chance to do it again, you should.

Keeping the external clean and ventilated

During winter storage, your boat’s cabin can be exposed and give way for mildew and mold to grow. Mold and mildew not only give off a pungent odor, they also can cause permanent damage to your boat’s upholstery. In addition to that, they also can cause respiratory illnesses in humans who may have a reaction from breathing it in.

Some ways you can help prevent mildew and mold from building up is keeping your boat ventilated and reducing the humidity throughout. As long as there is air circulating, it is tough for mildew and mold to grow.

If you’d like to learn more about mold and mildew and other ways to prevent them from growing, you can read more here.

Once you have cleared out all of the water in and on your boat, lastly, you should remove all drain plugs and put a cover on your boat. Choosing which cover is right for your boat and budget can be a difficult process so make sure you plan ahead and take some time to weigh out all of the options.

It is funny that a boat, which is designed to live in water needs to be completely free of any water to survive a tough winter. According to Insuramatch, flooding, due to melting snow or broken water pipes—is one of the biggest claims they see for boating insurance in the winter months. So please double-check some of these steps to ensure your boat can manage the winter and refer to your owner’s manual if you have any further questions.

See you back out on the lake in the spring!


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