Time flies when you are having fun. Sometimes it is hard to admit that winter is coming, but you better brace yourself. Along with the winter months comes winterizing pontoon boat time.
For some, this can be a boring thing to do, but for others, it is a fun ritual that is an important part of owning a pontoon boat.
Of course, this is not as fun as spending a day on the lake, but it is necessary. But when you get used to doing it, it is not as challenging.
- 1 Winterizing Checklist
- 2 Winterizing Pontoon Boat Engine
- 2.1 Winterizing Outboard Engine
- 2.2 Winterizing Inboard Engine
- 2.2.1 Change Engines Coolant
- 2.2.2 Change Engine And Transmission Oil
- 2.2.3 Fuel Tank – Gas/Diesel
- 2.2.4 Fuel Tank – Gas Engine
- 2.2.5 Fog The Carburetor Intake – Gas Engine
- 2.2.6 Flush raw-water circuit
- 2.2.7 Drain Muffler Canister
- 2.2.8 Grease Control Cables
- 2.2.9 Coat Unpainted Areas With Anti-Corrosion Spray
- 2.2.10 Seal Everything
- 2.3 Pontoon Winterization Final Tip
- 3 How To Prepare Battery For The Winter
- 4 Securing Pontoon Boat From Theft
- 5 Inspect Your Boat Occasionally
- 6 De-Winterization of Pontoon Boat
Winterizing pontoon boat is an essential part of overall maintenance. It requires special attention and care and should not be overlooked. Owning a pontoon is an investment and you need to protect it.
Use the following winterizing checklist to make sure you are doing it right:
- Clean your boat well
- Store and cover properly
- Winterize your engine
- Winterize your battery
Cleaning Your Boat
I already wrote a separate guide about how to clean pontoon boat carpet earlier so I will not go into details here. However, there is a separate part of cleaning that you need to consider.
First, you have to remove all the unmounted accessories from your boat. Everything from fishing gear to electronics and flotation devices should be removed. This will protect your gear from damage and will make the rest of the work easier.
The only thing that should be left on the boat are parts that can’t be taken off.
Clean the entire open surface the best way you can and do not leave any food or things that could invite rodents in. Rodents are destructive and they can cause a lot of damage to your boat. That being said, rodents can still get inside if they really want to, those teeth are sharp, but not leaving any food as an invitation to them will reduce a chance of that happening.
Store And Cover Properly
Make sure you cover your pontoon boat well so that outside elements don’t get in and damage upholstery and carpet. There is nothing worse than seeing mold and mildew when you lift that boat cover.
Be sure to do good research on pontoon boat cover manufacturers and to choose the best one. You don’t want to see damage to your pontoon’s exterior, it can cause you big headaches and can be very costly.
I wrote an article about best pontoon boat covers which can give you some idea of where to start your research.
Make sure that you cover the boat well, don’t leave any holes where moisture or rodents can get it. Always buy larger canvas to ensure it can cover the entire boat surface.
Winterizing Pontoon Boat Engine
When the temperature falls below freezing, any water inside the engine might freeze and turn to ice. That, in turn, can cause parts to break and damage the engine.
If you do not know how to winterize pontoon motor ask someone who does.
Damage to your motor can be very expensive so it is important to pay close attention to winterizing it properly.
Winterizing Outboard Engine
Make sure you pressure wash your engine to remove any dirt or salt. You can either use an extension for your hose or buy a pressure washer on Amazon, either works fine.
Drain Fuel Line And Carburetor
Disconnect the fuel line from the engine while the engine is still running. This will empty the fuel delivery component and the engine will stop working. This is important to prevent any gums formation or clogging of lines inside the engine.
Fog The Carburetor Intake
Just before the engine stops working due to lack of fuel, spray fogging oil into the carburetor. This will help protect the internal surfaces of the cylinders and carburetor from corrosion. When you see that the engine is starting to have a hard time running, that is the best time to add some extra fogging oil to make sure that every surface is covered thoroughly.
Drain cooling passages
Disconnect the battery from the engine.
With the motor in the upright position remove the flush attachment and the motor from the flush tank. Let the water drain out.
Empty the powerhead and intermediate housing by opening and draining the plugs. You should probably consult your owner’s manual here.
Remove spark plugs and cover the inside with the fogging oil. It is helpful to rotate the flywheel a few times to help spread the oil inside cylinder walls.
This is not a bad time to check your spark plugs so you might want to consider doing that before you put them back in.
Don’t Forget To Lubricate
Consult your owner’s manual once more to make sure that all the surfaces needing lubrication and properly covered with oil and heavy grease.
Drain And Refill Gearcase
Fill the oil tank back up to prevent condensation from forming inside the tank.
What To Do With Fuel Tank
You can either empty your fuel tank completely or fill it up to about 95% capacity.
I like to fill it up for two reasons.
First, I don’t have to deal with draining of the engine. I don’t find that particularly convenient.
Second, you want to fill the tank up to 95% to avoid and internal condensation inside the tank. This happens because gasoline contains ethanol and water may cause water phase separation.
What this means is that water will begin to remove the ethanol from the gasoline. It will, in turn, create a leaner combustion mixture between water and ethanol (higher air to fuel ratio). With more air comes stronger combustion and higher temperature which can damage the engine.
It is important to limit the space inside the talk to about 5% to limit the amount of condensation that can be created.
Also, make sure that you use gas stabilizer to avoid the formation of passage-clogging gums.
Take Care Of The Propeller Shaft
If you are not taking the propeller home to prevent it from being stolen, make sure you clean it thoroughly and lubricate it well to prevent corrosion.
Store The Motor Upright
Lastly, make sure your motor is stored upright. By laying the engine to its side you are risking leftover water draining to places where it should not go. You can easily build something to allow you proper motor storage.
Winterizing Inboard Engine
Change Engines Coolant
This only applies to fresh-water engines. Over time anticorrosion properties of coolant start fading away so it is important to replace it annually to protect the inside of your engine.
Change Engine And Transmission Oil
When changing the oil it’s important to take the boat for a ride first. What this does is, it warms up the oil which in turn separates contaminants off the engine walls so when you drain the oil out, you drain the contaminants as well.
And don’t forget to change the oil filter while you are at it.
Fuel Tank – Gas/Diesel
If you don’t want to drain the motor, fill it up the same way you would with the outboard engine for both gas and diesel engine. The reason is the same as for outboard engine described above.
On the other hand, if you have diesel engine make sure to add some biocide to prevent retard bacteria growth.
Use stabilizer for the gas engine.
If you have a diesel engine you don’t have to use stabilizer unless you expect to run the engine during the winter. The reason why you don’t need the stabilizer is that once the weather gets warmer, the paraffin that precipitates out will be absorbed by the fuel.
Fuel Tank – Gas Engine
Empty the engine by shutting down the fuel supply and letting the engine run until it stops.
Fog The Carburetor Intake – Gas Engine
You can use the exact same procedure as described above for winterizing outboard engine.
Flush raw-water circuit
Use fresh-water flush connector if you have it.
If not, close the intake seacock. After that, on the outlet side of the raw-water pump, disconnect the hose. Also, disconnect the water cooling discharge hose from the manifold. Rinse it well with fresh water to remove any deposits and salt.
Drain Muffler Canister
In this case, less is better, less moisture that is. Try to minimize moisture in every way possible to reduce a chance of corrosion.
Grease Control Cables
Grease is your friend when working with the mechanical stuff, so use it.
Remove control cables from housing and grease them up.
If that is not an option tape an oil-filled bag around the high end of the housing and let it sit there for a while so the oil can work its way down the cables.
Coat Unpainted Areas With Anti-Corrosion Spray
You should use anti-corrosion spray on all unpainted surfaces of the engine.
Try to seal all possible tank vents, air inlets, exhaust outlets and crankcase and transmission breathers as best as possible. You have to prevent the moisture of getting inside your engine as best as you can.
I would also recommend you do this on a dry day, even the moisture in the air could be enough to cause issues over the long winter months.
Pontoon Winterization Final Tip
Consult your owners manual. I cannot stress that enough.
I can only show you what I do but my boat is most likely not the one you have.
How To Prepare Battery For The Winter
There are two options that you can do when you are preparing pontoon battery for the winter.
If you decide to disconnect the battery from the pontoon boat you will have to keep it indoors. It is important to be stored in the place where temperatures don’t go below freezing. The garage or some extra space in the house would be an ideal for keeping the battery safe.
On the other hand, if you decide not to remove the battery from your boat (which people usually do if they decide to leave the boat in the water), you will have to be careful and prepare your pontoon boat for these conditions.
A battery should be fully charged before you store it. If you are not sure, you can take the battery to the marina or even an auto center for testing the battery, and charge it if it’s necessary.
Securing Pontoon Boat From Theft
I just hate when people steal stuff but it happens occasionally and we have to deal with it.
The best thing we can do is try to make sure it does not happen in the first place.
Electronics are usually the first thing that is stolen or damaged. Some electronic parts are very easy to take out. Dismounting electronics is the best prevention. Take them home.
If you are storing your boat on the land, you can purchase tongue lock for the trailer, or you can put your pontoon boat on the blocks. Remove tires from your trainer will so thieves can’t wheel it away.
If you want to spend little more on pontoon boat security, there are options like security wireless system, cameras, and many different alarm systems which can help you if invited guests appear.
Boat insurance is also a good option for keeping your boat safe.
You have to be careful though, and you have to consult your policy and check all the details because most of the boat insurances cover only major damages and theft. Damaging equipment like fuel tanks and motor engines is usually covered by boat insurance companies, but anything that is not permanently attached is not covered.
Contact your agent and check that information twice before insuring your pontoon boat.
Inspect Your Boat Occasionally
You don’t want to waste much time repairing your boat after the winter, so occasional checks are more than recommended. Sometimes minor damages may be overlooked, so you should inspect the whole pontoon boat few times during the winter. Especially pay attention to propeller and hub which can have wear and tear.
De-Winterization of Pontoon Boat
After a boring winter, it is finally time for the water!
You should check for any visual damage first. If there are any they should be fairly easy to spot.
Fix them first.
Next, examine the cover and Bimini top. Sometimes you will see some damage there. Again this is an easy fix in most cases so take care of it right away.
Before you store your cover thought, make sure it is completely dry. You don’t want any molding surprises next time you start winterization process.
After that is done installing back all the electronics and replace any accessories if you chose to do that.
Before going back to the water make sure you test all the electronics because you don’t want to be in the middle of nowhere when you realize that your GPS is not working.