Thursday, December 20, 2012

How Cold is Too Cold? | Winterizing Your Boat

     Winter, 2011… I won’t forget it. Just two unexpectedly cold days that first week of February. Sure did a lot of damage!

     We had to replace over 80 engine blocks from freeze damage in the preceding two years. Several of them were our own boats. It was a costly mistake. All from just two simple days that stayed below freezing. That is all it takes...

     Well, it’s that time of year again when we need to consider freeze protection.  I have seen so many people wait until the last minute to freeze protect their boats and something inevitably will come up and they don’t get to their boat in time or don’t make the call to their favorite repair shop.

     So, in a panic….what do you do? I have had many people tell me that they put a light bulb in the boat or a space heater they purchased at a department store.  Do you know this is very dangerous?  The engine compartment of your boat is not vented so there are gas fumes in your engine compartment and a light bulb or a space heater can spark and catch your boat on fire!! I have seen it. We had a boat burn to the water line sitting in a slip at our marina with a light bulb next to the engine. We don’t allow that at our marina anymore.

     I have also had many customers call me and tell me they have drained the water from their engine block.  I ask them if they drained the water from the exhaust manifolds and many times the answer is no.  Did you know the exhaust manifolds have water in them as well?  If the water in the exhaust manifolds freezes it will expand and crack the exhaust manifolds.  Exhaust manifolds may not be an engine, but they are costly. 

     The most fail safe way to freeze protect your engine is to drain the water out of the engine and the exhaust manifolds.  Most of the newer Mercruiser engines have quick water drain systems and the water is very easy to drain.  Older Mercruiser engines have approximately five water drain points. The number of drain points on your engine varies depending on which engine package you have.  A PCM engine can have five to seven water drain points. You just need to be certain you don’t miss one.

     Another way to freeze protect your engine is with a boat safe engine compartment heater.  This is not a heater you buy at a local department store.  A boat safe heater is spark protected and will not catch your boat on fire.  With an engine compartment heater you do have to make sure you have electricity to the heater at all times.  If there is a loss of electricity to your area then your boat will not be protected. 

     All in all, it was just two simple days…. but, it was unforgettable. I would consider freeze protection. I know, we’re about to go drain all of our boats!

     If you have any questions, please contact me or feel free to schedule a service appointment to get your boat winterized for the rapidly approaching winter season.

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