Cost to winterize a boat

How Much Does it Cost to Winterize a Boat?

Written by Boatsetter Team
September 22, 2021

Last Updated on October 7, 2021 by Boatsetter Team

As the temperatures fall toward freezing, it is time to think about winterizing your boat. Suppose you live anywhere where temperatures fall below 32 degrees Fahrenheit. In that case, your boat will need to be protected as temperatures drop below freezing.

All the systems on your boat need to be addressed when the winds of winter blow in. Depending on the size of your boat, winterizing it may be as easy as disconnecting the battery and the portable fuel tank, then draining the fuel from the engine.

For larger boats with inboard power plants, water systems, live wells, toilets (heads), and kitchen (galley) faucets, winterizing your boat will be more costly. When winterizing your boat, you need a plan and a process to ensure you don’t miss anything important.

What is Included in Winterizing a Boat?

Boats have multiple systems that can be harmed if the temperatures fall below freezing and stay there for over 12 hours unless your boat has been winterized. Your engine, water system, water pipes, outdrives, water pumps, live well, heads, and faucets can all be damaged by water that freezes inside of them. Their repair or replacement can be very, very costly.

1. Mechanicals

Boats have outboard engines, inboard engines, and they have inboard/outboard (sterndrive) engines. Each has a different design, but in their hearts, they are much the same. If you are storing your boat for the winter, the engine is what needs the most attention.

Frozen water left in an engine can crack the block and other components, leaving you with very costly damage. The time and cost spent preparing your boat for winter could save you thousands of dollars in repairs if you don’t perform this maintenance.

Change oil

You don’t want to leave the oil in your engine that you have used all season, and now is a great time to change it. The cost to change your oil yourself is between $50 and $100 and depends on the size of the engine in your boat. If you pay to have it done, you can add between $100 to $200 to that bill, making the cost of an oil change for your boat between $200 and $300.

Fogging the engine

Fogging the inside of your engine protects its interior parts. This product tends to be specific to each manufacturer. They recommend their brand of fogging aerosol and method of application, so refer to your engine owner’s manual and the product you are using for specific instructions on use.

Fogging coats the interior of your engine with a light oil that prevents corrosion while your boat sits waiting for spring. It is suggested for use on outboard motors, Jet Ski motors, and inboard motors as a method of protecting your engine from moisture.

Drain the engine of all fluids (sterndrive and inboard engines)

Every engine has a valve that allows you to drain the water from your engine, called a petcock. It is located on the side of the engine and is usually a bronze-colored valve. Next, remove the lower hose of the water pump and let it drain completely.

If you leave water in the engine, it can freeze, crack the engine block, and cause other damage. The cost of replacing even the smallest inboard or outboard engine is over $10,000, so you can see how important this step is.

2. Fuel System

winterize a boat fuel system

Before storing your boat, you will need to add a fuel stabilizer to the fuel tanks. It will prevent moisture from building up in the fuel system. The cost for you to perform this maintenance task is $5 and $15. Again, the price depends on the size and number of engines your boat has. However, if you have this job done by a mechanic, expect to spend about $250. Ow!

3. Water System

boat winterization process

If your boat has a water holding tank, pump, and plumbing running to the kitchen and bathroom, you will need to drain it, too. If you leave water in it over the winter, it could burst the pipes, which will need to be replaced, and it could flood the inside of your boat and cause damage.

Be sure to drain the water holding tank, the lines, and the water pump. Drain the water from the head (toilet) and if it is a self-contained unit, remove it and empty it, too. Every water system differs a bit, from boat to boat, and the cost to drain it is zero dollars. It could cost as much as $200 or more to do this job at a boatyard.

4. Livewells

livewell boat winterization

If your boat has live wells, be sure they are drained of water and that their pumps are, too. If you leave water in either the tank or pump, it could expand when it freezes and cracks the casing, ruining your pump.

Draining live wells and their pumps will cost you nothing but time if you do it yourself. However, if done at a boatyard, the hourly rate for labor is between $70 and $120, depending on the job.

5. Clean the Exterior and Interior of Your Boat

Boat Winterization- Cleaning

The exterior and interior of your boat need to be done at least once a year. Doing this job when winterizing is as good a time as any. You can use the time to collect items left aboard, sweep and mop the floors of the cabin, cockpit, and upper decks, and clean and polish your boat’s hull.

Cleaning your boat’s hull will help preserve the gel coat, and cleaning canvas items, such as Biminis and boat covers, will extend their life cycle.

The cost to detail a boat runs from $10 to $50 per foot. The price will depend on the size of your boat and its condition. If you do it yourself, the cost will be for a buffer, cleaners for the hull, interior, canvas, and elbow grease. The price for you to clean and detail your boat yourself should be less than $100.

Is Winterizing a Boat Necessary?

Yes, it is if you live where the temperatures drop below freezing for extended times. If you live where the temperatures fall below freezing for weeks at a time, you need to winterize your boat.

If you live in a warm climate that rarely if ever, has days below freezing, winterizing your boat is not necessary. Likewise, if you are leaving your boat in the water or storing it in a building that has a controlled environment, winterizing your boat isn’t necessary, either.

Paying to Winterize Your Boat vs. DIY Winterization

Any time you hire someone for a job, it will cost you much more than if you did it yourself unless you don’t know what you are doing. In that case, please leave it to a professional, especially concerning the engine and its components. It may cost you less in the long run.

Marine engines are expensive to purchase and can be even more costly to replace. Still, there are a few things that most boat owners can do themselves if they have a few mechanical skills.

As mentioned above, an oil change performed by a mechanic is almost three times the cost of you doing it yourself. In addition, with a bit of practice, you can do most of the other maintenance tasks of winterizing your boat.

How Much Does it Cost to winterize a Boat?

If you winterize your boat yourself, it will cost you about $250. This price includes the cost of winterizing the engine, the other systems of your boat, and cleaning it, stem to stern, inside and out. However, if you have the work done at a boatyard, expect to spend $500 up. The cost will depend on the size of your boat and the number of engines it has.

Owning a Boat is Expensive, and We Can Help With That.

At Boatsetter, we provide boat owners with an opportunity to rent their boat out to fellow boat lovers. By renting out your boat, you can offset the costs associated with owning a boat. To learn more about listing your boat with Boatsetter, visit our why list page. 

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