Just bought your first pontoon boat? Ensure that it stays as good as new with these few pontoon boat maintenance tips.
Pontoon Boat Maintenance Tips
Having a pontoon boat, much like having a car, requires some effort to keep it in the best possible shape. For those who are proud owners of a new pontoon boat, here are some tips and routines you can build to make sure it looks shiny and new forever. Boats are meant to last and be fun for a long time and taking good care of it could prolong its lifespan even more, helping extend your return on investment.
5 Steps to Keep Your Pontoon Boat in Top Condition
Maintaining and protecting a pontoon boat’s key components will eventually become second-nature for any boat owner, but it will take some time to build those habits. However, once a routine has been put into place to make sure all the key components are taken care of, keeping a pontoon boat in the best possible condition should be no trouble.
1. Routine Pontoon Boat Check-ups
Boats, just like people, need regular check-ups to ensure that all their important equipment is performing up to standards and nothing has been broken or needs maintenance. This kind of check-up will typically include annual, necessary boat care, such as repainting bottom paint or checking all fittings and fasteners. Taking a pontoon boat to a professional for these tasks will go a long way to having the jobs done correctly and creating an annual routine of maintenance appointments will help be sure that nothing is overlooked.
2. Pontoon Boat Motor Maintenance
Since a pontoon boat can’t get anywhere without a motor, maintenance on it should be a priority. With easy, preventative steps, it’s not hard to get an engine to last for a long time and help preserve the entire boat. These measures include flushing the motor after each outing to eliminate debris, taking care of the engine’s oil level, and keeping an eye out for damage, corrosion or marine life growth on the motor’s components.
3. Test and Charge Your Pontoon’s Battery
If the boat can’t move without a motor, it can’t run without a battery. No electronics will work and the motor won’t even start. Taking care of the electrical system is as simple as checking its charge and wiring and cleaning the terminals, both during and after the boating season, so that it won’t fail at an inopportune moment.
4. Use a Pontoon Boat Cover
Pontoon boats, like all boats, spend a lot of their life outside. Surfaces and components degrade much faster and easier if left exposed to the elements. Protecting it is easy – all it takes is a simple cover to block out rain, excessive sun damage, and other environmental impacts.
5. Winterize Your Pontoon
Understanding how to winterize a pontoon boat will be different depending on where the boat will spend the season. However, there are some steps that will look the same regardless. These include cleaning the entire vessel; fully inspecting the boat for any damage; replacing any damaged or worn components; filling the tank, adding stabilizer and antifreeze; flushing the engine; and removing all objects that aren’t tied down from the boat’s storage. In particular, electronics should not spend the winter on board, as they could get damaged in extremely cold weather.
Saltwater vs. Freshwater Pontoon Maintenance
Caring for boats generally looks the same across the board, but some of the processes may or may not be necessary depending on whether boaters spent their time on salt or freshwater.
Exposure to saltwater accelerates corrosion, so boats that are used in saltwater boating should have extra attention paid to some maintenance tasks. The first is flushing the engine with fresh water as soon as possible to keep salt from collecting inside and corroding the metal components. The second is to wash the boat down with fresh water to remove any lingering salt residue and thus protect its finish. This includes the boat’s interior surfaces, since the salt will damage those as well. Operating in salt water also requires additional anodes to prevent corrosion. These anodes must be checked for wear.
Freshwater boating is a little gentler on a vessel, but care should still be taken to ensure the boat’s components are at top performance. Just as in saltwater, a washdown and flush are necessary. A big issue for many lakes and inland waterways is invasive species and ensuring no mussels or algae stick to the bottom of your boat goes a long way to protect the environment.
How to Clean Your Pontoon Boat
One of the most important steps to keep a boat in good condition is to keep it clean. Boats that are regularly cleaned will not be as subject to buildup or debris that have long-term, damaging impacts. In addition, fully cleaning a boat affords owners an opportunity to inspect the boat for any potential issues that may have otherwise escaped notice.
Pontoon Cleaning Products
Boat cleaning supplies come in many types, often dependent upon the surfaces the boat has. Generally, there are some simple cleaners that should be on board any boat, such as mildew stain remover, basic boat cleaner wipes, and instant hull cleaner. But there are some materials that may need more attention and special supplies.
Cleaning Pontoon Fiberglass Elements
Fiberglass is often used in boatbuilding. It is typically made with a special outer surface called a gelcoat that protects the hull and makes the surface smooth and reflective. As it ages, it can more easily collect stains and become discolored, which can make it hard to clean. Prevention of this involves washing the hull with warm fresh water and specialized boat cleaning soap. It also helps to dry it completely to avoid mildew. Polishing and waxing the surface will then lock in a protective coating.
Cleaning Pontoon Aluminum Elements
Aluminum is another common boatbuilding material. It looks smooth, but because of its chemical makeup, it easily oxidizes and reacts strongly to environmental exposure. If there’s any sort of buildup on aluminum components, such as debris, dust or grease, it’s necessary to clean it before applying an aluminum-specific cleaner. This will then brighten, polish and protect the surface from further oxidation and damage.