Investing in a boat lift is a great way to protect your boat, but what about the lift itself, will it require care and maintenance? As the seasons change, those of you living in areas with winter weather may be wondering whether or not you should pull your boat lift and dock out of the water before freezing temperatures arrive. Let’s explore some considerations to get the most out of your boating accessories and how to care for them year round.
Can You Leave a Boat Lift in the Water During Winter?
If you live in a warmer climate with mild winters, it’s probably safe to keep your dock up and your boat lift in the water all year, but if you experience harsh winters you should plan to remove both your dock and lift to store safely until the risk for freezing temperatures is gone. Winterizing your dock and lift, just like your boat, is an essential part of preserving their structural integrity and promoting longevity.
Winter weather poses several risks to your boats, lifts and docks, the first being changes in temperatures which can cause certain materials to contract and expand and eventually warp. When water enters a cycle of freezing and thawing it can cause levels to change becoming too high or too low potentially damaging docks and lifts and can also loosen fasteners. In addition to causing surfaces to become slippery and hazardous, ice formations in the water can scratch and cause structural damage to docks and lifts left in water.
Cable boat lifts that are hung overhead or situated dockside don’t need to be removed during the winter months and if you plan on cold-weather boating, you might consider a speciality cold-weather dock design to withstand winter elements. If you choose to leave a hydraulic lift in the water, you’ll need to prevent and monitor ice and properly flush the lines otherwise you risk causing significant damage to your lift.
How to Winterize Your Boat Lift
If you have a pile driven dock you may be able to use a bubbler to prevent the formation of ice which can provide protection for lifts on fixed docks and areas where there’s no ice movement. Unless you’re planning on cold weather boating and have a system designed specifically for ice, we recommend simply removing your dock and lift at the end of the season to store safely out of the water.
The easiest and safest way to get your boat lift out of the water (and back in) is to use a boat lift wheel kit and a boat lift jack. Once your lift is out of the water, do a thorough inspection: check your lift cables and beams, ensure your bunks don’t have torn or worn out areas and look at gears, motors and pulleys. If your lift has a chain or bearings that require lubrication, make sure that they are sufficiently greased before storing.
If you’re not able to store your lift indoors, you’ll want to cover it to protect it from the elements. While the lift itself may be a little more forgiving, be sure that the motor is stored in a dry place that is free from temperature fluctuations and moisture. Unless you have a permanent dock or one that can be winched up, you’ll also want to consider removing and storing it as well.
Questions about winterizing your boat lift? Contact us for resources and assistance.