Houseboat Repairs and Installations - Propane Fridges, Leaky Windows

by Bob
(Vero Beach, Florida)

How to diagnose and repair leaky houseboat windows.

How to diagnose and repair leaky houseboat windows.

Questions on houseboat repairs and installations, especially propane fridges and leaky windows?


It's our first time on the forum, and we just purchased a 1990, 42 ft Gibson houseboat after selling our 36' sailboat. We have lived aboard since 1998.

The surveyor missed all the rotted wood under the new carpet the previous owner installed to cover up the water damage. Anyway, it looks as if the water came in from the windows and ran down behind the paneling.

We live in Florida and suspect that the damage was from the rain from one of several hurricanes that visited us in the last couple of years.

My question is how to go about getting new gaskets and wipers that go into the window tracks. Are they hard to replace (can I do it myself).

Also an unrelated question, can you use propane to run a fridge (4.5cf) on a houseboat. How much propane can I expect to use a month. We want to install a 3way frige and don't want to run the generator all the time.

We will not be "plugged in" at all as we will be on a mooring ball for the winter. Thanks, "River House"





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Reply - Answer
Well Bob, welcome to the forums, and congratulations on your purchase, especially since the Gibson houseboats have a very good reputation.

When it comes to leaky windows, you may not be alone, since I'm sure that most, if not all boats will get leaky windows at one point. The problem arises from the harsh environment, and the constant flexing of the boat hull.

It is hard for me to diagnose your exact problem from here, however you can usually eliminate or greatly reduce the leaky window problem by replacing the window gaskets and guides. Naturally a suitable bedding compound or marine sealant can help in areas that have gaps or voids.

The best tip is to use a water hose on the outside while someone is inside and they can carefully watch where the water in infiltrating from. This can be quite tricky since water tends to weave its way around.

As to the amount of propane that a fridge can consume, especially a 4.5 cubic foot one would be extremely small. The pilot flame required to keep a propane refrigerator cold is quite small compared to a propane stove for example.

If I remember correctly, a 20 lb propane tank has 110,000 BTU's of energy, and one burner on a propane stove is @ 8,000 BTU, so in theory, you could run that burner for @ 12-13 hours.

Now how many BTU's is a pilot flame on a propane fridge, I would guess @ 100 BTU of energy is required, so the math would be 110,000 BTU divided by 100 BTU = @ 1100 hours of burn time. So 1100 hours divided by 24 hours equals @ 45 days.

This makes sense since the propane fridge on our houseboat lasts about that amount of time on a regular standard 20 lb propane tank. However we have 2 tanks connected on our system since we have the stove and furnace to supply.

As to the feasibility, installation, and insurance requirements of installing a propane refrigerator onboard, be sure to speak to some marine propane professionals in your area first. There are many safety and venting requirements involved.


Lastly, hopefully some of our readers will share and post comments about their window and propane houseboat experiences. Feel free to use the "Click here to post comments." link found near the bottom of this page.


Thanks again for sharing, IAN from all-about-houseboats



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Living on a Gibson houseboat in winter in NY
by: Ted

What are the possibilities - heat wise - of living on a 42 ft Gibson
houseboat in the winter months in NY? I saw a 1980 in very good condition and was wondering about the possibilities of outfitting her for winter and year round living. Thanks.

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