Leaking Pontoon House Boats - How to Find and Repair a Leak?

Houseboat Leaks, Find & Repair Leaking Pontoon House Boats

Houseboat Leaks, Find & Repair Leaking Pontoon House Boats

Leaking pontoon house boats can be annoying, and wondering how to find and repair the leak?

Pulled my pontoon boat out today, heard a gurgling sound in pontoon, did not pull drain plug yet. Why a drain plug if pontoons are chambered?

If a leak, how would I find it, and what are some suggestions as to repairing. Willing to buy a repair manual if available. Thanks.

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Reply - Answer
Well, sorry to hear about your leaking pontoon house boat. I know the feeling since I also had a pontoon boat that leaked water into the chambers.

The extra weight alone of all that water didn't help in the performance department. The one advantage of a leaking pontoon is that what goes in, must come out!

So we have two things to look at, where's the leak, and how to repair it?

Where is it leaking?
Like we said before, "what goes in, must come out". So, if the water is still inside the pontoon, you may be able to see where it leaks out.

You can also try and have a look around the pontoons to see if there is any damage? Maybe beaching or an impact caused a crack, puncture, or a welded seam to let go?

You can also used the drain plug to fill the pontoons with a water hose to see where exactly the leak is. If not, you can also use an air compressor to fill the pontoons with pressure to listen for a hissing sound, indicating where it leaks.

How to repair the leak?
Once you have found the problem area, you have a few choices to repair it. You can weld the damaged area, or you can use a "putty steel like compound" (available at auto parts stores) to seal the area.

You didn't mention if the pontoon material was steel or aluminum, so I will presume that they're aluminum. Welding aluminum is trickier than welding steel, so I would recommend speaking to a welder who has experience welding marine aluminum.

The other alternative was applying the "two part steel putty like compound" to the affected area. This steel putty like compound hardens in @ 1 hour, and can be drilled, tapped, or machined, since it has steel like strength. This repair putty is also a great product to have "on board" since it's excellent for emergency repairs because it even hardens in water.

Now that's the two methods that I'm familiar with, however possibly our readers will have other tricks and tips to help you out?

Lastly, hopefully some of our readers will share and post comments about their pontoon house boat repair experiences. Feel free to use the "Click here to post comments." link found at the bottom of this page.

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

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Comments for Leaking Pontoon House Boats - How to Find and Repair a Leak?

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Leaking pontoon tube
by: David

Live in Virginia on east coast. Our last snow and ice storm sunk one of my tubes on a homemade 20X12 floating pier. There is a vent tube on top near the end and there is a screw-in plug also a tire stem fill valve.

Looks like the valve stem broke off for some reason and the ice and snow weighted the pier with a john boat sitting on top of the pier caused the tube to emerge the valve steam blow the water and it sunk.

Good thing though.... it sits in about 3 feet of water at low tide with about a foot of mud.

I enjoy all the articles and what seems like a big disaster now, seems only like a small problem.

Thanks, David

leaking pontoon
by: Anonymous

With the pontoon still in the water, drill a hole in rear of pontoon and inserted an air valve, drill a hole in the front and insert a hose and water pump. Run the air compressor and than pump until all water had been removed. Loaded boat on trailer and remove from lake.

Pontoon under water
by: Anonymous

Have a leaking pontoon boat that is still in the water and sinking on port side. How can I get the water out while still in the lake, so I can float it to a landing to remove it.

Leaky pontoon
by: Jerry

I made a hose adapter to fill my pontoons with water, and boy did I find leaks. Most were where the deck attached to the pontoons.

I'm using JB Weld stuff that I got at Home Depot and fiberglass repair kit. So far it's working, a few drips around the bolts, I'll see how it works when I put it back in the river.


Tip on finding leaks
by: capone

I've been a boilermaker for over 40 years and to find leaks no matter how small or how invisible they are we use fuel-oil.

The oil will make a stain where the leak is, but please remember to flush-out good after you find the leak before repairing, and also not to contaminate our prized north american waters.

Thank-you, Capone

Pontoon leak repair
by: Jerry

Has anyone tried Flex Seal? This was advertised on TV. They showed a row boat with a screen door for the bottom, and they sprayed it with this Flex Seal spray, and it floated with the guy in the boat.

My pontoons leak a little so I'll try this stuff. After 8 hours on the river I get about 3 or 4 gallons of water out of the drains.


Leaking pontoon not found by adding air pressure
by: RandyP

Adding air pressure did not reveal the leak. Can a crack open up only under power? Is there anything you can spray on the outside (or inside) that might seal cracks?

This is a 32' pontoon so maneuvering around the toon while attached to the boat is a bit tough.

Before I pay to have the boat taken out of the water (again) and have the toon completely removed, is there anything else I might try? It doesn't have to look pretty, just not leak.

Baffles or chambers, how to know?
by: steveus

Don't know if I have separate chambers, or there are baffles, best way to find out?

Water in old pontoon
by: Anonymous

Is there a simple way to add drain plugs to my pontoon?

Finding pontoon leaks
by: Walter Knapp

I think the easiest thing to do to find the leak would be to first, put about 3-4 pounds of air pressure in the pontoon. If you can't hear a leak right off, use a solution of dishwashing soap and water, and apply to the pontoon with a brush.

The leak will cause bubbles to form, and it's not hard to see the problem.


Houseboat Pontoons - tips for finding leaks in tubes
by: Anonymous

Do not put more than 5 lbs of air pressure or else serious injuries can occur. You only need a little air pressure. I am doing the following this weekend: installing 1/4" Sharaeder valve (a tire tube pressure valve at one end and the 1/4" pipe thread at the other).

I am also gonna take our Halloween smoke machine and direct vapour smoke into the tubes, then pump 3-5 lbs of air to see where it leaks.

My frustration is as water gets in and although my toon is on a boat-lift (Sea-legs) and out of the water - there is no sign of water coming out from where it came in so that means the leak is above the internal wareline of 1 or 2 inches of inside and below the waterline.

I suspect a cracked weld or weld created hole from the heat OR my miserable narcissistic neighbour who possibly drilled a hole somewhere (not the first time they did something to my boat)

Testing Pontoons on Houseboats - how much air pressure
by: Anonymous

Do you know how much air pressure you can apply?

Excellent reference for pontoon house boat repairs
by: Anonymous

Thanks for providing such great information. I used your site as one of the sources for an article I was researching. I have included a link to you in the references section.

Thanks for the compliment about great information.

IAN from www.all-about-houseboats.com

Houseboat Leaks - finding the holes
by: Arizona

I removed the drain plugs and installed and air chuck which you can get at your local hardware store for 2 bucks. Then I attached the Air Hose and filled the pontoons with air until I heard the air come out.

Meanwhile I also got a sprayer and filled it with liquid dish soap and while the pontoon was filling I sprayed it with the water and liquid soap mixture. When I saw the bubbles I knew that is where the leak was. Want more help let me know.

by: Anonymous

thanks for the info on checking and repairing the pontoons. did anyone have any other ideas on repair?

Pontoon question
by: Mel

I have a 24 ft Avalon playbouy, last season when pulling up boat ramp I stopped on the steep incline and and pulled my plugs, both sides had water, one side very little the other considerably more.

If the pontoons are chambered did they totally drain when the water stopped or not? One would think there would be weep holes from section to section.

Thanks, Mel

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