Pontoon Houseboat Floatation - any damage or sinking protection?

by Ron Bishop
(Fitzgerald, GA, USA)

Pontoon Houseboat Floatation - Any Sinking Damage Protection

Pontoon Houseboat Floatation - Any Sinking Damage Protection

Looking at floatation on a pontoon houseboat, and wonder about protection from damage or sinking if a pontoon ruptures?

I am building a pontoon houseboat, and don't want it to sink if I hit a rock in a river or lake. What measures can be taken to protect any possible pontoon rupture? And can we do it cheaply if at all possible?

Thanks for any help, Ron Bishop

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Reply - Answer
Well Ron, welcome to the houseboat forums, and congratulations on asking a great question about pontoon floatation.

As you are probably aware, one of the advantages that pontoons have over a tradition hull design is that they can have either sealed chambers, or foam filled chambers, which greatly reduce the danger of sinking.

Now you didn't mention if you were building steel, wood, fiberglass, or aluminum pontoons, but if wanted sealed chambers, think of taking a bunch of cans of soda, and welding them "end to end" to make the length of cylinder (pontoon) that you need.

Many people have created the same kind of sealed chambers and have filled them with an expanding foam which would restrict the amount of water that could even enter into the chamber. If you only have room in the chamber for 5 gallons of water, it would have very little effect on buoyancy.

Now possibly some of our houseboaters that have experimented or built pontoons have some better or simpler ideas to help you with pontoon floatation.

Lastly, hopefully some of our readers will share and post comments about their pontoon houseboat damage or sinking 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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Comments for Pontoon Houseboat Floatation - any damage or sinking protection?

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Request pontoon information
by: Rodger

I am planing on using two 46" x 80' steel pontoons, how much much capacity can I expect this to carry, as per total weight at 1/2 submerged value.

Thank you.

Pontoon houseboat flotation
by: roger

I am building a 32 foot pontoon houseboat. Pontoons are 4 foot wide x 2 foot deep. The boat is 8 foot for trailering, but expands to 10 foot before launch.

I have bulkheads every 4 feet in the pontoons and since foam filling is expensive, I am filling them with 2 litre pop bottles. I can get them at a local recycling depot.

My problem is finding the best waterproof coating for the pontoons. I am waiting for our 3 feet of snow to melt so I can complete my pontoons. A 28 foot garage and 32 foot pontoons do not work well.

Roger, northern ontario.

Houseboat Pontoons - foam depletes carrying capacity
by: Anonymous

Glen l boats told me if I fill the pontoons with foam I will deplete my carrying capacity. I'm wanting to build small houseboat.

Houseboat Pontoons - air in aluminum tanks
by: Anonymous

I have a 20 foot pontoon boat and I was wondering that if I filled the aluminum floating pontoons with air, what that woud do? any answers?

If houseboat pontoons are air tight
by: Anonymous

If your houseboat pontoons are air tight, then a hole in the bottom of the pontoon will only alow a limited amount of water in providing the air in the pontoon can not escape.

Take a glass and hold it upside down and push it under water, it will not fill with water as the air can not escape, same applies to pontoons if they are air tight.

To Bill V. of Florida
by: Gary, Kentucky/Hilton Head Island

Bill, I was amazed 46" X 80' pontoons. I would like to know more and pick your brain. I am looking to build a live-on boat and using pontoons. How can we connect? Thank you, Gary

Foam for pontoon buoyancy?
by: Pete

I have an older 20' boat with aluminum pontoons. They have become a bit "seepy" and slowly (over the course of a summer) take on water. The tanks are hollow now.

My question is does anyone know if filling with foam would solve the problem, and if so what type of foam would be best for the job? Thanks in advance.

Reply - Answer
Well Pete, you may find the following article on filling houseboat pontoons with foam of interest to you.

IAN from www.all-about-houseboats.com

by: r0b

Add another layer to the bottom of the pontoon. Most sinkings are slow and are usually caused by rubbing against rocks. Drive slow, avoid bow splashing,, and have fun.

Pontoon Protection
by: Bill V. Fla.

Most commercial pontoons are built in sections 6-8 feet and welded together. This is aluminum and steel. Fiberglass and plastic range from 3-9 feet per section. This is in the US, part of the codes for pontoon boats.

Now many people, like myself build in wood. (see building 80 pontoon houseboat--on this site) My pontoons will comply with the US codes for safety and buoyancy. For the 80 foot length, I'm using 46" dia. by six foot sections.

Water tight bulkheads that bolt together then glass taped, before the outside overall glassing. Any unused, or empty cylinders will be filled with expandable foam to displace water for extra buoyancy. Hope this helps. Bill V.

Reply - Answer
Well Bill, thanks a million for sharing that rare and hard to find information on the buoyancy and safety codes. I hope your project is going well :)

IAN from www.all-about-houseboats.com

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