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The Houseboat Climate Control Survival Guide, how to avoid sweating like a dog on your boat.

Written by IAN of

When we discuss houseboat climate control issues, the #1 survival guide criteria has to be the importance of having a fully functional AC unit. If you can't sleep at night because the AC isn't working, there will be some "unhappy campers" so to speak. Any failure of the air conditioning system will often cause friction amongst family members, loss of appetite, extreme irritability from long sweaty sleepless nights.

Outdoors, we were sweating like dogs...

A bit of a preamble first, it's been a really really muggy month here weather wise, you know that unbearable heat wave that doesn't seem to end. You know those days that feels like there's no breathable air around even in the shade. Even when the sun goes down, the night air is so hot and so thick with humidity that you think that your lungs will drown from the moisture.

Importance of a functioning air conditioning unit.

Today, I want to share a situation that happened to me and one of my houseboat neighbors on my dock. Because of my being a "prepared boater", I was able to SAVE THE DAY with a spare part that I had on board. My neighbor is extremely grateful and has learned a valuable lesson from the experience.

Unfortunately, stuff happens
Luckily my neighbor and I both have reverse cycle AC thermopump units that handle the cooling & heating for our boats (one of life's great gifts). Needless to say, his system broke down during the night, and they woke up super grumpy as they had been sweating like a dog all night. On top of it, all the windows were shut closed and the sun was already cooking the outside of the boat.

My dog needed a walk
As I was walking down the dock on Sunday morning to take my dog for a run, I come across my neighbor and he looks like shit... (he hadn't slept well at all) and I noticed that he was sweating profusely and really grumpy.

This is where he explained to me about his AC unit breaking down during the night. Together we discussed the issue and we figured it was due to a few potential areas. More testing was required to troubleshoot the problem. I was pretty sure that the pump was the problem.

Thank god for tech support
After calling the manufacturers technical support hotline (thank god for weekend tech support), they said that the two most common items that can breakdown on AC units are either the thermostat, and the other being the seawater pump. Figures it wasn't the wall mounted control thermostat as those are easily purchased at your local hardware store. In our situation, it turns out to be a bad AC pump (and likely a few days wait to get one).

A bad AC seawater pump caused everything

Marine AC pumps for houseboats Marine AC pumps for houseboats Marine AC pumps for houseboats

Such a small item, yet so crucial to your comfort

More sweaty days & nights coming...
Now the manufacturer said that they could ship out a pump the next day, but even with express shipping, it would have still taken a few days to arrive. As you know it, the weather forecast was still calling for HOT & HUMID weather for a few days and I could see the look on my neighbors face as he did NOT want to spend another day or night sweating like a dog... :(

Planning for the inevitable
This is where "being prepared" really pays off, and LUCKILY (somewhere on my boat) I had a spare seawater pump on board that I had bought a few years ago, precisely for this reason. I also hate suffering the draining effects of those ever so frequent heat waves. I didn't know "when" I would need it, but I knew that the day would come.

How to save the day
Lucky to say I was able to save the day as we swapped out that pump and within an hour his boat was a cool & comfortable 70 deg F, a perfect temperature to have a relaxing Sunday afternoon snooze. His wife was extremely grateful as she also has a very low tolerance for that hot muggy weather.

She made a joke about being able to "spoon her husband tonight" due to the repaired air conditioning. I'm so glad that I was able to help her out with her "kitchen cutlery"... :)

Your car has a spare, your boat should too!

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Find out which AC Pump model you need?

What lesson was learned?
Moral of the story, it pays off "big time" to analyze some of the vital systems on your boat, and prepare some spare houseboat parts for the inevitable failures...

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