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How to repair houseboat pontoons that leak?

by Mike
(Ontario, Canada)

How do we repair houseboat pontoons that leak?

How do we repair houseboat pontoons that leak?

Can we repair a pontoon houseboat that leaks water into the round steel pontoons?

What I mean is, other than welding every little hole that leaks, can we maybe fill them up one of those "expanding foams" used to seal around windows etc...

The foam could expand and fill the pontoon interior, and even if it leaked a little, and took in a gallon or two of water, no big deal, there would still be a lot of buoyancy?

What do you folks think? Am I "out to lunch" and dreaming.

Looking forward to your replies, Mike.

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Reply - Answer
Well Mike, sorry to hear about your leaking pontoon problem.

In respect to filling the pontoons with the "expanding foam", I had already thought of that with a inflatable dinghy that always had a pin-hole slow air leak. I figured that by filling it, I could eliminate any future leaks.

I thought about using the foam, but realized after buying a can, and testing how it worked, that it would be very difficult to completely fill the dinghy air chambers completely.

I imagine that each of your supposedly air-tight pontoon chambers is probably @ 2ft diameter x @ 5 ft long. It would be difficult to fill them completely, in my opinion.

So I guess I will say that I don't think you're "out to lunch" since I have also thought of the idea. :)

Lastly, hopefully some of our readers will share and post comments about their leaking pontoon 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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Comments for How to repair houseboat pontoons that leak?

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Cheap fix for pontoon leaks
by: Anonymous

I had the same problem as you. After counting all of the pin holes and cracks, I needed a cheap semi-permanent solution.

I bought a gallon of roof repair from home depot that dries hard but flexible - cost $13.98

Bought a roll of 12" x 10' Aluminum Flashing - cost $23.97

Pop-Rivet Gun - $22.98

Since pontoons are baffle chambered and not sealed chambered, I filled pontoons with compressed air and used soapy water to find all leaks.

Pin holes were sealed with roof repair only. Larger holes and cracks were coated with roof repair then covered with a very tight aluminum patch "pop-rivet".

Let all dry 48hrs, lightly sanded and re-coated all with roof repair.

5 years and counting, not a single patch has leaked yet.....knock on wood

Houseboat Roof Techniques for Leaky Pontoons?
by: Anonymous

Has any one tried to use a three layer roofing tar method to repair small holes in a steel pontoon?

Floating Home Repairs - fiberglass hull leak...
by: Diane

I have a floating home in Redwood City, CA. It's small, with two fiberglass pontoons (water is brackish) approx 4x28'. I have developed a small leak. It would not be too diffiicult to pull the boat out here and repair it.

I'm wondering what would be best, foam, replace the hulls with new fiberglass ones (have no idea how much it would coat) or just do a repair?

The harbor master is very helpful but not up on the latest products, etc. Any help would be appreciated, thanks and hope everyone is enjoying the summer. Diane.

Leak question
by: Anonymous

Can you put in drain plugs at the rear? The trouble I see is the toons are chambered, how would you get the water out of the front chambers? End up with four plugs?

Difficulties with steel houseboat pontoons.
by: Anonymous

Well many things said. Yes there is leaking of all steel pontoons over years of use. The 2 pound closed cell foam guarantees 98% water proof. As well it will absorb some water, but not enough to make a diffrence.

Yes, you say JB weld or welding works but what about the rusting from the inside of the chambers as this requires care to. There is no way to weld the inside.

As well 110v and 12v electrolysis willl ground out on these surfaces causing a ping or a weak spot. And well you know the rest.

product to repair houseboat pontoons
by: Anonymous

I currently work at a marina and all the work I do on is testing and repairing steel pontoons. We use a welder and that is honestly the best way.

But if you don't want to go down that road there is a simple solution, a
epoxy repair stick
that you just mix the two part epoxy, grind down the area around the hole and add that. If the hole is larger in size, get a thin peice of sheet metal that is flexible enough to bend, and just put the epoxy around the perimeter and let dry, then after that put a layer over the whole thing.

Floatation foam in houseboat pontoons
by: Dave I.

When I worked at the marina I talked to many people about filling my pontoons with foam. There are 2 big concerns about any kind of foam. First, there is always added weight, and if you trailer your boat that is always a big concern.

Second, most foams will act like a sponge and if you have a leak in your toons, the water will collect in there with no way to get it out!

Therefore, in a couple of years your toons will be completely rotten from the inside and would need to be completely replaced. Having them welded and being able to still remove the water is the best (and longest lasting) option.

Leaking pontoons
by: Val

We have a 1982 Kayot with steel pontoons. We pulled the boat and re-skinned the front 8' with new steel and even put 2x2 steel angle along the edges since this is the most used part of the pontoon for beaching.

We used the under water epoxy for a quick fix, however you have your boat pulled already, my advice do it right. After we reskinned our 'toons our welder did spot welding and rebuilt the transoms to support new motors.

After this was done we invested in 10 gallons of Coal Tar Epoxy. After two coats of this-it goes on like frosting we put the boat back in and have had zero leaks.

It was well worth the investment. Our cost was about $3000.00. Out boat is 43' long.

Fill the Pontoons with Floatation Foam
by: Anonymous

I happen to differ with the previous comment. I have a 1986 45' Boatel houseboat. After talking to many owners of this same boat I found one thing. They all leak at that age.

I dealt with having to pump them out every weekend until it almost went down nose first. A friend of mine used this company called Tailored Spaces, they are based out of Houston, Texas.

They came to me in New Mexico and pumped all of my chambers completely full of Coast Guard Approved Floatation foam for a fraction of the price you can buy it online and do it yourself.

They had a really cool computer controlled truck that also had a small camera they put in the pontoon.

I found out later that they are the leading contractor for the Coast Guard, but the owner is also a houseboat owner, and does small stuff to fill in the slow times.

It was hard to bite off the $ 3300.00 cost, but it was a lot cheaper than replacing or losing the house boat. I had paid that much in welding charges.

I was really worried about the added weight, but it turns out it only adds 3 lbs for every 11 cu ft. It didn't even budge our boat.

I had them do it a year ago and it's still floating higher than ever. Their website is talk to Chris, very knowledgable.

Fixing pontoon leaks
by: Anonymous

There's a product if I remember correctly is called JB Weld ?
It works great to seal, repair, fill or patch anything.

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