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Outdoor Winter Storage Tips for Houseboats

by Sherry
(Geneva, N.Y. USA)

Are there any outdoor winter storage tips for houseboats?

Houseboats are kind of large to store indoors, so what method is best for outdoor winter storage here in upstate N.Y.

Should we cover it, or not cover it? We take care of all the other things inside, but what is the best for the outside??

Thanks, Sherry.

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Reply - Answer
Well Sherry, that's a good question because not everyone who has a houseboat, does it in a warm climate all year long.

When it's comes to "houseboat storage", or in this case cold winter storage, you have a few choices.

You can try and find a storage location that is indoors, however you will pay a premium for it, since houseboats are rather large in size.

If you prefer keeping it outdoors, you basically have a few options.

Option-1) You can simply leave it on its storage blocks, and leave it unprotected to the elements. However "spring cleaning" will be much more intense, than if it's covered.

One of the major causes of damage from not covering it is that the rain water will always seep into all the nooks and crannies. The water will eventually freeze, which expands, and will loosen basically everything exposed to it. This cycle will happen often in the fall and spring seasons.

Option-2) Another option is to build a wooden frame out of 2x4's or 2x2's and cover the frame with either tarpaulin, or plastic protective material. This way the houseboat stays protected from the elements.

A word of caution since I have witnessed many folks who wanted to do it themselves, and rarely has the the installation stayed intact during the whole storage season. The winter winds can really cause havoc with loose ropes and tarps.

Option-3) The third option is to have the houseboat professionally "heat shrink wrapped" like the photo above. Generally speaking, the marina yards where they store them will do a complete shrink wrap for you.

It's similar to option-2, yet the blue (available in white also) material is heated and shrink wrapped around the houseboat. It is similar to meat packages that you buy at the grocery store. They generally install 2 or 4 small vents in the shrink wrap to keep it ventilated during the storage season.

Naturally option-3 is the more expensive option, yet I find that the savings come back to you in the long run, since water and ice can cause some serious damage during cold winters.

This doesn't even take into account the damage from things like rain, hail, freezing ice, snow, bird droppings, acid rain, dust, dirt, and leaves and so on...

Whatever method that you use, just be sure to properly winterize the houseboat. Winterize the plumbing, water tanks, engine block(s), outdrives, and anything that you don't want damaged by freezing.

Whatever you do, don't be too sad when you store your houseboat, because before you know it, SPRING has arrived :) Yipee, another season begins :)

Lastly, hopefully some of our readers will share and post comments about their houseboat storage experiences.

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Comments for Outdoor Winter Storage Tips for Houseboats

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Covering your boat for the Winter
by: Sully

I bought my cruiser several years ago. It came with it's own fitted tarp. The first year my two brothers and I built a frame and tarped the boat.

The second year my little sister helped. High winds that winter did not do the tarp any good. The next year, and ever since, I have had it shrink wrapped.

It is a bit expensive but a lot cheaper than a trip to the emergency room. (I discovered that I'm no spring chicken any more!)

Houseboat Storage with a Tarp
by: Suzanne

We tarped our houseboat the last few years and we found that we had condensation problems ....we installed 19 rafters on the roof and then put a 40 x 60 tarp around the boat.

When we uncovered it this year we had pool of water on the roof. We think because the tarp was black the sun heated up the air under the tarp and then the condensation formed.....froze.....thawed....

So next year, we are not tarping....but we will make sure the paint on the roof is intact....

Houseboat Winterizing Tips
by: Chez

The best source of information is gained by hanging out with the houseboat liveaboards and learning from them. We just bought our first houseboat last month and sadly, and are having it pulled out and shrink wrapped by the marina.

Next year I am confident that we will do most of the work ourselves after all the training we received this season.

One family, attaches reinforced 8 ml. poly to wood planking, bolted to the bottom rail along the perimeter unsing u bolts. Padded insulation is layed on both the upper deck and cat walks then covered by a cement curing blanket.

Another family tapes thin foil backed insulation padding on all exterior wall surfaces and then shrink wraps over this.
Many stretch and tape clear poly film over windows leaving an air pocket between the glass and film by installing styrofoam blocks.

Many ways to skin a cat.
Maybe these tips will help you.

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