Why is it Important to De-Winterize?


Why is De-Winterization Important?

This might be the most common question we hear in our service department. Especially this time of year! But it’s good question though, right? In theory, de-winterization seems like it should be as easy as dropping your boat in the water and putting it in drive. As much as we would all like for that to be the case, though, there are a few key reasons why de-winterizing yourself could be risky.

Before we dive into why de-winterization is important, let’s be clear about what winterization includes here at SouthTown and why you would want to do that in the first place. Winterization is simply the process of making sure that any part of your boat that could contain raw water is drained and replaced with antifreeze. This is essential if you own an inboard boat and live in an area where temperatures drop below freezing for any amount of time. If water is allowed to stay in your boat and freeze, it will expand as it freezes, damaging anything from your engine to your ballast system. Here’s exactly what you get when you winterize at SouthTown:

  1. Water is drained out of all components. This including engine components, ballast pumps, and heaters (and yes, even if you have a closed-cooled engine like Indmar’s 6.2L Raptor, there are still engine components that are cooled by raw water. Just not the engine block itself).
  2. Antifreeze fluid is run through each system from end to end and left to protect your boat all winter long.
  3. Any accessible ballast bags are unhooked and rolled up so they do not stay wet or mold while they sit for the winter.
  4. The final step in the process is an oil change, which is optional. While this step does not provide critical protection for the winter, it is recommended by most engine manufacturers that you do it at the time of winterization.

What is De-Winterization?

So now that you know why winterizing is so important, let’s talk about why you may also want do have our staff de-winterize it for you. It’s important to understand that by simply dropping your boat back in the water and running it, you have effectively de-winterized it. This lies at the heart of why many people are confused at why they would pay their boat to be de-winterized. The main reason you probably don’t want to do this is simple: if you had your boat winterized by our service department before the date of the first freeze of the fall/winter (this year it was 11/14/2019), if we find any damage caused by improper winterization, we will cover any cost to fix it. Whether it’s a ballast pump or an entire engine block, our service team will verify that the engine has not been run since the time of winterization and fully stand behind their work. Here’s the full breakdown of everything you get when you have your boat de-winterized at SouthTown:

  1. Verification that the engine has not been run since the initial winterization. This ensures that the winterization was done properly and excuses the owner from any liability in the off-chance that the winterization failed.
  2. A full system check, where our technicians run the engine, electronics, stereo, and ballast systems to verify that they are working properly the first time you fire your boat up for the Spring. As mentioned above, this replaces all the antifreeze in the system with raw water again.
  3. Any ballast bags that were drained and rolled during winterization are reattached and repositioned.
  4. Finally, it is recommended at this time that the engine impeller is changed each year. The engine impeller is the rubber piece that pumps the raw water to the engine components, and is susceptible to drying out over the winter while it’s not being used. That is why most inboard engine manufacturers recommend having this done in the Spring, just before you start to use the boat again.

Schedule Your Service Today

So in summary, in addition to guaranteeing that we did our job properly and stand behind it, you can think of de-winterization as a way to have complete confidence that your boat is ready for whatever you throw at it this season. While we may only get to use them a few days a week, it’s important to remember that these boats are purpose-built to work hard and push massive amounts of weight through the water so we can have fun. As such, making sure to properly maintain your boat during the off-season will ensure hours of trouble-free time on the water when it matters most! To schedule your de-winterization give us a call or fill out a service request form.