Water Sports - 10 min read

Boat Winterization Costs (Professional vs DIY Cost Comparison!)

Betty Nelson

Betty Nelson, Updated October 23, 2022

Many people agree that winter is one of the best seasons every year. From the chilly winds to the beautiful flowers, sun reflections, and of course, the snow, there’s no denying that winter is a beautiful season. However, with that beauty comes freezing temperatures, and if you own a boat, you must prepare it for the winter weather.

Boat winterization simply involves preparing your boat and ensuring it functions optimally during winter. Low temperatures are disadvantageous for many boat engines since they slow chemical reactions. Fortunately, at around $250, boat winterization isn’t overly expensive. However, if you opt for a professional service, the amount could be up to $500.

It is important to properly winterize your boat if you plan to spend time on the water during the winter months. This is both for maintenance and as a necessary precaution. Failure to safeguard engines, air conditioning, drinkable water, and other systems from damage by cold can result in a costly loss.

Suppose you keep your boat in places where the ice gets thick, like Kalamazoo, Kankakee, Minneapolis, or Chicago. In that case, you surely don’t need much persuading to winterize your boat. Even boaters in warmer regions like Florida, Texas, Louisiana, Alabama, and Georgia, and relatively sunny areas like California, aren’t exempt.

What is the Average Cost to Winterize a Boat?

The average cost of winterizing a boat is around $300. However, boat winterization involves many activities, and you may not need to carry out all. Hence, the price you’ll pay will depend on different factors.

Notably, where you reside, your type of boat, size, boat engine, and how you winterize the boat will determine how much you’ll pay. Typically, if you winterize the boat yourself, you’ll spend lesser than if you hire a professional.

When you hire a professional, your type of boat and size are the main factors influencing the cost. For example, a large boat, over 40 feet in size, will cost up to $420 – sometimes as high as $750. On the other hand, if it’s a small boat of fewer than 12 feet, you can expect to pay the $300 average or even less.

Winterizing a boat can involve an oil change, prop grease, a fog change, a fuel separator change, a fuel conditioning change, a flush, and an anti-corrosion spray. Suppose you aren’t sailing the boat during the winter period. In that case, you can further protect it against the winter with shrink wrapping and paying for storage.

How Much Does It Cost To Have a Boat Winterized Professionally?

For a professional boat winterization service, you’ll pay around $200 for a smaller boat and up to $500 for a large boat. The price could get relatively higher if you want to include other winterizing accessories.

When it comes to having your boat winterized professionally, your boat engine and horsepower will affect the cost. As a result, professionals pay more attention to ensuring your engine can withstand extremely cold temperatures.

As a result, you’ll typically pay for an anti-corrosion spray, a flush, the fuel separator change, a fog change, a prop grease, a fuel conditioning change, and an oil change. All of these can cost between $300 to $500.

However, if you live in areas where the temperature during winter is not highly freezing, in that case, a professional winterization service will cost less. Because, in such places, you may not need an oil change or a fuel separator change. Hence, you should expect to pay between $200 to $300.

Winterizing a boat at a full-service marina may cost up to $500. However, that usually includes shrink-wrapping and de-winterization once it’s spring. You can save money on the latter by patronizing independent mechanics.

With a reliable, independent boat mechanic, winterizing your boat should cost you no more than $150. You’ll only have to pay a little more if they need extra materials.

How Much Does It Cost To Winterize Your Boat Yourself?

If you want to save money on boat winterization costs, there’s no better option than to do it yourself. Here’s a rundown of how much it’ll cost to winterize your boat yourself.

Engine

Your boat engine is the most crucial part to protect during winterization. This often involves two actions – engine fogging and oil change. 

Engine Fogging

One of the prevalent indications of winter is fogging, and you must protect your boat against it. Engine fogging simply involves keeping the interior parts of your boat engine unaffected by the low temperatures. This will enable them to operate optimally.

You do this by coating your engine parts with light fogging oil, which will also help prevent corrosion—fogging oils and aerosols cost between $9 to $20, depending on the manufacturer.

However, you must note that different boat manufacturers recommend specific fogging aerosol brands. In addition, the method of application also varies. Hence, you should consider your boat’s specifications when carrying out an engine fog.

Oil Change

When it’s winter, you should drain any old oil from your boat, whether you plan to use or store the boar afterward. This is necessary because moisture and acids from old oils may damage the bearings and other engine components. Cold temperatures will facilitate this damage.

Depending on the size of the engine, the cost to change your boat’s engine oil yourself will be between $50 to $100. Getting it done by a professional will cost you between $200 and $300.

Whether you do it yourself or hire a professional, ensure you follow the manufacturer’s guidelines for your engine’s oil and filter condition.

Fuel System

An essential task in boat winterization is protecting the fuel system with a fuel stabilizer. Gum and varnish may occur in your engine from deteriorating fuel in as little as 60 days. This makes it difficult to start the engine, decreases performance, and shortens the engine’s lifespan.

The best method to avoid these issues is to use a good quality marine fuel stabilizer to stop the fuel from deteriorating. Doing this yourself will only cost you approximately $5 to $15. However, hiring a professional to handle it will cost up to $200 to $250.

Nevertheless, the significant factors that affect the cost of winterizing your boat’s fuel system are the boat size and engine number. As you’d expect, larger boats have larger fuel systems, so winterizing them will be more expensive.

Protecting your fuel system during winter is overly essential if you plan to store your boat. Your boat will feel as fresh as new when the next season comes.

Water System

We’ve discussed a lot about winterizing engines and fuel systems. However, one of the most important aspects of winterization is draining your water system and other unexpected areas in your boat where water can enter.

You already know what happens if water is subjected to low temperatures. It freezes, which can cause cracks and bursts in some essential boat components. These components include faucets, fittings, hoses, pumps, pipes, and accumulator tanks.

The boat’s water-storage tank can also be affected, and replacing all of these afterward is expensive. Fortunately, you won’t spend much winterizing your boat’s water system. In fact, you may not spend any amount if you do it yourself.

However, draining your boat’s water system can be intricate, and hiring a professional is best. A professional job will demand up to $150, making it a relatively expensive task compared to others.

Clean Interior and Exterior

Cleaning your boat’s interior and exterior is an integral part of winterization if you want to store your boat for a long time. Since you’re doing it yourself, you only need to purchase cleaning supplies – soap, brushes, wax, cleaner, and others. You will save more if you already have these cleaning supplies.

Interior cleaning will include seat cleaning and conditioning, mildew removal, floor cleaning, and glass cleaning, to name a few. You’ll spend around $2 to $4 per foot on this.

On the other hand, exterior cleaning involves more, especially if you have a large boat. Depending on the boat type, you could spend up to $5 to $15 per foot. With waxing, the amount will be higher.

With these prices, you’d agree that cleaning a boat’s interior and exterior is expensive. Not to talk of the time it’ll take to complete it. For this reason, thorough cleaning is optional for many boat owners.

You can simply carry out a basic wash. If you usually clean your boat from time to time, then there shouldn’t be much cleaning to do when winter comes. 

Extra Cost Considerations

If you plan on storing your boat outdoors during the winter, you’ll want to protect it using shrink wrap. You can purchase the shrink-wrap material and do the job yourself. The material typically costs around $8 to $18 per foot, depending on the type. PVC, PE, and POF are the three main material types.

Another extra cost is the storage if you don’t want your boat outside. Unless you have a large storage room somewhere at home, you should expect to spend up to $2,000 to store your boat indoors. It’s far more expensive than keeping your boat outside with a shrink wrap.

Finally, if you plan to store your boat indoors, you may need to transport it to the storage location. Boat transportation will cost between $125 and $200 and is relatively higher for longer distances.

How Much do Materials Cost for Boat Winterization?

You can spend between $100 to $150 in getting materials to winterize your boat. At most, you’ll spend up to $250 if you have a large boat. The cost of winterizing a boat professional is much higher because you’re not paying for materials alone. You’re also paying for the service.

For example, a flush, fuel separation change, fuel conditioning change, and an anti-corrosion spray won’t need many materials. However, they’ll take time to complete and thus will be expensive. This is why the boat winterization cost is much cheaper when you do it yourself.

The essential tools you need to winterize a boat include a 4-in-1 screwdriver, bucket, nut driver, socket & ratchet, and wrench set. You may already have these at home, so you don’t need to spend on them. If you don’t, you can simply ask a neighbor, friend, or family member to lend them to you.

You’ll spend money on the materials, including drain plug gaskets, fogging oil, motor oil, oil filter, and RV antifreeze. Note that you don’t necessarily need to get all.

When you visit, you can purchase these materials from a local shop or at a marina or boatyard. If a professional is handling the winterization service, they’ll give you a quote for the materials to buy. You can save money by purchasing them and bringing them to the boatyard.

What Is the Overall Cost of Boat Winterization?

Overall, it will cost you roughly $250 to prepare your boat for the winter on your own. On the other hand, you might expect to pay $500 or more to have the repair done in a boatyard.

The pricing range varies, depending on factors like the size of your boat. However, hiring a professional to perform a task is always more expensive than doing it yourself. But you shouldn’t go the DIY path if you don’t know much about boat maintenance. For your boat’s sake, you should hire a professional.

Other extras can increase the overall cost as well. For example, you may have to spend more money if you don’t have a secure place to store your boat during winter. As a result, a monthly fee might range from $30 to $500.

The cost of a new marine engine is high, and the cost of replacing it is sometimes significantly more. Hence, you would spend thousands of dollars if your boat engine gets damaged during winter instead of hundreds for winterizing it ahead of time. In addition, you must winterize your boat if you reside in an area where the temperature regularly drops below freezing during winter.

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