10 Tips on How to Winterise Your Narrowboat

Prepping for the long winter months is no small task, but winterising your narrowboat is completely necessary to ensure it’s in the very best condition for the next season. Putting in the time and effort now may help avoid costly repair bills further down the line and make setting up for the springtime much easier. If you live on your narrowboat, some of these will still apply!

Here are our top 10 tips for winterising your canal boat...

  • Keep water out of the engine and gear casing by filling up the tank with the correct ratio of diesel and fuel conditioner. Or if you’d rather avoid leaving a full tank of diesel over winter, get an engine water filter as this will do the same job. 
  • Lag your hot and cold pipes to avoid burst water pipes, and top up anti-freeze in any sealed heating system i.e radiators connected to the boiler.
  • Use a silicone-free lubricant to grease the terminals and electrical connectors on the engine and drive. Also apply to any linkages and gear/throttle slides. This will help prevent rusting and corrosion.
  • Clear any debris, leaves and dirt from all drain holes and plugs in the lockers and cockpit; should these become blocked in heavy rain, it can lead to your narrowboat taking on too much water, which may cause corrosion or, in a worst case scenario, sinking.
  • To avoid ice-related problems, make sure you have the right quantity of anti-freeze in a water cooled engine. Or if you have a raw water system, seal off the cock valve and (if the engine is not being used) drain the water out of the cooling jacket.
  • sign up to myboatMake sure there is sufficient ventilation inside your narrowboat, as condensation can build up during the colder months and result in mold. Also check regularly for any small leaks, as even the smallest dribble can cause significant damage to fixtures and decor if left over time.
  • Test the bilge pumps. Ideally, invest in an automatic bilge pump, as this will kick in immediately should a leak develop and prevent flooding.
  • Make sure that the ropes and moorings pins are secure, with enough slack to allow the vessel to move with the natural rise and fall of water levels. For extra security, attach a longer rope to something on higher ground in case flooding occurs.
  • Drain down the water system and leave all taps in the open position (this will allow air flow to ease pressure on the pipes should they freeze).
  • Regularly visit your boat throughout winter, especially if you’ve had a bout of particularly bad weather. You need to always be checking for leaks and testing that the bilge pumps, batteries and mooring ropes are coping with the adverse weather.


The Uktimate Narrowboat DIY Guide

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