In nearly all cases of deck leaks, the situation always boils down to one of two simple yet distinct problems. The first is that the design, construction, or installation of certain hardware was never done right in the first place. The second, and most common, is owner tampering. No matter what the reason is for the leak, it can cause irreparable damage to your ship including rotting deck cores and paneling creating soft spots, rust and water stains, mildew, and more. If you want to truly prevent deck leaks in your boat, the main rules to abide by are to never, and I repeat never, attach anything to a cored structure, and never use screws. If you are one of the unlucky few that have either already tampered with your boat and are suffering the consequences, or purchased a new or used boat that for whatever reason has deck leaks, here is some information on the most common problems boat owners face when it comes to deck leaks.
Whether you bought the boat from a previous owner or brand new, pre-existing holes is one of the most common occurrences for deck leaks. These are big issues because they must be fixed as soon as possible to avoid further damage, but cannot be fixed until you determine if there is water damage inside. The whole process to fix it is one of the more simple, but it does take time. The thing about holes is that they must be fixed correctly the first time, otherwise your efforts were all a waste and you have to start over.
The boating industry and manufacturers never seem to use wide enough stanchion bases to hold the immense weight placed on them, making loose leaky railing stanchions a common and frustrating problem for boat owners. Unfortunately, most of the time when this is the problem, it is a design flaw that either cannot be fixed, or requires you pretty much tear up your boat’s interior.
Improperly installed hatches are the second most common cause of deck leaking. Lack of framing and sagging decks can make it nearly impossible to ensure everything is sealed properly around the hatch. Hatches that are simply screwed into the core deck will eventually leak, that is unavoidable, but depending on your situation this can be one of the more easy fixes.
Deteriorated Deck Cores
Depending on your boat, this may or may not be a repairable issue. Water in your deck core can cause serious damage down the line, and must always be corrected upon first discovery. If you’re lucky you might be able to easily repair it from the underside, if you can’t get underneath you have a much costlier problem on your hands.
Window Frame Leaks
If you think window frame leaks are the problem, you must contact an experienced professional to assess the situation in order to avoid any wasted time and effort on your part. Weak frames can cause caulking seams to split, meaning re-caulking won’t do any good. This is not a job for most amateurs, and any mistakes made could worsen the problem.
Leaking Port Holes
Even on the most well-built boats, this can become a problem simply because of age and normal wear and tear. Porthole leaks are caused when the caulk seam is broken or not functioning properly. The fix may be as simple and re-caulking the area, but if the problem persists, contact a professional to get more information about what you should do for a more permanent solution.
Sealing chain plates, especially ones going down through decks, can seem impossible. The best way to combat this issue is to custom design a collar type rig that can help reduce water intake. These collars can by made easily at home with a few common building materials such as acrylic plastic, a hand or band saw, a few screws, and some caulk.
Bottom line is, if you own a boat and are a pro at fixing it, you may already know all about these common deck leaks, but if you’re not, the best thing you can do when you start noticing a problem is to have an expert come a take a look. One small leak can ruin a boat if not caught in time or fixed appropriately. Save yourself time and money upfront by getting your deck leaks looked at as soon as possible. If you are considering the purchase of a new or used boat and are looking for a marine surveyor, call Christian today at 1.810.531.0992 or fill out the form in the sidebar to schedule your free consultation.