Spring Commissioning Series: Inspection Items You Might Have Missed
April 18, 2014
Each day this week, New England Boating has posted a different spring-commissioning video designed to help get your boating season started on the right foot. To wrap things up, here’s a set of boat-inspection items you might not have thought of.
Be careful when removing the shrinkwrap from your boat, as you may be disturbing unwanted houseguests. Raccoons, squirrels and a whole host of other critters can make a cozy home in your boat during the winter, and might not be happy upon eviction. In some cases you may need to hire an exterminator to get rid of the pesky pests—especially the larger, nastier variety—come spring. Rodents can cause expensive damage to a boat’s wiring, as they like to nibble on the insulation. If you discover mouse or rat nests during spring cleaning, inspect the wiring on your boat for signs of damage.
The fuel vent is another overlooked problem spot on many boats. A damaged or sheared-off vent can allow water to enter the fuel system, either through wave action or rain being driven into the vent opening. An exposed vent hole can also be an inviting place for hornets and wasps to build their home, thereby creating fuel flow issues.
Fuel Cap Gasket:
The rubber O-ring or gasket surrounding the fuel cap should be inspected at least once a year. The rubber can break down over time, preventing a tight seal and allowing water to enter the fuel system through rain, wave action or the atmosphere. When inspecting the O-ring, look for signs of cracking or brittleness, and replace if necessary.
Fuel Fittings & Hoses:
The fuel tank, particularly the fittings and hoses, should also be inspected for signs of extreme wear or damage. If you purchased a used boat, make sure that the valves between the fuel tank and the intake hose are anti-siphon valves, which will prevent fuel from flowing out of the tank if the hose accidentally becomes dislodged or breaks. Also, inspect the fuel hoses for signs of cracks and brittleness, which can lead to dangerous fuel leaks. It may also indicate internal hose deterioration, which could lead to fuel injector issues.
The gasket around the sending unit is another area of concern. This gasket can also deteriorate over time, allowing fuel to weep around the seal, creating a dangerous situation. Note that the screws holding the sending unit in place are specially designed for fuel tanks, and feature built-in sealing washers. Make sure to use these special screws if the sending unit gasket needs to be replaced.
According to ABYC standards, any valves below the waterline should be ball-type valves made of bronze or Marelon. In the case of the boat in the video, the valves were standard plastic plumbing valves, which are susceptible to failure, and should be replaced.