Posted on November 10, 2022
Your boat lift’s lifespan can be up to 25 years—as long as your boat, if not even longer! It might even last as long as more than one boat. While it’s common for boat lifts to last that long, it helps when they’re properly taken care of. There’s a lot of outside stress applied to your boat lift, and while a lot of it is out of your control, what is well within your control is the preventative maintenance that can keep your boat lift from deteriorating.
Boat lift maintenance might not be glamorous, but your boat lift is just as important of an investment as your boat. Arguably, it might be more important because it’s holding your boat up! Take the best possible care of your boat lift as well as your boat lift by following these tips to keep it in good condition.
Your boat lift is designed to support watercraft of a specific weight and hull shape. Check the boat lift weight capacity and don’t overload it, even by a single pound, in order to prevent excess damage. Remember, your boat isn’t just the dry weight in the spec sheet but also the weight of everything from fuel and food to the passengers you’re bringing on board.
Cables are typically made of stainless steel, susceptible to fraying, and in need of lubrication. Regularly apply penetrating oil or chain and cable fluid to reduce abrasion. However, cables should never be greased—grease can trap moisture inside of the cable strands and cause water damage, so avoid lubricants that contain grease for your cables. For boat lift motor components and pulleys, however, grease away.
Like your boat, your boat lift can suffer from water damage over time, especially if you’re in a saltwater area. Lift beams, bunks, cradles, and gearboxes can be damaged by the water directly; cables and other metal components can rust or corrode. If there’s a small amount of rust, you can grind it off. Keep your lift out of the water whenever possible and rinse it with fresh water after each use. Gearboxes, motors, and covers have drain holes at the top: leave the top ones closed and the bottom ones open to keep water out and let it out if it gets in.
Whenever you use, store, or perform maintenance on your boat lift, check to ensure that your cables are in good shape and without fraying. They should also be riding on all the pulleys, which should turn freely when there’s no weight on the lift. Uneven cable wear can shorten cable lifespans and make your boat lift unable to protect your boat properly. Make sheave alignment part of your regular inspections, and watch the winder, drum, and spool. Any backlashing cables, slack, or other problems require cable adjustments or professional intervention if you’re in doubt.
For the seasonal boater, the way you store your lift in the off-season can have a major impact on how long your boat lift lasts. Store yours with the cradle or platform up, especially in hydraulic hoist systems. If your lift has a power hoist, remove the battery and store it inside on a piece of wood. If you’re storing your boat lift outside, mark it with flags to avoid collisions with snowmobiles or other accidents.
When it’s time to set up your boat lift for the season, or even whenever you’re inspecting it, make sure that everything is firmly in place. Fasteners like nuts and bolts on the lift structure and all the accessories should be checked to ensure that the connection points are secure.
Looking for a low-maintenance boat lift option? ShoreMaster can help. We pioneered the welded aluminum boat lift and boat dock systems that give many boat owners the peace of mind they need. If you’re looking for a great option for storing your boat, get in touch with a local ShoreMaster dealer that knows your water as well as you do and the options that would work best for it.