Posted on December 7, 2023

How To Repair Your Boat Lift If It Leaks Down

How To Repair Your Boat Lift If It Leaks Down

Written by HydroHoist Marketing

Is your boat lift leaking down? Get expert tips on boat lift repair and maintain your hoist’s integrity — trust HydroHoist for reliable solutions.


If your boat lift leaks down, the first step is to determine whether your lift actually has a leak or if it’s another issue. But before diving into what to look for, let’s go through a quick rundown of potential leak causes.


Understanding Leak Downs in Boat Lifts

Boat owners invest in boat lifts to keep their prized watercraft safe, secure, and protected from the elements. Leaks can be a significant cause of stress and inconvenience, making understanding potential causes of leak downs crucial for preventive maintenance and timely repairs.  


Several factors can contribute to a boat lift leaking down, including:


  • Faulty Valves: Valves are essential to how boat lifts operate, regulating hydraulic fluid and airflow to raise and lower your watercraft with precision. If a valve becomes faulty or damaged, it can allow air to escape, causing the lift to lose buoyancy and sink. 
  • Loose or Damaged Hose Clamps: Hose clamps secure the hoses to various fittings, ensuring the smooth flow of hydraulic fluid to the lifting mechanism and air to the flotation tanks. If a hose clamp becomes loose or damaged, it can create a gap for air or fluid to leak out of. 
  • Damaged or Worn Hoses: Over time, hoses can become brittle or cracked due to exposure to sunlight, weather elements, or mechanical stress. 
  • Damaged Floatation Tanks: Impact, UV exposure, overloading, and extreme temperatures can compromise boat lift floatation tanks. If a tank develops a puncture or crack, air can escape and cause the lift to leak down. 


Now that you have a general idea of potential leak-down causes let’s move on to what you can do when you suspect a leak. 

What to Do When You Detect a Leak Down in the Boat Lift

If you notice your lift dropping after a few days, take the following steps to identify and address the issue:

  1. Inspect the Boat Lift

Fully raise the lift and secure it in the dry dock position. This allows you to inspect the lift for visible signs of damage, such as loose hose clamps, cracks in hoses, or punctures in flotation tanks.


Often, a perceived leak is just a valve that’s not fully closed or air transferring from one tank to another. If your lift has a single valve,  the tanks should be connected via one or more hoses. In rougher water conditions, air can transfer from one tank to another, causing the system to lose air. This results in the lift leaning to one side. 

  1. Find the Leak

Create a soapy water solution and spray it on the connections where the hoses attach to the control unit and floatation tanks. When bubbles appear, it indicates an air leak. You can also spray the entire area of each tank to check for punctures and damage. 

  1. Test the Control Valve

Disconnect the hose from the control valve and spray soapy water into the valve body while the blower motor runs. Look for bubbles to confirm a faulty valve.


This exercise helps you find the leak source and does either of the following:


  • Replace faulty/damaged valves
  • Replace or tighten hose clamps
  • Patch or weld floatation tanks, depending on whether they’re made of fiberglass or polyurethane. 


Contact your local dealer if you’re having trouble finding the leak source in your HydroHoist boat lift. We pride ourselves on our dealer network’s professionalism, product knowledge, and prompt customer support. 

Boat Lift Repair 101: Tools and Materials You Will Need

Gather the necessary tools and materials before hunkering down to repair your boat lift. These include the following:


  • Wrenches: You need adjustable wrenches and socket wrenches to tighten or replace hose clamps and other nuts and bolts. 
  • Screwdrivers: You’ll need a set of screwdrivers to remove and replace faulty valves or tighten loose connections. 
  • Patching Kits: Fiberglass or polyurethane patching kits are a godsend for repairing damaged floatation tanks. Remember to consult your boat lift manual for proper guidance on what patching kit to use. 
  • Replacement Parts: If your hoses, valves, or other boat lift components need replacement, ensure you have the correct parts for your specific boat model. 


Contact your local dealer if you’re unsure about boat lift parts and accessories compatibility.  

Step-by-Step Guide: Repairing the Leak Down in Your Boat Lift   

  1. Identify the Leak Source: Using the soapy water method mentioned above, identify the precise location of the leak. 

  2. Address Loose Hose Clamps: If loose clamps are the culprit, tighten them securely using wrenches. 

  3. Replace Faulty Hoses: Make sure you replace faulty or damaged hoses with the same size and type. 

  4. Patch Damaged Tanks: Use the appropriate patching kits for minor punctures and cracks. For more severe damage, seeking professional assistance is best. 

  5. Replace Faulty Valves: Similar to replacing hoses, replace faulty valves with new ones that match your boat lift’s specifications. 

Tips to Avoid Issues in Boat Lifts

Preventive measures can help extend your boat lift’s lifespan, minimize the risk of a boat leak, and avoid the inconvenience of repairs. Below are a few boat lift maintenance tips.


  • Perform Regular Inspections 

Regularly inspect your boat lift for signs of damage, corrosion, loose connections, or wear and tear. These routine checks help you catch minor issues before they become significant problems. Stay proactive with boat lift maintenance, and you’ll enjoy the boating season on the water instead of performing repairs. 


  • Avoid Overloading The Boat Lift 

Overlooking the weight limit specified by manufacturers is one of the more common mistakes in boat lift ownership. Regularly overloading your boat lift can strain components such as motors, winches, and cables. Your boat lift protects your boat. Make sure you treat it as well as you do your vessel. 


  • Practice Proper Storage

Ensure your storage space provides shelter from harsh weather conditions, such as direct sunlight, strong winds, rain, and heavy snowfall. If possible, store your boat lift indoors or under a weighted protective cover. 


Clean the lift’s components with mild soap and water to remove dirt, debris, and other contaminants. Then, remove all hydraulic fluid from the system to prevent freezing and corrosion during storage.


If you live in an area with freezing temperatures, winterize your boat lift using antifreeze or other protective measures to prevent water damage and ensure proper operation once boating season starts. 

Knowing When to Call the Experts for Boat Hoist Repair

While more seasoned boat owners can handle basic boat lift repairs, some instances require professional help. These could include the following:


  • Complex Mechanical Issues: Issues with the hydraulic system, electrical components, or structural integrity often require specialized tools, expertise, and safety precautions wielded by professional technicians. 
  • Safety Concerns: Any issues that raise safety concerns, such as unstable lifting or malfunctioning brakes, should be addressed by a qualified professional. Attempting a DIY boat hoist repair in such cases could lead to further hazards. 
  • Warranty Issues: If your boat lift is still under warranty, contact the manufacturer or authorized dealer. Improper DIY repairs can void your warranty coverage.  


HydroHoist employs the most talented and experienced professionals in the marine industry. Contact us or your local dealer for any inquiries and concerns about your boat hoist. We’re always happy to help. 





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