Boat Lifts: Does a Boat Lift Need to be Level?

Boat owners are often curious about what a boat lift really is and if it is important to have one for your boat.

Actually, a boat lift is essential and serves a great purpose for your boat. During the winters, boat owners do not use their boats but keep them in the water for a whole season, which can cause a lot of damage to the bottom.

In this article, we will learn in-depth about boat lifts, their benefits, and if you really need to level up your boat. So let’s get started.

Does a Boat Lift Need to be Level

So, does a boat lift need to be level? The front and rear should be level to each other to equally support the weight of your boat. However, the bow (front) of the lift will typically be higher than the stern (rear) of the lift so your boat will naturally drain rain and stormwater.

If your boat is not properly sitting on the lift, it can fill with water and this can cause catastrophic damage to both your boat and the lift.

What Is A Boat Lift & Do I Need One?

Although you will always use your boat in the water, you should not keep it there throughout the day. Leaving your boat will decrease its value and cause critical damage, all while increasing the cost of maintenance.

That is where a boatlift comes in. A boat lift keeps your boat above the water when you are not using it. This minimizes the negative effects of harmful weather and various elements while keeping your boat safe from various other types of damage.

Nobody wants to spend money repairing a damaged boat, which makes having a boat lift all the more necessary.

How It Works

Boat lift works as a lift that raises your boat above the water. This prevents corrosion, rust, damage to the paint, and many other problems that come with exposure to saltwater.

Furthermore, cleaning up your vessel is much easier when it is on a lift. There are many types of boat lifts to choose from.

Selecting a Boat Lift

Before you buy a boat lift, you will need to ensure how much weight it can accommodate.

The capacity to lift ranges from 3,000 pounds to 15,000 pounds and more. When calculating the weight of your boat, you will also need to add the weight of fuel, kits, and all the gear you keep in your boat.

Moreover, you need to consider different factors when choosing a boat lift. Here are some of these factors:

  • What is the depth of water where you are installing the lift?
  • Length and beam of your boat
  • Whether the location has the firm or soft bottoms

You need to make sure that your boat lift’s construction is corrosion-resistant and includes stainless steel fastener as you will install the lift in saltwater.

You should also consult with a professional as they can guide you better about the site and the best lift for that location.

Types of Boat Lifts

1. Bottom Standing Lifts

A bottom-standing lift has its own legs installed beside the dock that rest at the bottom. This is a popular choice if your location has an even and firm bottom, and the water is not deeper than nine feet. It is difficult to install this lift when the bottom of the dock is uneven and soft.

You have to manually lower and raise the lift through a large wheel or an electric motor. However, during the winter, you need to remove and store the bottom standing lift. And once spring rolls around, you need to hire a professional to reinstall it.

2. Piling Mount Lifts

This boat lift connects to a fixed dock or pilling directly. You will need a strong foundation at your dock to support the boat and the lift. Sometimes you need to install custom pilings, which will cost you a lot.

Since this lift relies heavily on the piling, you do not have to worry about the bottom or how deep the water is. This lift requires electric power to work.

Boat Lifts: Does a Boat Lift Need to be Level?

3. Floating Lifts

This lift has plastic or metal chambers that contain air to support the boat. The chambers stay submerged in the water when you are using the boat.

And when you are done, position your boat on the chambers to raise it above the water. Electric pumps replace water with air, which will make the chamber float, and your boat will lift. You need electric power to operate the floating lift.

Since the chambers are always in contact with the water, you need to be aware of marine growth and clean occasionally.

4. Shore Mounted Lifts

This inclined lift expands into the water from the shore. Simply drive your boat on the ramp and use a lifter to bring the ramp to the shore.

The shore mounted lifts are easy to install, operate and maintain. Moreover, this lift is quite inexpensive; all you need is a shoreline that extends from the water.

Benefits of Boat Lifts

Here are some of the major benefits of boat lifts:

1. Water Absorption

Water has a negative impact on the exterior of the boat. This happens when you leave your boat in the water for a long time, which leads to unit wear and cause hull blisters.

The ship’s bottom can be attacked by algae, which will create residue and scum that are not easy to remove. This can also affect the paint at the bottom of the boat unless you are using special paint, which is quite expensive.

As boat owners invest a lot in their new boats, they want them to remain as perfect as they can. When your boat is floating on a lift, you do not have to worry about scrubbing the hull of your boat.

This will eventually maintain the look of your boat and increase the overall value when you resell it. Furthermore, it saves you a lot of time on repairs and maintenance.

2. Water Level Fluctuations

No matter what your location is, you may experience variations in the levels of water. The instabilities can be minor or major, but they will impact your boat.

If you are not lifting your boat, fluctuating water can cause severe damage to the boat when the season changes or even during storms. With a boat lift, your boat will be away from debris and fluctuating waters.

3. Watercraft Launch

Other than protecting your boat from damage and corrosion, boat lifts help you to get in and out of the water with ease and save a lot of time. You simply have to drive your boat off the lift.

If you do not install a boat lift, you have to go through extra steps before enjoying your ride in the water. If your craft is in the water for a long time, you have to check for cracks, leaks, and debris before launching.

You can easily perform a maintenance check while your boat is on the lift and reduce the risk of further damage.

The Bigger Problem is Leveling the Boat Lift

As you know that there are many types of boat lifts; the most commonly used lift is the bottom standing lift. These lifts stand with the help of adjustable legs on large square feet.

You need to adjust the length of the legs depending on the contour level. While installing the lift, you need to make sure that both the lift is equally leveled as to distribute the pressure and weight of the boat on the legs.

An unleveled boat lift can cause various issues to your boat lift. For instance, the boat will apply force at a single side. The weight of the boat is evenly divided on all the legs of the boat lift.

This makes it possible for the lift to carry a heavy boat for a long time. With unleveled lift legs, the boat applies most of the pressure to the leg, which is lower, which can weaken the lift. If the lift is weakened, it can break down easily.

Legs of the boat lift are submerged in the water. This can cause the legs to catch rust.

When a leg of the lift has more pressure, it can break off easily. Let’s say if you are away for the winters and leave your boat on a lift. It’s possible that a leg comes off due to an unleveled leg.

Then, your boat will fall into the water and suffer from damage as well. Even during storms, and the unleveled lift has a bigger chance of catching damage as opposed to a leveled one.

If you hire a professional boat lift installer, they will measure and adjust the lift in a vertical position to avoid any mishaps.

Hence, always ensure the level of your boat lift. Let’s say if one leg is lower, you need to adjust the legs to make it perfectly right. For that, you can hire a professional, and they will help you out.


With boat lifts, you can enhance your experience of having a boat and protect it from water when you are not using it.

Saltwater can be dangerous for your boat, and you cannot risk your expensive asset just for few dollars. Secondly, make sure that your lift is maintained and level so that it can serve you best.