Boats live and operate in the water, it’s where they’re used. So, it makes sense to think that a boat motor can get rained on without a problem. While this may be true for some motors, not all motors are the same despite what many boat owners believe.
Not all boat motors can get rained on. More specifically, outboard motors are much more likely to receive water damage due to the rain. On the other hand, inboard motors operate inside or underneath the boat and are much better suited to constant exposure to the rain or submersion in water.
Keep reading to find out how rain can damage your boat motor, how to protect yourself from water and rain damage, and all the best information you should know about rain, water, and how it can affect your boat and its motor.
How Rain Can Damage Your Boat Motor
In general, there are two types of motors that a boat can use. Inboard motors and outboard motors. Inboard motors rest within the boat or on the underside of it. These are designed to be able to handle constant exposure and submersion to the water. Because of this, rainwater won’t be an issue for them.
However, outboard motors are much more susceptible to damage from rain and water submersion. Outboard motors are found on the outside of your boat, typically on the backside. These are the motors that you can pull out of the water when in storage and then dip it back in when it’s time to get moving.
When outboard motors get an excessive amount of rain, they can be damaged in more than one way. First, the constant exposure to the rain will cause waterlogging to occur. Yes, an outboard motor is meant to operate in the water. But, the entire motor isn’t meant to be exposed to water.
Once the water that’s immersed itself into the motor begins to receive contact from the air, corrosive rusting will begin. Over time this can cause serious damage to your outboard motor and will eventually be the death of it.
The other possibility is that someone has forgotten to replace the drain plug or the drain plug isn’t taken out when the rain begins to pour. If left unattended during periods of hard rain, water can begin to pool in your boat. This will cause the boat to submerge itself near the dock or boat ramp.
When this happens, your outboard motor may very well become immersed in the water and become waterlogged.
When this happens, immediate action is required to save your dunked outboard motor.
Most of the time, the outboard motors that become submerged are of 25 horsepower or smaller. These smaller motors are lightweight and don’t take much room, thus causing them to be sunk much easier than the larger horsepower motors that are available.
Damage can be even more severe if you’re boating in a saltwater location. The salt that’s found in the water is known to cause excessive corrosive damage and will ruin your motor much faster than simply exposure to freshwater.
How to Save an Outboard Motor That’s Exposed to Rain or Submerged in Water
If your outboard ends up being dunked into saltwater because of the weight of rainwater, you’ll be in for a trip. The first step to correcting the issue to once again dunk your outboard motor into the water. No joke!
This process is called pickling and is only recommended if you’re dealing with immersion into saltwater. After you retrieve your outboard motor you should dunk it into freshwater.
This process will help begin to flush all the saltwater out of the motor. You want to displace the salt water and keep the exposed metal parts from receiving exposure to the air. This is because contact with the air is what will begin to cause damage from the salt.
After you’ve done this, you should pull the spark plugs and drain the cylinders. After this, spray some quality fogging oil throughout the motor.
Ensure that you’re rotating the crankshaft to save the integrity of your cylinders. Once you’ve changed the oil and filter on a four-stroke, add a fresh set of spark plugs and then add gas to get the motor started.
Rainwater can also infiltrate your motor and engine if your motor is left uncovered. This happens after long periods of rain where your motor is completely exposed. If this happens, you should take action as soon as possible to prevent long term damage from occurring.
To clean out a motor that’s had water infiltrate it you should:
- Change out the oil as water could’ve mixed in and will be dangerous to use in normal operation
- Siphon out all the gas to ensure that water hasn’t mixed with your fuel
- Find a nice, warm, dry spot to let your motor rest. In the best-case scenario, you should get a heater and place it nearby to help the motor dry out as soon as possible.
How to Protect Your Boat From Water Damage
The best way to protect your boat from rain and water damage is to prevent it from happening to begin with.
Using a boat cover and motor cover is one of the best decisions you’ll ever make as a boat owner. If you’re willing to invest thousands of dollars into your boat, you should be willing to spend a few extra dollars to ensure that you’re protecting it from damage that could ruin your entire investment.
Additionally, you should always ensure that your drain plug is functioning and remove it when you’ll be away from your boat for a long period. Almost every boat owner has made the disastrous mistake of leaving their drain plugin and leaving their boat for the weekend.
In some cases, even a boat cover won’t prevent all rainwater from entering your boat. Combine this with the fact that you’ve forgotten to take your drain plug out and you’ve got a boat with 3 – 8 inches of water in it. When this happens, you can submerge the front or back end of your boat and your motor along with it.
If you want to protect your boat against water and rain damage you should seek to prevent it in as many ways as possible. This means keeping an eye on how your drain plug is working and whether it’s plugged in or not and making sure you always use both a boat cover and a motor cover.
Can Boat Batteries Get Wet?
If your boat becomes submerged or exposed to a lot of rainfall, it’s plausible that your battery could get wet. If this happens, don’t fret, things haven’t gone all the way south quite yet.
In general, a little bit of water will never hurt your battery. If you see a bit of water makes its way on top of your boat’s battery, simply dry the top off as quickly as you can before the water begins to corrode the housing and terminals of the battery.
If your battery has been exposed to saltwater, a little bit more risk is associated even with a small amount of water. This is because salt water conducts electricity and will drain the charge of your battery once the saltwater becomes exposed directly to the battery. This can happen even if there’s a little bit of saltwater on the top of the battery.
However, all water will corrode your battery in some way, so ensure that it’s staying as dry as possible. Frequent exposure may cause some damage but will happen over a long period. In general, a little bit won’t hurt you.
Can a Boat Battery Electrocute You?
A common fear for the inexperienced is that a boat battery can electrocute you. This is reasonable to believe as the battery operates on electricity and you’re in constant exposure to water when on a boat. So, why wouldn’t it electrocute you?
As it turns out, a single 12-volt battery in the water won’t electrocute a person. In a worst-case scenario, if you and the battery are both in the water together and you grab hold of both terminals, you’ll receive a shock. It won’t be a large shock, but you will feel the electrical current. In no way will it come close to electrocuting you.
If you have a larger battery, you may feel a larger shock. This is because more power is being generated by the battery. In any case, the likeliness of any boat battery being powerful enough to electrocute you is small. You’d need a giant battery that outputs way more power than you’d ever need in a standard boat.
While a battery may not electrocute you, heart problems that may be fatal could occur. This is because the electricity will course through your body, and thus your heart. If you have underlying health conditions or poor heart conditions, this could cause a fatal reaction to occur. But, the chances of this happening are incredibly low, especially if you’re healthy.