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Keeping a boat dry/warm over winter shutdown with no-one onboard recommendations


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I would like to keep the inside of my boat somewhat dry over the winter when it keeps super chilly. I do not live on this boat, but she is always plugged into shore power (if that helps). The boat also has a diesel heating system, and I can get LPG tanks if that helps, I'm not sure which is the most efficient option. My plan is to have the heating come on when she drops below a certain temperature - say 8 degrees (just randomly picked that number.) 

 

What do other people do or use? 

 

Thanks

 

 

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I have tubular 'greenhouse heaters' (2 x 375 watts), plugged in so each comes on (alternate sides of the boat) for about 7 or 8 hours per day.

 

Stops the water pipes,  pumps. calorifier etc etc from freezing up, and, keeps the boat 'aired' and dry.

 

Cost ~ £1 per day on shoreline electric.

 

Some folks use oil filled radiators set to 'frost stat' but I am always wary of them falling over, and the insurance will not pay out unless they are marine approved and installed as per manufacturers instructions. which is unlikely for a high, heavy heater on castors.

Even in a marina aboat can get 'bumped' quite hard.

Edited by Alan de Enfield
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I use a thermostatically controlled oil-filled electric radiator. Lots of different ones available from Argos. Whatever you use should be thermostatically controlled so it only switches itself on when temperatures drop.

 

You only really need a 1kW model of it's just to stop things from freezing. But don't get one with digital controls because if the marina mains cuts out for any reason the heater won't come back on when the electricity is restored.

 

I use this one set on minimum temp settings.

 

https://www.argos.co.uk/product/9204993

 

I know it's not approved for marine use but I daresay that's also true of my solid fuel stove, gas cooker, instant water heater, etc. It's got some safety features. If it falls over it switches itself off. I can't really see how it could fall over anyway, even if the boat gets hit.

 

When you leave the boat you should still switch off your water pump, isolate the water tank and open a couple of taps to release pressure in the domestic water system.

Edited by blackrose
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I use a desiccant dehumidifier .

I am presently setting the dehumidifier  to run for 8 hours once or twice a week and that seems to be doing well.   I am able to get  to the boat very easily which obviously doesn't apply to everyone.

https://www.appliancesdirect.co.uk/meaco_8l_desiccant_dehumidifier_electronic_control_dd8l/version.asp?refsource=apadwords&mkwid=scjuTZv7N_dc&pcrid=291303606193&product=DD8L&pgrid=57444875886&ptaid=aud-431500191577:pla-447035768813&channel=googlesearch&gclid=Cj0KCQiA8dH-BRD_ARIsAC24umbe7RyakmZV4FhmrzbuXeACAdEQE6InUBqIRjGC2lNy7Mq3o_8dubAaAvzJEALw_wcB

 

I have tube heater on a frost protection thermostat set to 5 degrees but tube heater scan be bought with a thermostat built in .

I also have a small heater near the calorifier . Not really trying to heat the boat but just protect against frost.

The dehumidifier creates a little warmth and a little air circulation.

 

The fridge is switched off and the door ajar and also all doors in the boat ajar . 

 

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I had two 600W 'radiators' (well they're really convectors)  which we used every winter when moored on the Wey. Thye never seemed to have any effect - the boat was never warm when we visited.

Accordingly when we moved to the Thames, I didn't bother to use them.

A fellow boater fitted a datalogging device and measure the temperature inside the boat with no heating over a winter. He reported that the temperature in the engine room never fell below 4 degrees C.

The conclusion was that a heater was ineffective because the large body of water on the Thames never fell below 4 degrees and probably if a heater had been used it most likely would tust heat the river....

Now the conditions on a canal (with less water and hence a smaller heat sink will / may be different)

 

What is important is that you have some ventillation to keep the damp at bay - but not so much that there are icy blasts

Open ALL taps (remember to switch off the water pumps) so there's no pressure should the pipes freeze

Ensure that the central heating  / engine water systems have good antifreeze solution.

OK - thew Thames is in the soft south and there's a huge heat sink effect - conditions north of Watford (Herts) may be different...

 

The only times that I have had anything freezing were the year before last year when I forgot to remove the pressure from the drinking water filter tap and when fitting out the boat in the back garden, I had forgotten to open a tap in the rear bathroom...

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On the barge moored in Burgundy the temperature has been down to -15. We did not leave any heat on as no power during winter. It was well insulated with double glazed windows. The water tanks usually had some water left in them but the valve was closed and the pump run with taps open until air came out. Taps left open drain plugs removed from gas water heaters fridge door open and antifreeze in toilet, sinks and bath outlet. We tipped gin into the body of the water pump which acted as an antifreeze should any water be left in it. The engine was keel cooled so had Antifreeze in the circuit. 

A tip we were given when we had our narrow boat in Ireland was to put newspaper over the carpets as it being humid rather than cold there. This worked well and we never had any mold.

 

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4 hours ago, Tracy D'arth said:

Water at 4 degrees is at its maximum density so the water under ice is at this temperature, the bottom of the boat is at 4 degrees too.

That didn't help a water pipe in my bathroom that I failed to drain

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All water drained down and antifreeze pumped through the gulper. Fridge off and towel holding the door open. Kitchen hopper window open.

2x 700w radiators run off a seperate thermostat set at 6deg, doesn't warm the boat but keeps the frost at bay. If I need it warmed I send a Txt to the eberspacher a couple or three hours before I arrive.

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14 hours ago, ditchcrawler said:

That didn't help a water pipe in my bathroom that I failed to drain

Arrr that be because Thee be out in t'wilds of the East all set-about-by furrin fishermen stealing OUR cod....

 

(bad day today...)

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20 minutes ago, OldGoat said:

Arrr that be because Thee be out in t'wilds of the East all set-about-by furrin fishermen stealing OUR cod....

 

(bad day today...)

Have you mounted any guns on your foredeck yet? You never know where these "furrin" fishermen may be found...could be some on your cut?

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We use a dehumidifier - Meaco DD8L which has a “Humidistat” that keeps the relative humidity at 50%. We put it on the kitchen worktop and put the drain hose into the sink. We also tape up all the roof vents etc, because we don’t want to dehumidify the world!

 

The thinking behind this is that damp is the enemy, rather than cold. We do also turn off the water at the tank, open an air inlet to the pump and have it pump most of the water out of the system, well certainly water in the upper parts of the system. Water pipes under the floor are very unlikely to freeze, as is the calorifier. We do have remote control diesel heating so if there were to be an exceptionally cold snap, we could put the heating on. But this hasn’t been needed in recent years.

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If we leave the boat we leave oil rads on, two or three depending on my  mood set at about 10 degrees. The webasto is also left to come on twice a day for an hour. The cost I have never added up but its hugely less than damp damage to a £££££££££££££££££££££££ boat.

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Drain the water down open up the mushroom vents to maximum, arrange all the soft furnishings so that that have minimal horizontal flat surfaces, open all the cupboard doors. No heating, just ventilate, if the inside environment is closely maching the outside then you won't have any issues. You either box in, dehumidify and heat, or ventilate and do nowt, the latter has worked for me for the last 8 years. It's a choice.

  • Greenie 1
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20 minutes ago, Cas446 said:

Drain the water down open up the mushroom vents to maximum, arrange all the soft furnishings so that that have minimal horizontal flat surfaces, open all the cupboard doors. No heating, just ventilate, if the inside environment is closely maching the outside then you won't have any issues. You either box in, dehumidify and heat, or ventilate and do nowt, the latter has worked for me for the last 8 years. It's a choice.

For our first winter with the boat (2011) we left all vents and window hopper tops open. But in the spring, several cupboard doors had swollen a bit and were difficult to close, and there was a hint of damp staining and mould on some of the curtain liners. That’s why we switched to the “seal it up and dehumidify” strategy. Only an option if you have shore power, obviously.

  • Greenie 1
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A couple of these Oil-free radiators from Argos plus a dehumidifier. Considerable outlay to start with but they've served us well for 10 winters now! One window left open - bathroom porthole. Disconnect water tank and drain pipes.

 

Also, a tip we had from a friend who has a static caravan - leave the bed made up as it stops the mattress getting damp.

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Thinking about temperatures and ability to freeze etc, what are the 'danger zones' with regards to this. I would imagine brief drops below freezing are not the issue but prolonged below freezing conditions?  Trying to gauge what needs doing and when.....

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40 minutes ago, JJay said:

A couple of these Oil-free radiators from Argos plus a dehumidifier. Considerable outlay to start with but they've served us well for 10 winters now! One window left open - bathroom porthole. Disconnect water tank and drain pipes.

 

Also, a tip we had from a friend who has a static caravan - leave the bed made up as it stops the mattress getting damp.

 

What's the benefit of an oil-free radiator as opposed to an oil-filled radiator? I can't see from the Argos website. Oil-free are much more expensive.

 

I notice a few people saying they leave windows open for ventilation when they go away plus dehumidifiers. I don't leave any windows open on my boat if I go away in winter and have never used a dehumidifier. Surely there should be adequate fixed ventilation on a boat? I've never had a problem with lack of ventilation or condensation/humidity on this boat over the last 16 years.

Edited by blackrose
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1 hour ago, robtheplod said:

Thinking about temperatures and ability to freeze etc, what are the 'danger zones' with regards to this. I would imagine brief drops below freezing are not the issue but prolonged below freezing conditions?  Trying to gauge what needs doing and when.....

Even though “heat rises” it tends to be things higher up in the boat that freeze first, because the baseplate is a few degrees above freezing. And things with small, contained volumes of water. I worry about the shower / mixer valve, the toilet flush, the washing machine water inlet valve etc.

 

So i unscrew the shower hose from the mixer and drain the pipe, I open the water pump inlet to air and run the pump “dry”, I turn on the taps to expel most of the water, then close taps to build up a bit of pressure and one at a time operate the flush, the washing machine fill, the shower mixer at hot and cold settings, to blow as much of the water out as I can. This has been fine for the past 9 winters but then of course the last bad winter we had was 2010-11.

  • Greenie 1
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