Have Water in the Pontoons on your Pontoon Boat? Here’s what to do!

One of the quickest killers to a good time on a pontoon boat is when water gets stuck inside one or both of your pontoons. The floats on your pontoon, also known as pontoons, are made of sturdy material, but material that’s prone to damage which can result in water getting inside of them. 

If you have water in one of your pontoons, it’s essential that you get the water out and repair the hole that let it in before you continue on the water. A hole that has allowed water to flood one of your pontoon floats can lead to an accident or even to sinking. You must drain the water and have the hole repaired before proceeding. 

Fixing the problem of water inside one or both of your pontoons is easier said than done. Pontoons are made of a combination of plastic, PVC, aluminum, and steel and it takes a professional to repair a hole in a pontoon. For more information about what to do with the water in your pontoon, continue reading. 

How Does Water Get Into a Pontoon on a Pontoon Boat? 

Pontoons are designed for leisure and aren’t meant for heavy-duty use. As a result, they’re prone to damage if they’re involved in any type of collision or even if they get bumped too hard. The pontoons on a pontoon boat are sturdy, but they’re not overly thick which means they’re prone to damage. 

Pontoons or tubes on a pontoon boat often have an outer shell of aluminum or steel that is either hallow, or encases a float of PVC, foam, or plastic. These tubes are designed for buoyancy and their only job is to keep your boat afloat. If one of these tubes gets damaged in any way, it’s susceptible to springing a leak and filling with water. 

A pontoon full of water will not float the way that it’s supposed to and it’s prone to tipping or leaning to one side. At the very least, your speed will be extremely restricted and it will be difficult to steer the boat accurately because one side is heavier and lower in the water than the other. Additionally, a pontoon tube full of water could eventually cause your pontoon to sink. 

How to Get Water Out of My Pontoon. 

The only way to solve the problem of a leaky pontoon is to get the water out of it and fix the problem that caused the leak. There are some pontoons that have plugs in them and there are some that don’t, and we’ll look at what to do in both cases. 

For Pontoons with Plugs 

In older pontoons, it was common practice to have plugs installed on the bottom of the boat and on the top of the pontoon tubes. If one of your pontoons is waterlogged and there’s a plug on top of the float, here’s what you need to do. 

  1. Remove the plug on the pontoon that has water inside of it. 
  2. Use a standard garden hose to siphon the water out of the pontoon. 
  3. If you’re not sure if your pontoon has plugs or not, you can contact the maker of the boat and they can advise you. 
  4. You should also contact the maker of your boat and inform them about what has happened. If your pontoon is still under warranty, they may come out and simply replace the pontoons on your boat. 

For Pontoons without Plugs 

Most newer pontoons are constructed without plugs. Pontoons aren’t meant to ever have water get inside of them and plugs could potentially cause more harm than good. The following method works on pontoons without plugs but it also works on pontoons with plugs if you don’t have any luck siphoning the water with a garden hose. 

  1. Get your pontoon out of the water and tipped slightly forward or backward so that the water has somewhere to run. 
  2. Depending on which way the boat is tilting, drill a small hole in the bottom of the pontoon on the side that’s tilting down. 
  3. The hole will allow water inside the pontoon a place to escape. Make sure that you don’t drill a hole so large that it will be impossible to repair. The optimal size is between 5/16 and ¾, but no larger. Drilling a smaller hole is ok but it will take the water forever to drain out of your pontoon. 
  4. Once the water is out of your pontoon, you’ll need to find out where the water was getting in before you can repair the hole you just drilled. 
  5. To find where the access hole that caused the leak is, take an air compressor and blow air into the pontoon float through the hole that you just drilled. 
  6. With air inside of the pontoon, plug the hole you drilled to make so that no air can escape through there. 
  7. Tape a spray bottle with soapy water and spray it all over the pontoon until you see air bubbles form. Wherever air bubbles form is where you have a hole in your pontoon. The bubbles are caused by air escaping from inside of the pontoon and colliding with the soapy water. This is a trick used by mechanics to find holes on car tires. 
  8. Once you’ve located the spot of any and all leaks on your pontoon, it’s time to weld a patch on them and fix the problem. If you don’t have a welder or welding experience, it would be a good idea to have a professional welder do this portion of the job for you. 
  9. Don’t forget to patch the hole that you drilled as well. 
  10. Once the water is drained, you’ve found the cause of the leak, and you have all of the holes welded shut, your pontoon should be as good as new. 

Do Pontoon Boats Have Drain Plugs?

Some pontoon boats have drain plugs and some don’t. If you have a plug and have a leak, you may be lucky with an easy way to drain water out of your pontoon. If you don’t have a drain but have a leak, it will require you to drill a hole in the bottom of the pontoon to drain the water.

Pontoons with Foam Inside of Them

Some pontoon boats have foam installed in the pontoon as a backup. These models should be avoided. Once you have a leak and the foam is saturated with water, you will never get the water dried out and will have a waterlogged pontoon forever.

If You Can’t Fix the Problem Yourself

Fixing a leak on a pontoon is difficult and crucial work. The last thing you want is for a weld not to hold or for your efforts to make a problem worse than it was before. No matter what course of action you choose, you should always contact your pontoon manufacturer and consult them before doing anything. 

There’s a good chance that they’ll come out and either replace or repair the damaged pontoon for you. Having them perform the repair is a good way to ensure quality work and the safety of you and your pontoons inhabitants.