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Old 11-01-2021, 13:04   #1
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Water frozen in bilge

Canadian boat on the hard.

there are 4 or 5 inches of water in the bilge, looks like it leaked in through the rear hatch and froze in the bilge where the keel bolts are.

is this an issue?

could it crack the hull?

should I melt it and get it out?

the picture here: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1gMv...ew?usp=sharing

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Old 11-01-2021, 13:08   #2
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Re: Water frozen in bilge

The water isn't in an enclosed space, it's got room to expand. So it's unlikely to crack anything, although if there's a bilge pump submerged in that ice, it may be damaged. I'd wait until the weather allows it to melt, then remove the water.



Personally, on any boat where there's not a drain plug out, I dry the bilge as best I can, then add some -100* antifreeze. That way if a little water or condensation gets in there and collects, it won't freeze unless it's enough to dilute the antifreeze a lot.
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Old 11-01-2021, 13:15   #3
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Re: Water frozen in bilge

Former Michigan boat owner - a little water freezing in the bilge is not going crack anything. Like water freezing in a bottle, if the water has no way to go, including side-to-side, is when the extra 4% volume of ice over water matters. If ice has no where to go, then there is cracking. Most bilges are triangular in cross-section, so there is expansion room going up. Now that I have calmed you down, you should obviously still limit water intrusion, for mold prevention if nothing else. During warmer periods, you could plug the batteries in and cycle the bilge pump, or suck it out with a wet-dry vac.

As noted by @rslifin, you should run some pink-stuff glycol antifreeze into your bilge as part of winterization. I'm thinking about your bilge pump(s) and hoses. While the tubing is very flexible, fittings or diaphragms could crack, and it ain't worth worrying about in the spring.
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Old 11-01-2021, 13:16   #4
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Re: Water frozen in bilge

Kind of my thinking too, I took the bilge pump out but never thought of antifreeze, frankly didn't expect water ingress :-(

maybe ill dump some on top anyway it might soften were due for some above freezing days
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Old 11-01-2021, 13:34   #5
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Re: Water frozen in bilge

I have had this happen once and I used a tea kettle to boil water to pour on it and eventually got it all out. It looks like there is not that much so you could try it.
I do think it will expand up but I did not like it there.

Good luck
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Old 11-01-2021, 14:01   #6
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Re: Water frozen in bilge

If you have power nearby and can use a hairdryer on lowest
setting you may be able to pull out as blocks or melt most of it and pump it out. A drain plug in side of your keel sump is a nice feature during winter storage or to flush in spring.
As everyone mentioned itís not that big a deal.
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Old 11-01-2021, 14:09   #7
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Re: Water frozen in bilge

Doesn't look too bad. Get it out if you can. And try and prevent more from coming in.

As a Canadian sailor I always drain the bilge, then dump a bunch of anti-freeze in for the winter layup. Water always finds a way in, no matter how well the boat is covered or sealed. At least with the anti-freeze it can't do any damage.
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Old 11-01-2021, 14:15   #8
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Re: Water frozen in bilge

I get rain water down the mast, so I always have a little water in the bilge. I installed a bronze garboard drain in my keel sump for when on the hard, that way water comes in, water goes out------no bilge pump required! When ready to relaunch, don't forget to reinstall the plug!
https://www.mysticmarinediscounts.co...ug-0266dp0plb/

I installed it with the "T" handle on the inside, lived with it for a little while then next haul out, decided to cut the T handle off and just use a wrench on the square head. With a bit of thread sealant, no leaks in 5 years.
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Old 12-01-2021, 09:48   #9
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Re: Water frozen in bilge

Good thing to have removed the bilge pump as it could have been damaged if filled with ice with no where to go. It doesn't look like there is that much ice in the bilge. It can't expand anywhere but up and won't cause any damage. It's not enough to cause concern at the moment but I'd keep checking to make sure there isn't a leak.
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Old 12-01-2021, 10:52   #10
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Re: Water frozen in bilge

Not much to worry about. Use either antifreeze or just dump water conditioner salt in there- it will reduce the hardness of the ice.
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Old 12-01-2021, 11:06   #11
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Re: Water frozen in bilge

I had a slow leak in my keel and it was imperative the my bilge pump remained functioning during a winter when the boat stayed in the water.

After experiencing a bilge full of ice, I was surprised the the Rule bilge pump still worked. I think there is an automatic shutoff to prevent the motor from burning out.

So I took a piece of 4" thin metal pipe cut to the height of the bilge pump and wrapped it with a thermostat controlled gutter heating cable and ran the cable along the hose that was attached to the bilge pump.

It kept ice from forming in the bilge.

The leak in the keel has since been rectified.
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Old 12-01-2021, 11:24   #12
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Re: Water frozen in bilge

In days of yore (wooden boats) is was SOP to throw some rock salt in the bilge: kept water from freezing and kept the fresh water from rotting frames, floors and all the other goodies in a wooden boat.



Even on grp boats there may be some concern about water getting into keel bolts and other fine cracks and freezing in the confined space.
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Old 12-01-2021, 17:40   #13
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Re: Water frozen in bilge

Sailor Ed, how come you didnít use Sea Salt??!!
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Old 13-01-2021, 07:49   #14
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Re: Water frozen in bilge

Well, in days of yore "Sea Salt" hadn't been invented yet. We just got a hammer and busted up salt rocks.
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Old 13-01-2021, 08:26   #15
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Re: Water frozen in bilge

Actually, it can cause damage. Not likely to the hull but once it begins to melt, the bilge pump float can move and if it re-freezes open, the pump will run continuously until 1 it burns out or 2 it drains the batteries.


Always leave some antifreeze in the bilge. The efficacy of the "pink stuff" goes to zero quickly as it is diluted which makes it useless in this application so use traditional ethylene glycol antifreeze.
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