Two different types of boat lifts on this picture.

Boat lift maintenance and proper care

Boat lifts are mechanisms designed to facilitate the transfer and removal of boats when not in use onto an elevated platform for the purpose of storage, service and/or maintenance. Most boat lifts are installed by marine construction contractors and serve a multi function in raising up boat vessels from the surface of the water to prevent corrosion (due to prolonged contact), algae infestation or rust to its propellers including other unforeseen damages due to bad weather or harsh waves.

Boat lifts also make it convenient for boats to depart and dock with their easy drop & drive on features. Deciding on which types of boat lift suits your needs best will depend on their features such as the lifts design, its source of power, its strength (that is maximum & minimum weight of vessel that can be carried) and location.

Some of the different types of boat lifts are:


The floating boat lifts are of two different designs:
– the submersible floating boat lift which works with an electric device that pumps air into a chamber forcing water out thus lifting boats out of the water.
– modular floating boat lift which is similar to a floating dock and is made up of an entry way for easy boat docking with adjustable properties for easy access.

A floating boat lift by Sunstream Boatlifts.
A floating boat lift by Sunstream Boatlifts.


This boat lift is designed to stand on it’s own support deep within the water and can be operated manually, electrically or with hydraulics. The free standing boat lift work by lifting boats either vertically or in a cantilevered manner that is up in a slightly pushed back/forward manner. A free standing boat lift can also work with either permanent or floating docks but require regular scraping and clean ups from marine growth. This boat lifts are best suited for water bodies with less coarse and smoother sediments.

This video shows a free standing hydraulic boat lift by Cottage Docks Bancroft. This one has wheels for easy moving.


Piling Mount Boat lifts also known as dock mounted lifts are permanent lift installations. These boat lifts are restricted to wood piles or concrete structures built to withstand harsh conditions such as in locations where the surrounding water is prone to freezing during the winter. The extra mount for this boat lift makes it to be the most pricey and can work with a floating dock but requires its own enhanced pilings for extra durability and function.

A piling mount boat lift by Magnum Lifts.
A piling mount boat lift by Magnum Lifts.


This type of boat lift is very simple and best suited for sandy, grassy or smooth shorelines with a slightly steeped angle. Shore mounted boat lifts are very simple and do not require technical fittings or parts but bust bunks or rollers and a hand winch which require frequent lubrication for effective function & smoother operations.There is no lifting with the shore mounted boat lifts as the boat is driven onto shore and the motor or stern drive unit raised up from the water.

A shore mounted boat lift courtesy of Roll N Go featured on


Are best suited for areas with average water depths. This type of lifts use reinforced hoists that lifts and suspends boats over the water surface.

Two different types of boat lifts on this picture.
Two different types of boat lifts on this picture.


Boat lifts like any other equipment require regular maintenance and proper care to ensure it remains in good working condition. Observing proper maintenance prevents damage that could impede its use and enhances longevity of the boatlift. It is important to understand & carry out sufficient maintenance on each of boat lift parts to prevent extensive damage or personal injury due to faults.

Maintenance Of Boat Lift Cables And Hoists

Failure to properly maintain and take good care of boat lifts cables and hoists can lead to its collapse and eventual destruction of the boat or cause serious injury leading to increased costs for repairs and medical bills. The following are ways to ensure that your boat lift cables & hoists are always in good working condition:

  • Wash your boat lift cables with clean fresh water after using it in salty water to help prevent corrosion or rust.
  • When using your boat lifts cables in salt water, do not leave it underneath the water for too long as it weakens the protective coating layer overtime.
  • Lubricate and oil your boat lifts cables, joints and moving parts to reduce friction as they are constantly rubbing off against each others surface. Regular lubrication also help to prevent water borne contaminants and residues from sticking to or growing on your cables.
  • Periodically inspect your boat lifts cables and hoists for rust spots, broken strands, loosening screws and other abnormalities that could predispose it to total collapse.
  • Always inspect your cables before and after each use to ensure they are winding & unwinding with ease.
  • It is highly recommended to replace your boat lift cables after two years of use even if there are no visible signs of weakness or corrosion.
  • Hire the services of experts to conduct thorough check on your cables to determine if they are still safe for use.
  • Do not use your boat lifts cables beyond its lifespan which is determined according to manufacturing standards.
A Low profile Aluminum Elevator Boat Lift
A Low profile Aluminum Elevator Boat Lift installed by All Power Marine.

Maintenance of Boat Lift Beams, Bunks, Drive Units, Motors and Pulleys

1. Always rinse the lift beams with fresh water after using the boat lift as rinsing gets rid of any salt and any potential marine growth that could cause the beams to weaken and corrode faster.
2. The lift beams should be kept out of the water as much as possible when not in use to reduce wear from contact with water(especially salt water), electrolysis and marine growth.
3. Examine all wooden parts of the boat lift for rots, breaks, or cracks.
4. Regularly check to ensure that all screws and hardware are properly tightened and bolted.
5. Carpeted wood bunks will need replacement periodically depending on the frequency of their use and exposure to water.
6. Frequently check all gears including pulleys and bolts making sure they are well lubricated & greased to prevent them from seizing up as they require greasing every 4 to 6 months for smooth running operations depending on the frequency of use.
7. Be sure to replace belts that are loose, worn out or broken immediately.
8. Ensure your belt are properly aligned and seek professional help for necessary adjustments.
9. Examine the boat lifts motor for signs of rust or leakages.
10. Make sure the boat lifts top-side drain holes are closed, and the bottom-side drain holes are open to keep out dirt & debris and allow proper drainage of water.
11. Ensure the boat lift motors are properly covered as top quality motors typically last 6 to 10 years when under a cover.
12. Always use the boat lifts manual to ensure you are carrying out maintenance in line with the manufacturers guide & recommendation.
13. Service, Lubricate and Maintain your boat lift even when not in use, as keeping them idle may worsen their state by making them stiff and rusty leading to increased costs of repairs or replacement.
14. Always watch out for the boat lifts approved weight limits.

Another shore mounted boat lift. By Roll N Go featured on
Max Francisco