How to Fix a Leaking Seam or Rivet on Aluminum Boat
As aluminum boats age they show various signs of wear and tear. One of these signs may be a leaking seam or rivet. Over time, rivets can stretched and loosen, causing a gap in the hull integrity and this results in a leak. The solution to this problem is fairly simple and may be fixed at home using just a few tools and know-how. So, how should this problem be addressed?
Locate the Leaking Rivet or Seam
The first step is to find the exact seam or rivet that needs repair. To do this, put the boat in water and observe carefully. You could also put water inside the boat and see where it allows the water to escape from.
Assess the Damage
The second step is assessing the extent of damage to the rivet or seam. If the seam is too wide to be filled or caulked, it will need additional rivets in combination with a sealant product. If the damage is easily visible a sealant or caulk will be sufficient.
Choose a Sealant or Epoxy Product
There are hundreds of products out there that claim to fix leaks and seal cracks. How do you know which to choose? The Bottom Paint Store has done most of the hard work for you and can confidently recommend 3 products that really work.
Hawk Epoxy is an excellent product to repair aluminum hulls. We recommend getting one of the Hawk Epoxy Kits that will contain everything you need for filling in the aluminum. Hawk Epoxy is a versatile product that can be used for many other application too. Everyone should own this kit!
The second is BoatLife’s LifeCalk Sealant. This sealant may take a long time to cure (1 to 3 days), but it results in a waterproof, rubber seal that will adhere to almost anything. It can also be applied underwater for emergency repairs!
The third option is G/Flex 650 Epoxy made by West System. This liquid epoxy is more flexible and versatile than regular epoxies and will adhere to almost any surface. The bond that it creates can absorb shock, vibration, expansions and contractions. It will fully cure in 24 hours. Also, West System has created a detailed and comprehensive set of instructions for a wide variety of applications. They can be found at this link and below:
If your hull is bare aluminum you can cover the entire surface with a high build epoxy primer to help seal and protect it such as Tuff Stuff. For application details see our link for application of a marine epoxy.
Now that your leaky rivets and seams have been repaired, you are ready to paint! Check out this How To Article for more information on how to paint your aluminum vessel.