Monday, February 23, 2015

Just Say NO To Silicone

The previous owner of my boat seemed to have a love affair with that clear household silicone and used it a great many places on the boat.  You know those salon windows that leaked...yep, it was there.  It also covered the seams on just about every other port or hatch on the boat.  Well guess what...they all leaked.

GE Advantage Silicone Sealant-CLEAR Silicone Sealant
This is NOT for boats!

Yesterday I noticed some water was leaking in over in the galley near the salon windows that I had rebed.  I know those don't leak so I started looking for possible culprits.  Around one of the mounts for the handholds that reside above the window I noticed some deteriorating silicone sealant and, yep, that appears to be the leak.  I removed the hand-hold, slowly removed all the silicone from the hull and the hardware, and bed it properly with butyl tape. I need to wait for the next rain but I'll bet that will take care of the leak.

Today I noticed that one of the two hatches I had yet to rebed, the small forward facing one in the forward port stateroom had started to leak.  So I went about the labor intensive process of rebedding that hatch.  Normally these hatches are not that hard to rebed, you remove the screws, take a putty knife to sever any sealant that is still holding on, then clean up the frame and opening and reinstall with new sealant.  The reason why it was so labor intensive was due to the fact I had to remove all the silicone first.

You see, this household silicone is like putting a band-aid on a broken arm.  You might think it does some good, but in fact it does not and it makes more problems down the road.  Very little sticks to silicone and silicone can actually interrupt the normal curing process for other sealants.  Paint and gel coat won't stick to areas that have silicone on them without cleaning every last molecule of silicone off of the surface.  A more proper bedding compound for the hatches, such as 3M 4000 UV, won't work unless the silicone is completely removed.

So, I spent a couple hours picking off little bits of silicone and cleaning the surfaces thoroughly with acetone.  Once I finally got all of the silicone removed, rebedding the hatch was pretty easy.  Apply the new sealant, press the hatch in place, and secure with the screws (the screws are really only there to hold the hatch in place while the sealant cures).  Now, if all the other hatches are any indication of my success, this hatch should no longer leak.

My public service announcement here is...if you own a boat, or ever think you might own a boat, do yourself a favor and properly rebed your hardware.  Doing it right doesn't take much more time than doing it wrong. Doing it right will save you a ton of time in the long run since you won't have to re-do the repair in a few months and won't have to clean up the mess you made with the silicone.  Please leave the household silicone at the hardware store...or your land-based home.  And as I mentioned on my Facebook page yesterday...if you do use this stuff on your boat, please don't ever sell that boat to me.

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