How Do You Maintain Boat Air Vents?


Quick Answer

Maintain boat air vents by using diluted bleach or a commercial cleaner, such as Star Brite boat products, to gently remove mildew and fungal growth. Always wear rubber gloves and eye protection. Protection is necessary to guard against chemical hazards as well as spores. Mildew removers are commonly found in supermarkets and department stores. The EPA recommends using N95 particulate masks during mildew removal when the chemical is in spray form, according to WestMarine.com.

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Full Answer

When repairing, modifying or replacing air vents, a proactive approach to mitigating future maintenance involves the correct use of sealants. Polysulfides are often suitable for plastic and bronze but should not be used on aluminum, according to Practical-Sailor.com. Silicone, acrylic and latex sealants tend to exhibit poor water-resistance, whereas polyurethanes are excellent sealants but may prove difficult to remove or maintain in the future, especially if left unpainted and chalking results from exposure.

The size of a vessel has considerable impact on the amount of ventilation required. A boat of up to 24 feet requires a minimum of one vent (assuming the presence of a clamshell vent, cowl vent or louvered panel allowing air access to the cabin), while boats larger than 24 feet may require two or more exhaust vents and an intake vent. These vents are critical in the prevention of carbon monoxide poisoning, the build-up of explosive fumes, mildew, fungi and mold; all of these pose potentially serious health hazards. Vents and air ducts only safeguard against these risks if they are regularly cleaned. For large boats with complex ventilation systems, certified ventilation inspectors, such as Professional Tank Cleaning, offer complete HVAC duct and vent cleaning, disinfection and maintenance.

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