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Boat Lift won’t go Up [Possible Solutions]


If your boat lift does not go up, it is very common that the problem is undervoltage. Improper or damaged wiring, long or extended wires, a generator as a power source, and overloading your boat, could all contribute to the power loss.

One of the ways to check if your boat is experiencing an overload problem is to take all the extra things that you may put on the boat and see if it starts working. If the problem happened just after installation, there is a chance that you did not size your boat lift properly.

If your boat weight is within its rated capacity (don’t forget fuel, water tanks, and accessories), then you will need to call an electrician to check your wiring and the motor itself.

In many cases, overloading the lift will void your warranty.

Mechanical problems

If your lift is making noises while you are trying to lift your boat, you could be dealing with insufficiently greased gears. Improper installation or worn-out structure could also be a cause of your problem.

Electrical Problems

These types of problems are more complicated due to the nature of electricity and the marine environment that you have to deal with. Any mistake could be costly (and not just in money).

Having said that, if you know a few things about electrical troubleshooting, here is something you can check for:

  1. Lift overload
  2. Incorrect wire gauge

When the boat is being raised, it needs sufficient power to do the job. If your boat lift is overloaded (loaded above its weight capability), then you will have this particular problem.

This also applies if your wiring is incorrect gauge size. You can use the following table to check your wires:

If you have a multimeter handy, check connections at the switch and at the motor for voltage loss. Upon detection of any problems with the power supply, check the wiring.

Motor problems

Let’s face it. Saltwater and generally humid environment is often the cause of corrosive connections. Loose or bad connections could cause problems as well.

Use of the generator to power your lift is usually prohibited by boat lift manufacturers due to inconsistent electrical supply. Using wire extensions, as well as the generator very often leads to losing your warranty.

Motor not starting

If the power is not getting to your switch at all, check for flipped breakers or GFCI that needs resetting. In general, this is a warning sign that something could possibly be wrong with your motor.

How about actually plugging the motor into the outlet? Another question would be: “Is the power supplied to the outlet?” We are checking all of this if the motor is not turning ON while you are trying to lift a boat.

Improper wiring could cause problems with your lift motor and not allow you to move it either up or down. Also, your motor could be damaged due to the following (but not limited to these cases):

  • It was overloaded. Not sized properly in a first place or got something on it without calculating first (important things, but weight needs to be considered as well). Also, boat loading should be done on water and NOT while it is UP.
  • It was overused. Not enough time in between moves UP or DOWN or turning constantly ON and OFF.
  • It suffered undervoltage situation.
  • It suffered overvoltage situation.
  • Short circuit someplace. It could have shorted internally or frayed wiring could be a problem.

Very often boat lift motors come prewired for a certain type of electrical service. If you are trying to use a 110/115-volt power supply with your 220/230-volt motor, it will not work.

Motors can be rewired (this is just an example, consult your manufacturer for more information):

If the motor overheats and smokes, you will need to get a replacement.

The motor is starting, but not doing anything

The humming noise coming from your motor could indicate that the start capacitor went band or the centrifugal switch is not engaging (because of dirt buildup). Changing capacitors is a relatively simple procedure if you know what you are doing.

It is recommended to get the same type of capacitor that you are replacing. Also, don’t forget to turn the power OFF before attempting to do anything!

Here are more details on how to troubleshoot both:

Cranking your motor manually is generally not recommended and could be dangerous if done improperly (never use your hands). Turning your fan with a stick could work, but it could also flip your breakers.

** Warning! It is important that a professional electrician will set up all your wiring safely. If you are not sure about your electrical skills, please, DO NOT do anything!

Find the electrician now!

Attention! This article is for informational purposes ONLY and is NOT a replacement for professional advice! ALWAYS consult your local specialist for an appropriate solution to your problem. All statements, prices, contact information, recommendations, and reviews contained herein came from sources that we believe to be reliable, but the accuracy or completeness thereof is not guaranteed. Please contact the service provider for complete details and updates.

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