Cleaning and Changing Through-Hull Screens for Maximum Efficiency

Keeping the through-hull screens on your boat clean can be difficult no matter how often you scrub them

Scrubbing your boat’s bottom monthly (and in some locales, even more frequently) is part of the never-ending maintenance routine necessary to keep a boat running at 100 percent efficiency. However, after several months in the water, the screens for the through-hull openings become quite dirty and are often clogged with marine growth, even after a good going over with a wire brush and poking at the holes with an ice pick.

cleaning and replacing through hull screens on boat
Screens on through-hull openings need to be cleaned and painted to prevent clogging from marine growth.Courtesy Capt. Randy Baker

For this reason, I carry a spare set of through-hull screens that I swap out every three to four months. I spray the spares with Pettit Prop Coat Barnacle Barrier 1792, a gray spray paint that comes in 16-ounce cans. I also replace the stock brass Phillips machine screws that hold the screens in place with stainless hex bolts. Hex heads make it easier to remove growth-covered bolts underwater. I use a fresh set of bolts, with a little Tef-Gel (tefgel.com) on the threads to help them come out easier later on, when swapping out the screens. After removing the old screens and bolts, soak them in Barnacle Buster overnight, then clean with a wire wheel. Repaint the screens a day or two prior to swapping them out to make sure the paint is at its freshest.