A dock covered in ice in snow

Should You Prep Your Lake and Permanent Docks for Winter?

As discussed in our Guide to Permanent Dock & Lake Deicing in Winter, there are several expensive risks that can occur if you fail to properly prepare and winterize your permanent docks and marinas during the colder months, including:

  • Warping of your dock
  • Breaking and structural damage of your docks
  • Mechanical and structural damage to docked boats

Of course, it is not enough to simply place a couple of deicers along your docks or boats in hopes of preventing ice growth. There are several types of deicers, such as Agitator Deicers and Bubble Deicers, and each one operates in specific levels of water, covers certain diameters, and requires different amounts of maintenance. More importantly, improperly installing or choosing the wrong deicing plan can have not only expensive ramifications, but potentially dangerous ones.

Without keeping in mind the goals of deicing, the size of the lake, the size of the area you should be deicing, the aquatic conditions of the lake, local laws and required permits that may affect deicing operations, and the wintertime use of the lake, your ‘solution’ could result in hazardous conditions. This includes but is not limited to thin ice that’s dangerous for winter users of the lake, greater ice damage during spring melts, and negative and long-term impacts to the algae and aquatic life within the lake.

What Should Deicing Look Like for a Permanent Dock?

A sub-surface deicing system to help prevent ice growth on docks and boats

The start of a sub-surface deicing system for this lakefront community.

At Clarke, our consultants keep each of these factors in mind to create a custom-designed equipment solution to most effectively protect your marina’s permanent docks, as well as see through the initial system installation and annual maintenance.

In 2019, after Lake Michigan reached record water levels, the Clarke team solved a very complex deicing challenge for a unique waterfront community and marina on its shore. This particular community had homes built which hung directly over the water, each supported by four 10” pilings secured in bedrock. Given these high-water levels of the lake, these shoreline homes and their permanent docks had become highly susceptible to ice damage in the winter.

“With the Great Lakes at exceptionally high water levels, deicing has become an increasingly effective way to protect permanent docks, homes and other shoreline infrastructure from ice damage.”

– Luke Britton, Regional Operations Leader

Experts from Clarke installing a deicing system to prevent ice from forming on docks and boats

Clarke experts installing sub-surface aerators around the dock and marina.

As a distribution partner with several aeration and deicing equipment manufacturers, Clarke’s access to a broad range of equipment solutions and operational expertise allowed the onsite to recommend and install the best solution for this community’s needs.

Our team, including our in-house aquatics experts and trusted manufacturers, custom-designed a complete deicing system that included 72 compressor cabinets, 600 diffuser heads and nearly 25,000 feet of tubing. The system worked flawlessly through the winter months to bring deeper, warmer water to the surface and prevent a hard freeze all winter long with minimized effects to the lake’s ecosystem.

Readiness for Lakefront Winter Planning

For more tips and information regarding lakefront and dock winterization as well as deicing solutions, see our Guide to Permanent Dock & Lake Deicing in Winter.

Clarke’s team of experts bring years of expertise to diagnosing and implementing deicing solutions. To learn more, contact our team here, or check out other articles such as Aquatic Plants: Friend or Foe?