When it comes to our marinas and lakes in the Midwest, it is all too easy to fall into the trap of thinking that there is no need for ongoing care during the winter months. After all, no one’s using their docks once temperatures fall. But it is important to realize well ahead of time that without providing the proper preventative care, ice can wreak havoc with your docks, hoists, and boats left in the water through the winter, which may result in thousands of dollars in damage.
Clarke’s team of experts brings years of expertise in diagnosing and implementing deicing solutions to prevent dock damage from ice. The below Guide to Permanent Dock Deicing comes from our wealth of knowledge and experience.
As you have undoubtedly seen before, ice forms on the surface of lakes at around 39 degrees Fahrenheit. At this temperature, the warmer water at the surface sinks towards the bottom, pushing the colder water to the top instead. Ice then develops as a result of falling air and water temperatures. Record high water levels many of our Midwest lakes are experiencing have been the most recent driver of damage to marina structures, boats, and waterfronts throughout winter.
Other lesser-known drivers are tides and seiches (pronounced saysh), similar to tides. Marinas, bays and in some instances lakes, experience Seiches – wave-like manifestations that occur as a result of wind or atmospheric changes-, which can also compound the problems from ice forming around permeant structures.
Winter ice damage that can occur to your permanent docks include:
“The ice growth that results from both these falling temperatures as well as higher water levels from seasonal rain is the main driver of damage to marina structures, boats, and water fronts throughout winter.”
As explained above, the bulk of damage caused during the winter months is largely due to ice forming along boats and pilings. Therefore, the best way to mitigate these damages is by preventing ice from forming at all, a process referred to as ‘deicing’.
How do you deice a pond or lake? Deicing can be accomplished several different ways depending on the depth of your waterfront, whether it is affected by high water, tides or seiches, the past seasons’ rainfall, and expected temperatures. The most common and environmentally sound method is by simply agitating the warm and cold water and propelling that warmer water towards the surface in lieu of cold.
Deicing can be accomplished in several ways depending on the unique characteristics of your body of water. The two main types of deicers include:
One important question is what size of deicer you need for a lake or pond. For example, in areas of six feet or more, a propeller-like deicer can be installed to create an artificial current that works by using a propeller to draw up warmer subsurface water to the surface – creating a continuous flow of warmer water to prevent ice from forming.
Alternatively, if you have a smaller area of focus, you could opt for a “forced air” deicing system. These utilize self-weighted air hoses on the bottom of the lake floor that pump out low-pressure, high-volume air through holes to bring warmer water to the surface. Like with the propeller system, these bubbles create a small amount of agitation on the surface and, with the warmer water, keep the above area free of ice. These subsurface aeration systems or bubble deicers don’t stir up the bottom lake sediment, which helps decrease the amount of thin ice, and also can be placed more precisely than dock mounted deicers or agitator deicers.
While creating areas free of ice is vital for maintaining the structural integrity of your permanent docks, deicing solutions that are not properly managed can result in:
As you can see, creating a comprehensive deicing plan for your lake or marina is not as simple as just installing a couple of deicers around the dock. It’s important to take into consideration 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.
Some quick tips to keep in mind may include:
Our experts at Clarke have years of experience working with a vast variety of lakes and communities and take away the stress and time dedicated to planning and implement the correct deicing solution for your marina. Clarke consultants work to properly assess and install deicing systems that will work with the unique needs of your community – from initial assessment to ongoing maintenance. Check out an example where our team designed and implemented a deicing system for a unique lakefront community.
To learn more, contact our team here, or check out other articles such as:
Clarke Aquatic Services (CAS), a business unit of The Clarke Group, has been acquired by SOLitude Lake Management, a nationwide environmental firm that provides sustainable solutions to improve water quality and preserve water resources. The transaction closed effective November 1,…
The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) recently placed the monarch butterfly – known for its striking orange and black pattern as well as its annual migration – on the IUCN Red List of Threatened SpeciesTM. Monarch butterflies join…
Clarke understands that our actions and decisions matter. They matter and ripple across our organization, out to customers, throughout our industry, and into the global community. This understanding is why we are so considerably grounded in stewardship and service. We…