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The Guide to Winter Prep for Lakes & Ponds – From Winterization to Deicing

written by
Linda McDonagh

As summer ends and fall begins, you may start wondering – do you need to do anything to your lake or pond? After all, it isn’t like anyone is actually using it once the temperatures dip below seventy degrees.

But whether you’re a harbormaster, a property manager or part of a lake’s HOA looking for some guidance, there are some best practices and must-do’s for any permanent or temporary dock.

In this post, we will cover fountain winterization, basic dock maintenance for year-round as well as winter, deicing solutions and give an in-depth example of how a proper deicing solution can enhance a community and extend the enjoyment of lake resources.

A permanent dock that's been winterized but does not have a deicing system








Terms to Know When It Comes to Lake and Dock Winterization

Just to make we are all on the same page, a few key terms are outlined below. These are some of the basics when it comes to docks, types of deicers, structures and more.

  • Floating Dock: Docks that float in the water without an anchor or foundation embedded into the bottom of the waterbody – rise with the water level
  • Permanent / Fixed Dock: Stationary, permanent docks that are fixed in place regardless of water levels
  • Rub Rails: A covering on top of rails and edges of a dock, often made of rubber – intended to prevent dings and scratches on boats
  • Deicers: A device of varying kinds intended to circulate or introduce oxygen within water, preventing ice from forming
  • Agitators: Dock mounted units that work by circulating water to the surface and preventing ice from forming in that area
  • Bubble Deicers / Lake Bubblers: Releases air bubbles via a submerged hose connected to a landed air compressor

Fountain Winterization: The Basics

All through the spring, summer and fall, your fountains have been hard at work. And now that temperatures are dropping, they must be removed from their lake or pond to ensure that they don’t become damaged.

Hoses, pumps and any other associated equipment should also be removed and stored to ensure that they are not damaged from ice or freezing temperatures.

This is also a great opportunity to have the fountains examined, tested and repaired as may be needed. This will help them to perform without failure or replacement over the following seasons.

Clarke offers this service as part of our Fountain and Aeration offerings.

Lake & Dock Winterization: A Run Down

Docks thankfully don’t require a ton of hands-on work, but they do require annual maintenance items to keep them in tip-top shape and extend their life. At Clarke Aquatic Services, we recommend checking off the following each year:

  • Power wash as a final cleanse before any staining or storage
  • Apply stains while water levels are low and not likely to wash off or interfere with the setting
  • Check that finishes are still completely sealed and re-apply as may be needed

And it doesn’t stop there, you will also want to make sure that you take care of winterizing mechanical equipment or pumps and that you properly care for floating docks. This includes:

  • Pull floating docks out of the water and store them in secure areas
  • Ensure that pumps, hoses and drains are completely devoid of water
  • Keep docks and marinas clear of ice and snow throughout the winter months

A dock in the process of being winterized - hoses are being installed for a deicing system

Of course, you will also want to keep your permanent docks free of ice to prevent damages – we’ll cover this next.

To learn more about the basics of winter dock maintenance – and get a head start on summer care – check out Clarke’s Guide to Dock Maintenance.


Lake and Dock Deicing – The Comprehensive Guide

Without proper preventative care and maintenance, ice can wreak havoc on your permanent docks and marinas, including:

  • Dock Warping
  • Breakage and Structural Damage
  • Mechanical and Structural Damage to Docked Boats

Of course, a lake or dock’s deicing solution depends on the lake’s size, the size of the intended areas, local laws and more. And there are also plenty of deicer types – mainly agitators deicers and bubbler deicers – these should be planned for and placed properly by a professional to avoid damages and high costs as well as to work efficiently.

A dock that has a deicer - a bubbler deicer

You should also be aware of the dangers of improper deicing installations. This can be in the form of:

  • Thin ice that’s hazardous to users
  • Too-large open water areas leading to ice damage during spring melts
  • Unintended impacts on algae, aquatic plants and wildlife

Depending on your deicing goals, there are several options to consider.

  • Dock mounted deicing units or circulators, also known as Agitator Deicers or Dock Deicers
  • Subsurface aeration systems, also known as Bubble Deicers or Lake Bubblers
Learn more about how to create a safe, efficient deicing plan for your lake and docks in Clarke’s Guide.


Example of Lake and Dock Winterization: A Unique Solution

Clarkes custom dock deicing for a Lake Michigan community

There’s a lot that goes into properly creating a deicing solution – and a lot that can go wrong if you fail to do so. It may be tempting to simply purchase a couple of deicers and haphazardly place them around your dock – hoping for the best – but working with an aquatics professional can help prevent inefficient systems, dangerous conditions and damages to boats and structures.

At Clarke, we listen to your goals for your community, building a winterization and deicing strategy that takes those and the characteristics of your marina into account.

If you’re curious about what this process may look like for a similar community, try perusing Clarke’s deicing case study for a Lake Michigan community.


Ready to Get Started on Winterization and Deicing?

Clarke’s team of experts bring years of expertise to diagnosing and implementing deicing solutions and helping managers and communities through their annual winterization efforts. To learn more, contact our team here, or check out other articles such as: