Ice can cause an extensive amount of damage to your dock during the winter months. Unfortunately, most people choose to winterize their boats and jet skis, but the dock is not considered. If your dock is damaged, then you should contact a marine contractor who specializes in dock building and repair from a company like Abbott's Construction Services Inc. Once the work is completed, make sure to protect your dock from ice damage in the future.
Secure An Agitator
Dock damage on your lake is likely to start occurring when the air temperatures start to drop to 32 degrees Fahrenheit for a week or more. Ice starts to form around the perimeter of the lake first and it moves its way inward. As cool water continues to float towards the top of the lake, ice thickens around the lake edge. Unfortunately, your dock sits close to the edge of the lake. This means that ice can build quite quickly around the dock pilings. The ice places extensive pressure against the wood as it builds. This can cause the pilings to crack or crush close to the water line of the lake. In rare cases, the ice can actually lift pilings up and out of the water if the ice becomes thick enough.
Once of the best ways to prevent ice from building around the dock is to make sure that the water around the pilings does not become cold enough to freeze in the first place. The water at the bottom of your lake will usually stay around 39.2 degrees Fahrenheit. Water is most dense at this temperature, and it sinks to the lake bottom. You can pull this water up and around the pilings to prevent ice formation with the help of a submersible pump and agitator.
Purchase a submersible pump agitator from your local marine supplier and place it in the lake 10 to 20 feet from the edge of your dock. Make sure that the agitator end is angled towards the dock. Secure the cord of the pump against one of the pilings with the help of a zip cord and pull the cord up and over the dock. Plug the cord into a boat house socket or another type of outdoor socket. Make sure the agitator works by looking to see if there is water movement towards the top of the lake. If there is, unplug the device and plug it back in at the end of fall or when temperatures start reaching close to 32 degrees Fahrenheit.
Add a Bubbler
If ice does not usually form a thick layer on the top of your lake, then you may not need an agitator pump. You instead may be able to get away with a bubbler system. This system releases air bubbles continuously around the dock. This stirs up the water so it is never still enough for ice to form. You will need an air compressor to create the bubbles and a series of perforated pipes to release them. While you can typically create your own bubbler and purchase items separately, it is wise to purchase a bubbler kit instead. This kit will include flexible vinyl piping with pre-cut slits and the right compressor to release a continuous stream of air.
You should run the tubing several feet underneath the water and attach it to your pilings with zip ties. Run the tubing out of the water at the end of the dock and connect it to the air compressor. This compressor must sit out of the water so it can pump air through the small tubes. Make sure that the compressor also sits in an area that is not exposed to snow and ice or the flow if air moving out of the device may be blocked. Your boat dock or a small shelter built out of plywood will work well for this.
You can plug in the air compressor at any time in the fall. Not only will the bubbler help to reduce the buildup of ice but it will add oxygen to the water as the bubbles burst. This will help to keep your fish healthy during the winter months.