Can my floating dock stay in the water during winter?

Dock damaged by ice

Can my floating dock stay in the water during winter?

There’s no better place to live it up than your floating dock during all the warmer seasons Canada has to offer. However, come winter, it’s a whole different story.  The cold season brings with it many concerns due to ice and freezing. Winter has the potential to wreak havoc and cause significant damage to your floating dock. Thankfully, unlike their stationary counterparts, floating docks can sidestep the threats of ice-induced destruction.  At Cottage Docks, we’re here to help safeguard your dock.

The Challenge of Winter: Why Removing Your Docks Might Be Necessary

During the grip of winter, a peculiar phenomenon occurs, water repeatedly freezes and thaws, leading to the expansion and contraction of ice. This natural process can create up to 50 tons pressure. For conventional docks, this can lead to structural damage and well as cracked, leaky floats.

If your floating dock is exposed to a large body of open water, there’s an added threat to consider – ice shoves. These formidable forces, driven by strong winds and fluctuating water levels, propel shattered ice against your dock with significant force.

Without precautions, ice can be the beginning of the end for your floating dock. But don’t worry; we have a few options for winter dock care that may help. 

  • Remove the dock entirely.
  • Detach the dock’s hinges and loosen the anchors.
  • Transport your dock to a sheltered bay area.

Obviously, the best place for your dock is on land away from the dangers of the ice.  Getting your dock out of the water will also reduce the chance of an otter or muskrat taking up residency for the winter.  However, if your dock is too difficult or simply not possible to remove from the water the latter two options can be considered.

By disconnecting your ramp hinges and loosening your dock’s anchors, you give the dock the freedom to flow with the water.  This ability enables it to harmonize with the ice’s movements, reducing huge pressure surges. However, this can often put your dock at risk from shoreline collision. Especially if your lake has extreme water level fluctuations. In this instance we recommend an additional winter anchor 8-10 feet off the end of your dock.

If towing your dock to a secluded bay zone is an option for you this will reduce the risk of ice damage to a bare minimum.

To summarize, leaving your dock in the water during the winter months largely depends on the risk factor posed by your exposure to large ice flows and wind.  The more sheltered you are from these factors the more likely your dock will come out of winter happy and ready to enjoy the next season.

At cottage docks we only use foam filled floats and the highest quality materials and fasteners.  If you would like to know more, please don’t hesitate to reach out for a free consultation.  Our docks are built to last and survive Canada’s harshest winters.

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