Winter storage

Can we leave our floating dock in the water for the winter?

There is really no clear answer, however, we strongly advise against it! It is not the fact that the water freezes that can damage your dock and floats; it is the movement of the ice. So, as a general rule, where lakes or rivers freeze, it is strongly recommended that all wharves be removed for the winter. Regardless of the dock or float model, make or composition, deciding not to remove your dock from the water for the winter is obviously taking a risk.

  • Imagine in spring the lake thawing; an ice island forms in the middle of the lake.... One day with strong winds this mass will move, split and ice blocks will inevitably move towards the shores of the lake. Make no mistake, the weight of these large blocks of ice will push your dock ashore or any other obstacle and create a lot of damage (see pictures), or even destroy your dock by crushing it completely. Some small lakes or protected bays may have little or no ice movement at all, and may be areas of lower risk.
  • Another important concern is whether the water level in your lake or river fluctuates during the winter months. Perhaps your dock is placed on a rock that is very well submerged during the summer, but if the water level drops in the fall, it will only be a few inches below the ice surface. If the ice breaks or moves, it will make your dock vulnerable. It could be damaged or even crushed by the rock or ice itself.
  • Important note: ice cracks are often seen not far from the shoreline; they are usually created where the ice begins to float; however, the ice near the shore is dense and as if it were embedded on the lake bottom. If your dock is winterized in this crack line, when the ice melts, your dock is at risk of irreversible damage... Then areas further offshore or near the water's edge may be less at risk than this unstable area.
  • Before making your final decision on whether or not to remove your dock from the water for the winter, analyze your neighbours' docks. If they have been left in the water all year round for many years, without being subjected to ice damage, then the chances could be on your side... but keep in mind that Mother Nature is sometimes unpredictable, so there is always a risk.
  • Fixed or stationary docks must always be removed from the water for the winter. Forty years of experience in dock construction and installation confirm this!

Here are two examples of ice-damaged wharves:

Screenshot_2019-06-26 LES-DANGERS-DE-LA-GLACE-SUR-LES-QUAIS pdf
Screenshot_2019-06-26 LES-DANGERS-DE-LA-GLACE-SUR-LES-QUAIS pdf(1)

Suggestions for winter storage of docks

  • Pile docks
ALWAYS remove pile docks from the water and store them properly on land so that they are not damaged, including but not limited to placing them over rocks or other objects that may damage them.
Remove the piles and store the sections one on top of the other, the top ones upside down, to avoid discoloration.
  • Winterization of floating docks

Unhook the anchor chains from the dock, attach them together and connect them to a long floating rope (usually the yellow plastic ropes float sufficiently) and leave them at the bottom of the water. The rope must be long enough to be able to pick it up in the spring. To pull dock sections out of the water, use 2″ x 8″ boards, place them on the ground to create a ramp on which you will slide the docks. The layer of algae that will have formed under the floats will help you lift them out of the water. Make sure that you take the necessary measures to ensure that the operation runs smoothly. Make sure that nothing hits or rubs against rocks or any object that could damage the floats. You can also use a winch to make work easier.

  • Preparation for wintering in water

We do not recommend leaving your floating docks in the water during the winter as they could be damaged. But if you decide to leave them in the water, you will do so at your own risk. You will need to make sure to remove ladders and all accessories that reach below the water level, to prevent damage from ice or other objects. Detach the systems that connect the docks to the shoreline or a wall, if necessary. Remove all tension on the chains to allow movement due to water level fluctuations during the winter. Detach the dock sections from each other, connect them to the shore with ropes. Space them with bumpers (old tires will do very well but be sure to attach them properly). In this way, each section will be able to move independently and avoid damage to the structure. If you move dock sections near a shoreline to make them more secure, make sure that the floats cannot rub against the bottom or rocks.

We hope that this information will be useful to you. Have a great summer!