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  • How to Use De-icers to Protect Boat Lifts and Docks

    How to Use De-icers to Protect Boat Lifts and Docks

    How to Use De-icers to Protect Boat Lifts and Docks

    People who own boats and docks need to protect them from ice damage through the winter months. Ice forming around them can lead to costly repairs and significant harm, making it a serious concern. De-icers are the best solution to this problem.

    This article covers everything about how to use de-icers. Find out how to use de-icers to keep your boat, boat lifts, and docks safe from ice. This guide will show you how to pick the right de-icer, set it up, and keep it working well. You'll also learn how it will help keep fish and plants healthy during winter. Read on to learn all you need to protect your docks and boats from ice


    Understanding De-Icers: Your First Line of Defense

    De-icers are tools used to stop ice from forming or to melt ice that's already there, especially around places like docks or where boats are kept during winter. They help keep these areas safe from damage caused by ice and make sure fish and plants in the water stay alive when it's cold.

    How They Work

    How Dock De-Icers Work. Explains how warm water is pulled up the surface to keep ice from forming.

    De-icers pull warmer water from the bottom to the top of the water. Warm water sits deeper, so bringing it up helps keep ice away. The ideal place for a de-icer is just below the surface, between 2.5 and 5 feet deep. In very shallow water, a de-icer might not be as effective. Also, objects like boat lifts or large dock supports can block water flow, reducing the de-icer's effective area. In places with changing water levels, you can use a de-icer float to move with the water.

    De-icers are very important for keeping docks and the water around them safe in winter. They help avoid two big problems: ice jacking, where ice lifts and damages the docks, and ice expansion, where ice grows and applies a lot of pressure against the dock. By keeping the area around the dock free of ice, de-icers stop these kinds of damage.


    Guidelines for Effective Winter Protection

    Winter can be tough on boat docks and the surrounding water. To keep everything safe, you need to use a de-icer. Here’s how to do it right:

    1. Choosing the Right De-Icer

    Pick a de-icer that fits the weather and water where you live. The recommended ice eater will vary depending on the size of the area that you need to keep free from ice. A single ice eater can maintain an 80ft diameter opening. You can use multiple ice eaters if a larger opening is needed.

    2. Proper Installation

    • Correct Positioning: You can mount your deicer vertically to create a circular opening. If the area that you want to keep free of ice is longer and skinnier, you can mount it at an angle or even horizontally. Horizontal mounting is also going to be your best option in shallow water. 
    • Mounts: Mounting your de-icer vertically with mooring ropes is the easiest and most common use. Some may prefer a dock mount, floating mount, or a shallow water mount. Dock mounts connect directly to the dock and allow you to lock the de-icer into the desired position/angle for your desired opening. A floating mount can be use to horizontally mount the deicer to create an oval-shaped opening. Also a good option in shallow water. Shallow water stands are another option to mount horizontally. These are most often used by waterfowl hunters to keep ponds open for the ducks and other fowl to land in.

    3. Regular Monitoring and Maintenance

    Check on your de-icer often, especially in extreme temperatures. Look for any signs that it's wearing out or not creating as big of an opening as expected.  When storing your ice eater, keep it in dry area and store it upside down. (propeller down.) This keeps the seals lubricated and will save you from extra maintenance. Keeping your de-icer on a regular maintenance schedule and getting it serviced every few years will keep it working better and make it last longer. This will save you trouble, headaches, and money down the road.


    Best Practices

    When winter comes, keeping your boat lifts and docks free from ice is important. Here’s how you can do that with some smart moves and the right de-icer setup.

    A. Boat Lifts

    1. Tailoring De-Icer Placement

    Every boat lift is unique, so you will may need to experiement a bit, but we can give you some solid guidelines. You want the de-icer to easily be able to pull water up and disperse it. Any obstructions in the water can affect the flow of the warm water and how much area you are able to keep free from ice. Boat lifts can affect the water flow, but other unseen obstructions are what we need to look out for. Crappie beds or simply a sharp change in the depth of the water can alter the flow of the water. Most of the time users will only have to make minor simple adjustment

    1. Electricity Requirements

    Most dock de-icers are available in 115v or 230v. The amps will vary between units but will pull between 2-9 amps depending on the size of the unit. For example a 1/4 horsepower unit might pull around 2 amps, while a 1 horsepower can pull around 9 amps.

    B. Dock Maintenance

    1. Customizing De-Icer Use

    Just like with boat lifts, you need to adjust how you use de-icers for your dock. Think about how your dock sits in the water and where ice usually forms. You might place a de-icer at an angle to push warm water towards the dock, or you might need a couple of de-icers set up around the dock to make a safe zone free of ice.

    1. Other Options than De-Icers

      A dock de-icer is the most often used to device for keeping water free from ice, but there is another option. Diffused air aeration units, or dock bubblers, can also be used to keep your dock protected. They used compressed air the flows through tubes and into settings on the floor of the lake and use a steady flow of air bubbles to bring the warmer water from below up to the surface. In some areas of the US, these are the most popular. See the EasyPro Dock Bubbler for an example.


    2. Watch for Ice/Snow on Dock Roofs

      Ice and snow can build up on a dock roofs and can cause serious damages. The weight can cause support beams to collapse and can even sink the dock. If your boat is in a slip when the roof collapses, it will most likely suffer severe damages. This can be a tough situation as getting on an icy roof is not a good idea.
    How Ice Damages Boats and Docks. Hull damage, boat leaks, floating ice, dock lifting, pile lifting, ice expansion, and winterkill.

    Safety Precautions

    When it's cold and you're using de-icers to stop ice from forming around your boat docks and lifts, you need to be careful. Here's how to stay safe while keeping everything ice-free.

    Follow the Instructions

    With every de-icer there is the manual or the instructions from the people who made it. It is essential to obey these instructions because they show you how to use the de-icer correctly and efficiently. Some of these directions include how to assemble it, where to put it, and how to keep it in good condition. When you use the de-icer according to how the manufacturer wants it, you will avoid the rare and unexpected accident.

    Make Sure that Electricty Requirements are Met

    Make sure your outlets are working properly and they can support the amps that are pulled at start up and while running. The last thing you want to do is spend money on the perfect de-icer to keep you free from damage and then have it stop working because of flipped breaker.

    Regular Inspection of Equipment

    You have to monitor your de-icing equipment frequently so as to ensure it is in perfect condition. This implies searching for any signs of breakdown like cracking or rust and ensuring that all the parts are undamaged. If you find anything wrong with it, fix it or change it immediately. This not only secures you but also protects the devices from breaking down when you need it badly.  You should give them an annual cleaning and inspection before storing for the summer. Every 3 years or so you should have them serviced by a professional. This will keep them operating at optimal levels.

    If you have a vacation home where you use your de-icer we also recommend using a wi-fi camera and/or outlets so that you can control them when you aren't there. Thermostats and timers are also available so that you don't run your ice eater when you don't need to.



    Buying a good de-icer is wise for anyone who owns a boat or manages a dock. Knowing about different de-icers, how to install them, and how to keep them up helps keep your boats and docks safe from ice. Get ready for winter – some planning can help your marine gear stay safe and sound all season.

    Ready to protect your docks and boats this winter? Check out our collection of de-icers to find the perfect fit for your needs. Keep your marine equipment safe and secure – browse our range today!

    You can download this article here: Download

    Related Dock De-Icer Resources:

    The Best Dock De-icers for Boats, Docks, & Marinas (Download blog)

    Bearon Aquatics Ice Eaters - Protect Your Boat this Winter (Download pdf)

    Splashy Spotlight: Bearon Aquatics - PowerHouse Ice Eater Review (Download) (Infographic) (Brochure)

    How Dock DeIcers and Ice Eaters Protect Your Dock from Ice Damage (Download PDF)

    What to Look For When Buying a Dock DeIcer or Ice Eater (Download PDF)

    Preparing Your Dock for Winter With a Dock De-Icer (Download PDF)(Infographic)(Brochure)

    Download our helpful Infographic by clicking here

    Choosing a Dock and Boat Ladder: What Should You Be Looking For? (Download) (Brochure) (Infographic)

    Important Reasons to Install Your Dock De-Icer Before Winter Arrives (Download) (Infographic) (Brochure)

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