Fall is on its way, and we all know what that means. Pumpkin spice and Halloween candy already in the stores! But when you own a residential floating dock, a big question on your mind is whether or not you can leave it in the water for the winter. Well, you’re in luck because we have the guidance you need.
Preventing ice damage to docks is a major concern; after all, this is a significant investment in your property – and your recreational enjoyment. Leaving a dock in place throughout the winter can be safe, depending on the type of floating dock you own, your area’s weather conditions, the water conditions, as well as the steps you take to prepare it for the season. Let’s dive in and get you some answers.
Preparing Your Residential Floating Dock for the Winter
Folks in colder northern states (e.g., Vermont, Maine, Michigan, Wisconsin, etc.) generally take their docks out ahead of winter. Ponds, rivers, and lakes freeze over – which is not really the big problem. The bulk of any damage actually comes in the spring when ice and water begin to move and shift. Ice flows can wreak havoc on anything in their path – even boulders. A residential floating dock doesn’t stand a chance!
In Florida, we’re not dealing with the same type of conditions. While we do see some freezing temperatures, water bodies typically do not become solid masses of ice. That’s good news if you enjoy a little late-season kayaking, fishing, or cruising. That said, some smaller, isolated bodies of water may freeze, even in the Sunshine State! So we have to go a bit further.
The material from which your residential floating dock is constructed also plays a role in whether you should leave it in place during the winter. AccuDock floating docks are made of HDPE flat sheets that fully encapsulate EPS foam. The docks feature marine-grade aluminum frames and their rustproof, corrosion-resistant aluminum brackets and connectors are able to weather the winter without incurring damage. AccuDock’s floating docks draft roughly one inch, and if the water does freeze, it simply pops up to the surface. Wood, on the other hand, is particularly susceptible to changing weather conditions. It expands in heat and humidity and contracts in cold weather. Freezing or fluctuating temperatures can cause your decking to buckle and take on an uneven appearance that’s difficult to correct.
The water conditions are important to consider. Generally, you can leave your dock in place if:
- There is room around the dock to shift with the freezing water
- It is in an area that is protected from the wind
- Waves do not exceed one foot
- Your floats don’t rub on the bottom when the water is at its lowest point (our floating docks only need about 1.5 inches of water)
Precautionary Steps for Preventing Ice Damage
Leaving your floating dock in the water over the winter is feasible throughout most of Florida and with HDPE- or PVC-made options that are designed to be “ice friendly.” Even so, it is important to take steps to protect your dock. Preventing ice damage to docks and ensuring docks are ready to use year-round are essential.
Take the following steps:
- Check all the hardware on your dock to make sure everything is tight and secure.
- Loosen your anchor chains (this allows your dock to go with the flow, so to speak, when water levels rise in the spring). In spring, just reconnect and tighten the anchors.
- Remove any ladder(s).
- Attach a safety line from the dock to a secure fixed object on land (e.g., a tree or another sturdy structure).
- If conditions are not quite optimal but you cannot store the dock, try taking it out of the water and putting it on shore.
AccuDock’s floating docks are designed to maximize convenience, durability, versatility, and ease. They can be left in the water over the winter safely. If you have any questions about how winter weather can affect your dock or about what steps to take to make sure your dock is safe and secure, do not hesitate to contact the team at AccuDock. We’re here to help!