How Ice Can Damage Your Wooden Dock

Posted by Alumi-Span Docks on 10/4/2022
How Ice Can Damage Your Wooden Dock
Do you have a wooden or partially wooden dock?

Do you think it might be easier to leave your boat dock in the water this winter?

Removing your dock in the fall can be a long, cold, labor-intensive process. It’s no fun when all you really want to do is relax on your boat under a warm, sunny sky. There’s probably a moment every fall where you wonder “what’s the worst that could happen if I leave my dock in the water just this once?”

The worst that could happen is coming back in the spring and finding it severely damaged! Even if it’s not visibly damaged, ice, snow, and fluctuating temperatures have almost certainly weakened the wood.

How Ice Can Damage Your Wooden Dock

Michigan winters are notoriously unpredictable. We might have a good freeze and inches of snow and then a warm front could move in, melting the snow and thawing the ground. That cycle might repeat a few times throughout the winter.

When a wooden dock is left in the water all winter, that freeze/thaw cycle takes a toll on the integrity of its boards. Wood is like a sponge, absorbing water from its surface and even from the air. That means a wooden dock always has some water in it, even in clear weather.

Unlike most liquids, water expands when freezing and contracts when heating. When the temperature drops to freezing in the winter, the water in and on your dock will expand as it freezes, putting pressure on the wood. When the temperature warms up again, the ice melts and leaves behind tiny cracks as it contracts. Each freeze/thaw cycle allows a little more water in and puts a little more pressure on the wood.

You can imagine how many cycles of expanding and contracting a dock could go through in a year of Michigan weather! Over time, little cracks grow into noticeable cracks, causing splintered, broken boards.

Your dock can be further damaged when your lake or river freezes. The ice can put pressure on your dock, dislodging it or damaging the anchor posts.

An Aluminum Boat Dock Is Sturdier

An aluminum boat dock is sturdy and durable in any Michigan weather, but we still recommend taking your dock out for the winter. Leaving an aluminum or vinyl dock in the water all winter won’t cause it the kind of freeze/thaw damage that a wooden dock sustains, but it does leave it in the path of ice flows in the spring.

If you’ve ever seen an ice flow in action, you understand how the chunks of ice and the debris that gets swept up with them can damage a dock. An ice flow can be a powerful and destructive force, and everything in its path is at risk of being swept away or destroyed.

Does Your Dock Have Ice Damage?

If you have a dock that’s been damaged by winter weather, or you’re looking to replace an older dock with a durable aluminum boat dock, call our experts at 855-523-2444 or use the contact form.

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