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Old 10-09-2015, 02:27 PM   #1
Greene's Basin Girl
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Default Ice Eater

I was wondering what unit forum members have installed to keep the water from freezing around their docks? We raise up our large dock, but our smaller one stays in . We had our smaller one installed in 2014 and we did not remove it last winter. We just removed the sections. All was fine, but you never know. I have had a quote on a 3/4hp ice eater and it is very expensive. Any ideas???
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Old 10-09-2015, 06:06 PM   #2
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Don't forget to factor in the electricity costs as well.
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Old 10-09-2015, 06:53 PM   #3
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If it's a season dock, it's supposed to come out. The good dock bubblers are kinda pricey. Last one we bought was $600
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Old 10-09-2015, 07:26 PM   #4
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Seasonal dock that is in the above. Based on our usage I would say for a single bubbler it would be approx $400 for electricity
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Old 10-09-2015, 09:03 PM   #5
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I have seen the devices put on a timer so that they cycle on and off and don't run 24/7, thus saving electricity.
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Old 10-09-2015, 10:39 PM   #6
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Ice eaters are very expensive to buy and operate as others have said.

There are two basic models to consider. One hangs off the end dock and is fairly easy to install, but needs deeper water to operate. The other model is mounted on a heavy metal frame, and sits on the lake bottom. The angle of the pump is adjustable to help compensate for water depth. The metal frame and mounting hardware will rust and is not easily adjustable after the first year of use.

The lake bottom model will require you to get into the water to install and remove each year if it is located in an area that may interfere with docking your boat. It does give you the option of selecting the best location of operation after some experimenting.

There is a third model that uses an air compressor and piping to keep the water moving to prevent freezing. There are some other postings discussing this method, and apparently is less costly to operate. You will have a compressor running and the associated noise. I also believe this model will need to run more of the time, but I am not sure of its effectiveness in extremely low temps.

I saw the basic models in Watermark's showroom in Laconia last weekend. You will also need a Danger Thin Ice sign which they also sell. The units usually come wired with a timer. I am sure they can better explain what unit may work best for your location.

Good luck with your selection.
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Old 10-09-2015, 10:53 PM   #7
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Default Where are you?

Where you are located makes a big difference in how a circulator works, and if it will protect your dock.

One of my docks does not lift up so I put a circulator in next to it. In April, when a 100 foot area in front of it was clear I shut it off. The following morning a large mass of ice blew in with the wind and wiped out my dock. Nothing would have prevented that except some triple pilings.

Oh well............
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Old 10-10-2015, 04:25 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TiltonBB View Post
Where you are located makes a big difference in how a circulator works, and if it will protect your dock.

One of my docks does not lift up so I put a circulator in next to it. In April, when a 100 foot area in front of it was clear I shut it off. The following morning a large mass of ice blew in with the wind and wiped out my dock. Nothing would have prevented that except some triple pilings.

Oh well............
That is an example of why seasonal docks are to be removed. Floating lake debris for spring.
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Old 10-10-2015, 04:30 AM   #9
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Is that what pilings are for? I've always wondered that.

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Old 10-10-2015, 05:21 AM   #10
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Yes. Piling out in front of permanent docks typically driving in a cluster of three are typically called ice breakers.
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Old 10-10-2015, 06:36 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TiltonBB View Post
Where you are located makes a big difference in how a circulator works, and if it will protect your dock.

One of my docks does not lift up so I put a circulator in next to it. In April, when a 100 foot area in front of it was clear I shut it off. The following morning a large mass of ice blew in with the wind and wiped out my dock. Nothing would have prevented that except some triple pilings.

Oh well............
This is exactly why I don't see what circulators do. What good does it really do to have your dock clear of ice in the winter? Do they keep the posts from moving just a little??We originally used bubblers until we decided we couldn't see what they did. Now our docks lift up. I have seen docks wiped out in the spring by the moving ice and that is the only way I have seen them wiped out. Maybe someone can enlighten me as to what good it really does to use them? I would really like to know.
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Old 10-10-2015, 07:49 AM   #12
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Default It depends on where you are

Circulators work best when you are in a quiet area and away from large open expanses of the lake. They also help to eliminate the possibility of the ice latching onto your dock posts and pulling them as the ice recedes in the spring.

The best solution is a dock that raises but that is a large expense and will not work in some situations. You need the right shorefront to attach the dock and the depth may be an issue. I know of someone that needs an 80 foot dock to get to water deep enough for a boat. If it were possible to raise the dock you would have to notify the FAA before you could raise it!
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Old 10-10-2015, 07:54 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SAB1 View Post
That is an example of why seasonal docks are to be removed. Floating lake debris for spring.
That is great if it can be removed. I wish I could remove that dock to eliminate the possibility of damage. The dock is 20 feet wide and 40 feet long and permanently pinned to the ledge underneath it.
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Old 10-10-2015, 08:11 AM   #14
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Our Circulators are thermostatically controlled to significantly reduce electricity usage. Has worked very well for many years. won't prevent an iceberg from slamming into the docks Though
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Old 10-10-2015, 09:08 AM   #15
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Default Ice eater

For a great many years I lived at the end of Winter Harbor (near Carry Beach), and had a fixed dock on pilings. I tried triple pilings and circulators, and some years things were good, and others not so good. When the ice breaks up, and the wind blows, even just a light breeze, the sheet ice will go where it wants, when it wants, and do damage regardless of what protection you have.

The punch line is, "You can't fool Mother Nature". (Mother Nature's children are all those barges running around in the spring doing dock repairs.)
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Old 10-10-2015, 10:45 AM   #16
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Just to add to what others have said, the only really useful purpose of a circulator is to keep ice off the dock structure during the winter, when ice moves and heaves from the expansion as it freezes. Remember those pressure ridges out on the open lake? That ice movement is exceedingly slow, so that the circulator can keep up with it. But as ice-out approaches, and the pack melts out at the shore and becomes free to move with the wind, a circulator won't help. A pack of ice a half mile or more across, set in motion (however slowly) by the wind is an enormous mass that your dock can't halt.

As mentioned, a circulator ought to be on a 24-hour timer that you can set to run for an hour or more a few times around the clock, typically adjustable in 15 minute increments. There is no good reason to have more than a few feet of open water around the dock. More than that is a waste of power ($$) and may open up the ice too far along the shore, possibly annoying your neighbors who may want access to the ice for fishing or snowmobiling; there have been threads on this forum addressing this issue.

To really optimize the use of power, the ON run times will have to be more frequent and longer during the extremely cold parts of winter, but less frequent and of shorter duration as the end of winter approaches. That means having someone make at least a few changes to timer settings over the winter.
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Old 10-10-2015, 01:43 PM   #17
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Years ago I had a timer on my ice eater. However it ran for hundreds of hours when there wasn't even ice on the lake. Then it didn't run long enough to keep the ice clear in very cold conditions.

Now I use an Ice Eater Thermostat that turns it on when the temperature is below freezing. It is on when ice is forming, and off when it is not.
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Old 10-10-2015, 06:19 PM   #18
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Now I use an Ice Eater Thermostat that turns it on when the temperature is below freezing. It is on when ice is forming, and off when it is not.
That's probably as good a solution as you'd find, for a dock on an island, where regular attendance to a timer would not be possible, or for any other location not regularly visited. But for a regularly attended mainland dock, that, too, will lead to running longer than really needed. Even in the most bitter cold spell, and we had some of that last winter, it doesn't take all that long for a light refreeze of the surface to be melted out by a running circulator. A thin layer of refreeze ice doesn't really pose a great threat to a dock; it's too fragile. Thus a dock in many locations is quite safe when subjected to periodic light refreezing. Running the circulator past the melt-out point is a waste of power, even when the air temperature is below freezing.

Over the last winter, I maintained a neighbor's circulator operation. At first, when it seemed that the ice was opening up too far along the shoreline, I checked the timer settings. The little 15-minute switches that controlled ON/OFF intervals had been set in reverse, so that the circulator ran most of the time, turning OFF only the few times around the clock where it should have been ON. I fixed that and kept watch. I found that in the most severe cold spells I had to go to four or five 1.5 hour ON intervals over 24 hours to keep the ice at bay. Later in the winter, just three one-hour ON intervals was sufficient. In early April I turned it off.

Clearly, location will affect how long over each 24-hour period the circulator ought to run. A location more exposed to wind and with greater exposure to lake ice movement (such as the Broads) may require more ON time, while locations facing smaller iced area may require less. At first, it's safer to err on the side of longer and more frequent ON times. Experience will let you find what you can safely do to save power while protecting the dock.

I need to say something else. Other than watching my neighbor's circulator last winter, in an area with the longest fetch being less than a mile and not really on the windward side of LI, I can't say I'm any expert at circulator operation. My own dock is seasonal, so I don't worry about ice destroying mine. So my comments on circulator operation are based on last winter and on what I've observed other neighbors' circulators doing, many of which seem to over-do it, needlessly. The opinions of others should be considered also.
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Old 10-11-2015, 04:29 AM   #19
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Arrow They Are Us...

Quote:
Originally Posted by camp guy View Post
"...For a great many years I lived at the end of Winter Harbor (near Carry Beach), and had a fixed dock on pilings. I tried triple pilings and circulators, and some years things were good, and others not so good. When the ice breaks up, and the wind blows, even just a light breeze, the sheet ice will go where it wants, when it wants, and do damage regardless of what protection you have..."
The pressure of ice knocked the pilings out from under our dockóleaving it floating on a sunny and quiet April lake scene. Bent by ice pressures, the original 18-inch spikes were forced into a "V" shape, or stayed straight and tore the wood cross members.

Although my requests for a repair were made that April, barge companies said they couldn't get to my repair for three months. That's when I bought my first farm jack, and repaired it myself.

Just to make sure this didn't happen again, I used the existing galvanized hardware and heavy chain to bind the four outermost pilings to the dock.

Pilings keep the dock out of the water, but are not very resistant to lateral forces. (Piling docks "wiggle"). The chains use the entire strength and resistance of the dock to inward ice pressures to keep the pilings where they were intended to be. It's been 20 years since the repair, but nothing's been damaged since.





Ice breakers (or Ice clusters) were pulled out and tossed around this past ice season, including two clusters of steel pilings I thought were "permanent" last season.



Ice totally knocked down the above steel piling pairs in 2015, and were replaced by new wood piling clusters.

Below, these new three ice clusters (shown nudged previously) were also knocked down, and their piling docks torn out by ice.



Quote:
Originally Posted by DickR View Post
"...But for a regularly attended mainland dock, that, too, will lead to running longer than really needed..."
Worse, the past decades' proliferation of circulators allow huge ice floes the "space" to bulldoze shorelines using the fickle winds at ice-outówith too few locations connected to the shoreline remaining to "anchor" the floes.

We've seen the enemy...

(Apologies to Pogo)



.
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Old 10-12-2015, 07:02 PM   #20
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Thumbs up Good Explanation

Quote:
Originally Posted by DickR View Post
Just to add to what others have said, the only really useful purpose of a circulator is to keep ice off the dock structure during the winter, when ice moves and heaves from the expansion as it freezes. Remember those pressure ridges out on the open lake? That ice movement is exceedingly slow, so that the circulator can keep up with it. But as ice-out approaches, and the pack melts out at the shore and becomes free to move with the wind, a circulator won't help. A pack of ice a half mile or more across, set in motion (however slowly) by the wind is an enormous mass that your dock can't halt.

As mentioned, a circulator ought to be on a 24-hour timer that you can set to run for an hour or more a few times around the clock, typically adjustable in 15 minute increments. There is no good reason to have more than a few feet of open water around the dock. More than that is a waste of power ($$) and may open up the ice too far along the shore, possibly annoying your neighbors who may want access to the ice for fishing or snowmobiling; there have been threads on this forum addressing this issue.

To really optimize the use of power, the ON run times will have to be more frequent and longer during the extremely cold parts of winter, but less frequent and of shorter duration as the end of winter approaches. That means having someone make at least a few changes to timer settings over the winter.
This is a good explanation of the benefit of a dock circulator, and good advice on varying the on-time as temperatures change during the winter season.

Also, in addition to the expansion and contraction of the ice that can crush an unprotected dock and its pilings, another risk to docks is when the water freezes around the pilings or dock posts and then the lake level rises. This can either lift the dock up off its pilings, or pull the pilings up from the lake bottom. I've seen both situations occur. A dock circulator can keep the lake from freezing around the pilings and posts, preventing this type of damage.
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Old 10-26-2015, 01:02 PM   #21
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Default Not that expensive

Using an Aquatherm is really not that expensive.

If you pay a dock company pull your dock in the fall and put it back in in the spring you are talking some big money. Probably around $400 each way and that is not outrageous. Figure two workers (maybe more) for three to four hours each way.

Now do the math for the aquatherm. I use 1/2 HP motors. Usually that is what you will get from the professionals like Watermark. (Good folks)

1/2 HP is about 350 to 400 watts. Let's call it 400. In the thick of winter I run them on timers for two four hour shots. Say, 0400 to 0800 and 1600 to 2000. That's eight hours a day. (Sometimes I do more, sometimes I do less)

8 hours X 400 Watts = 3200 Watt-hours or 3.2 KW-hours.

3.2 KW-hours at about 19 cents per. KW-hour (Co-OP price) is about 60 cents a day or about $20.00 a month.

A new aquatherm costs from about $600 to $850.

You will need a reliable person to keep an eye on it, a neighbor or a professional. AND a aquatherm will NOT stop an ice flow if you are in an area that is open. The mass of a one acre six inch flow is about 10 tons and at two feet per minute will turn your dock into matchwood right in front of your eyes!

Spooky!

So there is a bit of a risk but the payback time is about one year.

AND...you get to use your dock from ice out to ice in!

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Old 10-26-2015, 02:09 PM   #22
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Default 1/2 HP Model

Here's the ice-eater I've used for many years. Very reliable.



I also use Kasco's optional mounting bracket which allows the ice-eater to be securely bolted or lag screwed to the dock. The unit itself is then suspended from the bracket on a galvanized pipe, and the prop thrust can be directed in any direction needed.
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Old 10-27-2015, 09:24 AM   #23
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We used 2 kasco ice eaters with both thermostats and timers. Never had a problem. We had 3 permanent 30' long piling docks, thus the need for 2 of them. We were sheltered however, between a few islands.
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