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Winter deIcers

Suggestions on the Use of Lake De-Icers / Bubblers


The Lake Mahopac Park District has been charged by the Carmel Town Board to come up with recommendations to residents about the use of these devices.

There have been complaints about lake de-icers from residents adversely affected by overreach beyond the structures that the de-icers need to protect, such as docks, sea walls, and boathouses.

The main problem is clearing areas beyond what is necessary that may adversely affect your neighbor’s use of the lake for winter recreation.

 There are two types of de-icing equipment:

  1. Ice-eaters are submersible motors with propellers.
  2. Bubblers consist of perforated tubing and an air compressor. Electricity costs are less than ice eaters. Bubblers and their flexible tubing can be configured to smaller areas of de-icing such as around docks and boathouses. They de-ice very little beyond a specific structure to be protected. (See photo at bottom.)  

*Bubblers, according to manufacturers, need deeper water to function effectively.

  They bring warmer water deeper down to the surface. (They are similar to an   

  aquarium aerator.)

 For further information about required depths, see various

             manufacturers such as Kasco, Taylor Marine, Elite Dock Bubbler, The Power 

             House, etc. regarding all de-icer types.


The Lake Mahopac Park District has come up with 8 recommendations.

  1. Appropriate sizing of the ice-eater. Bigger is not necessarily better. 

Opening up larger ice-free areas than necessary may create a hazardous condition for recreational use.

The size ranges from ¼, ½, ¾, and 1 HP.

The area of clearance is approximately: 

             ¼ HP = 25 feet

             ½ HP = 50 feet,

             ¾ HP = 75 feet

             1 HP = 100 feet.


2.   Placement: Horizontal vs. Vertical


A vertically mounted ice-eater opens up a circular area further out in the lake, which, generally, is not necessary and can impede recreational use. Vertically mounted ice-eaters are noisier since they create a fountain effect.


A horizontally mounted ice-eater can be better focused on an area to be kept ice- free, a smaller unit can be more effective than a larger, vertically mounted device that may extend further out in the lake than is necessary. A horizontally mounted ice-eater, mounted on a dock, can be aimed under the dock and toward the shoreline. The ice-free area will be elongated along the shore thus limiting overreach further out in the lake. Also, a horizontally mounted ice-eater is silent in operation.


  1. Safety


    1. A white light is recommended to illuminate the open water area for people using the lake at night. This should not be a problem as electricity is already present for the de-icing unit.


    1. At least one sign 2 feet by 3 feet at the waters edge, boathouse or dock indicating, “Danger: Thin Ice.”


    1. All de-icers should have a GFI (Ground Fault Interrupter) which acts as a fuse to prevent potential electrical shock.


  1. Be a Good Neighbor

 Be a good neighbor. Talk to your neighbors about any potential problems that may affect them concerning your use of ice-eaters. Some may find their access to the lake restricted; others may like the idea that they have an ice free area protecting their dock or shoreline. Talk to them.


  1. Horizontally placed ice-eaters, whether mounted on a float or dock, can be aimed

directly at the assets you wish to be kept ice-free.


  1. Structures to be kept ice-free should be connected to the shoreline, such as docks and boathouses.  


  1. Ice-Free areas should be constrained to about 6 feet beyond any structure that needs protection.


  1. Thermostats and Timers are available from De-icer manufacturers.

Manufacturers provide these optional accessories to reduce electricity consumption and minimize unnecessary continuous operation not needed for

effective de-icing. Also, setting the thermostat to stop operation when the temperature is above freezing will further reduce unnecessary operation. One manufacturer sells a timer/thermostat in a single unit. (Some manufacturers recommend approximately 4½, hours of operation per day in this area.) See manufacturers recommendations. 


  • Two popular de-icers made by Kasco and Taylor Marine sell floats to support the devices. Taylor at this time sells a float for vertical mounting only. Kasco makes a float for horizontal positioning that better allows for a more directed flow.


  • Both manufacturers make a dock mount that will allow a directed horizontal flow. See their websites for more detail.


Before any purchase is made it is suggested that you call (or at least access the manufacturers websites) and explain what you want to accomplish. They can be very helpful. (Also, photos of your situation can be emailed to them.)

Disclaimer: These are suggestions that are based on experiences from homeowners and manufacturers of de-icing equipment. We, therefore, do not guarantee the success of any de-icing or dock-protective measure. So there!


Vendor Websites: Kasco, Taylor Marine, Elite Dock Bubbler, The Power House, etc, etc.


Additional info Websites: