Combat Shoreline Ice-Heaving with a Frost-Break™
A Frost-Break™ is an option we can add to your new or existing riprap shoreline. It’s a way to protect your shoreline from ice heaving (sometimes called shoreline buckling).
What’s the Problem?
Imagine the riprap at an angle. It starts high on dry land and moves down the slope, where it extends about two feet into the water.
In the winter, the water freezes, and the riprap stones freeze in the water. They also freeze to the bottom of the lake.
The bottom of the lake is waterlogged. There’s water on it 24/7, right? So when the ice starts to jack (i.e. expands towards the shoreline) it’s not just the ice that comes charging toward your shoreline. It’s also the lake bottom. One giant mass, an icy bulldozer.
How Does Frost-Break™ Do?
A Frost-Break™ is a swath of smaller river-rock that is placed on the lake bottom directly in front of the riprap – in the water (the “toe” of your riprapped shoreline). This creates a buffer between the bottom of the ice sheet and the lake bottom (as well as a bit of separation from the riprap itself). When the ice starts to expand, the bond between the ice and the lake bottom should break at the Frost-Break™ (the pile of small rock along the toe of your shoreline). We like to call this the fault line. It protects your shoreline and minimizes the chances of Mother Nature undoing all the work that’s gone into creating it.
Why does an underwater Frost-Break™ stone barrier frequently work?
Imagine an ice cream bucket.
Now, imagine that you fill that bucket with water and put it in the freezer. You let it freeze solid, and then you take it out and drop it on the floor.
The strong frozen block of ice will bounce. Yes, a few ice chips will break off but for the most part it’s going to stay whole.
Now imagine taking another ice cream bucket. Only this time fill it with small rocks (maybe you’ve eaten all the ice cream). Then top off the bucket with water and freeze it. What happens if you drop it?
A big mess. All the ice and small rock breaks apart and slides over the kitchen floor. That’s not good if you want to keep your kitchen clean, but it’s perfect if you want to help protect your shoreline from ice heaving.
Because of this buffer of small rock, the lake is not allowed to freeze directly to the lake bottom (and your riprap). Now you’ve minimized your chances of having a big four-foot frozen shelf of ice and dirt coming for your shoreline. Instead, you get maybe one foot of ice or so with a little bit of rock stuck to the bottom of it. The idea is this ice and rock slide up the “ramp” (your properly sloped shoreline) we created, instead of pushing into your yard and leaving behind an ice ridge –a giant mound of heaved-up turf along your shoreline.
If you don’t like the idea of re-doing your shoreline every time Mother Nature goes wild, then the Frost-Break™ can save you money.