First, the structural stability of a dock is an important factor, especially when you or your family are the ones that will be walking, running, or jumping on it. The last thing you want is for one of your precious family members to be running on a dock and have the dock collapse because you failed to protect it against the known factors that deteriorate every piling that touches the water. Some of the ways your pilings can become under attack is from wood boring worms. These worms will, not can, burrow into the wooden piling that is not protected and continue to degrade the piling over its lifespan. Marine pests like the wood burrowing worm or the Gribble, a crustacean that eats through any wood in the water, even the old ships that sailed the ocean, are two of the most common reasons for you pilings to become damaged or fall apart. Sometimes we forget about these dock pilings because they are out of sight and out of mind... at least until your dock is all of a sudden listing or leaning and cracked. Don’t worry too much about it if it has not happened yet though. There are still ways to protect dock pilings and any wood supports that will increase their lifespan tremendously. One way to protect dock pilings is by wrapping them with piling wraps. A piling wrap is a protective layer of a plastic type material that the burrowing animals cannot penetrate. This can be done before or after you have an infestation, but more than likely, it will be cheaper if you do it before such as when you are installing them. After the decay is already there, it would have to be neutralized then wrapped so you are not just covering up the worms and letting them continue to eat the wood beneath the covering. I have seen some docks and pilings that were totally broken apart just from these pests.
The piling protection is not limited to pilings either. The wraps can be applied to pilings, bulkheads, docks, boathouses, and sea walls. Anything that is in the water can be infiltrated and damaged. You MUST protect your investment on the water just as you would your vehicle. Customers who buy new vehicles will wax their cars right when they purchase them to protect the paint, and when you purchase or build a new home you are required to have termite protection. The same theory should apply to camps, boat houses, and docks. You are spending, usually, a great deal of money or many of these items and you should do what you have to do to protect that investment for as long as possible. Often times the reason that these docks or pilings go so long without protection is that most people do not know the pilings are under attack by an almost microscopic, hungry, wood eating menace. Just as you do you research before buying a car or any electronic item, people need to do research on homes near the water, homes on the water, or camps to understand what is possible and what is necessary to ensure you enjoy your investment for the longest period of time possible.
Now, these pests aren’t the only reasons docks get demolished. Hurricanes, storms, spills, and other natural happenings can also damage your docks, pilings, bulkheads, and boathouses, but the majority owners already know the risk they take with those acts of nature. It’s the “nature” living IN the water you should be educated on and learn how to protect yourself against.
Take a look around the next time you take your boat down the river. You'll see the extent of what these creatures are capable of doing to docks, pilings and bulkheads. You can really see the piling damage when the water is extremely low due to the minimal amount of rain, or lack of rain actually, that most are experiencing in the Gulf States. Next time you are cruising the waterways, pay close attention to the camps along the river and look at all of the pilings under the docks, and even under the camps themselves. More often than not, the pilings you see will show strong indications of the presence of the wood burrowing worms and some piling will even be damaged so badly that they are no longer intact. Without knowing the root cause of piling damage, many people never realize how badly of an effect they could have. The worms and Gribbles do not just affect older camps and docks that have been there a long time, but you can also see signs of their presence on the pilings that are only months or just a few years old.
If learning about the dangers of not protecting your pilings, docks, and bulkheads can help residential customers, then surely the commercial uses like retaining walls for lakes at parks, and even older dams made of wood should be protected as well and their care takers educated on their dangers. The last thing a commercial operator needs is for a visitor to hurt themselves on a deteriorated, failing dock or wooden structure. Lawsuits will definitely be filed and they will surely be asked why measures were not taken to prevent this from happening. Many of our parks in Louisiana have docks or bridges to help us navigate the swampy, wet areas, and view the wildlife habitats of our native wildlife. Even some of our golf courses have bridges to allow golfers to navigate the course over the swampy areas. Unfortunately for me, that is where my ball usually ends up. Overall, please try to educate yourself on the ways you can protect yourself from experiencing the issues that many have faced with having to rebuild a dock, protect pilings, or strengthen the base of a raised home. In the grand scheme of things you will see a huge benefit, financially and with less stress in your life. Contact us today to see if you might have an infestation in your docks or pilings.