General Rink Maintenance Tips

Now that you’re on your rink and having a blast, you’ll want to take care of it too. You’ve had plenty of practice the last couple of weeks with all this snow, rain, and warm temps, so hopefully this post ties it all together for you.  WARNING - this might take over your every waking second and lead your significant other to thinking there is “someone else”.

So here is a short list of what to do. It’s important to note there is no exact formula for success; you define that for your rink.

• When done skating, take all puck, nets, sticks, beach chairs, tiki bars, everything, off the ice. Leave them on and they’ll likely be stuck in the ice when you come back the next day.

• Shovel, sweep, leaf blower, whatever – clean the ice shavings up and wrap up the night with the SnowPusherLite and Homeboni application or 2.  I find the appropriate amount of time between applications is the time it takes to drink a beer. But that’s just me. And since I got this trusty sidekick for Christmas, I won’t even have to leave the rink to walk inside and get another one.

• If snow is in the forecast, you can postpone the post-ice cleaning.  Try to keep snow off the ice though; leave it on and it will possibly create that crusty layer between the snow and the ice or even turn it all into a slushy mess. If it stays cold enough, the snow will just rest lightly on top of the ice and can easily be removed. I haven’t figured out what the right weather conditions are for this last scenario, so I’ll (try to) clean off the ice multiple times during a snow storm just in an attempt to preserve the super smooth ice surface.  Your neighbors will start to look at you (more) funny when you clean off your rink off before your driveway or walkway.  But let them look.  They’re really just jealous deep down inside of your backyard ice rink.  Send them my way next year and I’ll solve that problem for them ;)

• If rain is in the forecast, pray it’s not for an extended period of time.  Rain is bad because it means it’s too warm for snow. Being too warm means things start to melt, like your rink. And this melting is further accelerated by rain. Now that your rink is melting, and it’s raining, this means you have excess water on what was your pristine skating surface.  I’m more on the anal side of rink maintenance, so if it’s near 1″ of water, I’m going to try to remove it before it freezes by using a pump or a siphon.  Check out an earlier post about what to do in this situation.  A little sump-pump might be easier as it can rest right on the ice surface; can be found in any big box hardware store.  If its just a little rain, it’ll serve as a natural Homboni application and all should be good if followed by a cold spell.  Tip of the cap to Mother Nature on just this one; she just might serve up Day 1 ice conditions here.

•  Nicks and cuts are going to happen to the liner.  Unless you don’t use your rink. Pucks, skates, and shovels will all leave their mark, but as long as these are small (less than couple of inches) and above the ice line, don’t sweat it.  If you are worried about these cuts, you can apply patches of the liner tape you were provided with your Backyard Ice rink or liner.  I can order more for you if you’d like.  If just due to the nature of how your rink is being used your liner becomes cut up worse than an innocent victim from A Nightmare on Elm Street, we can consider upgrading your liner for next season to one that contains a mesh weave (ripstop) so will contain (not prevent) tears better. To prevent the nicks, something like a dasher board can be installed once the ice is frozen.

Bucket Dumps – this is when you get a clean giant trash can, fill it with water, and dump it all at once onto the rink.  Might need a couple of dumps to cover the entire surface.  This is good as it provides as very fast and uniformly applied thick layer of water over a massive area. It takes time to fill the can up, and often a thick dose of water isn’t needed;  Homeboni applications work just fine.

Homeboni - start at the far corner of the rink from your water source.  Adjust the water flow rate that works for you, and walk back and forth applying a uniform layer.  Even regular tap water (not “hot”) will melt the fine ice shavings and the towel will prevent any pooling.  When I want to get a thick layer of water on the rink or to repair some semi-bad ice conditions, I’ll just walk out there with an open hose and walk back and forth as if the homeboni was attached.

I’ll shoot some videos of all these maintenance tips too, maybe. At least that’s my intention.  If anyone wants to start their film career, I’ll gladly post your rink maintenance videos here.  Sometimes doing what I do might be easier for some instead of doing what I say.

Have any special tips or tricks you’ve found that work well along the way? Let others know by replying to this post, commenting on the Backyard Ice Facebook page, or Tweeting about it.