How to Build a Backyard Hockey Rink
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BACKYARD HOCKEY RINK — TROUBLE SHOOTING GUIDE
Q: Holes in Your Liner
If you find holes in your liner when you unroll it, patch them right away with underwater tape. Duct tape works in a pinch. Actually, in our view, duct tape works for almost everything and has worked without fail for backyard rink liners as well. But a waterproof tape is the official “approved” method for patching liners. Either way, make sure you patch it thoroughly so you don’t encounter issues when filling it with water to create your ice.
If you see wet or slushy snow or wet patches of dirt or grass around the perimeter of your boards when filling your rink, then you’ve got a leak. Look and see if you can isolate where it is coming from and use the underwater tape or duct tape to patch it. Sometimes you can see bubbles, but this may also mean checking your boards for screw ends that may have come through the other side or other debris that may have caused a small hole. If you can’t find the hole, you either have to hope for a good freeze (letting it freeze below the leak, then spraying thin layers of water that will freeze more quickly until you get past the leak). Once it freezes you are okay. If this doesn’t work, sadly, your only option is to start all over again—ordering a new liner or, if you have enough excess, repositioning it beyond any potential holes or tears.
Q: Bumps and Ridges
Bumps and ridges are usually caused by falling snow that hasn’t been cleared or swept clean. It can also be caused by high winds while laying down a deeper layer of ice (wind moves the water as it freezes, causing ridges or waves). Pets, critters or children and adults walking across the ice after a snowfall can also cause bumps (footprints that bond and freeze into mounds). If the bumps and ridges are small enough, you can simply lay down a thin “maintenance” layer of ice to smooth out the surface. The maintenance layer is about ¼ inch think (ideally sprayed on at night, with no wind, and definitely no snow; see #6, previous page). This layer should freeze in minutes. If the bumps or ridges are larger (as in the case of paw prints or footprints), you may have to shave the ridge or bump down first before laying down your thin maintenance layer of ice.
Q: Uneven or Lifting Ice
This is often caused by uneven freezing of your water surface—temperatures that aren’t cold enough for proper freezing all the way through OR from overfilling, too deep a layer of water, with your initial layer. If too deep or not cold enough, the water that is not frozen below the surface moves around and pushes the upper, frozen levels of water into lifting icebergs or uneven, broken ridges. It can also push frozen bits of ice against the liner, creating small holes. This could also happen if you walked or skated on the ice before it was frozen to the bottom, which would create a layer of heavier ice that dropped through the water on the bottom, leading to a huge plate of uneven ice.
Either way, if this happens, you just have to WAIT until all the water freezes all the way through to the bottom. Then you begin your process of shaving down the larges ridges and bumps and building up a smooth layer of ice little by little around these islands, ridges or bumps (follow the “Bumps and Ridges” trouble shooting guidelines above). It’s not fun. It takes a while. But it can be resolved with diligent maintenance.
Q: Flaking Ice
Nobody we’ve talked to seems to know the real cause for flaking ice—is it because it froze too quickly, or is it just from air pockets from a former leak or something else? Who knows (if you do, please add your comment online here). Regardless of the cause, the best way to remedy this is to chip out the flaking patches, breaking them up and sweeping away the debris. Then begin applying a series of thin maintenance layers of water that will fill the chipped out patches and slowly build up a smooth layer of ice.