You have successfully installed your Rink Wizard ice rink kit and are loving your backyard winter wonderland. Now what?
At Rink Wizard, we want you to enjoy your ice rink and make the most of your ice time outside. We have listed our top tips for maintaining your backyard ice rink:
Start with a good foundation
in order to maximize the life of your rink during the winter season, it is so important to start with a solid foundation of ice. We recommend a base ice pad that is between 2 and 3 inches thick. When laying down your ice pad, fill your rink with water between 1/2 to 1 inch of water at a time until it is frozen. Keep adding water until your base is set, not exceeding 4 inches. Keep your eyes on the weather – this task can be sped up if you have a cold snap in the forecast.
Keep your ice clean
Just like your local hockey pad, it is smart to clean your backyard ice rink after every skate.
Simply use a snow shovel to remove the ice and snow after use. Keeping the surface clean will prevent bits of ice and snow from melting in the sun and freezing in an uneven layer. If you resurface your ice pad without removing these bits, you will end up with an uneven and bumpy surface, which can slow your skate and potentially be a tripping hazard.
Use HOT water for a glass-like surface
Using hot water when you add a layer to the top of your ice will give your rink a glass-like surface, especially if you are using our Magic Ice Resurfacer. The heat in the water will melt any small bumps in the ice for a smooth finish, and the hot water will freeze quickly to form the surface. The resurfacer will control the amount of water you are distributing, allowing you a precise and even finish. Ensure you can connect your hose with hot water (through a hot water tank, or an accessible sink), attach the resurfacer to the hose, and add a very thin top layer within minutes. Wait for the water to freeze, and you are good to skate!
Note: If hot water is layered on the ice too thick, it can create bubbles in the ice and an uneven surface. We recommend using hot water only when the ice is especially torn up, like after a good hockey game when you are looking for a quick fix and a quick freeze, and only applying the hot water in a very thin and controlled manner. Our ice rink resurfacer was designed to apply a very thin layer of water in an even application so you spend less time maintaining your ice and more time skating!
Wait for your ice to freeze
You’re excited to start using your ice! We get it. But if you don’t let the ice freeze completely, you will do more damage to your ice pad, and create more work in the long run. Ensure the ice is completely frozen before you start skating – depending on the weather, it could take anywhere from 20 minutes to 2 hours. It is also important to wait for the top layer of ice to freeze after maintaining and resurfacing. It is key to check the surface to ensure it is solid before you start skating.
Remove the snow
As pretty as the ground looks after a fresh snowfall, it is best to remove snow from the surface of your ice rink as soon as possible. Once the snow starts to build, especially if you leave it for a few days, it can create a warm, insulating layer that can cause the top layers of ice to turn into a slushy mess between the snow and ice.
If this does happen, it is an easy fix, but can take a bit of time.
If the ice is soft, leave it alone
If snow, too much sun, or in-climate weather has started to melt the top layers of your ice rink, do not touch it! You will only create a large mess. Wait for the ice to freeze on its own before you maintain and skate on your ice. Typically, a surface that has frozen after a melt is a little messy and uneven. Once frozen, simply use a snow shovel to remove debris, and chip away at uneven ice chunks. Using your resurfacer, with hot water, will help to smooth the top layer, melt uneven bumps that you can’t get with your shovel, and finish your ice with a glass-like finish.
Uh oh, it looks like rain
Unfortunately, the weather is the one ice rink maintenance factor no one can control. If the forecast is calling for warmer temperatures, and you are concerned about your ice rink, you are not alone. If rain is scheduled, it is important to remove as much debris as possible before it starts raining. Regular maintenance is key to avoid more work later.
In our years of building ice rinks, the two biggest issues we have dealt with during temperature spikes and rain are 1 - when twigs and debris land on the ice and freeze to the ice, and 2 - when it rains, little divots can form on the ice. Both scenarios can leave your ice rink with a messy and uneven surface (like an orange peel). Now, this surface may be great for curling, but if you are using your rink for any other purpose, we would avoid this.
The most efficient way to remove the debris after it has frozen to the ice is to dig it out, and this can cause a lot more work for you in the long run. To avoid this, clean off the ice after every skate, and maintain your rink regularly.
Do you have experience maintaining your ice rink? Any tips and tricks we have not included here? We want to hear from you – share your experience in the comment section below.