Ice Thickness – How long and how much? How Long? – We have a page showing typical ice growth however there are many different aspects that go into this. How Much? – The go to number is a minimum of 4″ (10cm).
When should I fill? Most backyarders will tell you not to fill too soon before the hard below freezing temperatures are forecasted. The rule of thumb among backyard rinkers is to have 3 or more days with highs below freezing. (See freeze chart below.) The longer your liner is exposed to hazards (kids, animals, pets, pests (neighbor kids)), the more likely you will develop holes or tears in your liner. You also don’t want to fill your rink and have to skim leaves out of it. It is well advised in this group that you do not walk on your liner, as you are increasing your chances of tearing or poking holes in your liner. Expert advice: “I like to wait until I have a frost in the ground to install my liner and fill. I also like to see my forecast with favorable temperatures below freezing.” – Steve Pailler
Should I remove dark leaves? See above. If you are new to home-made rinks, you are probably asking yourself, “why on earth would I worry about leaves???” Well besides leaves being frozen in the ice and making it hard to daydream you are playing in the NHL, there is actually a real reason why you don’t want leaves in your ice. Leaves being darker than your pearly white ice will attract sunlight and that sunlight will warm the leaves enough to potentially melt the ice above it. Long story short, keep your leaves to a minimum. If you get a few that freeze in your rink, grab a torch, screwdriver, ice pick or whatever it takes to get that intruder out of here.
What do I use to make red and/or blue lines in the ice?
What do I do about the hole/tear in my liner? What is best way to repair it? Expert Advice: “The easiest and cheapest solution to patching holes under the water line is using the red “Tuck Tape” It works incredibly well and what I do to put a white liner patch tape on top of the red tuck tape before putting it under the water so I don’t have a red sun attractant under the ice. Simply push the tape directly over top of the hole and you’re done. Sometimes I will put two or three pieces down to make sure I have enough surface contact but this process has never failed me.” – Michael Hapke Expert Advice: “Inevitably, some liners will get a hole or holes in them from a variety of sources. The easiest way I’ve found to find the hole(s) in the past on my own rink is as follows; Find the wet spot on the outside of the rink boards Stand in the center of the wet spot, facing directly up to the shallowest point of your rink. Since water can only flow downhill the hole will be somewhere between where you are standing and the shallow point your facing Now, it may not be directly in line, so start at the board edge checking 2’ left and right from where you are standing, and be sure to check the inside edges of the liner where the liner is against the board(s) first, then work your way down the board and then look on the bottom of the liner where it is on the ground, double/triple checking where the board meets the ground. Then, from there facing directly uphill again, carefully and thoroughly scan the bottom of the liner left & right, and as you scan further up towards the shallow end, begin to expand your scanning area left & right as you scan further away from the boards. You scanned 2’ either way near the board, and I would suggest when your 15’ uphill or more into the rink that you be searching an area that would then be 5’ left & right, or 10’ area side to side. To scan closer “in” the rink, you can place plastic garbage bags over stocking feet and carefully walk around in the water. If there’s a thin layer of ice, you can carefully break and remove the ice so you can see the liner. *** If already have ice on the rink, I would say 3” or less, you’ll have to “carefully” break the ice with a hammer 12-18” from the sideboards and remover the ice in order to check the sides and/or the bottom for holes in the immediate area. Another technique I’ve heard clients try is to add food coloring to a cup of milk and pour that in the water when it’s calm. The food coloring in the milk is heavier than the water and has tendency to follow “the flow” to a potential hole. Drop the coloring close to where you think the hole might be, go away for a while and then come back to see if you have traveling color to a hole. Repairing a NiceRink Liner – Inevitably some of you will get holes in your liner, whether from skates, sticks, shovels, dogs, deer, or the plastic football place kick holder left under the liner. Laugh if you will, we’ve had more than that come back to us since 1991. There are basically two options in repairing a liner. You can use either the NiceRink repair tape OR the underwater glue. They do not work together. One works independent of the other. Taping a liner-The liner “should” be warm, dry & clean that will be the easiest…..however….if you have a midseason hole or tear there are ways to fix it, just call and ask for the “Rink Doctor”. In optimum conditions, clean and dry both sides of the liner and tape both sides if accessible and press the tape in to place. If it’s a midseason fix, get Mama’s hairdryer out with an extension cord! Clean and dry the area to be patched as well as possible and cut a piece of patch tape according the size of the hole. Place the tape over the hole, and it will most likely not stick in place. Hold the tape in place and turn on the hairdryer and apply heat to the non-adhesive side of the tape and at the same rubbing the tape with your free hand. This will activate the adhesive through the material, and once activated, you should get a permanent bond. You don’t have to burn it on, just heat it up from the back and test the adhesion periodically by trying to remove a corner while heating up and you’ll be able tell when it’s adhered. Underwater Gluing a liner, Don’t read the directions on the tube of glue! This works, I had a deer put 15 holes in my liner in one run across it about 12 years ago with one of the original lining materials. The glue is not going to dry and be a permanent fix. This is only intended to “clog” a hole that is underwater midseason. I would suggest rubber medical gloves and a dry towel for this as the water is going to be VERY cold! Keep the glue in a warm area until ready to apply. For smaller holes, take a generous amount of the glue, 1” diameter should do for smaller punctures on your index finger and bring it down to the hole and sort of “smear” it over the hole and release it from your hand. What the glue will do is stick to the liner essentially “clogging” the hole up until spring when it can then be repaired permanently with the tape. For larger holes, use a scrap or corner piece of liner larger than the hole, apply a generous amount of glue around the edges of the patch piece, and then push that down over the hole in the water and apply pressure around the edges to get a seal. Then seal off the edges of the patch with more glue to make sure you get it all sealed up. Some clients have put a flat stone or brick that does not stick out of the water on top of larger patches and then just let it freeze into the ice to be sure there is enough continuous pressure to seal off larger holes that are underwater glue patched.” – Jim Stoller
How do I remove slush/bumpy ice? More often than not, if you have slush on your rink, it means that your rink isn’t completely frozen yet. We usually hear about slush on rinks right after a decent snowfall shortly after the initial fill. When in doubt, let it be. The biggest mistakes we see from amateur ice masters is that they try and do too much. Remember that pond you use to skate on as a child? No one ever scooped the slush off that, did they? Let Mother Nature do her thing. Once your ice is completely frozen, you will then get the chance to hone your ice master abilities. If you have a frozen surface that is less than ideal for little Jack and Suzie, try dumping large volumes of hot water on your surface. The warmer water will bond better, but cold will work. Remember, water will always fill in the low spots first, so keep that in mind when bucket resurfacing. (If you know you have a low spot, fill there first so your water doesn’t freeze on the way to the low spot.) Expert Advice: “I tell my kids and neighborhood kids to “skate like crazy” when there is lumps, all wear helmets and legit carve up those babies in no time, simple clean off resurface and bam like glass again!” – Dan Thompson
Should I shovel the slushy snow or leave it? See above about letting it be. Once your rink is frozen, by all means shovel the snow. Some folks shovel the snow towards the goals and use the snowfall to create puck stops. It’s your rink, you can do what you want with it. If you are reading this, it means you probably built your own rink so we are guessing you probably have a good amount of common sense. You got this far, don’t start doubting yourself now. If it seems like a good idea, it probably is. If it turns out your idea is or isn’t a good one, please let us know! We love learning from our group. Expert Advice: “From my personal experience I don’t touch the slush. I just let it freeze. Once it’s frozen than you can resurface with hot water.” – Teresa Carey
How do I remove the water in the ice rink at the end of the year? This answer varies so much from backyard to backyard. If you don’t want to oversaturate your or your neighbor’s yard, you might want to invest in a pool or sump pump. A pool pump would be more ideal, as a sump pump is usually triggered by a plastic float. If your yard pools water after a heavy rain, you obviously shouldn’t open the floodgates of your rink. Once your season is over, drop your pump in the deepest portion of your rink and run a hose to the nearest street gutter. Obviously you want to check your local town/cities/counties rules and regulations before doing this. BIHR is not responsible for any damage/citations you may incur when building or taking down a rink. Use common sense, please.
What is the best way to brace my rink walls/sides? While there is no right answer for this, it is in your best interest to give yourself time to get your boards braced and reinforced before the ground starts to freeze. Some backyarders like to use rebar to reinforce the sides of their rink. These can be next to impossible to drive into the ground after the ground starts to freeze. Make sure that you do your best to leave as little space between your walls and the ground as possible. If you leave a gap, your liner can squeeze in that gap when you fill. As your ice is formed, it can push your walls up/out and sometimes even break your liner. Expert Advice: “There is no substitution for strength! For homemade braces: Driving a stake in the ground for support. Then 2 additional supports attached to the boards or frame. The lower brace is adjusted to keep your boards straight and horizontal. The top brace is to level your board vertical. Attached with screws.. and can be adjusted throughout the seasons if needed.” – Steve Pailler
My ice is cracking, what do I do? Should I be worried?