3 Myths Ice Rink Owners Believe About Outdoor Ice Rink Maintenance

friends skating on an outdoor rink

Our industrial chiller maintenance experts have been installing and servicing outdoor ice rinks in Toronto and beyond for decades. Warmer winter temperatures have led many municipalities to put in ice rink refrigeration systems as a way of extending the outdoor skating season for residents. As time goes on we have noticed some common “myths” ice rink owners believe regarding outdoor ice rink maintenance. Here are the misconceptions along with our recommendations for proper ice rink maintenance.

Myth #1 : Flooding the rink with a few inches of water when air temperature is well below freezing creates the strongest ice possible.

Applying vast amounts standing water, even when temperatures are at their lowest, actually traps air during the freezing process. The result is a more porous sheet of ice that will weaken when the warm temperatures come and place a strain on the chilling system.

Too much water can also create “shell ice” which, much like a frozen puddle, contains trapped air beneath it. If shell ice is formed, the only way to correct it is to completely scrape away the area and build again.

The best way to build a strong ice surface is to apply light sprays of water that will quickly freeze upon contact with the frozen surface. Properly functioning ice resurfacing equipment accomplishes this best.

Myth #2: When using hoses with a chilling system to build the outdoor ice rink, how and when the water is applied has little effect on the final outcome.

Using hoses to cover the surface of your chilling system with water is the recommended source (rather than elements from nature), but when and how it is applied plays a key role in the strength and smoothness of your ice surface.

To prevent indents and gullies from forming in your ice, the hose must be kept in continuous motion. Although it may seem to be spraying cold water, it is actually warmer than the frozen surface it is contacting. To create a smooth surface (and to keep the water from freezing in the hose), ensure that a thin mist is consistently and evenly applied.

To prevent ripples and bumps from forming the water must be applied when there is no chance of interference from snow. Prior to spraying the surface, be sure to thoroughly scrape away all existing snow.

Myth #3: Outdoor ice rinks require less maintenance and attention than indoor ice rinks.

This is also untrue. Changing weather patterns and fluctuating temperatures dramatically affect the quality and integrity of the ice rink. Owners and operators must be prepared to respond to these constantly changing ice conditions if residents are to fully enjoy the many benefits of the outdoor chilling system.

Properly maintaining ice calls for the knowledgeable use of ice-resurfacing equipment—vehicles that require special regulations to operate on local roadways.

Additionally, although outdoor ice rinks are often more accessible to the public, they demand the same TSSA, WSIB, insurance, and safety standards required of indoor facilities.

Proper Ice Maintenance Requires Professional Ice Rink Maintenance

The charm and enjoyment of outdoor rinks is undeniable; but consideration, time, and the proper equipment are needed to effectively maintain and operate them.

If you are the owner or operator of an outdoor ice rink and in need of assistance with your ice rink refrigeration system, Industrial Refrigerated Systems can be of help. Our industrial refrigeration technicians provide ice rink installations, pre-season inspections, and regular, ongoing maintenance for outdoor ice rinks. Contact us to schedule a consultation.