Have you ever been in a scenario whereby the puck abruptly came to a halt while you were enjoying a round of air hockey with a couple of friends?
Or have you ever noticed that your table is a bit slow and the game has not been very enjoyable lately?
Well, these are all problems that come about when you neglect cleaning your air hockey table.
In this article, I’ll show you step by step how you can clean your air hockey table and make it slide better as if it’s a new table.
Let’s get started then.
Why You Need To Clean Your Air Hockey Table?
Good even airflow is a vital component behind the working of an air hockey table, and so it is important that the air holes remain clean and unclogged. This is one major reason why you would need to clean your air hockey table constantly.
On the other hand, the surface of the table needs to be kept clean so that the puck will glide effortlessly without experiencing drag caused by dirt and grime. Besides drag, the puck could also end up bumping, bucking or even flying off the table if the playing surface is not as smooth as it should be.
Dust and dirt will not just affect the speed and accuracy of the game, but it might also damage the playing surface by causing chips, and why would you want to damage an investment on which you spent your hard earned money?
The frequency of cleaning the air hockey table will depend on how dusty the playing environment is, but as a rule of thumb, general, once a week should be enough to keep your table working optimally and efficiently. There is a proper and a wrong way to clean your table though, so pay particular attention to this.
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How to Correctly Clean Your Air Hockey Table: A step-by-step Guide
Step 1: Turn the Fan/Blowers On
The air hockey table fans should be on throughout the cleaning process. This will prevent dirt, dust, and liquids from getting into the air holes and plugging them thus affecting the airflow.
Step 2: Vacuum the Air Hockey Table
This is done to remove dust and cobwebs from the table. Just remember to hold the vacuum hose slightly above the surface of the table so that the vacuum nozzle does not cause damage to the table. For the same reason, use a very light touch while vacuuming. Ensure you cover the whole table top area and spend some extra time vacuuming over the air holes to remove dust particles.
Step 3: Scrub the Table
With the air blowers still turned on, wipe down the table surface using a clean microfiber or soft cotton cloth. During this, cleaning stage, you have the option of simply using a slightly damp cloth or using a cleaner. If you decide to use a cleaner, make sure it is an alcohol-based cleanser such as isopropyl alcohol or dishwashing liquid or you may also opt to use a window cleaner that does not contain ammonia.
Apply the cleaner directly onto the cloth and not to the table, and use as little liquid as possible so that it can evaporate and dry quickly. Scrub hard enough to lift out any dirt stuck to the table and besides the table top, remember to also clean down the exterior of the table, including the legs.
Some air hockey table owners are of the opinion that you should not wipe the inner side rails of the table because a little dust here actually gives the puck a proper bounce and this increases the chances of making bank shots. This is largely a matter of personal preference though so it’s entirely up to you to wipe the rails or leave them as is with a little dust.
Step 4: Clean the Air Holes.
Vacuuming the air holes might not be enough to remove all dirt and grime from the air holes, so you will need to give them specialized attention. For this part, you will need either a drill bit, toothpicks, cotton swabs, or pipe cleaners.
Insert the toothpick/cotton swab/pipe cleaner/drill bit into every hole, dealing with one at a time. Slowly and carefully lift the dirt up and out because you have to pay attention no to push dirt further into the hole. Make sure the fan is still on so that the dirt may get blown out as you dislodge it from the holes.
Step 5: Polish the Air Hockey Table.
This part of the cleaning procedure is not mandatory, but it helps in restoring and retaining the smoothness of your air hockey table which in turn optimizes the gameplay and extends the life of the table. Use a tabletop polish designed specifically for air hockey tables and just apply a thin even coat over the entire surface.
If you have a wooden table, use furniture wax and remember to polish the sides and legs as well. It is important to use a small amount of wax/polish because too much of it could clog the air holes. Once the wax dries, wipe the table surface down with a clean, dry microfiber or soft cotton cloth and buff sufficiently for a shiny gloss. Silicone spray lubricants also work well to give the air hockey table a nice shine and smoothness.
Step 6: Sand the Pucks and Mallets
If the gameplay is a little slow, the problem might not always be the table; it might have to do with the puck. With use, it is expected that the pucks will undergo normal wear and tear and develop some minor imperfections. You can remedy this by using ultra-fine sanding paper to gently sand the puck so that it is super smooth.
Besides the pucks, mallets also undergo wear and tear and might develop some abrasions. Suing the same ultra-fine sandpaper, gently sand the bottom of the mallets. This might not work if you are using mallets with a felt bottom, in which case you can simply replace the felt pads.
Conclusion: Final Words
Accumulation of dirt and grime will block the air holes thus resulting in a stressed motor that might wear and break down prematurely. To prevent costly replacements and ensure a healthy motor, therefore, remember to clean your air hockey table consistently and correctly.
I can’t stress this enough but cleaning your table is mandatory if you want to keep the same air flow going in your air hockey table just like the day when you first bought it.