How to Make Air Hockey Table Slide Better: Best Tips and Tricks

Close up of air hockey

A game room just isn’t complete without the best air hockey table on display. But even a top of the line model will run into issues every now and then, especially when it comes to gliding action. So, if you’re new to air hockey table ownership, then this guide on how to make air hockey table slide better will come in handy, once you notice the puck isn’t flying across the surface quite as fast as it used to.

Maintenance

Over time, your table can get dirty, scuffed, and the puck action can start to slow down, making it difficult to execute even the easiest air hockey tricks to surprise your opponent. Keeping your table running properly is an essential part of owning one. One of your top priorities will be ensuring that the playing surface is nice and smooth. Your first step is determining what the playing surface is made out of. Tables that are designed for tournament use must follow a certain set of guidelines during construction. Models that are designed purely for recreational use are made out of cheaper materials, which is what makes them so affordable. Usually, the playing surface is made out of polished or lacquered plastic, which is cheap and lightweight.

Use the Right Cleaning Products

You need to know what the surface of your table is made out of so you can use the right type of product to keep it clean and working smoothly. Some people mistakenly believe that they can use any type of cleaning products to keep the surface polished. Unfortunately, many of these products can end up corroding the surface over time.

I recommend doing a little research and looking online for cleaning products that are specifically designed for air hockey table use. This will prevent damaging the delicate playing surface, in your attempt to keep the surface slippery and free of debris.

Cleaning Schedule

An air hockey table should be polished at least once a month, to guarantee a smooth playing surface that’s free from dirt and debris. Another option is wiping down the table before every game, but you’ll want to avoid both polishing it once a month and wiping it down before every game, since going overboard with maintenance can also damage the playing surface.

As I mentioned above, it’s also important that you choose the right type of cleaning products since powerful chemicals including bleach can corrode the plastic surface, reducing the shine and removing any markings.

Recommended Cleaning Products

While using makeshift cleaners will be cheaper than purchasing a dedicated polish, it’s a smarter choice to use a product specifically designed for hockey table use.

Lubricants

If you want a fast-paced game, then use a spray silicone lubricant. However, you should use this type of lubricant with restraint. Overdoing it with a lubricant can make the table too slippery, which can make it almost impossible to anticipate the puck’s movement. Use just a little bit of lubricant on the playing surface and buff it out using a soft clean cloth. This type of lubricant will last a long time, so you may even be able to go two to three months before reapplying.

Fan Care

The fans located underneath the playing surface are designed to deliver air through the small perforations. The air blowing through these holes is what lifts up the puck and allows it to glide smoothly over the table. Fans that are dirty will have a negative impact on puck action. If the fans haven’t been maintained properly, then the fans will blow dust and dirt into the holes, clogging them, which results in reduced lift of the puck. Additionally, dirty fans will blow less air, so the puck will be weighed down.

Before you attempt to clean the fans, make sure you read the instructions that come with the table and ensure you’re using the correct air hockey puck size. Using a puck that’s too heavy for your specific table can also have an impact on how fast it glides across the surface.

Follow the manufacturer’s directions carefully and be sure you’re not doing anything that can cause damage to the fan system.

Over the course of several weeks and months, debris from many different sources will clog the holes, which will reduce the amount of air that passes through them, minimizing puck lift. This causes the puck to move slowly across the surface, losing its gliding power.

Cleaning out the holes can be tricky since you can also end up accidentally damaging the surface if you use the wrong technique. Many manufacturers recommend using a shop vac on the low setting and gently moving the hose over the holes to remove debris buildup.

Vacuuming the playing surface can also be done once a week to prevent serious dirt and dust buildup in the future, which is one of the main reasons the puck action will slow down.

Final Thoughts

Now that you know how to make air hockey table slide better, the first step will be reading your user’s manual in search of the manufacturer’s recommendations in terms of cleaning frequency, products to use, and any troubleshooting advice. I also recommend purchasing a cover for your table, which will prevent any debris, dust, and dirt from falling on the table’s surface and will reduce the need for deep cleaning and maintenance. These tables can be a lot of fun until they start to show signs of wear and tear. But by cleaning off the table before a game, or polishing it once a month, and using a vacuum to remove any clogged holes can keep your table in perfect working order and prevent any serious damage to the fan system, which can overheat if you neglect to clean out any clogged holes. While using a cover for your table will also go a long way towards cutting down on maintenance needs, you’ll still need to keep a close eye on the condition of the playing surface and fan system.