How to Make an Air Hockey Table Slide Better: Steps and Tips

Last updated: Jan 28, 2021
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Air hockey tables have been around since the 1970s, but it’s only in the last decade or so that they have become widely available for people to use in their homes. So, you took the plunge and went out and got yourself an air hockey table. And at first, it was tons of fun. Your friends and family loved it, and everything was going great. But then, all of a sudden, the puck stopped sliding as quickly as it once had, which has led you to the question: How can I make an air hockey table slide better?

There are actually quite a lot of moving parts when it comes to an air hockey table, which means that there is quite a lot that can go wrong with one. Even if everything appears to be working correctly, problems could be hiding just below the surface. To fix the problem, you need to first understand what could go wrong. From there, fixing it is a process of elimination that we will be more than happy to lead you through!

Why isn’t your puck sliding that well anymore?

There are a variety of reasons why the puck might not be sliding as well as it used to. You might have trouble with your bank shots or blocks if the puck isn’t sliding correctly, so it is imperative to get this fixed. There could be a problem with the surface, air holes, the fans, or the puck itself. Each of these problems will need different remedies to rectify them. Thankfully, none of them are all that hard.

  • Surface – The surface of an air hockey table is meant to be as slick as possible. Over time, however, there is going to be a build-up of residue from touching the surface and using the strikers and pucks. This can cause the table to slow down a bit.
  • Air Holes – The small air holes that allow the puck and strikers to float across the surface can become clogged over time.
  • Fans – If the fans are not regularly cleaned, they can slow down because of dust and dirt getting stuck on the blades.
  • Puck – After a lot of use, the once smooth puck could start to have gouges and dents that can negatively impact its performance when sliding across the table.

How to make the surface smooth again

The first thing that you should do when your air hockey table is playing slowly is to make the surface as smooth as possible. This takes a few different steps, though it will be well worth it in the end.

Clean it

One of the first things that you should do to try and fix this problem is to clean the surface of your table. This is the easiest thing to do, and it could quickly take care of your issues. In order to clean your table correctly, you simply need to use a soft cloth and a mild solution of warm water and dish soap. With this solution, wipe the entire surface of the table to get rid of any residue. You need to make sure that you don’t put too much water on the table at a time, however, as this could cause issues if it drips down into the air holes to the fans below. Once you have cleaned the whole table, dry it with a lint-free towel.

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Spray silicone lubricant all over

Once the table is completely clean, it is a good idea to get a silicone lubricant. The spray versions work the best for air hockey tables since they allow you to cover a large area very quickly. You, again, don’t want to overdo this spray, so put a small amount in the middle and at each end. From there, use a buffing cloth to spread the lubricant all over the surface. Allow this to dry completely before you try and play again, or it could rub right off of the tabletop.

Unclog the holes over the surface

After you have cleaned and lubricated the surface of your table, you should also make sure to check for any dead spots on the table. These spots occur when the holes become clogged up with surface dust or the lubricant if you were too liberal with it. Whenever one of these plugged ducts is located, it is very simple to unclog.

You can actually accomplish it very easily with a toothpick. All you have to do is find the hole that isn’t blowing air properly and push the toothpick down into it. This should remove any stopped up debris very easily.

Don’t forget the pucks and paddles

Something else that a lot of folks forget to clean and maintain is the pucks and paddles themselves. Sliding across any surface, even one as friction-free as an air hockey table is going to cause a bit of build-up on the underside of whatever is doing the sliding. Thankfully, a simple wipe down with a mixture of warm water and dish soap should remove anything that is slowing these items down.

Do it regularly

The most important thing when it comes to cleaning your air hockey table is that you’re consistent with it. This is something that should be done at least once a week if the table is played on a moderate amount. If it is used heavily, you might want to clean it every other day. That way, you can rest assured that everything is in the best possible shape so that it can keep working for years of fun to come.

Fans must stay clean

As we mentioned before, an air hockey table is a pretty sophisticated piece of rec room equipment. Unlike a pool table, there is more to worry about when it comes to keeping a hockey table clean due to the fans underneath. While many people will keep the surface nice and clean, they tend to neglect the fans. This is mainly because they are out of sight. You should, however, keep a close tab on their cleanliness since a malfunctioning fan can really derail an air hockey table very quickly.

Thankfully, cleaning these fans is not all that difficult. You simply need to unplug the power and unscrew the fans from the bottom of the table. From there, you can use a damp cloth to wipe down the blades and remove any dust, dirt, or debris that might have accumulated on them. After that, you need to dry the blades before you reinstall the fans. This process should be completed at least once a month to keep the fans working correctly.

If it all didn’t work

Now, in the perfect world, these simple steps would finish the job each and every time and allow your table to work perfectly for years and years. That is, unfortunately, not always the case. Sometimes, there will still be persistent issues that you will need to deal with. If that happens to you, you can try these other options to fix the problem.

Try waxing

If the table still seems to be playing a bit slow, you can always apply a bit of wax to it. That will allow you really lubricate it and protect it against wear and tear. To do this, make sure that you get a wax specifically made for air hockey tables and apply a thin layer over the whole surface. After that, polish it to a high sheen and allow it to sit for a few hours before you play on it again.

Get new pucks and paddles

Even the very best tools will eventually go bad. That also applies to the pucks and paddles of any air hockey table. If yours have seen better days, this is a budget-friendly decision that could pay huge dividends. You could really revitalize your playing experience by getting a new set of paddles and pucks, like the Hathway Pro-Series, making it a no brainer of a decision if you have had yours for a few years already.

Consider getting another table

If worst comes to worst, you can always get a new table. While this is certainly not a small decision, it might be for the best, especially if the table that you had was a cheaper model, to begin with. By getting a new table, you can start a new maintenance cycle, which should help your investment to last for a good long time.

As for which brands to choose, there are definite leaders in the industry that have been proven to make long-lasting tables. MD Sports offers several decent options, and many users mention its extra smooth surface and how easy it is to keep it slick. The Atomic Avenger is a really popular model that earned an impressive reputation on the market thanks to its mirror-polished MDF surface that has a lot of staying power, as long as you keep it clean.

Final thoughts

As you can see, there are a few simple things that you can do to help your air hockey table slide better for years and years. You need to make sure that you pay close attention to simple cleanings. These easy maintenance steps, such as cleaning the surface, cleaning the pucks and strikers, lubricating the surface, keep the air holes free of debris, and dusting off the fans, will help to ensure that your table will work correctly. They should also stretch out the lifetime of your table and keep the pucks sliding freely for a good long time. If all else fails, you can replace your pucks and strikers, wax down your table, or even replace the table entirely. No matter what, we are sure that you are going to have fun with your table! Happy playing!

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