First off let’s just say that synthetic ice should never crack!
Recently a homeowner called me about problems with his synthetic ice he recently purchased from a company located in Ontario Canada – I’ll save them the embarrassment by not naming them! Hey things can happen to products from time to time – but frankly not this.
He told me that his product was purchased only recently an that it was installed on a wooden base / deck in his backyard – what I would consider a very typical installation for Ontario, Canada. Anyway I asked him about the how the platform was constructed and it seemed to me that it was reasonably well made and suited the application. I also asked him is there was anything holding down the product to keep it from contracting and expanding and he said it was floating free. So far, so good.
The product he had was 3/8 inch thick and the sheets were approximately 4ft x 8ft – so basically machined from a 4ft x 8ft sheet. His surface was not large – maybe 12 ft x 24 ft.
He told me that their were cracks and broken pieces were the dovetail joints were together. I have never come across that. But then he also said that when he took some pieces apart he couldn’t fit them together again and that the material from one panel was now a different size than the panel beside it. So more clues.
So to me a couple things are going on here. First my educated guess is that he has a product that is on the lower scale as it relates to molecular weight of the resin used in making this sheet. As the molecular weight of polyethylene resin goes down the product becomes “harder” and more brittle. This is the only explanation. The cracks were either a result of poor machine tolerances when routered and was partly damaged when initially installed – or through forces of expansion and contraction and cold weather – the material didn’t hold up to the stress.
It’s also possible that part of his surface has sun (warmth) on it while other areas are still in the shade (cold). That places significant forces on an already weak system. One area of the synthetic ice could literally be expanding while another area is contracting or staying the same. On a weak connection system with inferior material – that spells PROBLEM.
So what to do? Well unfortunately the poor client paid a lot of money for inferior material. At the very least he should get his money back. When confronted he said the supplier pushed back and told the guy that it should not be installed outside in a Canadian winter and should be covered over. Ummm. Hello? This is Canada! We have extreme winter weather! Wrong answer. Time to report him to the Better Business Bureau – and that was my next recommendation.
So once again I maintain that synthetic ice should never crack! Products made with high quality resin of a very high molecular weight or better WILL NOT crack from cold, or expansion and contraction. Period.
I hope this article can save someone else out there from a poor product. Read more about why you should choose SmartRink for your synthetic ice rink project.