So you wanted to play a game of air hockey, only to find out that your puck is no longer sliding gracefully across the table? Don't panic -- we can help!
This short guide has 5 easy to follow tips to get things sliding again.
We've left the Checking Your Warranty step as the last part because there's a good chance that using the other tips will fix the issue. However, if you've got a new'ish table you may want to check that first.
None of these methods are going to harm your table (unless you do them completely wrong), but we don't want the manufacturer to sneak out of their warranty obligations on you simply because you've tried some repairs yourself.
We've learned these steps directly from the best air hockey brands, but you never know when other manufacturer's will want to give excuses to not honor their warranty.
1. Get a Lighter Puck
If you've recently replaced your pucks or simply don't know where your pucks came from, there's a chance it could be far too heavy. Less-than commercial tables often have blowers that are too weak to support the types of heavy pucks that you'd find an an arcade. Luckily, light replacement pucks are much cheaper than the heavier ones so you can buy a whole stockpile just in case they get damaged.
Check out our guide to the best air hockey pucks to ensure you're getting the right one.
2. Sand Your Puck
If you've got a cheap puck to begin with, then it's probably not worth doing this step.
However, if you've got an arcade-quality puck that previously worked just fine, then things could be slowing down because of abrasions on the puck itself. If the surface that's side of the puck that's sliding on the table is even slightly uneven it can greatly increase the amount of friction and reduce glide.
This adhesive sandpaper (link to Amazon) is great to keep by your table just for regular maintenence on the puck and bottom of your mallets to not sand the surface of the table itself.
That’s how the pros do it!
3. Clean Your Table Surface of Dust
Even if there doesn't appear to be any visual signs of dust on the table, wiping it down should still be the first thing you try. If you're not wiping your table down regularly (at least once weekly or biweekly), then odds are there is some dust on there.
Even a small amount of dust can keep the puck from sliding properly on the table.
Wiping down your air hockey table is simple:
- Before doing anything, make sure your table is turned on so that the fans are running. This will ensure that the liquids you're using on the table evaporate quickly.
- Then, spray some isopropyl alcohol or some window cleaner (without ammonia) onto a soft cloth.
- Use the cloth to clean the surface of the table, but don't wipe down the sides of the rails as a little dust on there is useful for bounce.
You don't want to use any other cleaner or wax other than what's specified. Doing so has the potential to leave a residue on your table and will result in it not sliding in the long term. These might make your table shiny and nice looking, but will greatly degrade the performance in the long term.
Also, don't spray any cleaner directly onto the table. you want to keep things as dry as possible so that liquid doesn't go into the holes.
4. Remove Blockages in the Holes
Cleaning the surface of the table won't actually get into the holes. However, if you've had your table for a while and haven't been cleaning it regularly, then it's likely that the holes of your tables are at least somewhat blocked up.
The key to cleaning the holes of your table is to ensure that you're not actually pushing the dust back in. That's why top manufacturer's recommending a 1/32" drill bit which captures the dust as it helps lift the dirt out from the rotation.
- First, you need to get a drill bit that fits in the holes of your table that's not going to damage them or make them larger.
- Then, insert the rotating drill bit into the table. This will cause the dust and debris to get caught onto the grooves of the bit so it gets removed as you pull it out.
- Repeat for all of the holes
Be careful of inserting the drill bit too deep. You want to make sure to do it just enough to get the dust out, but not damage any internal parts or even worse hit the blower or some sort of electrical component. Valley-Dynamo recommends going no deeper than 3/8" for their tables, but you'll need to be mindful of your exact table model.
This step may not even be possible at all if you've got a smaller or cheap air hockey table, but it's great for units that are professional-grade.
5. Check Your Warranty
If none of these tricks get your puck sliding again, then there's probably something wrong with your blower. Before deciding to use your hard earned money to buy a new table, be sure to check the warranty on the one you've got. Give the manufacturer a call and see if they're willing to work with you to fix the blower.
If none of these worked and your warranty is out of date, then your last resort may have to be do simply get a new table. If your table is clean and you've fixed the puck situation, then it's likely that there's something wrong with your blower. Obviously, you can try to repair the blower, but it's probably not worth your trouble unless you're extremely handy or an electrician of sorts.
Have Another Tip?
Do you have another tip that worked for you? Please use the comment section below so we can pass the knowledge onto our fellow air hockey enthusiasts. Be sure to include the model/type of table you have.