Why drag your son to hockey practice every day when you can skate around a rink from the comfort of your own home? This is what Patrick Erlenbach, a father of two from Columbus, Ohio, thought when he transformed his back patio into a personal ice rink for him and his 5-year-old son.
“I wanted to build a backyard hockey rink,” says Erlenbach, “[but] I live on a hill.” The only place where he did have a flat space turned out to be inside his home. “I have this screened in-porch that’s flat, first off, and I’ve got boards up, and I’ve got a way to kind of contain a puck and contain my kid at the same time.”
The floor of the back patio was a concrete pad, which was strong enough to support the weight of the ice and the people skating on it. What did concern him was the ice itself. As the patio is a considerable part of the house and as it did hold up a piece of the roof, he needed to know how much ice contract and how much it expands to prevent the water from compromising his home’s foundation.
“[I] was trying to figure out, ‘Okay, how much room will I need?’ At this point in time, it was trial and error.”
Insulation and Waterproofing
There was also heat coming off of part of the patio closest to the house that would prevent a portion of it from freezing properly.
“So I laid down some insulation up into that corner, a two-fold thing where I’m trying to keep water out of there, first off, but also just trying to keep the temperature barrier a little bit as well,” he says. “It seems to have worked now.”
To contain the water he put down a solid piece of 6mm plastic on top of the concrete pad. Then he attached a hose to a faucet in his basement to fill the back patio with 2 ½-inches of water - a little less than the 4 inches of water that’s recommended for ice rinks.
“My wife’s freaked out because water’s one of those fun things that damages everything,” he says. “It’s a good hose, so I’m not worried about it.”
Freezing the Ice and Resurfacing It
The frigid Columbus winter days and nights have been consistent enough to keep the ice frozen solid, which is good news for both him and his son, Mason.
While his rink isn’t large enough to house a Zamboni, to resurface the ice he uses a T-square and a hose to lay down a layer of lukewarm water on top of the ice and use the T-square as an ice scraper.
“It kind of helps drag the water across the area as well. It sounds ridiculous, but it works.”
Although the winter weather is almost over in Columbus, Erlenbach is content with the fact that his son got plenty of enjoyment out of his personal hockey rink.
“He loves to score, and every time he does score, he’s usually skating around singing the Blue Jackets’ goal song, you know. It gets quite annoying after the fifth or sixth time.”