Ski Bindings Maintenance

Lisa Marie Mercer
Swiss skiing

Many avid skiers are concerned about ski bindings maintenance. Fortunately, by taking a few preventative measures, such as getting your bindings installed by a professional, your bindings are almost maintenance free.

Basic Ski Bindings Maintenance

Your ski bindings maintenance plan should begin at the start of the season. Bring your bindings to a well-respected ski shop, and have them checked for common defects, which include broken parts and loose screws. Additionally, if you have purchased new ski boots or skis, you will need to check the compatibility between your boots, skis and bindings.

The anti-friction device plate should also be checked for damage. It is easily replaceable, as long as you catch the damage before it becomes severe. Most experts suggest that your DIN setting should be lowered when you reach the age of 50. On the other hand, if you are starting to ski in more challenging terrain, you might want to take your bindings to the shop and have them adjusted to a higher DIN setting.

Keep Bindings Clean and Dry

Remember to dry your bindings after each use in order to prevent the build up of dirt and grime. If you frequent a resort that has a shuttle bus with ski racks, you might want to think twice before placing your skis on outdoor racks. On longer rides, this can lead to an excess build up of dirt. As soon as you lift the skis by the bindings, your gloves will be filthy. In fact, in Summit County Colorado, the problem was so severe that the free Summit Stage shuttle bus eliminated the ski racks.Likewise, if you keep your bindings on your vehicle's ski rack, be sure to invest in a pair of binding covers. Many experts suggest that twice a year you grease the heel piece of your binding, and some suggest that you lower your DIN setting for summer storage. During the off-season, be sure to store your skis in a warm, dry place. If you did a good deal of aggressive skiing in the previous season, you might want to take your skis to the shop and have the technicians perform a torque test on the bindings. This is also important if you did a good deal of late or early season skiing on rocky terrain.While these maintenance tips should be all that you need, in certain extreme situations repairs may be an important part of your binding maintenance.

Situations that Require Binding Repair

The following scenarios may require you to perform additional binding maintenance, or at least have them checked by a professional.

  • A poorly executed do-it-yourself binding mount: Most people do not have the right home equipment to perform a stable mount. As such, the bindings may eventually become unstable. If your skis seem to be "bouncing" on the slopes, take them to the shop immediately.
  • Accumulation of dirt: If you're having trouble snapping into your bindings, dirt accumulation may be the problem. This is easily fixed by wiping the bindings with a clean cloth.
  • A change in DIN settings: Reaching age 50, changing ski boots or skiing on more challenging terrain may require you to go to the shop to have the DIN settings on your bindings adjusted.

Problems with Poorly Maintained Bindings

Poor binding maintenance can result in the following problems:

Pre-Release or Lack of Release

Your feet respond by flexing your ski boot and your bindings deliver the message to your skis, directing them to act accordingly. However, if your bindings have not been properly maintained, the message may be misinterpreted. As such, like luggage that was placed on the wrong plane, your skis may end up traveling in the wrong direction. Sometimes, this "wrong direction" can include what is known as a "pre-release," which means that a minor fall causes your ski to release from its bindings. In other cases, your bindings might not release when they should have. Under these circumstances, your knees may be subjected to severe injuries. This is why checking and adjusting the binding DIN setting is important.

Impaired Vibration Dampening

In addition to their role as a connection between your ski boots and skis, your bindings play an important role as shock absorbers and vibration dampeners. Vibration dampening is necessary when you are riding over choppy terrain and your skis begin to bounce. Unless you have amazing balance, this can be destabilizing, exhausting and uncomfortable. Therefore, many binding manufacturers include a shock absorption and vibration dampening device. Although it is extremely rare, in the event of a severe fall with impact, damage may be done to the vibration dampening device. Be aware of your ski's performance after the fall. If you are experiencing more bouncing than usual, take them to the shop for repair.

Ill-Fitting Ski Binding Heel and Toe Pieces

A ski binding is composed of a releasable heel piece and toe piece. All bindings have what is known as a DIN setting, which is an international standard that assures that all ski bindings, no matter where they are made, will release under the exact same forces. DIN is determined by height, weight, age, skill level and boot sole length. A child's foot will obviously grow as he or she gets older. When this happens, the bindings should be brought to the shop and adjusted accordingly.

Dysfunctional Ski Binding Anti-Friction Devices

In addition to the releasable heel and toe pieces, ski bindings come equipped with what is known as an AFD or anti-friction device plate. As its name implies, the anti-friction device, which is located under the toe piece, is designed to minimize friction in the event of a lateral release of a the toe piece. In order to perform this task, there must be a minimum of one millimeter of space between the sole of your boot and the anti-friction device. Thus, if you purchase a new pair of ski boots, be sure to bring your skis to the shop to make sure that this spacing is still correct.

Broken Ski Binding Brakes

When your ski bindings release, they run the risk of sliding down the hill and hurting other skiers and riders. This is why bindings have ski brakes, which are designed to flip down when the bindings are released. This causes the levers on the brakes to dig into the snow, which prevents them from sliding down the entire trail. However, if the bindings are poorly maintained, the brakes might malfunction. When this happens, your ski may slide halfway down the hill. Unless you are highly proficient at one-legged skiing, you don't want this to happen. Fortunately, ski brakes rarely malfunction. However, if your bindings were not installed by a professional, there's a possibility that a severe fall can damage the brakes. In this case, you should immediately bring your skis to the shop to have the bindings fixed.

While bindings require minimal maintenance, keep in mind that your bases and edges will need regular doses of TLC. Have your skis waxed and tuned on a regular basis.

Ski Bindings Maintenance