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Air mattresses and air beds are great when you have guests over or when you’re camping. But what if yours keeps deflating? There are several techniques you can try in order to make a permanent fix that’ll last for years but there are also some really bad pieces of advice out there on how to fix a hole in an air mattress that you should watch out for. We’ll guide you from locating the leak, using a patch kit (or its alternatives), and finally how to proceed after this “operation”. We know that you want this mattress to serve you well even after you fold and store it for some time.
Test for a Leak
Air mattresses tend to lose air with time – even the best ones. This is not a sign of a faulty mattress; it’s completely normal. You should pump air into your mattress from time to time to keep it firm. But you do have a problem if a lot of air escapes in a short period of time.
For example, there probably is a hole in an air mattress if it gets visibly deflated after a single night. So, to test this out – inflate the mattress and sit on it.
How quickly the air mattress deflates depends on the size of the air leak. You may notice the change within a few minutes if the damage is severe, or in a few hours if it’s a slow leak. You may need to leave it inflated overnight and check back on it in the morning.
Find the Leak
Common spots for air to escape are the seams, the air valve, or the bottom part of the mattress (if it was laid over something sharp or on an uneven surface).
Before you start looking for the opening, re-inflate the air mattress first. It has to be very firm because the high pressure will be pushing the air out faster so it’ll be much easier for you to hear hissing or feel the air coming out.
Next, you’ll have to:
- check the valve
- put the mattress upright and examine all sides, listening closely
If you still don’t find the air mattress leak, try to:
- move a wet hand 2-3 inches away from the surface
- place a tissue on the mattress
- use the soapy water method
Once you find the source of escaping air, you have to mark the leak with a permanent marker.
Check the Air Mattress Valve
The first suspect that you should check on should be the valve. Hold your hand next to the valve and try to feel if there’s air coming out.
You can also bring your ear really close and listen for a hissing sound. The best-case scenario is that the valve cap isn’t tightened completely. Otherwise, valve issues are usually something that the manufacturer has to repair.
Position the Mattress
If the valve is not faulty, start inspecting the rest of the mattress. You’ll have to put it in an upright position against the wall and then move, turn, and flip the mattress as much as necessary. This way you’ll be able to check the whole mattress easily.
Inspect the Entire Mattress
Put your ear close to the mattress, around two inches, and listen for any sounds coming out of the mattress. Go around the entire surface slowly and listen carefully the entire time.
Make sure not to skip any spots – be thorough. Start on the bottom as it’s the most common place for holes to appear and work your way on all sides and around the seams.
Moisten the Hand and Repeat
If you couldn’t hear or feel any hissing, we may be talking about really small holes. Put some water on the back of your hand. The skin there is quite thin and sensitive and on top of that, when you put a thin layer of water, it’ll be much easier to feel the leak because the movement of air will quickly evaporate the water which will manifest itself in a cooling feeling.
Place a Tissue on Air Mattress
Take some tissue paper, open it up, and place it on your mattress. Air coming out from a damaged air mattress should move the tissue up or away. If it sits still, place the tissue on the adjacent surface and keep repeating until you inspect the mattress completely.
Use Dish Soap and Watch for Bubbles
Add a few drops of dishwashing liquid to a small bucket of water. Stir it well and apply it on the mattress where you suspect the leak may be. Drag a soapy sponge over the surface of the air mattress.
You’ll know you’ve found the leak when you see tiny soap bubbles forming in one spot. It works just like those bubble toys you played with as a kid, except that the escaping air is the one making bubbles here.
Remove the soapy water with a clean wet cloth and let dry for several hours.
Some manufacturers advise against applying soapy water because it may lead to mold. This is only because some people may fail to let the mattress dry completely. So remember, if you end up having to go with soapy water, be sure you pat the mattress dry and then leave it a well-ventilated area in a position that allows the moist area to dry off completely. Don’t put it flat on the floor but rather let it stand on one end until every inch is 100% dry.
Circle the Hole With a Marker
Draw a circle around the leak using the marker. It’s best to use a permanent marker. You definitely need to mark the leak because you won’t be able to find it otherwise once the mattress is deflated.
Now that a big part of the work is done, the air mattress repair can begin!
How to Fix an Air Mattress with a Patch Kit
Your patch kit needs to work on vinyl (PVC) or rubber and contain:
- some sandpaper
- strong glue
- a patch
And you also need some heavy items to press the patch with. If your patch kit includes a patch that’s applied like a sticker, you don’t need any glue.
It’s not difficult to patch an air mattress. You have to deflate it completely, rub the area around the hole with super fine sandpaper, and patch the surface.
Sand the whole area that the sealant and patch will cover. It has to be completely clean – the better you do this part, the better your patch will hold.
If the mattress is dirty from use, you should degrease the surface with some water and soap. The last resort is to use nail polish remover or rubbing alcohol (isopropyl alcohol) as a degreaser.
Applying Glue and Patching
Then apply sealant generously and stop. Yes, you should take your time from here. First, allow about a minute for the sealant to slightly dry off. Then, take the patch and think about how best to position it. Then slowly and carefully put the patch on the air mattress and press hard. Hold for about half a minute.
Don’t remove the patch once you’ve applied it because you can ruin your work and the patch won’t stick as well anymore. In case you do get it so wrong that you’ve entirely missed the hole, remove the patch, scrape off the glue, sand it again, and re-patch the area.
If your patch is the sticker-type one, just stick it directly onto the hole.
Put Heavy Items on the Patched Area
When you remove your hand, put some flat and heavy objects on the patch. You can leave some big books on it and leave it for about three hours.
Which Patch Kit to Use?
You can use the patch kit which came with your mattress or a bike tire patch kit. Bear in mind that, unlike bike patch kits or store-bought mattress patch kits, the original air mattress patch kits usually don’t include glue.
If you’re using a bike kit, make sure that the patch itself is large enough to cover the hole and the area around it completely.
If you’re looking for specialized kits for air mattress repair, you may get one of these:
- Thermarest Repair Kit
- Sevylor Repair Patch
How Do You Fix an Air Mattress Without a Patch Kit
We have to start with a bit of a warning here. Most air mattresses have warranties that are valid as long as you use dedicated patch kits. Using a DIY patch made of household objects may get your warranty voided.
For a DIY patch to be successful, you need:
- fine sandpaper
- glue/strong adhesive (Gorilla glue, KrazyGlue, rubber cement, epoxy, or super glue)
- a piece of thin plastic or rubber (and scissors to cut it out)
Completely deflate your air mattress before starting.
Sand the Area Around the Leak
Gently sand the felt off. Make sure you even out the edges of the hole and remove all the coating debris. When the plastic is smooth and bare, it’s ready for the patch.
Use some water and soap if the area is really dirty and greasy. Should this not work, try nail polish remover or rubbing alcohol.
Cut Out Some Soft Plastic
Cut a piece of a thin plastic material large enough to cover the leak itself and about a third of an inch on each side from the leak.
The plastic should be something malleable that doesn’t let the air through, like a piece of tarp or shower curtain.
Add Glue and Patch Up
Add plenty of glue around the hole. Make sure that your glue is compatible with the mattress material. Air mattresses are usually made of rubber or plastic (polyvinyl chloride – PVC), so be sure the glue you have works well with it.
After you add glue, wait for about a minute or so until it’s dried off – not completely, just slightly dry. Carefully place the patch on top of it and apply pressure to form a tight seal. Should there be any excess glue, wipe it off.
Don’t forget to check how long it takes for your glue to dry.
Place a Heavy Object on the Patch
Place some books or another flat object on the patched area and leave for as long as necessary (it depends on the type of your glue).
If unsure, leave it for an extended period of time – overnight or for at least 8 hours.
After enough time has passed and the glue is completely dry, it’s time to test the seal of your air mattress.
Re-inflate the mattress fully. If you’re so unlucky that even your pump is broken, don’t worry – you can still inflate your mattress even without a pump, using a plastic bag or a vacuum cleaner.
Listen for the s-s-s-s-s sound. If there’s no air escaping, you have a good seal.
FAQ on Fixing Air Mattresses
Can I Use Duct Tape Instead of a Patch Kit?
You can try to fix a hole in an air mattress with duct tape, but that won’t be a permanent fix. Duct tape won’t behave well when you repeatedly inflate/deflate the mattress and it tends to lose its hold over time.
You can do a criss-cross patch of 3-4 pieces of duct tape if you want it to last slightly longer, but don’t get disappointed if the air mattress deflates. However, this is a good quick-fix when you’re on the go.
To permanently fix a hole, you need strong glue and a patch to hold it all together.
Can I Use Hot Glue to Fix a Hole in an Air Mattress?
One thing worse than air escaping from your air mattress is it being further damaged with hot glue. Although a glue gun may stand a chance in helping you out here, there is a high possibility of it aggravating the situation.
You would need to know what temperature your hot glue gun develops and what temperature your particular mattress withstands in order to have a chance to do it right. It’s equally (if not more) dangerous to be heating the glue stick with a lighter just above the hole.
Therefore, it’s best to apply glue such as the glue from a kit or the ones we mentioned above.
Why Does My Patch Kit Lack Glue?
It’s common for air mattress manufacturer kits not to include glue. This is because of shipping regulations. However, the instructions should tell you which glue is the best for your air bed.
Can I Use Flex Seal to Fix a Hole in a Mattress?
You can. A really small hole can be fixed with Flex Seal itself but normally you’ll have to use a thin piece of rubber or plastic on top of Flex Seal to seal the hole in an air mattress. Use rubber gloves to keep your hands clean.
How to Fix a Huge Hole in an Air Mattress?
You typically don’t fix large gaping holes in an air mattress because the spot will remain permanently weakened and prone to leaks. It’s best to get a new air mattress in this case.
If you really want to try, get a large piece of material that’s close to the material of your mattress and lots of adhesive. You may even experiment with a large piece of a shower curtain liner or pool liner.
Why is My New Mattress Deflating?
Brand new air mattresses appear as if they’re deflating because the material is still stretching. You shouldn’t use too much air right away because it may break. Rather, make it firm-ish, then use it for a while and let it stretch out. After it softens up, inflate it again and let it stretch out again.
You may need to reinflate the mattress once or twice after buying it. A lot of mattresses have a built-in pump so this shouldn’t be a problem.
If you lie on a mattress for a while and it gets visibly deflated, that is, you can feel it deflating, it definitely has a leak.
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To fix the leak, you need to locate the hole and clean the area. Then, use an adhesive and some plastic or vinyl patches to cover the leak. After letting the patch set for several hours, you can test the patch to ensure the mattress is no longer leaking.How do you seal a hole in an air mattress? ›
To fix the leak, you need to locate the hole and clean the area. Then, use an adhesive and some plastic or vinyl patches to cover the leak. After letting the patch set for several hours, you can test the patch to ensure the mattress is no longer leaking.What is the best thing to use for a hole in an air mattress? ›
But air mattresses are more delicate than standard mattresses or futons because one tear or tiny hole can leave your guests sleeping on the hard floor. But if your air mattress springs a leak, don't panic. Our favorite way to fix it was with a rubber tire repair kit, but duct tape and vinyl tape work, too.What is the fastest way to patch an air mattress? ›
Note: I tried multiple methods, including Super Glue, rubber cement and DIY patches, but a vinyl patch kit specifically for air mattresses worked the best, by far. If you happen to be out camping and duct tape is all you have, that will work as a temporary fix.How do you seal an air mattress without a patch? ›
Use super glue to fix leaks on the seams of the mattress. Either pinch the seam, or fold it over to close it, then apply the super glue. Hold the glued seam together (being careful to avoid any glue spills or overflow) for a minute or two to help it set.Can Flex Seal fix a hole in an air mattress? ›
Inflate Your Air Mattress and Sleep Well!
And now you know how to fix a hole in an air mattress using Flex Seal's Inflatable Patch & Repair Kit! Pat yourself on the back for all that "hard work." Now you can inflate your air mattress and sleep soundly. We love knowing how to fix an air mattress with very little fuss.
ToobSeal adheres to the interior fabric of the tube, sealing slow leaks. 8 ounces is enough to repair 2 single air mattresses and 2 average size pool toys or towables. To patch your air mattress, purchase our small PVC repair kit below. Click Here to See How to Use ToobSeal!Can you put sealant in an air mattress? ›
An air mattered is normally made of flexi- plastic, and so sealant wouldn't work on a plastic surface, you need a special patch that is made specially for leaky matteresses!How do you make homemade air mattress patches? ›
Make your own patch from a shower or pool liner. Any thin plastic material will work. When making your own patch, be sure to make it big enough so that it completely covers the leaky area and actually overlaps it to ensure air tightness.Why does my air mattress keep getting tiny holes? ›
As previously mentioned, during cooler weather, the air in the mattress tends to condense, and the bed deflates. When the air gets low, the bed is not functioning as highly and is more prone to tears or holes. To mitigate the chances of developing holes and tears, pay close attention to the temperature.
First, fully inflate the mattress to locate the leak. Then, properly clean the area and leave it to dry. Afterward, apply some duct tape directly onto the puncture, then add a tape border to secure that piece. If possible, before using the duct tape, you can apply some superglue to the hole first.Will fix a flat seal an air mattress? ›
Can Fix-a-Flat be used to seal my air mattress, football, basketball or inflatable pool? No. Fix-A-Flat is not recommended for those applications. Fix-a-Flat is recommended for use on automotive vehicle tires only.Can you use rubber cement to patch air mattress? ›
eHow may earn compensation through affiliate links in this story. Learn more about our affiliate and product review process here. Rubber cement was originally created to hold two pieces of rubber together. With an added ingredient, it also serves as a suitable adhesive for repairing a hole in an air mattress.How do you find a hole in an air mattress with tissue paper? ›
If dish soap and water sounds a little messy, other materials can also be used to discover where a leak is. For example, you can use toilet tissue paper, spreading a few sheets flat on the mattress. Squish the mattress and listen for the hiss of air or watch for the toilet paper to move.Can you use tire sealant on an air mattress? ›
No. Fix-A-Flat is not recommended for those applications. Fix-a-Flat is recommended for use on automotive vehicle tires only.Why do air mattresses always get holes? ›
Your air mattress is not the sturdiest product you'll ever purchase. Often, these beds are made from a thin material that is susceptible to puncturing, stretching and rupturing eventually after continual use throughout its lifetime; you can avoid this fact.