In a previous post I talked about how to replace the pump fitting / check valve on your air bed. But, what if you have a leak in the actual air chamber / bladder? As long as the material is still sound, most leaks can be repaired. The first thing you have to do is find the leak:
Remove the Air Chamber from the bed.
- Pump it up nice and tight.
- Now take it outside or into a bathroom.
- Using a spray bottle spray a mixture of water and a little bit of dish washing soap or shampoo all over the bladder.
- Look for bubbles - they might be small, but if you look close any leak will make bubble, and you should be able to find them.
- Mark all leaks with permanent marker. Mark the exact locations.
- Now, rinse the chamber and dry it off. Wait a while if you need to until it is completely dry.
- Let air out of the chamber until it still has it’s shape but is flabby and not under pressure.
Now you are ready to fix the leaks. You will need a large needle, thread, a pair of pliers and rubber cement. You can get the perfect kind of rubber cement / sealer by buying a tire plugging kit from an auto parts store or the auto department of a discount store. You can also buy a similar kit for repairing camping air mattresses. Either of these kits usually costs 3-5 dollars, and comes with a small tube of adhesive that is made for this kind of repair.
If your leak is in a seam, then saturate the area between the extra material around the seam with your glue and then sew the repaired area together with nice tight stitches - only sew in the excess material - don’t puncture the part of the chamber that holds air. Wait as long as possible before pumping up or using the air bed.
If you only have a pin hole type leak:
- Thread your needle with the fattest thread or yarn that you can get through the eye - a needle threading tool is really helpful.
- Saturate the thread with your rubber cement and put a dollop of it right on the pinhole. - Gloves will help to keep this from being too messy.
- Now grasp the needle with the pliers (vise grip type locking pliers are best) by the sharp end, and push the threaded needle eye end first through the leak hole and into the mattress chamber as far as you can - but keep hold of it with the pliers. The mattress must have enough air in it to hold it’s shape for this process.
- Now pull the needle back out just far enough to cut off the thread - leaving a quarter inch or so of it sticking out.
- This will leave four plies of adhesive saturated thread passing through the pin hole.
- Wait as long as possible before pumping up or using the air bed.
If your leak is a puncture through an open expanse of the air bed or mattress chamber then use an air mattress patch kit, and follow the directions that come with it. You can get one of these kits from camping / sporting goods stores or sporting goods departments of discount stores.