Patch a Leaky Air Mattress, Inflatable Boat, etc.

Picture of Patch a Leaky Air Mattress, Inflatable Boat, etc.
Cut a patch from a shower curtain and use PVC pipe cement from your dad's garage to patch a leak in a PVC air mattress, inflatable boat, dry bag, etc.

Garbage Santa will reward you for learning this skill.
He'll put all kinds of nice inflatable stuff out at the curb for you.
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Step 1: Inflate

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Air mattress inflation blowers are now superabundant in thrift stores in the U.S. I think I paid $2 for this one that comes with alligator clips for 12 volts.

Big airmattresses often have a big deflation cap and a smaller inflation valve. I usually use the big cap.

One handy trick to know is the mattress inflates a lot faster if you blow the air AT the big intake instead of IN the intake. That's because the air jet from your blower entrains a bunch of surrounding air and sucks it into the mattress along with it.

Step 2: Cap It

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When the mattress is puffed up enough I shove my thumb in the intake and bend it to puff up the thumb muscles. That seals it while I hunt around for the cap. Usually there's a rubber plug with a lip and a screw cap to go over that.

Because the air mattress has so much surface area only a few psi are needed to inflate it properly (or pop it). (pounds per square inch * square inches = many pounds)

Next we'll find the leak. One way is to paint soapy water all over it and look for big soap bubbles. It's a sunny day so I'm going to take it swimming and look for bubbles in the water.

Step 3: Go Swimming and Find the Leaks

Picture of Go Swimming and Find the Leaks
I put on my wetsuit and jumped into the lagoon with the aircraft carrier and spy ships to find the leak.

This is the first sunny day after a lot of rain so the sun's glare is blinding me.
Also my nordic cave-fish ancestors never got exposed to direct sunlight and evolved away their tolerance for it.

People who can be exposed to sunlight without getting sick don't need to make up stories about being the "master race".
vybard4 years ago
I usually use a wacuum cleaner to blow big things at home. It has a blowing connection hole. Thanks for good ideas
Mastros4 years ago
Many thanks for this. I have an airbed with a hole, I have PVC cement, materials to patch, I even have c-clamps... Never occured me that I could patch it!!
katmckee5 years ago

That is amazing that more air goes in without attaching! I need to fix my thermarest, can't find the hole submerging it in a tub of water.

ph26926 years ago
JUST when I needed to patch one...Thank you. Noe if I can find some glue!
But Tim! Most leaks occur around the fill valve.
icedancer6 years ago
Nice reuse of materials. If you don't have a lagoon you can also find most leaks without getting wet. Pump up to more than normal pressure so the air will be really blowing out, then slowly pass the back of your hand over the whole surface. The skin is very sensitive to the movement of the air through the leak. It will also feel a bit cooler.
casey321b7 years ago
I got a perfect idea. inflatable mattress boat!!!
GitarGr87 years ago
Awesome! My ex has a leaky air mattress that needs fixin'. My only worry is that my tools are lacking the iron oxide that yours have ;-)
train107 years ago
Wish I had the tools when my airbed got a hole while camping near 29 Palms/Joshua Trees. Used bubble gum and duct tape. Never leaked again.
LinuxH4x0r7 years ago
Great job. I hope my airbed never rips.
zachninme7 years ago
Nice -- it's not sunny anymore, though!
Great job Tim! You post great stuff, I wish I could have a job like you at Squid Labs or at Instructables, you guys have all the fun! :-)