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Air mattress repair

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Picture of air mattress repair
psssssshhh...uh oh.
Is that a leak in the air mattress I hear?

Don't worry, you can fix your air mattress with an ordinary bicycle inner tube repair kit and some sandpaper, all in less than 10 minutes!
 
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Step 1: Tools + materials

Picture of tools + materials
Tools:
  • Sandpaper (150-200 grit)
  • vacuum
Materials:
  • Bicycle inner tube repair kit
    • rubber patch / contact cement / metal scoring disk
time: 10 minutes

Step 2: Sand and score

Picture of sand and score
07.jpg
First, find your leak.
There are a variety of methods such as using soapy water to see where bubbles for, or submerging your mattress in water to find where the leak is coming from. In most cases the leak will be obvious enough to find by sight or sound.

Once your leak has been located deflate your mattress.

Puncture not in flocked area of mattress:
If the leak is not in a flocked area of your mattress proceed to the next step.

Puncture in flocked area of mattress:
If your leak is on the flocked upper area of your mattress start gently sanding away the flocked surface to around the leak to reveal the smooth rubberized surface below. By removing the flocked surface around the leak you are creating a surface which will allow the patch to create a good seal.

Ensure not to sand through mattress or make the leak opening too large from excessive sanding.
Then, use a vacuum or damp cloth to clean the area of debris.

KDWalker15 days ago

Thank you so much for this guide, mikeasaurus! I used this to successfully repair my old air bed - http://superblog.co/wenzel-insta-bed-raised-air-bed-with-never-flat-technology-review/

I used Loctite epoxy mix instead of the one that you used because it wasn't available at my local store.

mick_park3 months ago

Just repaired two leaky air mattresses yesterday. Thanks for the good tutorial. I can attest that for me, the best methods for finding leaks are 1) Sight, 2) Feel, and 3) Sound.

Trying to submerge a semi-inflated air mattress in a bathtub is a cumbersome folly. Using soapy water was just messy and didn't locate the leaks I eventually found by sight.

Inflating the mattress to near-bursting levels is what really helped with sighting the holes and also feeling with two hands, very slowly, over the entire mattress. The increased psi in the mattress will make air streams that you can easily feel and hear.

Cheers!

MP

ac-dc4 months ago

It would improve the patch resistance to tearing off if you cut it in a circular or oval shape so there are no pointed edges, or at the very least cut the edges into rounded ones.

digimancer2 years ago
So I have a couple crazy notions in my head... I have a very very very slow leak.. In the morning my mattress is only half empty... So my idea is... Why not add bike tire "slime" to the air mattress? Also there is a product called Fix-A-Flat that inflates car tires with compressed air and a sticky substance that exits the leak and dries in place. I have had really good luck with both of these on bicycle tires, so i am very curious if anyone has tried either product on an air mattress?
ac-dc digimancer4 months ago

It won't work for long if at all because these products depend on the thickness and higher rigidity of a vehicle tire rather than a thin, flexible, slick surface of an air mattress.

Have you tried it? Im thinking about it but im scared.
No, but I also wonder if that "Slime" stuff would work... Be a hell of a mess when you go to empty it though...
HollyMann1 year ago
I tried EVERYTHING...then threw the mattress out (2nd one recently) to never buy one again hopefully. Ended up buying a fold up bed instead for about $100 online from Target. But, if for some reason I ever get an air mattress again - this will be a lifesaving instructable! The problem with my last air mattress travesty was that the hole was at least 3 inches long by 2 inches - a large gaping hole..impossible...
jbw1 year ago
I used liquid electrical tape. Stuff is like plasti-dip, but maybe a little thinner, used to waterproof electrical splices. Put a coat on a seam while the bed was partially deflated and another 10 minutes later and it worked with no leaks at the site. It was a pin hole leak and not a large puncture so for a large hole, the patch kit would be needed.
mmauk2 years ago
To find a leak= I filled it with air, got on top , using a wet facecloth to wipe my hands and keep my hands damp, I can find the ones so far,,I have fixed 13 leaks! In two air mattress,, that we use when our two grandsons come over,, good luck.
Hah, brilliant!

I've tried many solutions and have usually been reduced to filling the mattress/boat /whatever with significant amounts of soapy water which is very difficult to clean up.

This will work much better. I image any volatile cooling liquid will work e.g. alcohol, in a pinch. 
Filling...... up ?????
What did you really mean ???
I put a few tablespoons/3-cc of disk soap inside the in the deflated mattress and then fill it half way or more with water from a garden hose. Then inflate it with air the rest of the way. Rotating the mattress and water around will eventually cover the hole with soapy water which will be pushed out to the exterior as visible bubbles.

Of course, I do this outside.

I seem to always get these pinhole leaks that are very hard to find.
karlpinturr2 years ago
The so-called 'French Chalk' supplied in many repair kits does the same job as your talc, but it is a PAIN to grind down. However, I have NEVER got ANY patch (proper, supplied, or for bicycle tube) to work :-(.
mikeasaurus (author)  karlpinturr2 years ago
hrmm, never heard of 'french chalk' before. But not surprised it's supplied in some kits as reducing the friction on the new patch is important.

Sorry to hear that you haven't managed to get it to work, are you applying the cement correctly? If you don't let the cement set before applying the patch you may run into leaky problems.
French chalk is talcum powder used in chalk lines. The name itself is used in England/Australia/New-Zealand but not North America to my knowledge.
Ohhh yes!! I've tried all sorts - from waiting the precise amount of time the instructions say, to checking the tackiness with a clean finger - and I always clamp.

Funny thing is, I'm great on actual bicycle tubes, but cannot get any patches to work on anything PVC/vinyl, etc. - must be just me being 'odd'... ;-$
majorshadow2 years ago
Use LOCKLITE Epoxy instant mix. I found it in the glue section at Walmart, CVS and Target. It works wonders., For a patch, you can use the piece that comes with the air matterss or cut out a portion of an unused old and damaged air mattress. Apply the Epoxy to that and place over the hole. It works, I promise. I used super glue, gorilla glue, tape etc and they all failed. Epoxy is the best solution. You will be amazed.
This is good, but how do I find the leak! It doesn't hiss it just goes flat overnight.
Fill it up and put soapy water over it! It will bubble where the leak is.
I thought of that, but it seems so impractical to cover a king size air mattress completely in soapy water.
I put our air mattress in the kiddie pool & sat on it to find the pin hole. It took a while but worked!
Rather than cover the entire thing, why not use a spray bottle with soapy water? Start with the areas you think might have the leak.
Having an air mattress that doesn't hold air is pretty darn impractical too ;)
why not just chuck it into a pool ?
i had the same problem, i layed on it as i looked for the hole, u might try putting weight on the mattress after airing it up, and then using your hands to feel where the airs coming form, and listing for the hiss, just make sure, what ever you use, it doesn't have sharp enough corners to cut a new hole. good luck!
yurfriend2 years ago
that should read car tire not care tire my keyboard has a spelling problem!!
yurfriend2 years ago
cut the patch round instead of square and the edges with stay glued down. That is why care tire patches are round. Good lible'
SHIFT!2 years ago
Wow, I didnt know patching an inflatable mattress was so simple! Hey, know if this same process could work for inflatable rafts?
Same problem here...

Did the soap thing.
On every seam..

Cannot, for the life of us, find the leak.

But, when we wake up in the morning, it is flat.
It is a air mattress that goes in my Chevy Avalanche.

Well, went to Walmart and bought a new one. $17.88
I actually got a hole in my air mattress yesterday. Duct-tape works fine!
depotdevoid2 years ago
Thanks for this Mike, I've got the same air mattress, and it's leaky . . . unfortunately it's a slow leak and I can't seem to find it. If I ever do, now I know how to fix it!
vishalapr2 years ago
Very useful!
splazem2 years ago
Cool!
dombeef2 years ago
What font is that? It looks very cool!
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