Whether for home use or as camping assists, there’s no doubt that air beds are the most versatile sleeping options available. Unfortunately, they are also quite vulnerable due to their air-filled nature.
Anyone’s whose ever tried to pack a lot of pressure in an enclosed space will tell you that air always finds a way to misbehave.
And nothing ruins a good night’s sleep like a deflated air mattress.
But as frustrating as a leaky mattress might be, fixing it is often easier than you think. Here’s how to fix a leaky air bed in more than one creative way.
Stage 1: Finding the leak or hole
First off, it’s important to note that air beds lose air naturally and gradually. So before you turn your bed upside down and start stripping it, know that there’s no mattress that can hold air indefinitely.
That’s why you have to keep on re-inflating; but only occasionally. If you find that the air loss is abnormally fast, then there could be a problem.
Step I – Inflate mattress fully to test for leaks. If the airbed is severely deflated after a few minutes then it’s likely a massive leak. You can also apply weights and leave it overnight if it’s more gradual. If it’s deflated in the morning, re-inflate it and move on to the next step.
Step II – Check the air valve and around the inlets. This is the last place you want your leak to be because it’s going to be difficult to fix. Unfortunately, it’s also the most vulnerable place for leaks. Hold your hand over the valve and try to feel or listen for any escaping air. If the valve is indeed broken, you’ll have to call in a professional for repairs or talk to the manufacturer.
Step III – Check the entire sleeping surface. You’ll need to stand your mattress in a quiet room and examine it closer for any holes. Make sure the mattress if fully inflated for better results. Slowly move your ear across the entire surface, top, bottom, and sides of the mattress and listen for thin, hissing sounds.
Step IV – If the leak is too small, it might be impossible to hear it. In this case, you can use a sponge and soapy water to search for leaks. Gently wipe down the entire surface of your air bed and look for signs of bubbles that indicate air loss. Wipe away with clean sponge when done.
Step V – Once you find the hole, circle it with a pen or sharpie so you don’t lose it. This will allow you to spot it easily when the air bed is deflated. After marking, deflate the mattress with a pump and prepare it for stage 2. If you used the soapy water method, pat the mattress with a towel and dry it in the sun for a couple of hours.
Stage 2: Fixing hole with patch kit
Sometimes, manufacturers include fixing kits with their air beds to make things more convenient. But if you don’t have one handy, almost every outdoor store will have patch kits in the camping section. These kits contain sandpaper, glue, and patches for tents, air beds and tyres.
Step I – Sand and clean area near hole. If the hole is on the top side, you’ll want to remove the soft covering so the patch can stick. Using sandpaper, lightly sand out the soft coating until you only have plastic surrounding the leak. Clean out the area around using soapy water or alcohol and dry it completely.
Step II – Cut a patch roughly 1.5x bigger than the hole so you have ample room to plug the leak. Depending on your patch, you can either apply it like stickers or apply special glue as directed by the manufacturer.
Step III – Once the patch is on, use the heel of your hand to apply pressure for about a minute to make sure it’s firmly attached. After that, you can lay a flat, heavy object to keep the pressure on. Let the glue dry up for 3 hours before you inflate the air bed.
Step IV – Inflate the air bed and check the repaired area for leaks. Simply place your ear near and listen for the familiar hissing sounds. Sleep normally and check the air levels in the morning to make sure there air is not escaping anymore.
Stage 3: DIY Air Bed repairs
If you don’t have a patch kit and desperately want to grab some sleep, you can always perform your own DIY repairs. However, keep in mid that some of these repairs will void your warranty.
First off, duct tape can be an effective but temporary fix. However, the glue in the tape will eventually dry out and fall off. You can also use glue and a thin malleable piece of plastic such as a tarp or shower curtain. But never use hot glue to fix a hole since it will most likely melt the air mattress and enlarge the hole.