Written By: Mallorie Stallings
An air mattress is a convenient solution for unexpected guests or a camping trip. Unfortunately, air mattresses are inherently susceptible to leaks. However, if you find a leak, don’t panic. Before upending the living room to make space for the pullout sofa, you may be able to fix the leak yourself with minimal effort.
In most cases, you can repair an air mattress in about half an hour with materials commonly found around the house. We’ll walk you through the step-by-step process of how to fix a leaking air mattress.
Find the leak.
The first step in fixing a leaking air mattress is ensuring there really is a leak. Changes in temperature, barometric pressure, or altitude can cause air to expand or contract. Just to be sure, try filling the air mattress again. Then, apply pressure or lie on it to see if it holds.
Once you’ve ascertained that there’s a leak, examine the seams and listen for hissing. Then, check the bottom of the mattress.
If you can’t identify a visible rip, puncture, or torn seam, you can use water to find the leak. Use a spray bottle or sponge to apply water and dish detergent to the surface. You can also dip the mattress in a bathtub. You should see slightly larger bubbles rising from the location of the leak. Tag the spot with a permanent marker for easier identification.
Clean and prep the area.
Before you start the repair, it’s important to clean and dry the area around the leak. If the leak occurred on a textured part of the mattress, carefully sand the area to help the adhesive stick.
Patch the leak.
Repairs are easiest with an air mattress patch kit, which you can buy online or in a brick-and-mortar store. Many air mattresses also come with a patch kit that should have everything you need. Otherwise, you can use a bike tire patch kit or gather your own materials.
The method for patching an air mattress is fairly straightforward, and repair kits usually come with easy-to-follow instructions. If you don’t have a kit, you’ll need:
Durable patch material, such as a piece of vinyl shower curtain liner
Strong glue or adhesive
Something heavy and flat
Fully deflate the mattress, seal the valve, and lay it out flat with the leak clearly visible. Cut a round patch that is big enough to cover the leak, plus approximately half an inch on all sides.
Check that the surrounding area is clean. Then, apply a liberal amount of glue to the patch and firmly press it down on the affected area. Some bandage-style patches are self-adhesive, in which case you can skip the glue.
Place a heavy object on top and let it sit for at least 8 hours until the glue dries. Then, inflate the mattress and test to see if the patch holds.
Patching a ripped seam.
A ripped seam cannot be patched, but it may still be repairable by sealing it with a hot glue gun. Take care when applying the hot glue. The tip of the glue gun may become hot enough to melt the surrounding materials, so don’t let it make contact.
If you’ve repaired a leak or a ripped seam and your air mattress still can’t hold air, check to see if you have another leak. Alternately, your air mattress may need a new gasket or another replacement part. Check the terms of your warranty and the owner’s guide to see if the manufacturer covers the repair or replacement of faulty materials. If replacing parts at home, refer to the owner’s manual for instructions.
Unfortunately, some air mattresses might be beyond repair. If you frequently use your air mattress for camping, you can minimize the chances of future leaks by spreading a tarp below it and checking the area for sharp objects.