The guide on how to find a leak in an air mattress was long overdue. We apologize for not getting to it sooner, but it was just hectic with all the updates of the reviews of best air mattresses that we simply didn’t find the time.
Our bad. But we do have something special to report on in this update – the results of testing 5 vinyl patch kits over 10 months. This one is a doozy…
But, before we move on to that…
Results of testing 5 vinyl patch kits over 10 months
Just over a year ago, we set out to put together something special, eliminate the guesswork from choosing a vinyl kit and cut through the confusion and opinions but get real data.
Here’s what we did:
- We choose 5 of the best rated kits (according to Amazon reviews)
- We punctured 50 pinholes on two Intex Downy beds and repaired each of them using one of the patch kits (10 holes per patch kit – to minimize flukes and make the data more reliable)
- We sealed the areas around using freezer bags and Gorilla duct tape so that we can tell if a leak reoccurs
- We burdened the airbed to capacity using weights
- We kept evidence on how soon the leaks came back – the results are below
Analysis of the results
As you can see, only two 3 patches lasted the full 10 months – 2 leaks patched with the Tear-Aid Type B and 1 with the boxer adhesives.
If you do the math that’s a measly 6 % success rate overall – 20 % 10-month success rate for the Tear-Aid and & 10% for the Boxer adhesive. The rest of them have a ZERO % success rate over 10 months.
Another interesting observation is that the period between month 3 and 4 is for some reason “critical” and it’s where more re-occurrences of the leaks happened.
Would the results be different if we used a different air mattress
Based on our experience, we’ll say NO.
The PVC used for vast majority airbeds is the same.
What’s the issue?
The problem with patching an air mattress are the oils on the surface of the vinyl. You know that slippery quality a vinyl air mattress has…that’s the oils we are talking about.
It’s those oils that cause a chemical reaction with the adhesives, especially when exposed to higher tempereatures.
This chemical reaction compromises the hold of the patch. That’s why the Tear-Aid had the highest success rate – they add a chemical to the surface of the “tape” that prevents this reaction.
But, again, a 20% success rate is nothing to write home about.
Choices you have
It’s up to you to decide whether going through the hassle and hindrance of repairing an airbed is worth your time and nerves…and, of course, it depends on whether you’re trying to salvage an expensive airbed you’re not willing to give up on.
It was up to us to present the results and be the carriers of the bleak news. Again, don’t kill the messenger…
A budget solution
In the messages we’ve been through email and in the comments on this page getting from people, a common request was to recommend a budget solution – an inexpensive air mattress that would save you the headache of repairing your old one if it’s out of the warranty period, so we’ll do that here.
By far the best budget solution and the top-rated airbed in the category of value for money is the Intex Comfort Plush Durabeam.
It’s a bed that’s rated 10/10 in “value for money” category and very close in quality
to air mattresses that cost trice as much – see what the owners are saying about it and see just how low-prices it is using the links below the image.
This Intex compared to the top-rated airbed
Just so that you get get an idea of how close in quality this bed is to the best ones and how “far” in price, we’ll take a moment to compare to the currently top-rated model.
If your airbed is still under warranty
Step Zero: Hold the companies to their word about warranties
First of all, I understand that these are air beds, but you paid money for your product so before even thinking about looking for that air leak take a moment to consider whether your air bed is still under warranty and don’t be lazy about it.
If not under warranty, think about it’s worth your time trying to fix that air bed. I’m an avid camper and hiker and since I’ve started writing these reviews I’ve had dozens of air beds and reviewed hundreds..mats or pads go through my hands and I rarely ever made the effort to salvage the air bed.
Don’t kill the messenger, but according to the results from our tests, the leak almost always comes back , it’s a just a matter of how soo
What they might say to avoid replacing the leaking airbed:
Most of the renowned companies that make air beds realize that your call is a chance for them to build their brand through great customer service. I will not name brands here, but I know, both from my own experience and from the 1000s of reviews I’ve read over the years, that there are companies that will try to be evasive, confuse you and even blame the leak on you.
These few shady companies will do one thing 9 out of 10 times – they will ask you about how the bed was used hoping that in the conversation you’ll say something that they will then cling to and claim that it’s not covered by the warranty.
Don’t fall into that trap.
Say that the bed was used only for the recommended weight (make sure you know this before you call), away from any heat source and indoors (if it’s not a camping bed).
Don’t get me wrong here, I am not advising you to lie, I am just making sure that you don’t say something that they’ll use an excuse not to replace the product even if the warranty covers it. Most of these shady sellers will not clearly list the proper ways to use their air bed and then try to avoid replacing it when something goes wrong.
If they continue with the questions, stop them, remind them of the warranty and say that you know what they’re trying to do. Be blunt if you need to.
One more thing – the “good” sellers will even replace products that are not covered by a warranty if the leak happened within a month or two from the purchase. Give them a call and try your luck.
If you want to avoid the hassle of finding the pesky leak, you might consider treating yourself with the latest technology in air mattresses -> a mattress that’s proven to be almost impenetrable:
Remove the sheets and move the mattress/bed into a space where you can freely turn, flip and rotate it.
Pump the mattress to its maximum firmness.
If the pump is not automatic, this step will be intuitive – pump it just enough to make it as firm as possible while avoiding the risk of the mattress bursting.
Make sure the nozzle is secured.
Make a detailed visual inspection.
With the mattress fully inflated, even the smallest holes will become visible, and if not, you might be able to hear it and then locate it by finding where the sound is coming from.
Pay special attention to the seams – these are the weak spots of an air bed and the leaks here are hardest to detect if they are small.
If this works, great. If not, move on to step 4.
Move your hand slowly along the surface of the bed, when your palm meets the leak, you will feel a gentle brush of air.
If you still can’t see it, take a spray bottle, fill it with warm water and a little liquid soap of dishwasher liquid and spray the areas where the hissing sound is coming from.
If you don’t hear anything, then you’ll have to systematically spray areas of the bed.
Voila, the air leak will reveal itself with soapy bubbles.
If you don’t have a spray bottle on hand, use a cloth dampened with warm soapy water to wipe areas of the air bed. This will also work.
If by some miracle, the leak still “escapes” your eye, fill your bathtub and submerge the air bed completely. If your tub is not big enough, submerge part by part of the bed and the bubbles will surely reveal the leak.
Take your time here, because a small enough leak will release a bubble just every few seconds.
You might find tips out there that will tell you to pour a cup or two of water into your air bed and then inflate it. This will result in wet patches appearing where the leak is.
Sure this will work. But then what?
Now you know where the leak is but you have effectively ruined your air mattress.
First of all, to be able to patch it, you need a dry surface and with the water inside, it will be almost impossible to dry the spot completely. Even if it seems dry on the outside and you manage to patch it, it will still be damp on the inside and the patch will be so weak that it will start leaking again in a few days.
Another thing to think about – there is absolutely no way to dry your mattress fast enough to avoid mould developing inside, and this can be a serious health hazard.
So – never pour water into your air mattress. You’ll find the leak, but to what end?
It completely defeats the purpose.
99% of the time the 6 steps I described will find you your leak.
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