6 steps guide on how to find a leak in your air bed – 2017 update 11

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.

 

air-mattress-finding-hole

 

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…

 

n.

 

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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

 

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kit11
kit21
kit31
kit4
kit5a1
 
Patch Kit
 
 
Tear-Aid
Type B

 
 
Coghlan's
8880

 
 
Boxer
Adhesives

 
 
Blue
Magic

 
 
AIRHEAD
AHRK-1

 
 
Months
into
testing

 
 
 
Number of reoccurring leaks after X months

1
0
2
1
0
1
2
0
2
1
0
1
3
0
2
2
2
1
4
2
5
3
4
3
5
4
5
5
4
5
6
5
6
5
4
5
7
5
8
5
7
5
8
7
8
8
8
6
9
7
10
9
10
10
10
8
/
9
/
/

 

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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.

 

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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.

 

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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…

 

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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.

1-Intex-Comfort-Plush-Elevated-Dura-Beam-Airbed

 

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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.

 

Intex-Comfort-Plush-Elevated-1
SoundAsleep-Dream-Series-Air-Mattress-with-ComfortCoil
Intex Comfort
Plush
SoundAsleep
Dream Series
Air retention
10
10
Comfort
10
10
Durability
9
10
Design
7
10
Pump
7
9
Materials
& Finish
9
10
Easy to handle
& store
9
9
Edges
Sturdiness
8
10
Value for
money
10
9
Customer service
8
10
 
Overall Rating
 
88/100
 
97/100
 
Price
 
$
 
$$$
Intex-Comfort-Plush-Elevated-1
button-banner2
button-banner2

 

 

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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.

air bed leakThese 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.

Moving on to the gist of this article – how to find the leak that’s not obvious. Often, this will be like looking for a needle in a haystack.

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:

 

Step 1:

Remove the sheets and move the mattress/bed into a space where you can freely turn, flip and rotate it.

Step 2:

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.

Step 3:

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.

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.

Step 5:

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.

Step 6:

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?

punctured air mattressNow 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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James Menta

Camping Gear Reviewer at BestAirMattressGuide.com
Three things you need to know about James - he holds a degree in Materials Technology from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, he is a zealot for the great outdoors and he can never find his glasses.       In brief intermissions between looking for his glasses, he is the Editor-in-chief of BestAirMattressGuide.com.

11 thoughts on “6 steps guide on how to find a leak in your air bed – 2017 update

  1. Reply Bernadethe Feb 20,2017 2:52 am

    I patched my air bed before like 1 month ago and now deflated again.. already tried to found the hole by sprayed the soapy water but didn’t found it. But when I inflated again, I saw a bubble came out near the pump area. How to patch that area? Can I put super glue ? Thanks!

    • Reply James Mar 13,2017 6:58 pm

      Arghhh, the leaks around the pump are the trickiest and, I’m sorry to say, not really solvable in the long run. Frankly, you’re better off by getting yourself a new airbed. If money is an issue you can always get something cheap that’s still worth it – our recommendation of a budget solution would be the Intex Comfort Plush Durabeam – you can check it’s current price on Amazon here.
      Super glue is not an option if you decide to persevere with patching the bed. As the materials flexes and moves it will crackle in days. You’ll need a flexible adhesive that’s designed for vinyl like the Coghlan’s Airstop, and you’ll need at least two of properly apply the layers – you can see the Coghlan’s Airstop on Amazon here.

      Do get back to use, we’re curious about the results.

      James

  2. Reply Monsterplaige Feb 9,2017 4:33 am

    Will hot air deflate ur air bed ????? Need to no when it is cold

    • Reply James Mar 13,2017 7:20 pm

      Hi,

      You mean like using it in warm room? If that’s the question, then no, temperatures do affect how an airbed “behaves” especially if the internal design are beams, less so with coiled design.
      But if you are seeing those kind of issues and want to make sure your bed stays inflated, you should check out the review of Serta Never-flat air mattress..

      This bed has two pumps, the main one inflates it and the small, “never-flat” pump stays plugged in through the night and quietly adds air if the sensors notice a pressure drop. This is THE bed to get if you are sleeping in an especially cold or warm room.

  3. Reply lauir Jan 31,2017 2:46 am

    I’ve tried the soap, putting in water, dusting light layer of baking soda and pumping up, visual exam, used sealant on valve, over and over, still every morning I wake on the floor.

    • Reply James Mar 13,2017 7:34 pm

      I feel your pain Lauir, I’ve been there…did you try looking at the area where the vinyl “meets” the pump. It’s the last place people look at and one of the more common sources of leaks.

      Let us know

  4. Reply Christy G Oct 24,2015 2:53 pm

    Thank you for the article and advice. Now Headed to try and find That darn leak in our more expensive air mattress

  5. Reply Mikey the biker Apr 20,2015 6:52 pm

    I went nuts trying to find my leak. Finally took a 4 ft piece of tubing,put one end in my ear and searched for the wind noise in a quiet area .An old stethoscope would work if you removed the metal amplifier. It took awhile but found it,after soap bubbles would not work for me. Hope this helps someone.

  6. Reply pcmacbob Nov 13,2014 5:40 pm

    The problem with a lot of air mattress’s is that they are too bulky when full to put in a bath tub.

    I tried my best to find the leak I had and then did something they tell you not to do.

    I filled up a plastic bottle with water and added some liquid laundry detergent and shook up the bottle.

    I deflated the air mattress and poured the soapy water into the mattress. I then inflated it on a surface (like a kitchen floor that is ok in case water gets on it. I noticed bubbles and heard the sound of the air escaping from the mattress right away.

    I took a black sharpie and marked around where the leak was. I then deflated the mattress outside and let the water out of it. Then I let it set in the sun for an hour or so and then patched it with super glue.

    After an hour I refilled the mattress up and guess what no more leaking.

    • Reply James Menta Nov 14,2014 6:49 pm

      That is true, it’s almost impossible to pivot the fully inflated mattress when looking for the hole.

      That’s why a better approach is have the mattress half-inflated as you go and inspect it piece by piece. I am not sure what mattress you had the issue with and it’s great if it worked but, generally, I would stay away from pouring water inside because of mold development.

      It comes from the mattress nit being completely dry when you take it back inside…

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