‘Tis the season for holiday houseguests and air mattresses. And chances are, you’ve either heard or said, “Don’t worry—we have an air mattress!” only to find out that it leaks. This discovery usually takes place late into the first night of the visit when everyone is exhausted, and just wants to go to bed.
Many air mattresses now come with a patch kit in the box, so if you still have yours—or happen to have a bicycle tire patch kit sitting around—then follow the directions on the package, and you should be good to go.
But even if you don’t have a patch kit at home, there are other ways to fix the leak in your air mattress, at least temporarily. Here’s what to do.
How to fix a leaky air mattress
OK, let’s stop that leak:
Find the leak
First, you need to locate the leak. Inflate the air mattress, and then position it so it’s against a wall, with the bottom facing you. (Small holes or tears are more common on the bottom of the mattress.) Then look, listen, and feel for air escaping—including from the seams of the mattress. Flip the mattress to check the top and sides, if necessary.
If that didn’t work, get a sponge wet and soapy, and wipe it on the surfaces of the mattress, keeping an eye out for bubbles formed from air escaping from the hole or tear in the mattress.
And don’t forget to check the gasket, as it could be the source of the leak. If that’s the case, unfortunately, it’s not something you can fix yourself, and usually means you need to replace the mattress. You can always try contacting the manufacturer—especially if the air mattress is new—if you suspect it may be faulty.
Mark it and clean it
As soon as you’ve located the leak, mark it with a permanent marker. Then deflate the mattress, and clean the area around the leak with soap and water, and let it dry completely.
Stop the leak
This is the point when you’d use a patch kit to finish the job. But since you don’t have one, here are some alternatives:
Use super glue to fix leaks on the seams of the mattress. Either pinch the seam, or fold it over to close it, then apply the super glue. Hold the glued seam together (being careful to avoid any glue spills or overflow) for a minute or two to help it set.
Shower curtain liner
Use a piece of thin plastic material, like a shower curtain liner or pool liner to make your own patch. Cut a piece big enough to completely cover the leaky area, with a bit of overlap. Then, use super glue or rubber cement (or another adhesive of similar strength) to attach the DIY patch to the mattress.
Don’t have a shower curtain liner you can cut up? Grab an old T-shirt, and again, cut a piece that’s slightly larger than the leaky area. But this time, apply the adhesive both to the area surrounding the leak on the mattress, as well as the back of the fabric.
As a last resort, there’s duct tape. Cut a piece to fit over the hole or leaky spot, put it on the mattress, and then place something heavy on top of the patch for a few minutes to help it adhere.
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