Inflatable Boat Repairs
How do I find and repair air leak in an inflatable boat, kayak or raft?
If you are losing air pressure, (aside from pressure loss commonly caused by colder temperatures), check the boat over for air leaks. Air must to escape somewhere for air chamber to become soft. No magic here. The best tool to find air leaks is soap, shampoo or dish detergent mixed with water in a spray bottle. Start by checking the valves first. Spray around the valve on a suspected air chamber. If you see bubbles forming, check your valve fitting and base and be sure the valve insert is screwed on tight and pushpin is in correct position.
To find tiny leaks on a boat surface, fully inflate the boat until it's hard to the touch. Put some liquid detergent in a bucket of water and scrub it all over the boat with rag or big wash brush. Watch for elusive or tiny bubbles. When you find the first leak, keep looking. You might as well fix them all at the same time! Remember, the number one cause of slow leaks is due to poorly fitted valves. Unscrew the valve and clean the area. Make sure the little rubber O-rings are still good. They are the cheapest repair possible.
If you have no luck finding a slow leak with air bubbles, inflate the boat to it's maximum air pressure and try to listen for the leak. If you can narrow the area down, return with a spray bottle to identify the source of the leak.
Divide air chamber surface into imaginary squares, and apply soapy mix to that square and then look against surface to see for bubbles. If no bubbles are appears after 5-10 minutes, then move to another square. Don't forget to apply soapy water all along seams.
Punctures less than 1/8" in size can be repaired simply without a patch. Deflate your boat, then clean and dry the area to be repaired. Apply a small drop of glue to cover the puncture and let dry for 12 hours. If you need to get on the water sooner, let dry for 30 minutes and then inflate the boat, inflating the compartment with the repair only 3/4 full. This repair might not be permanent so add a drop again at a later date to make it permanent.
Your inflatable boat comes with a repair kit as standard equipment. It is recommended to do repairs in dry weather. Humidity will decrease glue bond. Cut a piece of repair material large enough to overlap the damaged area by approximately 1" and round off the edges. Apply glue to the under side of the patch and around the area to be repaired. Too much glue will often interfere with a proper repair. Allow adhesive to become tacky for 5 minutes, and then place patch on the damaged area. Use a weight to apply 3-5 lbs. of pressure for 24 hours. After the patch has dried, apply glue around the edges for a complete seal (dry 6 hours). Click here to read full instructions before starting ANY repairs.