How to find and eliminate air leaks on an inflatable boat
June 2021 – The season of weekends spent at sea has already begun, and the time of the main summer holidays will soon start. Many of us have an inflatable boat on which we spend beautiful moments at sea or lake in the summer. Before each season, it is recommended to check the suitability of the boat already at home, and thus avoid inconveniences on holidays. Before you go out on the water with your boat, it is recommended to check if there is a puncture, leak, or any other problem concerning your inflatable boat. Small problems can generally be easily fixed, but larger ones may need the help of an expert. Either way, you will find the problem area on the boat easier when you are still at home, rather than when you are already on the water with the boat.
Breaking and leaking an inflatable boat is rare but can be problematic. Slow air leakage can be especially annoying if you cannot find the source of the problem. Finding a puncture or leak is not easy, it can turn out to be like finding a needle in a haystack. With this simple trick, you will find the location of the leak very easily.
First, inflate the boat in a quiet and dry place and try to listen to the leak. If you hear any hissing and you can narrow the area of hissing on the boat, you are on the right track. To determine the exact source of the leak, spray the hiss area with a spray bottle filled with soap. Leaking air will eventually cause bubbles to form on the surface of the boat; if you notice bubbles forming in the area, it means that a leak is also coming from here. If you cannot determine where the leak is coming from, spread the soap all over the boat with a large sponge and then look for bubbles.
If you do not find any punctures on the boat, it means that air leaks can be caused by poorly installed valves. To check this as well, simply apply soap around the valve and check for bubbles. Poorly installed valves are usually the main cause of slow leaks.
If the source of the leak is suspected to be a valve, check with a soap solution. Inflate the boat, then apply the soap mixture around the valve and check for bubbles. Air can leak around the perimeter of the valve, the perimeter of the cover, or the entire area around the entrance to the valve body. To figure out how to fix the problem, you need to know which of these three parts is causing the leak.
If air leaks from around the valve, there is a high probability that the valve is poorly installed. In this case, remove the valve and clean the place where it is inserted, then put the valve back in its place and tighten it well.
There is a possibility that dirt will eventually accumulate in the rubber sealing ring of your inflatable boat. There is also the possibility of the rubber sealing ring wearing out. Both result in slow air leakage from the valve circumference. The valve itself can also be to blame.
Unscrew the valve and clean it thoroughly. If dirt accumulates on the rubber sealing ring, you will need to blow the air valve with an air pump to remove it. Keep the air pump hose away from the unlocked central screw in the valve. Dirt on the perimeter of the valve body can also be cleaned with a small amount. In this case, the valve is opened to allow the acetone to dry. If the rubber sealing ring is worn out, you will need to replace it.
Of course, there is a possibility that there have been other punctures or leaks on your inflatable boat. We advise you to check this option as well. We can repair our punctured inflatable boat ourselves. We first need to figure out how big the leak is to how to fix it.
Punctures, or even damage that is 3 mm to 10 cm in size, will require patching. When you buy your inflatable boat, you normally receive a repair kit, otherwise, you can use the following solution. First, mark the area to be repaired. Cut a piece of repair material that should be 5 cm larger than the damage to the boat. This will cover the damaged area well. If you undertake the repair yourself, you must consider the material of the boat. There are inflatable boats made of rubberized and PVC reinforced marine canvas on the market. Clean both surfaces well, sand them, and dust them before applying the adhesive. Prior to use, mix the adhesive with the appropriate amount of the prescribed hardener, which increases water resistance and elevated temperatures. Apply the adhesive, usually in two coats, to both surfaces to be bonded. Before the second application, the surface must be completely dry (25-30 minutes). After the second application of glue, wait about 10 minutes and join the surfaces by pressing. Weigh the repaired surface for 24 hours with a weight between 1 and 2 kg. Then apply another layer of glue to the edges of the patch to close it completely. Allow drying for at least 6 hours.
We recommend that you perform the repair in dry weather. Humidity in the air can reduce the effectiveness of the adhesive bond.
Choice of glue:
- Rubberized canvases (e.g. Hypalon) ……… Neostik TB + Hardener TB
- PVC sheets ……………………………………………. Neostik PU-S + Hardener FE