Feeling a little flat when you lie down on your air mattress? Anything from a small pinpoint-sized hole to a large ripped-out seam can cause your mattress to go flat. Finding the leak and performing an air mattress repair can help you salvage the mattress to use the next time you have guests or head out of town.
Air Mattress Patch Options
The best way to fix a hole in an air mattress is with a patch. Air mattresses typically come with patches, but they're easy to misplace once you start using the mattress. You can pick up a vinyl patch kit to fix the holes you find, but you also have other options for patches.
A bike tire patch kit is an alternative that should hold up on an air mattress. You can also use a little piece of a shower liner with super glue or a similar strong adhesive to hold it in place. If the issue is a torn seam, you may be able to use hot glue to fix the seam as long as you don't touch the hot tip of the glue gun directly to the mattress.
Verify the Leak
Before you start searching for a hole, make sure the mattress actually has a leak. Air mattresses tend to lose air gradually if you keep them inflated, and cold temperatures can also cause air loss. Inflate the mattress fully and give it some time to see if it actually has a leak that causes it to rapidly lose air.
Find the Air Mattress Leak
Start your inspection in the most common areas for leaks and holes. That's often the valve, built-in pump, sides and seams. Sometimes you can see the holes just by looking closely. Another trick is to press on the mattress and listen closely for a hissing, whistling or blowing sound.
Some people apply soapy water, wet the mattress or submerge it in water to find the hole, but those methods can be messy and sometimes damage the mattress by letting water inside. A less messy way to check for holes is to wet your hand slightly and move it over all surfaces of the mattress to feel the air blowing while someone else presses on it. A similar method is to place a piece of tissue paper directly on the mattress while pressing and watch for movement or listen for sounds. Move the tissue paper to different parts of the mattress until you check it all.
When you spot a leak, put a circle around it using a permanent marker so it's easy to find again. Don't stop when you find your first hole. There's a possibility that the mattress has more than one hole, so keep looking to make sure you spot them all.
Prep for Air Mattress Repair
A clean surface ensures the patch you use sticks well. Wipe the area around the hole with a damp rag or a bit of all-purpose cleaner on a clean cloth. Let the area dry completely before you start patching it, or the adhesive won't stick.
Cut the Patch
You may need to cut the patch or the material you're using to the right size. The patch should be larger than the hole so you have plenty of room to adhere it to the mattress and get a good seal. You don't want the patch to be a lot larger than the hole. A good estimate is to make it about 1/2 inch bigger than the hole on all sides.
Apply the Patch
Applying the patch depends largely on the type of patch you choose. Some patches, like those in bike tire repair kits, are self-adhesive. Others require you to apply a separate adhesive to the patch. Add lots of adhesive to the patch from the center out to the sides to help it seal the leak and stay in place.
Press the patch firmly over the hole. Place books, weights or other heavy items on top of the patch for eight hours or longer to help the adhesive adhere to the material. You can test the patch once the adhesive cures by pressing gently and listening or feeling for air from the patched area.
Shelley Frost combines her love of DIY and writing in her freelance career. She has first-hand experience with tiling, painting, refinishing hardwood floors, installing lighting, roofing and many other home improvement projects. She keeps her DIY skills fresh with regular projects around the house and extensive writing work on the topic.