How to Repair a Hole in an Inflatable Pool Float

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Breaking out the inflatable pool gear is sure to bring out splashes and laughs of joy — unless one of those inflatables has a leak in it. Instead of tossing those leaking pool toys, give them a second chance by finding and repairing the hole. With the right patch kit, it's an easy fix that saves you money, keeps your pool float out of the landfill, and ensures your pool parties are full of fun.

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Finding the Leak

Finding the source of escaping air may seem a tricky proposition if the leak is slow, but that same air helps you spot the leak. Here's how to do it:

  1. Inflate the leaky pool float completely.
  2. Close the air valve.
  3. Place the float in the pool and submerge one part of the float at a time, looking for a stream of air bubbles. If you're unable to do this in a pool, a bathtub or kiddie pool will suffice.
  4. Rotate the inflatable, submerging it as much as possible, until you've found the source of the leak.
  5. Brush the water away from the area and stick a piece of masking tape near the hole so you can find it later.

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You can also mix up soapy water using dish soap and pour it over the inflatable. Press down on the inflatable and watch for bubbles to show you the leak location. Keep in mind there could be more than one leak, so don't stop when you find the first hole.

Repair Kit Selection

While pool and vinyl repair kits accomplish the same thing, they're not all ideal for every type of pool float. Some kits work only on vinyl and vinyl-covered pool floats, while others are designed for rubber or other materials. If unsure what your pool float is made from, visit the manufacturer's website or call the company's information line to find out. Also, keep in mind that patches won't work if the hole is along a seam, so you'll need sealant for those leaks.

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Preparation and Patching

Preparing and patching the hole needs to be done correctly for the fix to work. The steps to patch a pool float are as follows:

  1. Dry off the pool float, or at least the area requiring the repair.
  2. Clean the area surrounding the hole with the wipes included in the repair kit, or with rubbing alcohol on a soft cloth.
  3. Deflate the float, then smooth it flat so the damaged area faces up and has at least an inch of material around it.
  4. Peel the backing off the repair patch, then smooth it over the hole so that the patch extends an inch around all sides of the hole. To keep the patch flat as you apply it, work from one end to another, smoothing your hand over the patch as you stick it down.
  5. Wait at least 30 minutes — or as recommended on the patch kit instructions — before inflating the pool toy.

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Sealants for Hole Repair

Instead of a patch, a waterproof sealant may be used to repair small holes, as well as holes on seam areas where a patch won't suffice. To use a sealant, follow these steps:

  1. Choose a sealant designed for the type of material your float is made from.
  2. Deflate and dry the float.
  3. Clean the area surrounding the damage with rubbing alcohol, then allow it to dry. Note that some surfaces should be roughened with sandpaper before cleaning; follow the manufacturer's directions.
  4. Apply a bead of sealant over the damaged area, smoothing it out with your finger or a plastic card, such as an expired gift card. Make sure the sealant extends at least 1/2 inch beyond the hole.
  5. Allow it to cure as directed before re-inflating the float.

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