Picture this: You have friends coming to town, so you get your trusty air mattress out of the closet and pump it up — only to discover that there's a huge bubble in the middle of it. While this is undoubtedly annoying, there are some steps you can take to prevent air bubbles from occurring in the future. These bubbles are typically due to regular overinflation and exceeding the weight capacity, so simply take care not to overinflate your air mattress and be sure not to pile too many people onto the bed. Other possible culprits could include the age of the air bed or a possible factory defect.
Do you have an air mattress bubble? Here's why it happens and what to do about it.
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What Causes a Bubble in an Air Mattress?
Bubbles and lumps can occur when an internal seam ruptures and allows air to pass between sections. The reason inflatable mattresses have a ribbed or diamond-shaped structure is to prevent the whole mattress from blowing up like a balloon when you fill it with air, and that's what happens on a small scale when one of the seams ruptures. The resulting bulge makes sleeping difficult if not impossible. Bulging may be the result of the following:
- Overinflating the mattress. This is the most common cause of inflatable mattress bubbles. Overinflating your mattress can put extra pressure on the seams, which can lead to bubbling and a warped shape.
- A factory defect. If the seams in your mattress weren't properly bonded during the production process, this can cause swelling and bubbles.
- Age. A good air mattress can technically last for up to 10 years or more depending on the quality of the mattress, but this depends on how well you care for it. That said, sometimes, despite your best efforts, air mattresses acquire bubbles if they're too old.
- Exceeding the weight limit. All air mattresses have a strict weight limit. Not adhering to the limit can cause bubbling.
There's no way to fix ruptured seams yourself but don't throw away the mattress just yet.
How to Repair an Air Mattress Bubble
1. Let the Air Out
If your air mattress has a bulge, there's a good chance it has too much air in it, so the first thing to do is deflate the air out in a controlled way while you press on the bulge to make it go down. If your mattress has an attached air pump, open the valve slightly to allow air to escape slowly. Press on the air bubble until it flattens enough to make sleeping possible, and then close the valve.
No built-in pump? Get a helper to open the blow hole and keep a finger over the opening to control the outflow of air while you press the bulge.
2. Reinflate the Mattress
Large bulges may go away if you let all the air out of the mattress and reinflate it. Pump air slowly, keeping an eye on the bulge. Stop pumping as soon as the bulge starts to reappear.
3. Purchase a New Mattress
If you can't inflate the mattress enough to make it comfortable for sleeping without having the bulge reappear, it's time for a brand new quality air mattress. Your muscles, spine, and lower back will thank you if you aren't forced to spend the night on a mattress with insufficient air to support them.
If you suspect that your air mattress has a bulge in it due to a factory defect, depending on the manufacturer, you have a certain timeframe to file a warranty claim. (On Intex air mattresses, for example, you have a period of 90 days to one year to file a warranty claim.)
Of course, bulges aren’t the only reason to file a warranty claim — you can also file one if you suspect that your electric pump, pump system, or compressor are defective, or if you have a brand-new mattress that is having unexpected air loss.
How to Prevent Bulges in an Air Mattress
There are some tried and true actions you can take to prevent an air mattress bubble. Overinflation is one of the most common causes of bubble formation. This is because inflatable beds stretch and warp easily if they're inflated too much. So, to prevent overinflation on a new air mattress, simply pump it up to around 90 percent of capacity or follow the instructions in your user manual.
It's also important not to exceed the recommended maximum weight. If you and your partner both sleep on a mattress designed for one person, it puts unnecessary pressure on the seams, and that can cause a bulge or even deflation.
Finally, take care of your air mattress to ensure that it stays in tip-top shape for as long as possible. Keep your mattress clean, store it in a sturdy container where it's protected from extreme heat or cold, and inspect it from time to time to make sure there are no leaks, bubbles, or other damage.