Air mattress is a great thing to have. It can make your nights in the nature much more comfortable. Just take it out of your backpack, connect it to your air pump and you'll have a comfort of the house right there in your tent in no time. But, aside from being a great commodity, air mattress has one bad side.
If you ever owned anything inflatable, you already know what I'm talking about. It's that annoying air leak that turns your comfortable night of good sleep into rough waking in the middle of the night on solid ground.
At this point, I'm sure you're scratching your head and asking yourself: "how to find a hole in an air mattress"? How to fix a leak in an air mattress?
If you stick around, you'll find out soon.
Air Mattress Warranty (Important Info)
If you're not in a rush to fix your mattress, I'd recommend that you check if it's under warranty. Because if it is, this can save you some time and you can avoid the hustle of searching for an invisible little hole.
In any case, a new mattress is better than the old one, right? So anyway, if you decided you want to fix the mattress right away, what do you do next?
1. Strip the bed of sheets and bedding
The first thing that you need to do is to remove the pillows, sheets, and beddings. You will not be able to find that leak if your bed is covered in any way.
Next thing you'll need is a space big enough so you can maneuver with the bed. You'll need to flip it so that you can inspect every side. Make sure that you have enough light, so the mattress is visible enough for you not to miss that hole. So, you must have a very good flashlight.
2. Inspect the valve
Now it's time to inflate the mattress and see what's going on. You'll want to inflate it well so that the leak can be revealed but be careful not to overdo it, or you might end up blowing up your mattress. Inflate carefully and pay close attention to seams.
If you have an automatic pump, this will be a breeze. Avoid air compressors by any means, because they are not meant for mattresses. Note that your air pump and air compressor are not the same things. So now the inspection can start.
Inspect the Valve
You should always start here. Valve is one of the most common reasons for a deflated air mattress. First, make sure that it is sealed properly.
If you are not sure that it is, check the user manual to see how your valve operates and how it should look fully closed.
If the valve plug doesn't seal right with the valve stem, you can try to cut and insert a piece of plastic in between them to close that gap.
If the valve is closed and it's not leaking, start looking at the area where the valve is connected to the vinyl. If this is the problem, you might not be able to fix your air mattress.
At this point, you might find out that you'll be needing a new mattress. If that's the case, here's a helpful note – before buying a new mattress, go online and google search customer service of the manufacturer you want to buy a mattress from.
Forums can be a very useful place to find information like these. You want to make sure that your company of choice has a good customer service, so if you end up having problems with your new mattress, you'll be able to get a replacement.
Some companies out there intentionally mislead customers about warranties and try to blame them for the leaking mattresses, so you definitely want to avoid them.
If the valve is fine, get your ears ready and let's move on to the next step!
Hearing the Leak
This is an obvious step. Just move your ear around and try to listen carefully for the leak sound. It's helpful if you put some weight on the mattress – that will make the air hissing louder. You should be paying extra attention to the seams, as they are a very common place for leaks.
Some people reported using decibel devices to help them find a leak. I haven't had the chance to try that out, so if you did, feel free to let me know how it worked out.
If you haven’t found that leak yet, let's see what we can see.
Assuming that you have a good light source, you are good to go with this one. Start looking for the tiny holes or fractures.
First, check the seams, and move on the rest of the mattress. Leaning your weight on the mattress can also help because pressure can open the hole a bit, just enough so you can see it.
I wouldn't be surprised if you detected bad seams. Some people reported up to 10 holes there, most likely factory error.
They also fail because not everyone checks the user manual for the maximum weight capacity of the mattress, so they end up damaging the mattress by overloading it.
If you didn't find any visual damage, it's time to move to next step. Want to know what it is? Clap once for yes, twice for no.
Use Your Hands
You can slowly move your hands above the mattress to try to feel the leak. Hands are very sensitive so you just might get lucky with this approach. To heighten the sensitivity of your palms, you can get them wet.
Anyone who has come out of the pool on a windy day knows how the water affects the skin. So this might be your ace. If hands didn't help, you can try pouting your lips and try to feel the leak with them.
Thin Foil Method
This is not a very common method, but it might be useful. Basically, you'll need something that is thin and flexible. It can be paper tissue, plastic foil, anything you can find in your backpack. The thinner and more flexible, the better.
Take what you found and place it in one corner of the mattress. This works in a way that the paper/foil you are using should make a sound if the leak is right beneath it. In some cases, you can even see the movements on the surface.
Start systematically moving the paper/foil you have and watch for the movements or noise. You should be able to find it. If not, don't worry, there are still some methods you can try.
Soap and Water
If you ever had an inflatable, you are most likely familiar with this method. Mix the soap with some water and apply. The spray bottle is the best way to do this, but if you don't have one, any sponge or rag will be just fine.
If you still haven't found a leak at this point, it might be a good idea to check if your mattress deflated. You still need it well inflated for this to work. Slowly start applying the water and look for the bubbles that would indicate the leak.
Don't worry if you got your mattress a little wet. Remove as much of the water with a dry rag as you can and just take it out in the sun and wind and it should dry pretty fast.
I hope that by now you managed to find your leak because there are several methods left, that I personally don't endorse, but I'm going to walk you through them if you really want to try them out. So, here they are:
Submerging the Mattress
This method is most commonly used for repairing the bicycle tires. Some people recommend it as the easiest way to find the leaks, but that may come at a cost. To save a few minutes of your time, you are risking to damage the mattress or even infect it with mold.
Some manufacturers strongly recommend against submerging the mattress. You can find this information on the product label. This can lead to damaging the materials and separation of protective coating.
There is also a risk that water may enter the mattress and you will never be able to get it out properly. This can lead to the formation of mold and that is a serious health hazard. You will definitely need to get rid of your mattress if this happens.
That being said, if you still want, you can try this method out. It's fairly easy, but you will need a lake or some other body of water big enough. Start emerging your mattress part by part and check for bubbles of air.
Filling the Mattress
This method implies that you pour some water inside the mattress, close it and look for places where the mattress leaks water. This is a good way to find a leak, but it comes at a cost. Like with previous methods, you won't be able to get the water out.
The moist from the water can also deteriorate adhesive you use for fixing the mattress, so there is not a lot of point in finding a leak if you won't be able to fix it properly.
How To Repair Your Mattress
To make it easier for you to understand, you can check out this video to see the actual process of patching an air mattress hole:
When it comes to finding a leak in an air mattress, as you can see, you have plenty of options.
I know that mattresses are not that expensive, but that's not a reason you shouldn't fix yours and get the most out of it. In today's economy, every dollar is worth saving, and I'm here to make sure you get the most out of your buck.