How to Replace Drysuit Seals

Written by regina edwards
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How to Replace Drysuit Seals
Replace leaky or torn drysuit seals. (sea rescue drysuit image by Jeff Dalton from Fotolia.com)

Water enthusiasts who spend time in cold or cool water environments use drysuits for warmth and comfort. Scuba divers, boaters, kayakers and rafters use drysuits made of neoprene, rubber or trilaminate material. The seals, or gaskets, on these drysuits are installed on the neck and wrists, and, on some models, the ankles. Drysuit seals ensure water doesn't enter the suit, but seals will tear or crack over time and must be replaced. Users can save money by installing new latex or neoprene seals over the original factory-installed seal. The old seal provides a foundation to bond similar materials, such as latex-to-latex.

Skill level:
Moderately Challenging

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Things you need

  • Scissors or craft knife
  • Sandpaper
  • Alcohol wipes
  • Waxed paper
  • Packing tape or duct tape
  • 2 plastic containers or buckets
  • Latex gloves
  • Aquaseal
  • Cotol
  • Plastic plate
  • Plastic knife
  • Sponge brush
  • Timer
  • Replacement seal
  • Rubber bands (optional)
  • Weights (optional)

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Instructions

  1. 1

    Turn the drysuit inside out so that the interior faces you and expose the seal to be replaced. For example, pull the sleeve inside-out and position the inside of the wrist seal to be replaced in front of you.

  2. 2

    Cut the old seal off the drysuit, leaving the glued portion intact; do not remove the glued base of the seal from the drysuit. Be careful not to cut the drysuit material and make sure the cut seal does not have any jagged edges.

  3. 3

    Sand the old seal to create a rough surface.

  4. 4

    Clean the roughened surface by wiping it with alcohol and allow it to dry.

  5. 5

    Wrap the outside of a container that fits through the seal opening with waxed paper and secure the waxed paper with tape. Make sure the container doesn't stretch the opening, and insert the container into the drysuit to hold the gasket open.

    Consider using a bucket, traffic cone or plastic flower pot to fit into the neck opening or a plastic tube or tumbler for the wrist or ankle openings.

  6. 6

    Hold the dry suit in position on the plastic container, if desired, by attaching rubber bands to hold the suit against the container.

  7. 7

    Cut out the bottom of the second container and slice the side to create a wide plastic ring.

  8. 8

    Don latex gloves and dispense equal portions of Aquaseal and Cotol on a plastic plate and stir to mix.

  9. 9

    Apply an even coating of the Aquaseal-Cotol mixture to the old seal and allow it to dry for five minutes.

  10. 10

    Turn the replacement seal inside out so that any seams are facing out.

  11. 11

    Fold the wide end of the replacement seal back and apply a thin layer of the Aquaseal-Cotol mixture to the edge that will be installed onto the old seal.

  12. 12

    Apply a second coat of the Aquaseal-Cotol mixture to the old seal.

  13. 13

    Position the replacement seal carefully over the old seal and roll the glued edge of the replacement seal onto the old seal. Use the glued edge of the old seal as a guide for placement and do not slide the new seal in place because this will displace the adhesive.

  14. 14

    Press the new seal against the old seal and carefully smooth out any folds or bubbles.

  15. 15

    Cover the new seal with waxed paper and apply one piece of tape to hold the waxed paper together. Do not apply tape directly to the seal or to the drysuit.

  16. 16

    Place the plastic ring created in Step 7 over the waxed paper and secure with tape or rubber bands. Make sure the plastic ring merely holds the seal in place and doesn't press tightly against the seals, which can produce buckling or folds. For neck seals, the plastic band only needs to cover the neck opening, which is on a flat surface, so no rubber bands are needed. Place a book or ankle weights on the plastic holder for a neck seal, if desired.

  17. 17

    Allow the adhesive to cure for at least eight hours.

  18. 18

    Remove the weight, plastic ring and waxed paper to expose the replacement seal.

  19. 19

    Check the replacement seal for folds or bubbles that may have occurred during the curing process.

  20. 20

    Prepare a mixture of Aquaseal and Cotol (per Step 8) and apply a layer around the end of the seal, where it touches the drysuit fabric. This supports an internal seal.

  21. 21

    Allow the adhesive to dry for one hour.

  22. 22

    Remove the plastic holder wrapped in waxed paper and carefully turn the drysuit right-side out.

  23. 23

    Insert the waxed paper-wrapped holder into the drysuit opening where the seal has been replaced.

  24. 24

    Apply a thin bead of Aquaseal-Cotol to the outside edge where the drysuit meets the replacement seal and allow the adhesive to cure for 24 hours.

Tips and warnings

  • Check for any leaks by donning the suit and submerging in a pool, shallow water or shower.
  • Be careful about smearing the adhesive mixture because fibres and dust can attach to the material, causing irritation or leaks.

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