How to stop air leaks in an air mattress

Written by tammy parks
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How to stop air leaks in an air mattress
You don't need a large body of water to find mattress leaks, you can use a spray bottle and soapy water. (flying air-bed image by Alex from

Air beds are an ideal alternative to sleeping on the ground when you go camping, but they are also handy for home use as additional sleeping space for company or sleepovers. But while they are an inexpensive alternative to a traditional mattress, they are prone to small holes and air leaks. Fixing the leak can be a straightforward process but the trick is finding it. There are several methods to finding and fixing leaks, and the degree of difficulty for each method varies. Start with the easiest solution possible, and if one doesn't work, try the next solution.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Bubble soap or dish detergent
  • Felt pen
  • Tape
  • Inner-tube patch kit
  • Marine Goop
  • Rubber gloves
  • Small paint brush
  • Rubber cement

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  1. 1

    Inflate the mattress and apply pressure to the surface. Listen for escaping air. Focus on the seams and the valve stem first.

  2. 2

    Find the air leak by wetting your forearm and slowly moving it around the mattress while applying pressure to the air bed. You will notice any escaping air against your skin.

  3. 3

    Spray or wipe the outside of the mattress with bubble soap (used for blowing bubbles) and watch for bubbles. Use dish detergent mixed with a little water as an alternative.

  4. 4

    Submerge the mattress in water. Watch for bubbles rising to the top and follow the bubbles to the leak. Mark the hole with a felt pen or a piece of tape. Let the mattress dry thoroughly.

  1. 1

    Deflate the air bed. Repair a surface leak using an inner-tube repair kit. Place the repair pad over the hole and apply glue around the edges and press to the mattress. Apply glue to the patch and place the patch over the pad. Glue around the edges of the patch to form a tight bond.

  2. 2

    Apply Marine Goop to the leak using a brush to apply -- wear rubber gloves to work with the sealant. Coat the hole with 1/16 inch of the Goop. Allow to dry thoroughly (preferably 48 hours) before refilling the mattress.

  3. 3

    Apply rubber cement to the leak. Allow to dry for several hours before refilling the mattress.

  4. 4

    Repair a seam leak by applying rubber cement or tent sealer. Allow to dry overnight for a better seal. Fix a larger seam leak by releasing the air from the mattress, then seal the seam with adhesive from a mattress repair kit or inner-tube repair kit. Let the adhesive set up thoroughly. Apply a patch over the site of the leak and the seam; make sure all edges seal completely to form a tight bond. Run your fingers along the edges during the drying time to ensure the bond stays intact.

Tips and warnings

  • Test the mattress for air-tightness before you take it camping.
  • Take repair items with you on camping trips to make on-site repairs.
  • Always mark a puncture as soon as you find it.
  • If the leak is on a fabric surface, gently sand away some of the fabric with a fine grit sandpaper to make the patch adhere more effectively.
  • Use simpler methods to find a leak and avoid submerging the mattress in water if possible.
  • Valve stem leaks cannot usually be mended and you may have to replace the mattress.

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