How to Fix an Air Mattress Leak

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Can a leaky air mattress be fixed? The answer is yes, if you know how, and you make the repair as soon as you notice the problem.

Air mattresses can be incredibly useful – they are great for kids’ slumber parties and for offering guests a more comfortable night’s sleep than they might get on your sofa. They are easy to use – most now inflate by themselves – and relatively easy to store too. The only problem with air mattresses is that one tiny hole can render them useless, whether you paid $30 or $300 for them.

Act fast however, and you can fix an air mattress leak and avoid the embarrassment of having to ask guests to sleep on the floor, and/or the expense of buying a new air mattress. Here’s how.

How To Repair An Air Mattress Leak

Pumping an air bed with a pump

What You’ll Need

  • Dark permanent marker
  • Dish soap
  • Cool water
  • Spray bottle
  • Clean, lint free cloths
  • Patch kit
  • Strong Adhesive
  • 10lb weight
  • Scissors

1. Listen for the Leak

Before you can fix an air mattress leak you have to find it. The first way to try to track it down is simply by listening. Inflate the mattress, and then get down to its level and start listening for that tell-tale hiss of air. Start at the bottom of the mattress – as that is where most air mattress leaks occur – and work your way up.

Do not lie on the air mattress as you do this though, as that may enlarge the hole and make the fix even tougher. If and when you do track down the leak, use a permanent marker to flag its location, deflate the air mattress, move it to a roomy, cool location to work on it and skip to step four.

2. Try a Moisture Test

If listening did not help you find the leak – and it will not always – try making use of a basic moisture test instead.

To use this method simply wet your hand and bare arm slightly then pass it over the inflated air mattress working from top to bottom. If you pass over a leak, you will feel a cool burst of air on your skin. If you do, mark the spot with your permanent marker and, after deflating the mattress move on to step four.

3. Use Soap Bubbles

Still did not manage to locate the leak in your air mattress? There is one more thing you can try before you give up.

Create a mixture of simple dish detergent and water and add it to a clean spray bottle. Ensure the air mattress is as inflated as possible (given that it has a leak some place that may not be fully) and then, working in small sections from the bottom of the mattress up spray the bed lightly with the soap mixture. Bubbles will form when you find the leak. Mark the leaky spot, wipe the rest of the bed dry and then deflate it.

4. Clean Around the Leak

In order for your mattress leak fix to be effective the area around where air escaping must be as clean and smooth as possible. Making use of a gentle all-purpose cleaner and a dry, lint free cloth, clean an area that extends two inches in all directions around the leak and then pat the area dry with another clean cloth.

If the air mattress has a flocked top, you will need to take a piece of fine grit sandpaper and gently buff away the flocking around the hole then clean the sanded area as we have just described. Doing so will help whatever adhesive you choose to use in the next steps adhere as strongly as possible.

5. Patch the Hole (Carefully)

If you are lucky and still have it, you can use the patch kit that comes with most air mattresses in this (crucial but tricky) step. If you no longer have the patch kit – or your mattress did not come with one – you can purchase suitable patch kits online or even at the local bike shop or DIY store.

If you need this air mattress fix fast, and cannot get to the store, in a pinch you can make use of a small piece of tarp or even a corner of a heavy plastic shower curtain, but patch kits are ideal and likely to produce a longer lasting leak fix, so try to get one of those if you can (or plan to soon)

After ensuring that ALL the air has been removed from the air mattress, cut the patch about an inch larger than the hole you will be patching on all sides, then apply a generous amount of adhesive all over it.

You can make use of any strong adhesive or superglue (even nail glue in a pinch) but we have had the most success with the clear version of all-purpose Gorilla Glue, and as it can stick almost anything the investment in a bottle will not go to waste as you will be able to use it all over the home for other minor repair jobs too.

Gorilla Super Glue Gel XL, 25 Gram, Clear, (Pack of 1)

Buy the Gorilla Super Glue on Amazon

Align the patch over the hole and then secure it in place, pressing down firmly with your fingers.

6. Let the Adhesive Cure

As soon as the patch is secure over the hole, place a heavy weight on top of it, ideally one that weighs at least ten pounds. This could be several books, a dumbbell or even a large stack of magazines if that is all you have to hand.

You should now let this arrangement sit for a minimum of 12-14 hours or whatever the recommended time is on the adhesive instructions. Gorilla Glue, for example, should be left to ‘cure’ for 12 hours to ensure a secure bond.

7. Test the Patch

Now it is time to check your work. Remove the weight and sprinkle a small amount of talcum powder around the patch. Next, gently press down on the still uninflated mattress. If the talc sprays up, you may need to try the fix again. If the patch lifts as you press that means the adhesive has not set, and you will need to apply a little more and then go through the curing process from step 6 again.

If none of these things occur everything looks good, inflate your air mattress. Here’s how you can inflate it without a pump. If the leak fix is a good one, then the mattress should inflate completely and stay that way.

Air bed inflatable mattress and foot pumper on the floor in a bedroom.

8. Be Prepared for Future Leaks

As mentioned right at the beginning, even the most expensive air mattresses can spring a leak at any time. And for lots of reasons. Anything from too much weight being applied to it to cat claws and puppy feet and even sharp zippers on clothing can lead to a puncture in an air mattress.

For this reason, it makes sense to be prepared for an air mattress leak in the future. Purchase at least one additional puncture repair kit. There are lots to choose from, but do be warned, even though some claim to be self-stick – requiring no glue – it is still a good idea to use from to ensure a long-lasting fix.

Tear-Aid Vinyl Inflatable Repair Kit, Yellow Box Type B, Single

Buy Tear-Aid Repair Kit on Amazon

In addition to having a repair kit on hand, use basic caution when the air mattress is in use. Discourage Fido or Fluffy from being around it (even when it is not inflated) and watch out for kids with scissors, or even for guests with those sharp zippers on their nightclothes.

You should also keep an eye on the inflation valve. Over time these may come loose, and even if the mattress is hole and tear free the bed will deflate far sooner than it should. Valves are a much harder fix, and if yours fails it may be time to retire the mattress itself. This video from Aerobed – an extremely popular air mattress brand – demonstrates the process of replacing an air mattress valve, but some people do find it too much of a challenge.

You should also be aware of the fact that no air mattress last forever. Ideally, with occasional use a superior quality air mattress may last for ten to fifteen years. A lower quality model – one without a protective top or thin seams – or an air mattress used on a very regular basis, will naturally have a shorter lifespan.

It also should be noted here that according to the National Sleep Foundation – an authority on the subject of mattresses in general – ANY mattress should be replaced every eight to ten years to ensure it still provides adequate support for your body.

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