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Last Updated On October 31, 2020

How to Find a Leak in an Air Mattress

For a slightly extra premium, an air mattress is a great addition when camping to improve sleep quality and spinal support.  It will provide more sleeping comfort than your average rollup foam matt.

It also offers the convenience of being compressible for easy stowing. But, it will need extra attention and care to avoid punctures and damage when handling.

With continued use, an air mattress is susceptible to developing “invisible” holes. An air mattress that cannot be patched is as good as lying on a bedsheet. It’s crucial to locate the air mattresses damage early on to avoid the hole from further exacerbating.

Let’s explore how you can restore the item to its former glory. Below we show you Nine ways on how to find a hole in an air mattress.

Preparing a workspace for successful puncture searches.

An airbed inside in a clean working space to find a hole

We suggest doing the investigation in a controlled workspace. A place free of sharp objects and without drafts, wind, and is still. If you’re in the backcountry, a trailer or campervan are good locations.

If you are in the wilderness you can use the insides of a sizable tent as a workspace solution. Just make sure the tent is one that is large enough to move around in.

Clear the mattress from bedding and sheets. Then start to fill up the mattress with air to its utmost capacity using a pump. Take care not to go beyond this limit as you could blow out the hole even further, making the mattress beyond repair.

Once your workspace and air mattresses are cleaned and prepped, its time to start the searching.

Common air mattress leak locations.

Inspecting valves first for any air leaks

There are some common spots to check air mattresses for leaks before trying any of the fixes. First, give it a birdseye view for any visible holes.

If you find none, do a physical inspection and feel for a leak on the mattress surface and the valve area. In most cases, you may find a hole in the mattress with this method straight away. Valves and seams are usually the first areas on an air mattress to deteriorate.

Checking these areas first may also save you a lot of time, negating the need to apply further searching.

How to find a leak in an air mattress, some working methods.

All of the methods below are effective and use minimal equipment. What we want to do is avoid inflicting more damage to an already fragile air mattress.

The first few methods need very little equipment and will use visual touch and sound techniques. In each of these methods, make sure to fill the air mattress with air before you begin unless stated otherwise.

We will then move onto secondary techniques where you may also need items like water, soap, tissues.

Again, with these methods, make sure to fill the air mattress completely before searching your air mattress for any holes.

Visual inspection of subtle air.

How to find a hole in an air mattress easily is the same one used to initially inspect the valves and seams. Apply some downward pressure on the mattress. Use standing or prone positions to spot and visually inspect the mattress.

There’s not much to this method. Start by looking at one of the mattress corners and look over it laterally until you find the hole.

Hand test for air leakages.

Pressing and feeling with hand for escaping air to find air mattress holes

Another simple manner of inspection is feeling out for a hole in your air mattresses. The first step is to apply some downward pressure on the mattress in an attempt to squeeze out air.

Then with one hand, start at one corner and motion over it laterally to find the air bed leak. It is a good idea to soak your hand in cold water as it makes a rush of air more apparent.

Listen for escaping air, whistling or hissing sound.

Squeezing and listening to the air mattress closely to hear escaping air

In a quiet environment with no disturbances, you are able to hear air leaking from a hole in the air bed.

After you inflate your mattress, place your ear close to the mattress surface and try to discern the sound of moving air. The leakage sounds will get louder as you move closer to the hole.

Once you get on top of the air mattress leak, you will are able to hear a hissing sound and feel the air rush of air against your ear.

Dish Soap or soapy water can find air mattress leaks most of the time.

Applying or spraying soapy water is a common way to find holes in air mattress

If the simple inspection methods fail to locate any holes, then it’s time to get a bit creative and use soapy water in a spray bottle. Moving onto the first accessory, let’s apply a dish soap solution onto the inflatable mattress.

You can do this efficiently by using a spray bottle or sponge. The leaky air expands the dish soap bubbles, identifying the hole. It is best to start spraying the dish soap around the valve and moving away from it until you find the leak.

Make sure to get eye level to see any tiny specks of soapy water that get expelled by air.

Submersion in bathtub, the best way to find the leak in air mattresses?

One of the fastest and best way to find leaks in air mattress’ is through water submersion. What’s required is a tub full of water and your air mattress.

Before using this method, read your air mattress’ manual online. Check to see that the mattress is waterproof and that it won’t warp or get damaged from the water submersion. Start with a partially filled air mattress and lower it into a tub of water.

You want to get as much of the mattress submerged as possible. This includes the valves and seams. The water mixed with escaping air from a hole will form air bubbles, indicating to you where the hole is.

Tissue method, liftoff can show the leakage spot.

Finger pointing to a large tear in grey vinyl air mattress

The tissue method is a mess-free way of pinpointing the location of a hole. Place some tissue paper or another light paper on sections of the air mattress.

Then manually apply weight to the mattress to push air outwards. If the piece of tissue paper is on the hole, a sudden updraft will propel it upwards. You must be in a room with little to no air movement for this method to work.

Weighing down, using weights a slow and sure method.

One slightly tedious method of finding an inflatable mattress hole is by weighing down on it. The process involves placing a paperweight or a book on a section of the mattress and observing its deflation rate.

If the mattress deflates quickly, the hole is in and around the vicinity of the weight. In my opinion, this method is repetitive and demands patience since it is unlikely you will find immediate success.

Be careful not to use to much weight as the air escaping may overwhelm the air bed and cause it to rip.

Garden hose method can find a slow air mattress leak.

Similar to the bathtub submersion, you can use a garden hose to sprinkle water over the mattress surface to search for leaks. If the water strikes the hole, it will cause air bubbles to form at that point. Make sure only to use a very slow flow of water.

It is easy to confuse the bubbles in the flowing water with the bubbles that the air mattress is creating. If this is giving you problems, you can swap the hose water for a bucket.

Bucket or spoon on the water. Make sure to remain attentive towards the formation of bubbles as they appear.

Baby powder, a messy yet effective method.

The baby powder method is to cover the air mattress in a layer of powder. As the air shoots out of a hole, it makes a cloud in the area.

You can slowly add more air to the mattress to make it easier to identify the cloud formation. This is perhaps the smelliest and messiest method out of the lot. You have been warned.

So you found an air leak, now what?

Person is cutting up a circular patch to cover vinyl tear in grey air mattress

So you have utilized one of the above methods on how to find a leak in an air mattress. Now what. Once you find the leak, mark its location with a small piece of insulation tape or permanent marker.

Be careful not to puncture the air mattress again with the metal end of the pen. Afterward, let the air mattress dry out and then deflate the mattress completely.

The final mattress repair step is to patch the hole. You need to consider a small seal that sticks to the mattress surface.

Mattress repair kits can be purchased at any decent outdoor or hardware shop. I’ve even used a bicycle tire patch up kit. Whatever the patch you use, stick it on top of the hole and make sure the area around the hole is dry and clean.

It ensures the seal remains intact. Once the repair is complete, fill up the air mattress to check if the leakage problem subsides.

Tips to avoid when finding holes in air your mattress.

A repaired blue and black air mattress outside on grass in night ready for tent
  • Don’t use any corrosive material that is going to have an acidic effect on your inflatable mattress. 
  • Don’t try and replace soap with an alternative like a moisturizer or anything sticky. They can cause damage. Leaving you with a sticky or slippery air mattress after your investigation.
  • The best solutions are the ones that resolve the problem neatly and cleanly.

Camping purists argue that going without an air bed is how nature intended camping to be. My spine tends to disagree.

I’ve always seemed to attack a full day of camping activities much harder when I’m well-rested from a good night’s sleep. If you can spend a little bit extra and get an air mattress, we highly agree and we hope that it lasts you many prosperous camping trips.

If not, make sure to check back here for these tips on how to find a hole in an air mattress. We have your back.

Sources.

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