Inflatable boats are excellent vehicles for leisure and adventure. You can take them out on the white water rapids and enjoy the sea breeze. However, what do you do when there’s a puncture? How do you repair a leak on an inflatable boat? How do you ensure your bubbly, fun water rafting vacation doesn’t deflate?
In this article, we’ll walk you through a step-by-step process for repairing leaks on your inflatable boat. The fun doesn’t have to end simply because of some air escaping from the boat.
These repair tips are DIY procedures that won’t need you breaking the bank. The repair tricks are also going to be handy for unexpected situations. So, buckle up and prepare to learn.
What Floats your Boat?
Before we dive into how you can repair leaks in your inflatable boats, let's highlight the type of inflatable boats. There are primarily two types of inflatable boats. Both boat types perform the same function but are made from different materials.
The two main types of inflatable boats are:
The PVC inflatable boat is primarily made from plastic and can last up to 10 years under proper management. The Hypalon, on the other hand, is made from synthetic rubber and polyethene and possesses a neoprene layer.
Traditionally, the Hypalon is more durable than the PVC inflatable boats. The Hypalon boats can last up to 15 years under careful maintenance. Usually, to fix leaks in inflatable boats made from Hypalon, you’ll need a Hypalon adhesive.
Additionally, when repairing your inflatable boat, ensure that the relative humidity is less than 60%. Also, you want to repair your inflatable boat in temperatures between 17-25 °C.
Regardless of which type of material makes up your inflatable boat, you can patch holes on them. However, we advise you to store the inflatable boats in cool areas. Avoid exposing inflatable boats to extreme temperatures and ultraviolet rays.
Just like in medicine, prevention is better than cure. You don’t have to wait for a glaring hole to appear before you repair a leaky inflatable boat. It would be best if you actively looked out for small holes and tears.
These tiny holes are the ones that expand to pose more significant problems if they’re not dealt with early. Now, these small holes may be hard to spot. Fortunately, there’s a trick you can employ to fish out these pesky tiny holes.
- Mix up a soapy water solution and coat the inflatable boat's surface.
- If there’s any little leak on the boat's surface, that area will bubble under the soapy mixture.
- Follow the bubbles to determine the leakage.
- You can close the holes on the inflatable boat and save you money, energy and time down the road.
Related Article: How Long Do PVC Inflatable Boats Last?
How to Repair a Leak on a PVC Inflatable Boat?
We’ll show you how to patch the inflatable boat after noticing leaks. You’ll need PVC patches at any inflatable boat store.
Cut the Patch to Size
Once you get the PVC patch, you’ll have to cut it to fit the gap in the tear. Most PVC patches come in square shapes, ideal for covering more surface area. However, the corners of the squares can snap off if exposed.
Hence, it’s advisable to cut square PVC patches into circles. The round patches won’t overlap, making it simpler to repair your leaky inflatable boat. Once you’ve cut out the right shape for the leak, we proceed to the next step.
Sanding the Patch
PVC patches are glossy and smooth by design. This characteristic means you’ll need to sand PVC patches down before applying them over leaks.
This step in fixing leaks in the inflatable boat helps adhesion. The point of sanding both the PVC patch and leakage is to create an area where the PVC patch can cling. If you don’t sand it down, you risk having the PVC patch slide off.
Cleaning up the Patch Area
Once you have sanded down the PVC patch and the leakage area, you’ll need to clean both sides. You can use rubbing alcohol to clean off sanded particles on the boat and the patch. Furthermore, before you repair the leak on the inflatable boat, I’m sure you’ll want it sterilized and cleaned.
Applying an Adhesive
Once you’ve sanded and cleaned the area and the patch, it’s time to apply some adhesive. You’ll need PVC glue here.
The first thing to close the inflatable boat's hole is to use the glue on the patch and the leak. After applying the glue, you should wait an hour for the adhesive to set.
Then, apply a second coat of the adhesive to both the patch and the leak and wait 10 minutes. Lastly, apply the glue to the patch and the leak for the third and final time.
For the third time, you only need to wait a few minutes. By now, the glue should have created a good bonding layer for the patch onto the leak.
Applying the Patch
Once the glue has set thoroughly, you can place the patch over the leak. Ensure to carefully patch the inflatable boat leak from one end to the other. Once you’ve covered the entire leak, use a rolling material to smooth out any air pockets.
Once you’re done smoothing out the patch, clean up any spilt glue on the boat’s surface. Now all that’s left is to let the patch harden in place over the next 24 to 48 hours. After waiting, your inflatable boat will look just as brand new as you bought it.
How to Repair a Leak on a Hypalon Inflatable Boat?
Repairing a leak in an inflatable boat made from Hypalon material is similar to PVC. However, there are a few key differences. Let’s check out these differences, shall we?
Cut Out the Patch Shape
As with the PVC patches, you can get Hypalon patches from where you buy inflatable boats. Make sure to cut the patches into round shapes for easy patching.
Sanding the Patch
As with PVC boats, you’ll need to sand the Hypalon patches. However, remember that Hypalon is made from rubber, so ensure to go easy on the sanding. You don’t want to eat too much into the patch and boat material.
Cleaning the Area
You’ll need to remove the sanding particles and purify the area. Hence, you’ll need to apply a solvent to clean the area. However, unlike the PVC inflatable boats, we advise you to use acetone instead of rubbing alcohol.
We also advise you to wear a face mask and gloves when applying the solvent. The Hypalon material can give off potentially dangerous fumes when in contact with these solvents. Once you’ve rubbed the patch and the leak with the solvent, leave both to dry.
Applying the Adhesive
Fix leaks in inflatable boats made with Hypalon with special Hypalon glue. It’s essential to use this Hypalon glue and no other one. Once you have the Hypalon glue, apply it to the surface of the leak and the patch.
As with the PVC patch and glue, you wait an hour after applying the Hypalon glue. Then, reapply the sealant a second time and wait for 10 minutes. Lastly, apply the glue for a third and final time before waiting a few minutes.
Applying the Patch and Finishing Off
Once you’ve confirmed the adhesive is fully set, you can apply the Hypalon patch. Place the patch slowly and carefully over the leak from one end to another. Then, smooth over the patch to remove air bubbles with a roller.
Now that you know how to repair the leaks on the inflatable boat, you can finish by cleaning any spillages and residue left. Then, allow the Hypalon inflatable boat to sit for 24 to 48 hours so the patch can fully materialize.
With this knowledge of patching leaks, you can confidently buy inflatable boats without worrying about repairing them yourself. Feel bold and free to sail the white water rapids without fear of patching up your inflatable boats.
Related Article: Do You Need a Boating License for an Inflatable Boat?
Repairing leaks in your inflatable boat isn’t rocket science. You can quickly patch things up when the need arises.
Also, check for those pesky air holes that might manifest on the boat. You want to fix those as soon as you can.
But before fixing a leak, you’ll need to buy an inflatable boat first. So, why don’t you check Perun Outdoor’s collection of resilient and tough inflatable boats. Never again will you have to end your water rafting vacation abruptly.