How do I find and repair air leak in an inflatable boat, kayak or raft?
If you are losing air pressure, (aside from pressure loss commonly caused by colder temperatures), check the boat over for air leaks. Air must to escape somewhere for air chamber to become soft. No magic here. The best tool to find air leaks is soap, shampoo or dish detergent mixed with water in a spray bottle. Start by checking the valves first. Spray around the valve on a suspected air chamber. If you see bubbles forming, check your valve fitting and base and be sure the valve insert is screwed on tight and pushpin is in correct position. See FAQ below for more help with leaky air valves.
To find tiny leaks on a boat surface, fully inflate the boat until it’s hard to the touch. Put some liquid detergent in a bucket of water and scrub it all over the boat with rag or big wash brush. Watch for elusive or tiny bubbles. When you find the first leak, keep looking. You might as well fix them all at the same time! Remember, the number one cause of slow leaks is due to poorly fitted valves. Unscrew the valve and clean the area. Make sure the little rubber O-rings are still good. They are the cheapest repair possible.
If you have no luck finding a slow leak with air bubbles, inflate the boat to it’s maximum air pressure and try to listen for the leak. If you can narrow the area down, return with a spray bottle to identify the source of the leak.
Divide air chamber surface into imaginary squares, and apply soapy mix to that square and then look against surface to see for bubbles. If no bubbles are appears after 5-10 minutes, then move to another square. Don’t forget to apply soapy water all along seams.
Punctures less than 1/8″ in size can be repaired simply without a patch. Deflate your boat, then clean and dry the area to be repaired. Apply a small drop of glue to cover the puncture and let dry for 12 hours. If you need to get on the water sooner, let dry for 30 minutes and then inflate the boat, inflating the compartment with the repair only 3/4 full. This repair might not be permanent so add a drop again at a later date to make it permanent.
Your inflatable boat comes with a repair kit as standard equipment. It is recommended to do repairs in dry weather. Humidity will decrease glue bond. Cut a piece of repair material large enough to overlap the damaged area by approximately 1″ and round off the edges. Apply glue to the under side of the patch and around the area to be repaired. Too much glue will often interfere with a proper repair. Allow adhesive to become tacky for 5 minutes, and then place patch on the damaged area. Use a weight to apply 3-5 lbs. of pressure for 24 hours. After the patch has dried, apply glue around the edges for a complete seal (dry 6 hours).
Click Play to see Video how to repair holes in PVC boat or visit http://youtu.be/FrTuYP3UNmY?hd=1
What to do if inflatable boat compartments become soft over time?
All inflatable products, including dinghies, kayaks and rafts are tested at our factory. They are kept fully inflated for 48 hours after the SATURN logos are applied to the product tubes. Therefore, it is extremely unlikely that brand new inflatable products are leaking air right out of the box. If air is escaping rapidly from a valve when you inflate your product for the first time, then most likely you are not properly locking the air valve.
Please note, that since air chambers are separated by inner baffles, it is possible that air leak in one chamber will cause other chamber to become soft too. In this case you will need to pinpoint which chamber is actually leaking air. To do that you will need to deflate other chambers, and inflate only one chamber at the time to the full air pressure, and then see if it will get soft overt time, or if you can find air bubbles anywhere with application of soapy water. If inflated chamber holding air good and no soapy bubbles are observed, then it mean that some other chamber can be compromised. Repeat same operation with different chambers until you will pinpoint leaking chamber.
If air leak is very slow, it might be difficult to immediately detect air bubbles. Try to press on air chamber to increase pressure or leave for couple minutes. If valve is leaking, then you will see small bubbles forming in a place of air leak.
If you are observing air bubbles around the valve housing perimeter while applying a soapy mixture, there is a possibility that the valve needs to be tightened with a specialized valve tool. Such tools may be purchased or borrowed at http://www.BoatsToGo.com/valves.asp. It should also be included with your repair kit.
Click Play to see Video how to replace air valve or visit http://youtu.be/IBQ3E8BoV5Q
What are the differences between drop stitch air and plywood floors?
Once inflated, a high pressure air floor becomes as rigid as a plywood floor. You can stand, walk or even jump on it, the same way you could on plywood floor.
If you are planning to inflate and deflate your boat often, then the air floor is your best solution, because the boat folds compactly. It’s a breeze to assemble and inflatable boats with air floor. Just roll out-and inflate.
Assembling a plywood floor is a little bit of a hassle, and therefore we recommend plywood floors only if you keep the boat inflated most of the time. Another advantage of an air floor is that it is much lighter then a plywood floor. Due to it’s lighter weight, the boat can achieve a higher speed much easier then with a plywood floor. Plus, an air floor is easy on your knees and absorbs vibrations better then a plywood floor. Because of these outstanding features, most of our customers prefer boats with air floors.