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Handy Guide to Inflatable Repair
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Handy Guide to Inflatable Repair

Despite the durability of towable water tubes and snow tubes, they can become damaged over time, due to improper inflation, or just plain old wear & tear.  


All Kwik Tek towable tubes carry a 1 year warranty, but if your product falls outside the warranty period, this handy guide will help you get some extra life out of your investment by providing inflatable repair instructions.




How to Find the Leak


Before diving into the task of locating a leak on the surface of your inflatable, check the valve. These leaks are often caused by grit or sand that jams the device and prevents the one-way speed safety valve flap from closing properly. Use an air pump to blow out any foreign fragments from the valve. If this is the source of the leak and it continues to let out air, then the inflatable may need a new valve.


Consider keeping a small bottle of inexpensive dish soap and small bucket onboard your boat. You’ll need it to locate leaks in towable inflatables. In the bucket, combine a squirt or two of soap with water until you have a mixture that your kids could use to blow bubbles. Remove the tube section of the towable from its protective cover, and add air to it until the tube is taut. The next step is to dip a sponge or cloth into the dish soap mixture. Then, apply it to the tube section. If there is a hole in the tube, bubbles will begin to form around the spot.


If you don’t have soap with you, then you can locate the leak by removing the tube from the protective section of the inflatable. Deflate the tube until it’s about 3/4 full of air. Take the partially inflated tube and slowly submerge it under the water. Submerge the tube section by section. With patience, you’ll spot a line of bubbles signaling the leak. Once you’ve determined the source of a leak, circle it with a permanent marker. Check the entire surface of the tube for additional leaks since the inflatable may have more than one.


IMPORTANT: If the damage to the tube is along a seam, it may, unfortunately, not be repairable. In that case, you may want to consider purchasing a new tube. Replacement tubes and other assorted parts can be found here.



How to Repair Towable Water Tubes


With the right kit, you can repair minor holes and tears in all types of inflatables. We carry repair kits for vinyl tubes. If your inflatable is made of PVC, you'll need a different type of repair kit, but never fear...West Marine has your back.


Repairing inflatables is a multistep process. To repair your inflatable:

• Clean and dry the damaged area

• Apply one to two drops of repair adhesive to the hole  

• Allow the adhesive to dry for 24 hours


For large holes, be sure to use a vinyl patch. To complete this type of repair, you’ll need to:

• Cut one of the vinyl patches to a size that covers the hole and beyond it by about 1/2 of an inch

• Form the patch into a round or oval shape without corners

• • Use the Airhead vinyl repair kit to smear a thin layer of repair adhesive across the surface of the patch as well as along the area that requires repair

• Before positioning the patch on the inflatable, permit the adhesive to dry for two to four minutes until it’s tacky to the touch

• Place the patch over the damaged section of the inflatable

• Beginning at the center of the patch, press down and slide your fingers out to the edges to create a seal

• Set a heavy object like a diving weight or a landscaping stone over the patched section to ensure that it dries flat

• Allow the adhesive to dry for an additional 24 hours (minimum)


How to Repair Vinyl Inflatable



Ensuring Inflatable Repair Success


When applying the repair adhesive, make sure that it coats the entire hole. If you’re repairing inflatables with the kit’s patches, add a little more adhesive to the edges of the patch after the drying process is complete to increase the strength of the seal. Also, confirm that the adhesive is completely dry and that the repair was successful before launching the inflatable back into the water.



A Few Words of Caution


The adhesive used to repair inflatables is flammable, so be sure to store it away from all heat sources. Don’t smoke while using it, and avoid making repairs near an open flame. When using the repair kit, make sure that you’re in a well-ventilated area. In addition, take precautions to avoid contact with your skin, eyes, and clothing.



Built to Last


Inflatable water and snow tubes are made from durable materials, but because the covering is malleable, it is susceptible to punctures and abrasions. Proper care is the best way to prevent repairs.



Storage Tips for Inflatable Water Tubes:



Storage Tips for Inflatable Snow Tubes:





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