How to Find a Hole in an Air Mattress

There is nothing more infuriating than going to sleep on a perfectly inflated air mattress, only to wake up flat on the ground.

It can be hard to find the holes in your air mattress, but we have rounded up some of the best tips and tricks to locate them with ease. 

Check the mattress’s valves

Valves are often the main area where you will see holes and leaks. Your first step is to strip any bedding from the air mattress and move it to a clear area. 

Fill the mattress to its maximum capacity, but take care not to over inflate. Insert the valve plug into the stem and ensure it is in snugly. If you have a double locking valve, ensure the valve stem is pressed against the stop. 

If there is no leak, it is time to move on to checking the mattress. 

Use your eyes

This is fairly self-explanatory. Before you start trying to find the hole using other methods, we recommend looking over the surface of your air mattress. Begin at one corner and look across the whole mattress to see if you can spot a hole. 

Pressing gently on the surface of the mattress will make it easier to notice any holes.

Use your hands 

While you are gently pressing on the mattress surface, hold your hand about an inch above. Move the raised hand across the surface of the mattress as you press, seeing if you can feel any air escaping. 

Covering your hand in a thin layer of water before holding it over the mattress will make it more noticeable as air escapes. 

Use your ears

This method will only work if you are in a quiet and calm environment. Lower your ear to the mattress and move your head around the surface to listen out for leaks.

A hole will make a quiet hissing sound and you will be able to feel some air against your ear and cheek.

Dish soap 

Fill a spray bottle with dish soap diluted with warm water. Shake gently to ensure it is fully combined. If you do not own a spray bottle, a wet cloth soaked in the solution will suffice.

Spray along the seams of your mattress. After the valve, these are the most common locations for holes to form. Once you have sprayed the seams, move across to spraying the rest of the mattress’s surface. 

When you spray over the hole, it will create a number of soap bubbles, making it easy to identify. Once you have found it, we recommend marking the area with a pen so that you don’t lose it. 

Allow the air mattress to dry completely outside for a couple of hours. 

Garden hose

We strongly recommend placing your air mattress outside to use this method. Lay it on a garden table or a paved area. 

Spray a lot of water over the valve, looking for bubbles that appear. If you do not see any, move across to the main area of the air mattress and slowly move the stream of water across the surface. 

If any bubbles appear, this is the area where your hole is. 

Submerging in water

Before you attempt to do this, we recommend checking the manufacturer’s instructions to ensure it is okay to submerge your mattress. This is because it can cause the fabric to become oversaturated, putting unnecessary pressure on the seams. This could even cause the seams to split or protective coatings to dissolve.

You should half-fill your mattress with air. Close the valve and submerge the valve stem in a large body of water. Add some pressure to the surrounding area. 

Push one section of the mattress under the surface of the water and apply gentle pressure. If you see a stream of air bubbles coming out of the mattress, this is the location of your leak. 

Tissue method 

This is a really easy way to spot leaks in your air mattress with no mess. The only downside is that this method needs to be done in an environment where there are no breezes. 

Place a tissue on the top of your mattress and gently press on the surface. If the tissue is lying on the hole then it will be forced upwards and off the mattress. Continue moving the tissue around the surface of the mattress until you see this happen. 

Weights

Another method for finding a hole is to place a moderate weight (such as a book or paperweight) on the mattress’s surface. 

If the mattress begins to deflate rapidly, it is likely that you have placed the weight near to the hole. 

How to patch a hole

There are many commercially available patch kits designed for camping. These will have glue, sandpaper, and patches for a range of applications.

There are also specially designed air mattress patch kits if this is what you are after. You should ensure that the kit you are using is suitable for vinyl and plastic applications. 

Before you attempt to patch holes in the mattress you should completely deflate it. This is why we recommend marking the location of the hole so that you do not lose it. 

If there is any felt covering surrounding the hole, you will need to shave this off using sandpaper. This is because the adhesive will not be as effective on a rough surface. 

Use isopropyl alcohol to clean the area surrounding the hole, and then dry thoroughly.

Find or cut a patch so that it is around 1½ times the size of the hole. Check the instructions contained within your patch kit for the correct application method. They are often stickers, but some may require you to apply glue and then the patch on top. 

Firmly apply pressure to the patch. You should do this for about 30 seconds to ensure proper and efficient adhesion between the patch and the mattress surface. Allow to dry for 3 hours before inflating.

Andrew Mullen
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