Why is My Air Mattress Deflating but No Holes?

There are few things more frustrating than an air mattress that seems to keep deflating. Well, maybe an air mattress that not only keeps deflating but which also seems to have no holes could top that list. 

The thing is, air mattresses deflate. It is necessary to ensure your air mattress does not burst. There are several things you can do to help your mattress deflate within a functional range.

In this article, we will focus on why air mattresses deflate, and what you can do to mitigate it. After that, we will get into what you can do to prevent excessive deflation.

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Small Camping Tent and a blue air bed

Why Do Air Mattresses Deflate?

Here are some reasons why your air mattress could be deflating:

Temperature

Have you ever filled your air mattress during the day only to find it all saggy when you go to sleep later on in the evening? You probably spend the following 20 minutes searching every inch of it to find the hole, only to come up with nothing. Apart from many others we will discuss, this was most probably because of temperature fluctuations.

Air is a fluid, just with looser particles. Masses of fluids expand and contract just like solid objects do. In high temperatures, the air in the mattress is in an expanded state, and when the temperature goes down, it contracts.

So, what happens when you fill your mattress on a hot afternoon? The air in it expands a little to fill up the space inside. As temperature drops, it contracts and condenses, creating more room inside the mattress and making it sag. It does not necessarily mean that there is a hole.

It may seem tiresome to have to fill your air mattress at the end of the day, but doing this is one of the best ways to prevent deflation. Filling it with air at a cooler temperature is a good rule.

Where you put the mattress in the house or tent needs to be somewhere with minimal temperature fluctuations. Controlling the temperature indoors is easy as compared to outdoors. Indoors, you could switch on the air conditioner or avoid putting it on a cold floor. On a hot day, you could also lay the air mattress on an elevated floor of the house where hot air will rise and warm it.

Putting your air mattress on higher ground will not always help alleviate deflation. Higher altitude means lower air pressure. This lower pressure is because the weight of the atmosphere is less on high ground. Differences in air pressure promote the movement of air from high-pressure zones to low-pressure zones.

Your air mattress is forced to expel air through the valves to balance out the pressure differences in its environment.

Controlling the temperature outdoors is a little trickier but not impossible. You would need a Space Heater or try keeping the mattress under the shade of a light canopy to moderate the temperature.

Low Weight Capacity

The weight capacity of an air mattress is one factor that most people disregard.  An air mattress can only bear the weight it is designed to, and if you exceed that weight, excess air will be forced out through the valves of the mattress. This loss is so that the air mattress can accommodate the displacement.

Avoid storing things on your air mattress. If possible, do not put things heavier than a book or a baby on air mattresses; because it is not easy to know the exact weight of everything you put on the mattress.

An important thing to note for those objects with small areas is the point pressure they exert. For smaller surface areas, more pressure is exerted on the air mattress for the same mass. This point pressure may not cause much of a difference for a book, but your dog sitting on your air mattress will force more air out than the same dog lying on the air mattress.

This characteristic of pressure also implies that you should avoid sitting on your air mattress. If you can sit with your legs outstretched or make it a habit to lie flat, your mattress will thank you.

Another factor to consider is the weight of the person lying on it. The weight is considered alongside the number of people who will be using it at a go. A simple way to bypass these calculations is to get an air mattress with the highest weight capacity available. In this way, even if you gain a few extra pounds or share it with two other people, you'll be fine.

Therefore, avoid purchasing air mattresses with low weight capacity even if you intend to sleep on them alone. Get one that is slightly higher than recommended.

Stretching of the Mattress Material

Most people are satisfied with how firm their air mattresses get after they are filled with air the first time, only to get disappointed shortly after. This premature deflation can be frustrating. The first thought that most people have is that their new air mattress has holes, which is a waste of money.

Luckily, this is a common problem that is easy to explain. A new mattress has to stretch and shape itself to accommodate its new owners' weight. This stretching will increase the air mass that the air mattress can hold and will thus create some extra space within the air mattress. 

To manage this stretching, you should fill the air mattress on the first day you get it and leave it in a temperature-controlled room for a day, or at least 8 hours. After this duration, refill the air until you get your desired firmness.

Invisible Holes

Sometimes, it’s not that there aren’t any holes; you just can’t see them.

Where you put your air mattress is not just important for controlling temperature, but also for maintaining the integrity of the air mattress fabric. Sharp edges and small pins can easily puncture your air mattress and make holes so small they are invisible to your eyes.

Though microscopic, these holes are large enough to deflate your air mattress and make it sag. Hence the term “invisible holes.” This is probably the issue if you find that everything else is fine, but you still cannot see any holes anywhere.

The best and only way to prevent this is to ensure your air mattress is in a place with no sharp-edged furniture and that you avoid dropping and losing pins as much as possible. It is also advisable to put the air mattress on a soft carpet to avoid scratching the air mattress along the edges of your floor tiles.

However, if you are unfortunate enough to get a hole, you can easily patch it up. This is a temporary solution; you would still need to start budgeting for a brand new one.

Seam Leaks

You may also not see any holes, not because there aren’t any, as in the case of invisible holes, but because the problem isn’t technically a hole. Sometimes, you may have to deal with seam leaks, which is no fun at all.

A seam leak usually marks the end of your air mattress’ life. Here is why:

- Seams are not flat; adhesives can't stick onto them.

- The tension at the seams makes it hard for the patch to stay put. Imagine a gaping slit cut on your elbow or knee.

This is the one thing that should make you consider replacing your air mattress. Even if you somehow manage to fix it, it will keep bothering you, and deflation remains impossible to avoid.

Air Mattress in tent

How to Protect Your Air Mattress from Deflation

Now that we know some basic issues that could be making your air mattress deflate, what are some of the things we can do to proactively minimize this:

Take Care of the Pump Opening

The opening where the air mattress gets pumped with air needs constant care and attention. This is the largest singular opening on the air mattress, and if anything affects its rigidity and loosens it, deflation will be a common problem.

Also, since you will be opening this valve frequently, the chances of it loosening are very high. However, this does not mean that you should be hesitant to fill up the mattress with air. It only means that you need to only fill it with air when you need to.

When you suspect that your pump opening is getting loose, or even after about six months, consider reinforcing it with tape. This will help keep it secure. The simplest thing to do is to handle it with utmost care.

Fold It Carefully

Folding creates lines of tension along the folded edges. These areas of weakness can result in rapturing of the air mattress fabric and hence deflation. To avoid this, do not fold your air mattress too many times when packing it for a trip. If possible, store it without folding it.

Folding also misaligns the perfectly balanced portions of the air mattress. This creates air pressure differences and upsets the internal air pressure balance. This may result in the air having to be forced out excessively through the air mattress’ valves, thus deflating it.

If you must fold an air mattress, ensure that you only fold it once or twice. Also, fold it along the same edge that you had previously folded it along.

Consider an Automatic Pump

Automatic pumps detect air pressure differences within the air mattress and fix them immediately. They do this using never flat pump technology that detects the air loss, then sets off a silent pump to refill the air.

Of course, this is the more expensive option, but it is also the option that reduces the amount of babysitting you must do for your air mattress. A mattress with an automatic air pump is the way to go if you have the means.

Only Purchase High-Quality Brands

This should go without saying, but I will add it here because it can save you a lot of time, resources, effort, and money.

When it comes to air mattresses, the quality of the brand makes a difference. With good design, some issues such as stretching are greatly minimized, and you can start using your mattress right away—no need to wait for a whole 24-hours.

Other quality brands are made of fabric that is both scratch and puncture resistant. Even if you accidentally drop a sharp pin or bump up the air mattress against the sharp edge of your lampstand, it won’t tear. The seams of such mattresses also hardly ever rip.

Quality brands will also have reasonable warranty offers so that any damage to your mattress that you cannot fix will get fixed by them. This also means you will not need to struggle with tape over your pump opening too soon: it will probably be made to withstand anything.

You may have to spend a considerable amount to get a brand like Sound Asleep Dream Series Air Mattress or Intex Comfort Plush Elevated Dura-Beam Airbed, but you will enjoy your sleep more and save money in the long run. 
Andrew Mullen
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