Sleeping on the mattress and waking up on a saggy or flat plastic bed is one of the worst things that can happen to a camper. But, the love of cozy and bouncy air mattresses makes hundreds of campers buy them every year. It is a fact that an air mattress is the only sleeping gear that gives the comfort of the bed but, there aren’t many air mattresses that can be used for longer time periods.
But why is it that every airbed, no matter how good, deflates at some point? This is the question that probably runs through your mind when you end up on the floor. That’s why I have written a blog post suggesting 6 alternatives to air mattresses if you are looking for one.
Anyway, back to the topic – Why does my air mattress keep deflating and how to fix it.
Here is your quick answer; Air mattress deflation can be caused by factors like punctures, temperature variation, and excessive weight over the mattress. Whereas prolonged and direct heat exposure can make the PVA-bed lose its strength which makes it prone to tear. It can be fixed by using a generous amount of silicone sealant and duct tape.
Why does my air mattress keep deflating?
There are multiple reasons for the deflation other than holes and punctures.
#1 Temperature Variation
In the wilderness, temperatures seem to vary a lot during the day and night.
In the nighttime, the temperature lowers down significantly which cools down the air inside the mattress. Now as we already know, that air mattresses are never filled to their maximum capacity (because of seam stress), so when the temperature goes down to significant degrees, air pressure decreases too which is why it becomes saggier and uncomfortable.
#2 Direct contact or long exposure to heat
Most air mattresses are made up of PVA, which expand and lose their strengths in high temperatures.
Tents are generally having a lot of heating devices. Be it a heater, stove, hot bottles, or heat vent. If you keep your airbed close to the window or any heating device and it gets exposed to direct sunlight or heaters, and the parts of the bed that are exposed to direct heat get warmed up and will rupture with even slight contact with any sharp object.
#3 Pet Encounters
Most campers love camping with their pets because it’s much more fun.
Well, let me tell you that cat claws are the worst enemy of air beds. When you make your cat or dog sleep on that air bed, they at times rupture these beds with their paws. Those holes are so tiny that you don’t even notice them until you lie down and feel sudden deflation.
If you are camping with pets, I would recommend getting a camping cot instead of an air mattress because, no matter how careful you are, it’s going to puncture. Another option is opting for hammock camping.
#4 Weakened seams
Seams are the most significant part of these mattresses.
You can fix needles, stick and paw holes on top of the mattress with any adhesive, but seams require much more to fix. Seams can be affected by multiple factors like excessive weight on the bed and expansion due to heat exposure. The heat exposure to seam is due to heaters in most cases.
Seams can get affected by something as minimal as overinflation and weight as it is the only part that bears the maximum stretch.
Also, If the air bed is kept close to the heater while sleeping, the sides and seams of the PVA-made bed will get exposed to heat and will expand letting the air out. And, soon after you’ll end up on the ground wondering why it happened.
How to fix deflated beds?
Follow these steps to fix your deflated air beds:
#1 Find the hole or tear causing deflation
To fix the bed, first, you need to find the reason behind deflation.
As I said earlier, deflation can be caused by temperature or improper filling. It doesn’t have to be punctured. But, if you notice that the deflation rate is fast and the factor is causing more than 75% of beds to deflate then it’s definitely a hole.
Now, to find the hole, mix 4-5 spoons of dish wash with 100 ml water in a spray bottle and mix it well to make it lather. Spray this mix all over the bed and make sure to cover seams and the pumping area (as they are more prone to leakage). Wait for 15 seconds to see the parts that bubble the most and mark them with a marker.
Now clean the mattress with a cloth leaving the marks behind.
#2 Patch the holes from inside
Now, what most campers do is use their regular patching kit or adhesive tape to close them which mostly doesn’t work.
Why? Because when we apply adhesives from outside and inflate the mattress, the patch material stretches and loosens up, allowing the air to leak.
Whereas the right thing to do is to patch the hole from inside so when the mattress inflates, it puts the adhesive more into the hole to better seal the leakage (this is what we normally do with punctured tires)
For that, Silicone sealants are there. Silicone sealants are not only good for kitchen and bathroom fixations but can work with air mattresses as well. These sealants are super-strong and flexible as rubber when dry.
How to patch up air mattress holes?
To patch holes, all you need to do is
- Stretch the hole slightly (or keep the bed inflated) and force the tip of the silicone sealant applicator inside the hole and fill it with a generous amount of silicone.
- Then, Cover the hole up with duct tape and let it cure for twice the time written on the tube.
- Once it’s cured, remove the duct take and apply another layer of sealant on top of the holes.
- Layer the top-sealent film up with epoxy (especially on the corners of the thin sealant film).
- Then, put duct tape over the silicone-epoxy layer to patch it up completely. This will create a flexible composite patch of silicone,epoxy and duct tape which will be stronger than ever.
Once it’s cured, inflate the mattress, and the rubber-like silicon will block the leakage completely. Repeat the process where necessary.
Air mattresses may be a non-durable sleeping gear, but the correct amount of care and carefulness can make it go a long way. Because, what’s more, important than a cozy & comfortable night in camp?
Recommended Camping Gears: I have compiled a list of my favourite camping gear in one place. The selection is based on my own personal experience using them for many years camping as well as feedback from fellow campers. Check them out on my Recommended Camping Gears page