How to Repair Holes in Towable Tubes

by Joe Steel
Towable tubes carry from one to several passengers.

Towable tubes carry from one to several passengers.

If you're old enough, the image that pops in your head when you "tube" in reference to water sports will likely be a simple, black inner tube. Today's towable tube is a whole different animal. They come in a dazzling array of sizes, shapes and colors. Most often, if your towable tube isn't holding air it is more than likely due to a change in the weather -- air expands when it's hot and shrinks when it's cold -- or an improperly seated air valve. Check the valves first before deciding to make a repair.

1. Remove the air bladder from the nylon cover and set the cover aside.

2. Mix a solution of dish soap and water in a bucket or other suitable container. Use enough soap in the water so it will create bubbles.

3. Dip the sponge in the soap solution and spread it over the bladder to find the leak. When you spot air bubbles coming up through the soap solution, you've found the leak. Lay the bladder on a flat surface with the leak facing you.

4. Draw a circle around the leak with a marking pen. Towel off the soap solution and let the area with the leak air dry until it is completely dry.

5. Lightly sand the area around the leak with the sandpaper. Don't overdo it -- you want it just slightly roughed up.

6. Cut a piece from the patch material from the repair kit to fit over the leak. You'll want a bit of extra patch for the glue. Cut the patch into a round or oval shape.

7. Apply a thin layer of glue from the tube in the repair kit to both the patch and the area around the leak or cut. Wait a minute or so before putting on the patch.

8. Press the patch down onto the leak and press hard. Smooth out any air bubbles with your fingers. Allow the patch to dry for 24 hours before adding air to the tube, installing it back in its nylon cover and using it.

Items you will need

  • Dish soap
  • Sponge
  • Bucket
  • Marking pen
  • Towel or rag
  • Fine grit sandpaper
  • Scissors
  • Repair kit including patch material and glue

Tip

  • If you have lost the repair kit that came with your towable tube, you can find replacement repair kits at sporting goods stores or purchase online.

Warning

  • Apply the patch in a well-ventilated area to avoid inhaling the chemical fumes from the glue.

About the Author

Joe Steel is a Northwest-based editor, writer and novelist, former news editor of an outdoor weekly. He also was an editor at a Seattle-based political weekly and editor of a monthly business magazine. He has been published in the "Seattle Times," the "Washington Post" and the "Foreign Service Journal," among other publications.

Photo Credits

  • David De Lossy/Photodisc/Getty Images