How To Fix Your iSUP Valve
There's nothing that will fill you with dread faster than seeing air bubbles and hearing the hiss of air escaping from your inflatable paddle board while you're out paddling around. Except seeing a great white tailing you; that would be worse.
The good news is that inflatable paddleboard repair is so much easier than fixing dings on a hard paddle board. We'll review the repair process here and explain different techniques for locating leaks and applying patches to get rid of those pesky leaks once and for all. Don't fret- small holes are an easy fix.
An Inflatable SUP Repair Kit is Inexpensive & Easy to Use
While every Glide inflatable SUP comes with a repair kit included, you might have misplaced or forgotten yours. Don't worry, PVC patches and glues don't cost much money- they'll usually only cost about $10-$20. Each Glide inflatable paddleboard repair kit contains glue, PVC patches, and a valve wrench.
Locate the leak and get the inflatable sup board out of the water
Once you've spotted where the air is leaking from, dry the area around the puncture and try to identify what caused it. That won't always be possible, but anything that helps you avoid further punctures is good to know. Sometimes, the search for an elusive leak can be frustrating. The easiest way to locate a leak is to have the inflatable SUP board blown up to at least 1 PSI and then pouring water with just a bit of dishwashing detergent mixed in over the SUP so that any leaks will make persistent bubbles.
Prepare both the patch and the SUP
Deflate the board and clean the surface around the puncture with rubbing alcohol. Scuffing it lightly with sandpaper can help with adhesion of the glue on the patch as well. You want the patch to extend at least an inch around the hole. If possible, trim the material to make round patches whenever possible. Corners create a point that can snag on things and pull on the patch, weakening the glue, so getting it as circular as possible is ideal. If the hole is close to a D-ring or the pad, your patch may have to have a square edge, round any corners if possible; just remember that round patches are ideal and try to get the best fitting patch shape on the location of the leak.
Apply the glue
Once you have the repair site prepped, and your PVC patch is trimmed to fit, apply a very thin layer of PVC glue separately to both the patch and the inflatable paddle board. After applying the glue, press the two surfaces together and apply pressure evenly on the patch. Wipe off any excess glue around the repair patch to avoid it attracting dirt. Curing times vary based on conditions, but allowing the patch adhesive to fix overnight is best.
When you shop for SUP accessories, you might want to pick up some low cost self-stick repair patches. These don't use glue but have tape on one side. You just peel and press the patch onto the leak and there's no messy glue to clean up.
Is it fixed? Checking your repair
Fully re-inflate the paddleboard to the recommended PSI after the repair has cured. Pour the soapy water over the site of the leak and check for leaks. It's very rare for a patch to fail, but if you should find a leak, you can either remove the patch, and glue on a new one, or place a larger patch over both the first patch and more of the surface of the SUP around it.
Valve leak repairs
The most common leaks on inflatable paddle boards aren't from punctures- they're caused by loose valves. When an inflatable paddle board is assembled at the factory, the lower half of the valve is placed inside the board before the iSUP is sealed up. Once the board is completed, the top half is screwed into the lower half. Over time, the two halves can loosen and air will start escaping around the valve. Luckily, this is an easy fix.
How to diagnose a loose valve
Sometimes your valve has loosened. Sometimes your valve mechanism has failed and is no longer holding air. The way to tell the difference is simple. If you're seeing bubbles around the outer edge of the valve where it meets the surface of the board, it has become loose. Remove the cap and let water down into the valve assembly itself; if you see bubbles coming up out of the center of the valve, it isn't sealing properly and either needs to be repaired or replaced.
That funny looking wrench
In your repair kit, along with the patch material and glue, you'll find a funny-looking plastic wrench (a customer once described it as "that little measuring cup-looking thing"). With the board deflated, set it on a hard surface and seat the wrench into the valve. Apply pressure to the top of the wrench to keep the valve from spinning in the board and firmly tighten it by turning it clockwise. Check for leaks around the edge of the valve and tighten it more if needed. Always return the wrench to the repair kit- it's a critical tool.
Don't let your valve wander!
If the valve mechanism needs to be fixed or replaced, do the same as above, but remove the upper half of the valve by turning it counter-clockwise.
CAUTION! Once you've removed the upper half of the valve, you need to carefully store the inflatable in a way that it won't be disturbed. The lower half is now loose inside the paddle board- if it gets moved around a lot, the valve can end up far from the opening and you'll need to search for it by feel- it can be difficult to work it back up to the valve hole when you're ready to reassemble the two halves.
After the seal is fixed, (or if you received a replacement valve) press the upper half in the lower half and tighten it again using the wrench. Check for leaks, adjust accordingly and your valve leak is now fixed!
Here's a useful video on valve repair - How to Fix your iSUP Valve
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