Best adhesive for plugging a leak in an air pillow?
March 20, 2014 9:09 AM   Subscribe

My inflatable air pillow sprang a leak. What do I use to fix it?

I have on hand these three things:

1. Gorilla glue (super glue)
2. Silicone adhesive
3. Duck tape

Only other relevant detail is that I put a lot of pressure on it-- I sit on it sometimes.

I am having trouble figuring out how to google this question even though the answer is probably pretty obvious. So thank you for your help.
posted by vincele to Grab Bag (15 answers total)
My experience with air furniture is, once it's damaged, just get a new one.

However, especially with the sitting-on-it variable, air is pushing outwards -- anything you put on the outside will be pushed away from the hole, allowing air to escape. Tapes won't work for more than a very temporary time.

So, either the hole is large enough to squirt something inside, or you need to open it a little bit in order to be able to squirt something inside, such that it plugs the hole from the inside, and air pressure will push the hole shut. You want something sticky, but moderately flexible, that will create a new layer on the inside of the pillow, blocking the hole in the process. I'd recommend something like Shoe Goo (is that like the 'silicone adhesive' you describe?)

But, this isn't a great solution; you may be better to just buy a new one. Flexible, plastic, and air-pressure are a bad combination for repairs.
posted by AzraelBrown at 9:16 AM on March 20, 2014

Is this of the therm-a-rest variety? They make cheap repair kits that work really well. All macguyver type solutions I've tried have inevitably failed.
posted by Big_B at 9:17 AM on March 20, 2014

I'm sure there's a way to MacGyver something with materials you have, but what you need is a waterbed patch kit. I think I bought one at a hardware store? Maybe Target? They've worked great for inflatable rafts so I'm sure it will hold up a pillow.
posted by shornco at 9:17 AM on March 20, 2014 [2 favorites]

Well the best would probably be some type of two part where you mix in a few drops of activator just as you apply. But as or actually much more important is the prep. Us a solvent to perfectly clean and dry the area, maybe acetone but you must check the type of material. Even more important is to do the patch on a very dry day, any humidity will reduce the hold. Do the patch on hard flat surface with a good weight, 5+ pounds.

But forget about sitting on it again, will not last long.
posted by sammyo at 9:18 AM on March 20, 2014

Your best option is probably to go to a bike shop and get an innertube patch kit. That said, it may not hold. Then again...
posted by Thorzdad at 9:27 AM on March 20, 2014 [2 favorites]

I've used this stuff with great success to repair an air mattress that the cats got a little too friendly with. Your silicone adhesive might be the next closest, out of what you have on hand.
posted by jeffjon at 9:31 AM on March 20, 2014

Waterbed or innertube patch kit is your best bet. Duct tape will suffice in the mean time.
posted by amaire at 9:39 AM on March 20, 2014

I plugged an air mattress leak last year using an innertube patch I found at a Target. This Target didn't have anything else to use and it worked in a pinch. It was very easy to apply.
posted by Green With You at 9:47 AM on March 20, 2014

Thanks for all the suggestions everyone.

Believe me if I could I would just buy a new one. I really don't have the money... even for this minor expense. I am in a MacGuyver place in my life unfortunately.

But I really am just asking here which of those three things I already have sticks best to cheap plastic? Like from a chemistry or do-it-yourself sense.

Then once it fully craps out I'll go buy a new one.
posted by vincele at 10:07 AM on March 20, 2014

Shoe Goo. Works every time. Tough and flexible.
posted by gnossos at 10:35 AM on March 20, 2014

Duct tape.
posted by amaire at 10:48 AM on March 20, 2014

seconding intertube patch kit. Make sure to THOROUGHLY sand the surface beforehand.

Put a piece of gorilla tape(not just normal duct tape) over it. That stuff sticks to plastics like it was melted on.

If it's at a seam, which you didn't specify, you are completely fucked.
posted by emptythought at 12:32 PM on March 20, 2014

I work in Product Development for a company which manufacturers air beds (unfortunately we do not have pillows, or I'd just send you one.)

Your success is contingent on you knowing precisely where the leak is coming from and the type of leak that is occurring. An Air bed repair kit or DIY repair works best on pin holes. Though not impossible, as noted in this thread, seam rips can be quite a bit trickier (depends on length of tear and type of seam), and inflation valve leaks render the item nearly useless.

Also note that if there is any flocking (fuzzy) material at the hole/rip, an inflatable repair will likely not work for long, if at all.

Given your materials, I would use the super glue (while deflated), let sit for two/four hours, and inflate. Re-apply super glue in the surrounding area (depending on the chemical make up of the glue, be sure that applying more glue will not re-liquify the existing glue), and then cover with duct tape. Depending on your use, this may only be a temporary repair, especially if you're using this for seating.

For permanent repairs, we use a chemical from West Marine which is normally used to repair inflatable rafts which seals the leak via a flexible sealant from the inside. (It's really expensive @ 70+ a bottle, meant to coat the interior of an entire inflatable raft, and I'm only mentioning this for future AskMe searches)

With all that said, as I noted above, the company I work for makes air beds, so I can send you two types of standard air bed repair kits (PVC clear sticker and Blue PVC circle patch + glue) if you MeMail me an address, and can afford to wait 5-7 days (It'd be FL to ND, I believe)
posted by Debaser626 at 12:41 PM on March 20, 2014 [5 favorites]

Got me a solution, Debaser626! Will see if super glue holds until the kits arrives. Thank you very much.
posted by vincele at 4:27 PM on March 20, 2014

Since you say it is a "cheap plastic" pillow, I will answer that inflatable plastic items can be permanently repaired using the PVC cement sold for gluing PVC plumbing pipes. This is available in any hardware store. It's probably the same stuff that Debaser is offering you. If there's a flap of material outside of the pillow's seam, you can cut a piece off to use as a patch, but this is not always necessary; a blob of PVC cement on the hole will constitute a patch by itself once it's dried.

Of the things you have on hand, I'm not really confident in any of them.

Gorilla glue is not super glue (cyanoacrylate), it's a urethane glue, and it dries hard and brittle. Unless the volatile chemicals in it dissolve the plastic of the pillow, I doubt that it will work.

Duct tape might work for a while, but the air pressure will eventually push a path under it and escape again.

Silicone adhesive might work, if it sticks to the plastic. It doesn't always stick.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 10:05 AM on March 21, 2014 [1 favorite]

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