How to Repair Holiday Inflatables

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Things You'll Need

  • Paper

  • Masking tape

  • Household cleaner

  • Paper towels

  • Vinyl repair kit

  • Scissors

  • Clear or colored vinyl matching the damaged inflatable area

  • Needle

  • Durable thread matching the fabric color

Inflatable decorations are a fun way to decorate your yard with life-size decorations. You may find them on Amazon or at many local stores around the holiday season. They are easy to store once you deflate them, but it is not always readily apparent when you have a problem.

The downside to inflatables is that they are prone to leaks, punctures or tears that render them unusable. Rather than discarding your favorite holiday inflatables, many of them can be mended with tape or a vinyl repair patch. Many inflatables will come with a vinyl repair kit, but you may also be able to use materials from the patch kits for an inflatable pool, inflatable kayaks and rafts, bounce houses or air mattresses.

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The exact repair method depends on the extent of the damage and the location of the tear, as well as the material your inflatable toys and decorations are made of. While you may be able to use everyday packing tape as a short-term solution to patch small holes, it is best to take the time for more heavy-duty and long-lasting repairs.

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Inspect vinyl inflatables to locate tears

Turn the inflatable on if it is outdoors and uses a fan motor to inflate. Walk around the display to locate the source of the leak. This can be difficult, especially if there is just a pinhole leak. If you can't find it, hold up a piece of paper near the inflatable when the fan is on during a non-windy day; the paper should move near the leak. Place a piece of masking tape near the hole to mark the spot. Turn off the fan and allow the air to escape the inflatable.

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Remove the masking tape. Clean the area surrounding a hole or tear using a household cleaner and paper towels. Soapy water made with dish soap will also work to clean the area. Allow it to dry completely.

Prepare the vinyl patch

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Cut a piece of vinyl out of the inflatable repair kit large enough to cover the hole. Make sure the edges of the patch extend an inch or so away from the tear in all directions.

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If the color of the back of the patch in the kit is vastly different from the color of the inflatable in the damage location, purchase clear vinyl or a color matching the inflatable from a craft store, cutting it to size.

Apply the vinyl kit

Apply the adhesive from the vinyl repair kit to the perimeter of the vinyl piece, centering and smoothing it in place on the inflatable over the damaged section. Allow it to set up for as long as recommended by the kit manufacturer, as this may vary by brand.

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Repair tears in fabric inflatables

Repair tears within nylon material using a needle and thread. Cut a piece of thread three times longer than the length of the tear in the nylon.

Thread the needle and tie the ends of the thread together in a knot to create a loop.

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Sew the torn fabric

Pinch the area on either side of the nylon tear together, then stitch through both sides of the tear at one end of the damage. Pull the thread until the knot reaches the nylon, then loop your hand back over near where you began, pushing the needle through the nylon half an inch or so away from the first stitch, going through the nylon on both sides of the hole once again.

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Continue looping over the pinched nylon, stitching it until the entire damaged area is closed. Tie a knot in the thread near the end of the repair and cut away the excess thread.

Tip

If the hole is along a seam line, first repair the seam using a tent-seam repair adhesive; otherwise, the patch may not work properly. Once the adhesive cures, place a patch over the area using the vinyl repair kit adhesive.

For damage to the nylon area, duct tape matching the nylon color can be used to patch the piece in a pinch. The sticky adhesive may be difficult to remove completely if you wish to remove it at a later date.

Find adhesive patches for all kinds of surfaces, including PVC vinyl, at a marine supply store.

Warning

Do not use a fan or blower if it sparks, makes odd noises or shows damage to the electrical cord. Replace the device.

Packaging tape and many other tapes are not weatherproof. They may provide a temporary fix but will not stick to inflatables for long.

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