How to Repair Holiday Inflatables

Stitching or special repair patches fix damaged inflatables.
Stitching or special repair patches fix damaged inflatables. (Image: Brian McEntire/iStock/Getty Images)

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 patched with tape or a vinyl repair kit. The exact repair method depends on the extent of the damage and the location of the tear.

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

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Basic Inspection and Vinyl Repair

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. 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.

Remove the masking tape. Clean the area surrounding a hole or tear using a household cleaner and paper towels. Allow it to dry completely.

Cut a piece of vinyl out of the vinyl repair kit to cover the hole with an inch or so spare material in all directions. If the color of the vinyl in the kit is vastly different than 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 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.

Fabric Repair

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.

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 to 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.

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

Tips & Warnings

  • 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 at a marine supply store.
  • 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 and will not stick to inflatables for long.

References

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