Water sports are tons of fun but sometimes the equipment gets damaged. Towable tubes are one of those items that have lots of problems with pin hole leaks. So as an addition to the post on towable tubes (see post here) I’m adding how to find and fix those pesky leaks.
We always keep a bottle of cheap dish soap (please find something bio-degradable) on board our wakeboard boat. You’d be surprised at how often we have to use it! One of the uses we’ve found is for locating leaks or small holes in our towable toys. If you mix it with water (if on your boat use a cup holder or neoprene bottle/can cover) make a mix that would make ‘blowing bubbles’ for kids.
Deflate and remove the tube from the protective cover and then re-inflate. Once you have that done, pour the soap mix over it and watch for bubbles…ah ha! There’s the leak. If however, you don’t have soap you can remove the tube and inflate about 3/4’s full and then submerge one section at a time under water. If you’re off the lake or river you’ll need a pool or bathtub. Just take your time and work one small section at a time. Look for that tell tale trail of bubbles coming up in the water.
Once you find the leak circle it with a pen. Keep looking for leaks there maybe more of them. Once you’ve located the leak/s use the patch kit that came with your towable tube. If you threw it out or have misplaced it, then you’ll need to go to the store. Most big stores that sell summer fun stuff like pool floats etc. will have patch kits. Just follow the instructions that come with it. Always keep a good supply on board, as these tubes are fun but flimsy.
Be sure to deflate and dry the tube before you apply the patch and if you let the glue sit a bit before you apply the patch it seems to work better, let it get kinda ‘tacky’. If your problem is on the seam of the tube then you’ll need two patches of equal size. One for each side of the seam. Apply the first patch from above the hole and run it smoothly down to the seam and allow a section to over hang the edge of the seam. Turn the tube over and apply the second patch in the same mannor, only this time as you come off the seam press both patches together. Allow the patch to cure 24 hrs with some weight laying on it. This seems to give us our best bet.
Always be sure to let the patch ‘cure’ before you use it again or you’ll be right back at it. Leaks are a fact of life for towable tubes so don’t stress when you get a hole. We’ve had tubes that have had many, many patches before we’ve replaced it. Be sure too that you do have a leak before you deflate the tube. The difference between air temp and water temp can be quite big and you may find that your tube really only needs more air once it’s on the water.
If you just bought the towable tube and have a leak, you might want to think about taking it back to the store and asking for a replacement. Sometimes they’ll do that, especially if you’ve only been out on it once. We always buy ours from a marine store and have had them replace them no questions asked if the leak happens the first day out. Of course, if you’ve been out a week doing Mach II on the water and tossing the riders off left and right….
Have fun and stay safe!
5 Comments posted on "Find and Repair Leaks in Towable Tubes"
pacificnorthwestboating.com » Blog Archive » Towable Tubes Equal Water Sports Fun! on August 28th, 2007 at 11:27 am #
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Jennifer on May 12th, 2010 at 1:53 pm #
I hadn’t thought of that soap trick before, that’s an awesome idea! Sounds a lot easier than submerging it and looking for air bubbles!
Debbie on May 16th, 2010 at 8:40 pm #
Yep, we used the soapy water to find leaks a number of times. Hope it helps you.
Towable Tubes on February 15th, 2011 at 11:39 am #
That’s a lot of great advice. Thanks for posting!
aaron lazzarich on January 2nd, 2016 at 7:13 pm #
Hi. Ive tried soapy water trick 3 times. Summerged it in water. Even filled it with water and food dye to find leak. Still no luck. Only goes down when in the water. Any ideas what i can try next?
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