Tips on How to Test a Valve for Leaks in Inflatable Boats & Towable Water Tubes

Thanks to our friends at AIRE for tips on how to test for leaks in our inflatable boats, kayaks, and water toys.

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Today we are going to be testing some different air valves for leaks. If you suspect you have a leak in one of your valves, there are a few really simple things you can do to check for that and to take care of it at home.

One of the easiest ways to check for leaks in your boat valves is just with a simple soapy water solution and dish soap does just fine for this job. We have some mixed up right now.

What I want to test for is just to see whether the air is coming out of one of these valves. And what I am just going to start by doing is pouring water in and around the valve.

Now this is going to test for two different types of leaks. What I am watching for is if any air is coming out of the very center of the valve or if it is coming out from around the perimeter. This indicates two things, if the air is coming out from the center then that means that the valve components or the seal are leaking. So the actual seal in the valve is losing air. If there is air escaping from around the valve, what it is showing me is that the valve is either mis-seated or not torqued properly and the seal around the valve in PVC is causing it to lose air.

So I will be testing this valve to see what kind of leak we have. Now those bubbles are a very clear indicator that something is happening in the seal between the valve top and the PVC. So I am going to start with one of the very simple solutions; simply taking the wrench from my repair kit and I am just going to just torque this valve down.
Well that one was easy to torque, so I want to test it the second time and see if that might have taken care of my problem. I am pretty satisfied with that.

The second common cause of a leak coming around the perimeter of the valve is the valve itself being mis-seated and I will show you what that is. Often times we see this in a boat that has been worked on recently. And this valve hole needs to be pushed down completely around the shoulder of the B7 valve. In an instance where it is out of place, when the valve cap is threaded down on to the valve neck, there is no way for it to give a good seal and it will blast air out around the threads on the valve.

Now I am going to test for a leak in one of the side valves. I am not seeing anything around the perimeter. That is a very clear leak coming out of the very center of the valve which I would suspect is caused by the components not holding air correctly.

A simple fix for a leak that is coming out of the very center of the valve is just to take a cue tip and some rubbing alcohol as a cleaner, and just clean this valve out from the very center. Now what I am doing is cleaning the diaphragm and the internal components and trying to dislodge any kind of dust or grit that has gotten in there to foul the valve.  I just want to clean that relatively thoroughly. And that might be enough to stop that leak.

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