Bounce houses provide a lot of fun for kids. However, they can also present dangers if you don’t take the necessary precautions. Though they look like simple inflatables, they can get punctured or ripped by children while running around the perimeter or when jumping on the inside.
No one wants to see their kid’s party ruined because of a broken bounce house. That’s why it’s always best to become prepared by learning how to fix it ahead of time.
You don’t need to worry that a tear or cut means your bounce house needs replacement (it might though). This article provides advice on how to immediately repair a broken bounce house before it becomes unusable. With these tips in mind, you can fix it in no time without significant expense or effort.
How to Find the Hole in Your Bounce House
It’s not always an easy task to find smaller holes in the house. For your first attempt at finding one, run the blower so you can walk the perimeter and feel for any air escaping.
Use your ears as well. You’ll most likely hear the air escaping and immediately discover where a puncture or tear exists. Another option is to coat your bounce house with soapy water to find the hole. If you have a smaller house, then you can try submerging it into water.
Sometimes you’ll have difficulty hearing or feeling where air escapes from. The next step is to notice which section seems to deflate more quickly.
Are you still having trouble finding the leak? You’re now going to take more drastic measures by coating the entire structure in soapy water. You’ll see bubbles occurring wherever the leak exists.
Create your mixture by mixing one-third cup of dishwashing soap into a gallon of water. Start with the area of the bounce house that you identified as the section losing the most air. Work slowly across the area until you locate the leak.
You can also use any household cleaner to discover your leak. Simply spray the cleaning solution where you think the hole is. If you see bubbles emerging from the inside, then you know you’ve found the leak.
Step-by-Step Guide to Patch a Hole in Your Bounce House
Fix your bounce house properly by using a proper vinyl patch kit. It does take a little time to accomplish your task. However, the bit that takes the longest amount of time is finding the leak. Since you already found it using the above tips, you’re already about halfway to completing the job and getting back to sitting in the shade.
Step 1: Clean the Affected Area
You can’t patch the bounce house leak correctly if dirt, sand, grease, or any other debris sits on the area. If you patch a dirty area, then you risk missing out on the best possible adhesion during your patching job. Use a little dishwashing soap to ensure that the affected area is completely clean. Don’t forget to allow for proper drying time. Read our entire guide on how to clean your bounce house for all the step-by-step instructions.
Step 2: Cut Out the Patch in an Oval or Circular Shape
Never cut with sharp edges during this process. Only use a circle or oval shape. Sharp edges typically catch or snag and end up ripping or peeling as time goes by. Make sure you cut a large enough area so that one to two inches of space exist around the fabric’s hole.
Step 3: Don’t Let the Patch Curl Up
Use something heavy to keep your patch completely flat. A heavy book works well. After getting cut, vinyl tends to curl around the edges. This extra tip ensures that you end up with a flat patch that will secure the tear or rip correctly.
Step 4: Apply Your Glue
The best option is to apply the patch on the inside of the bounce house. See if you can work the patch into the inside. If your bounce house came with the zipper option, then it’s easy to open it up and expose the inside.
Physics is the reason you want to preferably patch from the inside. During the inflation process, the air helps push the patch into place more effectively when it’s an inside job. However, don’t worry too much if you can’t work your patch inside. You can still create a workable patch on the outside.
Coat both the bounce house and patch surfaces with glue. Don’t use too much glue. Also, don’t get any glue on the rip itself. Get the glue firmly on the non-damaged area around the tear so that everything adheres well.
Step 5: Apply the Patch Firmly to the Vinyl
Wait for about 60 seconds after applying the glue (from step 4 above). This allows the glue to become tacky and helps it connect the two pieces more effectively. Once you apply the patch to the vinyl, use something heavy to ensure they hold together. You can use the book from step 3 above.
Step 6: Check for Raised Edges and Create a Better Seal
Add additional glue if you see any parts sticking up. These parts won’t bond correctly and will allow air to flow through. Make sure all sides are completely sealed.
Step 7: Test Your Repair Job
This part is simple. Fire up the bounce house by running the blower. If you don’t feel or hear any air escaping past your repair job, then you’re a hero for the day.
Quick Patch Options
If you’re short on time, then you can use one of two quick patch options:
- Duct tape: Try applying duct tape over the tear. This is temporary at best. If you cover the area with water and soap or spray the household cleaner on it, then you may see air escaping. Imagine how that’s going to work when 15 kids start jumping like crazy.
- Vinyl repair tape: This typically works more effectively than the duct tape repair option. However, it’s still only temporary and you’ll need to repair the hole correctly at some point.
Always repair your bounce house using the full step-by-step method from above. Only try one of the quick patch options if your bounce house busts a hole at the worst time possible such as eight minutes into your kid’s birthday party with a dozen children hopping around in joy.
Is the Tear at the Seam?
If you discover that stitching has become damaged or the tear causing the leak is on a seam, then you can consider sewing the seam. A quality sewing awl kit gives you everything you need to sew the seam.
You might want to do double duty on tear damage that doesn’t exist on a seam or involve stitching. In this case, you would first use your sewing awl kit to stitch up the tear. Then, follow the step-by-step instructions above to patch repair the area.
Doing it this way is the most permanent repair job you can do to try and ensure that further use doesn’t cause a leak in the same area.
When to Call in a Professional
If you’ve followed the step-by-step instructions, made your repairs, and the problem persists, then it’s a good idea to call an inflatable repair expert.
Or, maybe you made one of the temporary repairs with the quick patch options, the duct or vinyl repair tape isn’t working, and you simply don’t have the time or patience to complete the full step-by-step instructions.
In either case, an inflatable repair professional can fix the problem for you. Not only that, but they can figure out what caused the tear in the first place and advise you about how to prevent the problem from happening again in the future.
Remember that your bounce house is like any structure. It’s going to suffer more issues after becoming compromised during its first leak. Your local inflatable repair expert knows how to help you understand ways to prevent future leaks from occurring.
When to Replace Your Bounce House
If the air leak still persists after you’ve tried the patch kit and called in a professional, it may be time to invest in a new bounce house.
If that’s the case for you, make sure to read our bounce house buying guide first.
How to Prevent Vinyl Tears in the First Place
Now that you know how to patch and repair your bounce house, you might want to know how to prevent rips and tears in the first place.
Half the battle involves placing your bounce house on the best site in the yard. Avoid areas with sharp rocks or sticks. Place it on soft grassy areas instead. Put down a tarp if you’re placing the bounce house on asphalt. This prevents the concrete from ripping holes in the vinyl.
Don’t let kids wear shoes in the bounce house. Set rules so children know that sharp objects can’t go near the area.
Store your bounce house correctly. Clean, dry, and fold it up well after each use. Taking these steps will help you keep your bounce house in good condition for a long time.
You’ve invested in your bounce house to provide hours of fun for your children and their friends. Using the tips provided above, you can make sure that the bounce house safely stays in the family for years to come.