Bounce houses are a ton of fun for kids (and adults, let’s be honest). From small ones suited to the garden, to epic bouncy castles that are designed for larger events, they are great because they’re durable enough to withstand a lot of frenzied jumping and bouncing activity.
But over time, a bounce house may develop the occasional puncture or a weakness at the seams. Thankfully, fixing a bounce house is relatively simple provided you catch the problem early before any holes or weaknesses become too large.
Let’s go through each of the steps – finding a leak, fixing it, and preventing them in future.
How to find a hole in a bounce house
To find a leak in a bounce house, you’ll need to narrow the search down by checking for the weakest areas as it deflates. Then, use water mixed with dish soap to find the hole, and mark it so that it’s ready for repair.
If a leak is not obvious, it’s going to be difficult to find on a bounce house just because of how big they are. This will be the step that takes the most time.
Try to be patient and work methodically around the bounce house, looking for signs of where it has deflated.
Remember that the leak could be on the underside of the bounce house – especially if it is barely deflating, due to the hole being pressed against the ground. So you might need to upend it and check the bottom for leaks.
If you can narrow it down to an area, then the classic solution is to mix a little dish soap in with some water and spray or wipe it around the suspected area.
The air escaping from the bounce house will push through this mixture, creating bubbles – a telltale sign of a leak.
Once you’ve found the leak, make sure you mark it with either washable pen or tape, so that you can find it when you’re ready to fix it.
How do you fix a leak in an inflatable bounce house?
Fixing a leak in an inflatable bounce house depends on if it’s a puncture or a weakened seam. Seams can be repaired with stitching and adhesive, while punctures will need a patch.
A bounce house repair kit should have sewing needles and threads, patches, and glue. If your bounce house didn’t come with a repair kit, you can buy what you need online – just make sure you buy a thicker thread and a suitable stitching kit, or patch material designed for inflatables that can stretch and contract.
For a leaky seam, you will use the needle and thread provided in the repair kit to stitch the open vinyl seam. Don’t worry if you aren’t very good with sewing techniques – just use some smaller stitches to bring the seam together, and apply a layer of adhesive to seal it tight.
If it’s a patch job needed, you first need to use light-grade sandpaper to rough the area around the hole. This will just help provide additional surface area for the adhesive to stick to.
Once that’s done, clean the area so there’s no dust or debris, and dry it thoroughly.
Next, you need to prepare a patch – it should be circular, to avoid corners that can peel away from the bounce house, and big enough to be around 2 inches larger than the hole in every direction.
Rough the patch up a little with the sandpaper, if you can, and then apply adhesive to both the roughed-up side of the patch and the bounce house.
Place the patch over the hole, smoothing it out and pressing hard to get a good bond. Leave it to dry for a few hours before you deflate the house.
You can then check that your patch has worked by re-inflating the bounce house, and using the dish soap/water mix to look for bubbles around the patch. If there are a tiny amount of bubbles, just apply more adhesive over the patch to create a seal.
How to avoid leaks in a bounce house
Whether you’ve just repaired a leak and want to avoid any more happening for a while, or you’re looking for general care tips, here’s how to minimize the risk of leaks in your bounce house:
1. Choose an appropriate location
You should be setting a bounce house up on a soft, flat area free of stones, sticks, or anything else that could puncture it. A thick groundsheet underneath the bounce house can help to protect it.
2. Restrict footwear and sharp objects in the bouncer
It might seem obvious but letting people use the bounce house with shoes on, or if they have keys in their pocket or other sharp items, massively increases the risk of punctures.
3. Store it properly
When you deflate and pack away your bounce house, make sure it is clean and dry to avoid any mold that could weaken it. Keep it in a safe location, away from any hazards. If storing it outdoors/in a garage, make sure rodents can’t get to it.
4. Clean it
Cleaning your bounce house can protect it by preventing bacteria growth, while vacuuming in between the seams will stop sand and other debris from grinding against the material over time.
The hardest part of fixing a leaky bounce house is finding the leak in the first place – once you’ve located it, repairs aren’t too difficult a job.
Just remember to always carry out repairs as soon as you’ve realized there’s a leak. Leaving any puncture or seam weakness can cause it to get worse, with holes widening or seams falling apart – and then repairs might not be possible.