Self-Inflating Mattress Won’t Inflate? (No Worries – Quick Fix)

Written By: Jen

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A self-inflating mattress is not meant to be inflated using an air compressor – instead, it just inflates itself, saving you a lot of effort.

But if your self-inflating air mattress doesn’t entirely self-inflate at any time, you’re going to need to investigate as that probably means there’s a leak.

If the leak is on the body or seam of the mattress, the repair is pretty simple. With the valve, it can be more difficult, and potentially beyond a casual repair.

Let’s take a look at every step involved in repairing a self-inflating mattress.

How to find air leaks in a valve, seam, or body of an air mattress?

Before you can repair any leak in your mattress, you need to first find it. And if it’s a tiny hole, you might not be able to see it with your eyes.

First, check whether it’s the valve. With the valve closed, apply a small amount of dish soap mixed with water around it. If you see bubbles being formed in the mixture, that means air is being pushed through it.

If you can rule the valve out, try applying pressure to the mattress and listening closely to locate where the leak is. If you can narrow it down, wet your hand and hold it close to the mattress as you put pressure on it.

Moving air is easier to feel on wet skin, so you should be able to narrow it down.

If you’re still struggling, use the dish soap mix in suspect areas. It’s the last resort since you don’t ideally want to get the material wet with dish soap, but it will tell you where the leak is coming from.

Once you’ve found it, mark it with a washable pen or with a piece of tape, just so you don’t lose it again before you’ve had the chance to repair it.

How to fix a valve in a self-inflating mattress?

You can fix a hole in a self-inflating mattress valve with some epoxy glue, or if the leak is from the valve stem then a piece of plastic inserted can offer a temporary fix. Replacing the valve may be necessary but it’s a job best left to experts.

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Leaks in the valve of your self-inflating mattress are the worst – unlike leaks in the seams or body, they’re tough to repair and may either need you to use an expert repair service, or buy a new mattress.

Still, don’t give up immediately.

If you can see a hole in the valve, you might be able to repair it using a tough adhesive – an epoxy glue would likely be best. It’s expensive but you only need a tiny amount – apply it gently using a toothpick or other similar small tool so you don’t use too much.

Most valve leaks are internal though, and are caused when the plug doesn’t seal properly against the valve stem. If that’s the case, try to find a small piece of plastic that you could insert to help tighten it.

It won’t be a long-term repair, but it might at least get you through a night’s sleep in a pinch before you consider more permanent options.

Generally replacing a valve on a self-inflating mattress is a very tricky thing to do. You risk damaging the mattress if you try it yourself without the right tools, so you could either try to find some expert repair help in your area, or it might be time to buy a new mattress, unfortunately.

How to repair a seam in a self-inflating mattress?

You can try to repair a seam in a self-inflating mattress with just a layer of seal adhesive. If the hole in the seam is bigger, you may require a patch, or it may need to be taken to a specialist for the seam to be stitched back together in an air-tight way.

Most leaks in an air mattress seam are small and can be fixed just with adhesive alone. All you need to do is allow the mattress to inflate, and then apply a small amount of adhesive along the seam where the hole is.

Give it a couple of hours to dry before you deflate your mattress.

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If the hole is bigger, you might want to apply a patch. Use a patch from a repair kit that is suitable for inflatables, and cut it to the length of the affected area.

Apply the adhesive along the seam, and onto the patch, and then put the patch in place.

Again, leave this for a few hours to dry.

If the entire seam has come apart and left a big hole, a patch isn’t going to be sufficient. You’ll need to see if there is a specialist repairs service near you that can repair inflatable seams, otherwise, it might also be the end of the road for your air mattress.

But the good news is that most seam leaks, if caught in time, are small enough that you can fix them.

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How to repair a hole in a self-inflating mattress?

You can repair a hole in a self-inflating mattress with a patch – either one provided with the mattress, or from a suitable patch repair kit for inflatables. Clean the area and use an adhesive designed for inflatables to apply the patch.

You should have been provided with patches to repair your air mattress when you bought it, but if you haven’t then it’s no big deal. You can buy a patch repair kit or there are other ways you can try to fix a hole without a patch as well.

With the mattress inflated, clean the area around the hole, and then cut your patch to size. It should be circular, as that stops any corners from easily fraying and peeling away.

Apply a healthy dab of seal adhesive to the patch (unless it is self-adhesive – if it is, just peel off the backing) and then press it into place, carefully flattening it so there are no bumps where air could escape.

Why does a self-inflating mattress keep deflating?

Usually, a self-inflating mattress that keeps deflating is a sign of a hole or leak. If it’s happening overnight and it’s mild, it’s probably just due to the temperature drop. Otherwise, check that you’re following the instructions for its use properly.

Most inflatable mattresses will slightly deflate overnight. That’s because, as the air temperature cools, the molecules inside the mattress lose some of their energy and move slower.

This means they don’t keep the mattress as inflated due to the drop in pressure.

But if you’ve kept a regular temperature, and you’ve checked for leaks, just revisit the manual and make sure you’re using the mattress correctly. It might be that there’s a particular quirk of the valve that you need to get right.

How to deflate a self-inflating mattress?

To deflate a self-inflating mattress you just need to fully open the valve – this will allow the air to escape. Roll it up from the furthest end to squeeze the air out, but only apply a gentle pressure to avoid causing any damage.

Self-inflating mattresses only inflate when you have the valve in a certain configuration. Opening it means that it will stop inflating and the air will be permitted to escape, so deflating it is really easy.


Self-inflating mattresses can last for many years if you look after them properly, but that means staying on top of any minor leaks and repairing them quickly.

Don’t leave them alone if they are minor, as they will only worsen and become harder to fix. Use the techniques in this article to repair a leak in your self-inflating mattress as soon as you find it, and you can keep it working for a long time.

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Jen is your go-to expert on all things inflatable, from pools to tents and beyond. A former hot tub rental company owner, she's experienced the ups and downs of inflatables firsthand. Nowadays, she writes practical guides on maintaining and enjoying inflatables. A mom of young enthusiasts, her family's favorite outing is the inflatable fun park!

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