What to do in case of a puncture of the bladder of your Zodiac?
If of course inflatable floats are designed to be robust (well maintained, a Hypalon bladder can last up to 25 years!) nobody is safe from a puncture. An unfortunate snag with a sharp object while fishing, or a collision with rocks or coral are things that can happen.
You then notice that the fabric of your pneumatic tubes relaxes, and you feel the effects of deflation: you must act quickly!
The good news is that RIB bladders can be repaired very well in case of a puncture. So, what should you do if your inflatable boat's bladder gets punctured? What are the steps to follow to repair it? Orca Retail answers you.
1. Locate the leak
First of all, make sure you locate any gaps that may have been affected. Even if you have visually spotted a tear in your bladder, this is your chance to look around and get rid of any possible punctures.
The first method of checking can be done dry: reinflate your bladder as much as possible, then press on it (by sitting down for example). This will force the air out through the "wound". Listen carefully to hear the leak. For large bladder models, a little help won't hurt. This method is simple, but unfortunately, it is not always easy to spot the leak in a noisy environment, when there are various sources of leakage, or when it is very small.
That's why we recommend the second method, which is more tedious but more accurate, using a body of water. Maneuver your bladder so that it is immersed in the water end to end, pressing on it. If you see air bubbles escaping, you've found the culprit!
If you are still having trouble, you can also purchase a leak detection spray from the store. This involves applying a layer of product to the suspect areas. A thin film will be deposited on the surface of your air float, and if there is a leak, bubbles will form.
2. Repairing the puncture
If the damage is limited, you can simply use Zodiac patches, as you would with any tire. However, in the event of a larger tear, we recommend that you call in the help of a professional and use our repair fabrics.
We will come back here to a repair with patches:
- Spread your fully deflated pudding on a flat surface.
- Cut out a patch. It should be round and larger than the hole.
- Degrease the surface to be glued with a cloth and acetone, as well as the patch.
- Brush the patch with special glue. Repeat this step 2 to 3 times, allowing 10 minutes for the glue to dry.
- Also brush some glue around the hole.
- Once you have cleared the space around the hole and your patch, install the patch with precision.
- Evacuate air bubbles by running over the newly applied patch with a tool, and press well to set and dry the adhesive.
- Finally, clean the perimeter always with acetone, in a superficial way.
And that's it! You have repaired your punctured bladder by yourself! For best results, wait 2 days before putting your RIB back in the water.
Tips to avoid flat tires
You have finished your air float repair session, what precautions should you take to prevent this from happening again?
1. Inflate your pudding properly
It may seem counter-intuitive, but an over-inflated inflatable boat line will wear out less quickly than an under-inflated line. You can therefore inflate your float without hesitation, especially since overpressure valves have been fitted to most models for over 10 years.
2. Invest in fenders
This is especially useful for the mooring phase, as the use of fenders during the driving phase is not ideal. But using them when entering or leaving the harbor is a good idea. Even if impacts with boats or docks are minimal, over time, it can wear out your RIB floats.
3. Reinforce your float
Use our inflatable repair fabrics to provide unparalleled strength to your floats. Orca Retail has a wide range of choices in terms of boat length, colors and finishes to customize your inflatable hulls the way you want them. Our Hypalon (Neoprene / CSM) fabrics are guaranteed for 5 years and are recommended by hundreds of repairers!
Another way to improve the strength and sturdiness of your floats is tobuy ragging strips to glue along them.