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Find and Fix Inflatable Boat Valve Leaks

The inflation valves on your raft, cataraft or IK must work perfectly to hold in the air pressure that transforms it from a floppy pancake to a sleek high-performance craft. Leaks around the valve or through the inflation port can be caused by multiple factors.

In this video, Josh Gile, an NRS repair wizard, shows you how to troubleshoot leaks and how to fix them. He’s demonstrating with a Leafield C7 Valve, but the same tips work for Halkey-Roberts, Summit, military valves and more.

To locate the source of a valve leak you’ll need a spray bottle of soapy water or 303 Aerospace Protectant. You may also need a valve wrench, rags and cotton swabs.

Spray the soapy water or 303 around and in the throat of the valve. If the leak is around the valve perimeter, use the valve wrench to tighten the valve’s outer portion. If tightening doesn’t stop the leak, you’ll have to remove the valve. Loosening the valve is easiest done with the chamber inflated. Remove the outer portion and clean the mating surfaces of the boat material and valve body. Screw the valve back together hand-tight, then inflate the chamber to complete tightening.

If the valve is leaking through the throat of the valve you probably have some grit or debris preventing the valve seat from fully closing. You can spray some 303 in with the chamber inflated, then push the valve plunger to try and dislodge the obstructing material. With the valve open you can also reach in with a cotton swab moistened with 303 to clean the sealing surfaces.

If the valve is still leaking, you’ll need to remove the outer portion and clean the sealing surfaces. If the rubber seal on the Leafield C7 valve is damaged you can replace the plunger, spring and rubber seal with the Leafield C7 Repair Kit.

One handy tip for finding really slow leaks is to make a solution of glycerin (found in pharmacies) and water. The glycerin forms a higher tensile-strength bubble that will pinpoint a slow leak where a regular soap and water solution won’t.