Valve Know-How

ArticleMay 24, 2011

Every inflatable craft needs two basic things: a skin or membrane that can hold air and some type of valve that lets you add and remove air. Therefore, the valve is a vital component of any inflatable design. Knowing how to identify, maintain and repair the valves in your boat is important in achieving the best performance.

Many different models of valves have been made over the years. NRS can’t carry them all, but we do stock the most common, high-quality valves found in modern inflatables.

Identifying Your Valves

Since there are many makers and models of valves, this isn’t always easy. As a starting point for identifying your valves, we’ve put together a reference chart on the valve and fabric types of many inflatable manufacturers.

If you have used the above resources and still haven’t found your valve type, contact us; it’s possible that we may be able to help you identify it.

Maintaining Your Valves

Most quality boat valves are relatively trouble free. The most important thing for you to do to avoid problems is to keep the valves clean. Sand, grit and other debris can prevent the working surfaces of the valve from sealing properly. Keep valve caps in place when the boat is inflated. When you’re adding air during a trip with your boat, blow puffs of air into the opening of the valve with your top off pump to knock out any water or debris before beginning to add air.

Floor pressure relief valves are particularly prone to getting stuff in them that causes a leak. These valves release pressure that exceeds their pre-set limit. They don’t have a cover, and they’re right there on the floor where sand and other junk accumulates. In NRS Inflatable Boat Use and Care Instructions, there are directions for cleaning pressure relief and fill valves, as well as lots of other excellent info for keeping your boat in top shape.

Repairing Your Valves

As we said earlier, other than needing the occasional cleaning, valves are usually trouble-free. Leafield does make repair kits for their fill valves. If any of the other valves become defective, you will need to replace the valve.

If your boat has an obsolete valve or you can’t find a replacement, we have a good solution for you. Remove the old valve and install a Doughnut Patch and Leafield C7 Valve. Our Doughnut Patches are Hypalon® and will work on Hypalon and other rubber-coated materials. If your boat is made of another material, you can cut out your own patches.

NRS Inflatables

For our rafts, catarafts and inflatable kayaks, we exclusively use C7 Leafield fill valves and 6 Leafield Pressure Relief Valves. They are of the highest quality and have the real advantage of having their working parts in the top portion of the valve, which is easily removable for cleaning and repair. If you’re replacing another type of valve, you can’t go wrong with using these excellent valves.

Some Useful Tips

If you boat is losing air during use, the first places to check are the valves. As we said, debris in the valve seat can cause a leak. Inflate to full operating pressure, and use a solution of soap and water to locate the leak. Bubbles will form where air is escaping.

Slow leaks can be hard to find. To locate the smallest leaks, make a solution of glycerin (which can be found at pharmacies) and water. This solution gives a higher tensile strength to the bubbles and will help you detect the finest pinhole leak.

When replacing a Military Valve, clean the face of the valve boot and spread a thin layer of silicone sealant around the opening before screwing on the valve. This will help ensure a good seal.