If you own a bounce house, you will eventually get a cut or tear in the material and need to patch it. There’s no reason to throw the bounce house away when this happens, many bounce house repairs are really straight forward.
To patch a bounce house, you will need to cut a round patch from a patch kit and apply to the damaged area with vinyl cement or patch glue. If possible, patch the tear from the inside of the bounce house. If the tear is along a seam, or damage to the stitching, you will need to re-stitch with a sewing awl.
There’s specific steps to follow to patch the bounce house the right way, as well as levels of repair, such as a quick fix, permanent fix, and professional fix. Read on to get all the details on each method.
How To Find A Hole In A Bounce House
There’s a few ways you can easily find if there’s hole in a bounce house, but for smaller leaks, it can be more difficult to find. The simplest way is to walk around the bounce house while inflated and the blower running and feel for any air escaping the bounce house where it shouldn’t be.
Ways To Find A Leak:
- Feel for air escaping
- Submerge in water (only viable for small models)
- Coat with soapy water
- Listen for air escaping
For most bounce houses you won’t be able to hear where the air is escaping, and they will be too large to submerge them in water. That’s really a hassle anyway, even if you have a large pool or something, I don’t recommend it.
Start by walking around the bounce house and look for areas that seem to be deflating faster than others. Your trying to narrow down where the leak may be during this walk around. At least identifying a general area can be helpful for these next steps.
Place your hand close to the bounce house as you walk around inspecting it. You will easily be able to feel large leaks this way.
If you still can’t find the leak by feel, you’re going to have to coat the bounce house in soapy water. The leak will create bubbles when covered with soapy water. Start in the area you identified earlier as deflating more rapidly than the rest of the bounce house.
To make soapy water with a higher retention rate use this recipe:
- 1/3 Cup dish soap
- 1 Tbsp glycerin
- 1 Gallon of water
Combine, shake, and use to coat the bounce house a couple square feet at a time. I’ve done this without the glycerin, just using soap and water, and was able to locate a small leak. The glycerin just makes the soap hold together longer, creating bigger bubbles to make locating the leak easier.
If you do use a lot water on the bounce house, you will need to let it dry for an extended period of time (4-5 hours) before storing it.
After you’ve located the leak, you may want to clean all the soap off your bounce house. Check out my How To Clean A Bounce House article for step by step instructions on the proper way to clean it.
Here’s a helpful video of a guy finding inflatable leaks with some spray cleaner. This might work great for you, just don’t try to patch anything with duct tape like he did.
Quick Repair A Hole In A Bounce House
I know you’ve thought about just putting some duct tape over the leak and calling it good. Well, I’ve done that before and it doesn’t work very well. Duct tape may work decently on smaller bounce houses, but at best, it’s a very temporary fix.
Another quick fix options is to get some Vinyl Repair Tape (link to Amazon) and tape over the leak with that. For us, this has had more success than a duct tape fix, but still is not a long term solution. This could work great for smaller bounce houses. The problem is, after enough use, the tape starts to pull up and air starts leaking out again.
How To Patch A Bounce House The Right Way
This is my recommended option for patching a bounce house. You will need a patch kit made for bounce houses like this Inflatable Bounce House Vinyl Patch Kit from Amazon. Most patch kits made specifically for bounce houses will come with some vinyl glue to apply the patch, if yours doesn’t, you will need some vinyl glue as well.
Note that this method is not for tears at the seams or ripped stitches. For that fix you will want to use the professional approach below
Steps To Apply A Bounce House Patch:
- Clean the area to be patched
- Cut the patch into the shape of a circle
- Flatten the cut areas
- Apply vinyl glue around the leak
- Apply vinyl glue to the patch
- Press the patch on and apply pressure
- Check that edges are sealed
1. Clean The Area To Be Patched
Dirt and debris can prevent the patch from sticking properly. Make sure the area you will be applying the patch is free from water, grease, dirt, and any other debris.
2. Cut The Patch Into A Circle Shape
If you need an oval that will work too. The point is to make sure there are no angled edges on the patch. Corners on the patch are easy to snag and will peel up over time. Cut the patch at least 2 inches larger than the tear.
Cut nice smooth rounded edges over the entire patch to ensure a long term fix.
3. Flatten The Patch
Flattening the patch will ensure there are no areas that will peel up when trying to apply it. Use a book or something flat and heavy to put pressure on the patch. This is most important on the cut edges of the patch as the cutting may have cause the patch to curl a bit.
4. Apply Vinyl Glue Around The Leak
If you can apply the patch to the inside of the bounce house, you should. Some larger bounce houses have zippers that can open up and give you access to the inside of the bounce house. This is the best place to apply the patch because the pressure when inflated will be pushing the patch more into place, rather than the air pressure pushing the patch outwards.
Try not get glue where the material has torn or split. Instead coat the area around the leak for the patch to adhere to.
5. Apply Vinyl Glue To The Patch
Apply a light coating of vinyl glue to an entire side of the patch. You want to coat the entire patch in this step, but you don’t need to smother the patch with glue. A thin coating is enough to make it stick.
Let the vinyl glue or vinyl cement dry slightly before applying to the bounce house. Around a minute is enough time for the glue to get a bit tacky.
6. Press On Patch And Apply Pressure
Press the patch onto the leak and hold pressure there for a few minutes. If you are fixing this patch while the bounce house is deflated (recommended), you can possibly put something heavy on the patch and let it sit for a while.
7. Check That Edges Are Sealed
Check to make sure the edges of the patch are completely glued to the bounce house. If there are any pieces of the patch peeling away, put more glue and apply pressure until the patch is completely adhered to the bounce house.
Let the glue dry for a couple hours before using the bounce house.
Here’s a quick video of the entire process so you can see this in action.
Permanent Professional Repair
This method is required for tears of the seams and stitching that has been damaged, but is also the most permanent repair for any tear on a bounce house. You will need a sewing awl kit for this method. You can usually find a good Sewing Awl Kit (like this one) on Amazon for under $15.
To fix a tear or seam with this method, you will first follow these steps in this video to sew the seam up. This video is showing this being done to a seam, but you will apply the same steps to any tear on the bounce house.
If you’re just fixing a seam or a torn stitching leak, you’re done. If you’re repairing a tear on the bounce house, you will now follow the steps above for applying a bounce house patch using a Bounce House Patch Kit (link to Amazon).
Sewing a tear with the awl kit and then applying a patch is the most permanent professional bounce house patch repair that you can do.
How To Fix A Net On A Bounce House
Fixing the netting on a bounce house in a professional way takes some time and involves some weaving skills. I’ve seen people just use zip ties, but they tend to leave sharp edges that kids can get scratched from. Instead, I suggest just tying some string cord or small rope through the netting to close up the holes.
Here’s a cool video of someone doing an excellent job recreating the netting look with some string. I hope this gives you an idea of how the repair could be done.
How To Fix Bounce House Discoloration
If you’ve ever cleaned your bounce house with bleach, or left it sitting out for an extended period of time, you may have noticed the bounce house material has started to discolor. The only time I’ve been able to come close to bringing back the true color of the bounce house is with this Plastic Restorer from Amazon.
Simply apply a light coating of this plastic restorer with a rag and let it sit for 10-20 minutes. You can apply a few coats to see better results. This isn’t going to work perfectly, but I have noticed it does bring back some of the color that had been lost.
In all honesty, it’s probably not worth the time and effort, unless you’re a stickler for the small things.
If you’re discoloration is from mold, mildew, or something else, your bounce house could benefit from a good cleaning. Check out my How To Clean A Bounce House article for a step by step walk through of the proper cleaning process.