If an inflatable toy seems to be losing its air regularly, a small air leak is probably the cause. Through rough handling and excessive play, inflatable toys can easily develop small holes along the surfaces or seams. These holes create an ideal location for air to slowly leak out of the toy. Unfortunately, air leaks are commonly so small that it is difficult to pinpoint their exact location. However, with just a few simple techniques, you can easily find an air leak in an inflatable toy.
Soapy Water Technique
Mix together water and dish soap in a bowl or bucket. Use your hands or a large spoon to stir the solution and encourage the formation of bubbles. Use a good amount of soap, as the bubbles will be a necessary element in finding the air leak. Once you have achieved a soapy water solution, set it aside.
Remove the air from the inflatable toy. Then place a funnel into the plastic piece where air is blown into the toy. The funnel should sit securely in the plastic hole. If the fit is not secure, it will be necessary to hold the funnel in place.
Carefully pour the soapy water into the funnel and allow the inflatable toy to fill up with the soapy water. For best results, fill the toy up as much as possible. Once it is full, remove the funnel and cap the hole. Use a towel to dry off the outside surface of the inflatable toy.
Examine the outer surface of the inflatable toy. If there is an air leak in the surface, you should notice bubbles seeping out through the air leak. If you see bubbles on the surface of the toy, wipe them off and gently squeeze the toy near that area. You should see additional bubbles leaking out through the small hole.
Water and Paper Technique
Place a funnel into the plastic piece that allows you to fill the inflatable toy with air. Ensure that the funnel sits securely within this piece. If the fit is not secure, you will need to hold the funnel in place throughout the next step.
Pour water into the funnel, filling the inflatable toy with water. As the toy is filling, you may notice water leaking out of the toy. If you notice a leak, mark the area and continue filling with water. More than one air leak might be present, so it is important to completely fill the toy with water. Once it is full, remove the funnel and cap the hole. Dry the outside surface of the toy with a towel.
Wrap newspaper securely around the inflatable toy. The layer of newspaper should not be thick -- one layer of paper should be sufficient. Wait a few minutes and observe the newspaper. If there is an air leak in the inflatable toy, water will begin leaking out of the hole and onto the newspaper, causing a moist area. Locating these moist areas of newspaper will help you find the exact location(s) of the air leak(s).
If you locate an air leak in the inflatable toy using either of the suggested methods, you will want to mark the location of the air leak to keep track of it. An easy way to mark the leak is to place a small piece of masking tape over the leak. Or use a pencil or crayon to draw a circle around the air leak.