Float Tube Valves & Adapters
Tubes and toons all have at least one air chamber. Some have two or more. Each air chamber has at least one air valve. Each air valve has the potential for malfunctions. Truck tire inner tubes have simple valves, with easily removable valve cores. If a valve is not working right, just change valve cores and you are usually good to go. Aquaseal is “penicillin” for tubers and tooners. It will repair leaks in almost any kind of air chamber or any kind of waders. The small bottle at the upper left of the picture is Cotol accelerant. It is added to the Aquaseal and mixed in to speed up the curing process.
Depending upon the manufacturer and the style, tubes or toons may have any one of several different kinds of valves. Some are “factory-sealed” and are not adjustable or repairable. If you develop valve problems you need to first try “blowing them out”, with “canned air” or a compressor. If that doesn’t work you might have to replace the whole air chamber. Most quality craft have large air valves that require adaptors to inflate them with high
volume air pumps…electric or manual. These big valves make for quicker inflation and deflation. But, they can also develop problems with leaking or sticking…open or closed. If your craft loses air after inflation, and you have been able to rule out a puncture or seam leak, the valve is likely the culprit. Just as with a leaky air chamber a leak in a valve is easiest to detect if you either submerge it in water or spray on some soapy solution to create bubbles. Some valves leak because of improper seating…especially those with rubber O rings. They must be fitted exactly right and tightened properly during assembly or they can lose air after inflation. So, that is the first thing to work on. Disassemble and reassemble the air chamber and valve to try to get the right fit.
If air is coming out of the valve opening, the problem could be from sticking parts or having a bit of sand or other debris inside, preventing the valve from closing off properly. Problems with leaking valves often occur after you have left your craft partially or completely deflated and unused for a while. Plastic or rubber parts in the valve may harden, warp or change shape…especially in extremes of heat or cold. The first thing to do before trying to loosen a sticky valve is to warm it up. You can immerse it in warm water or apply warm air from a hair dryer. That alone may correct the problem. If not, then try air blasting, from a compressor or a “canned air” container used to blast dust from computers. You will have to prop or lock the valve open to do this. It may take several attempts to get it to work. The next step is to apply some lubricant, in case there is water residue or something else that
is impeding the action of the valve parts. Don’t use a solvent based lubricant (WD-40). Petroleum solvents can harm some delicate parts. Instead, use a light silicone based lube that will work on rubber or light plastics without degrading them. Even just a bit of water might help, especially if the problem is dried mud or water residue. A little water inside the bladder will not damage it. Whatever you try, keep working the sticky valve by inflating and deflating your craft. Hopefully it will get things to work properly again. If not, you need to get a warranty replacement (if possible) or buy a valve repair kit (if available). Thankfully, some valves can be easily taken
apart and cleaned or repaired.