While air mattresses are handy and have come a long way in terms of durability, there are still some problems that you may face using them. One of the most frequent issues you may encounter is the formation of a bubble.
Bubbles develop in an air mattress due to overinflation, wear and tear, improper handling, or poor quality. Fixing it may require deflating and re-inflating the mattress. Sleeping on a bulged mattress is unsafe for prolonged periods, and a bubble is a sign of irreversible damage in an air mattress.
Keep reading to find out more about bubbles in air mattresses. I’ll also review how they are formed, solutions to the problem, and ways you can ensure that you don’t get any. Let’s get started!
Why Does Your Air Mattress Have a Bubble?
Your air mattress develops a bubble when there is uneven air pressure inside it. This is likely to happen when the mattress is over-inflated, but it can be a result of poor quality materials or even wear and tear on an old mattress.
In order to avoid getting a bubble in your air mattress, I’d first like to explain how that bubble forms. Basically, the air inside the mattress is pressing against the interior walls. When the pressure is uneven or too high, some of the material may become weaker and allow for more air to push it outwards, creating a bubble.
Before you understand how to remedy or prevent the situation, it’s best to understand the reasons for bubble formation. Here are the main ways that an air mattress could develop a bubble:
The most common way a bubble forms in an air mattress is over-inflation. Most people prefer their mattresses to be slightly firm. Usually, people over-inflate their air mattresses in hopes of making them firmer.
While this is the most common reason for bubble formation, there is a simple solution to fix it — just deflate the air mattress and start over. However, it is worth mentioning that each time you over-inflate the mattress, you’re causing minor irreversible damage to the material. This leads to the mattress wearing out faster.
Air mattresses are typically made of a PVC (polyvinyl chloride) material—which is a fancy way of saying they are made of sturdy, flexible plastic. However, despite its durability, the material can only stretch so much. When a mattress is repeatedly inflated, the plastic material of the mattress wears thin.
Over time, the worn-out material of a mattress cannot withstand the air pressure within. In turn, the uneven pressure will lead to the formation of a bulge in the air mattress.
Poor Quality Air Mattresses Are More Likely to Form Bubbles
Another reason that a bubble may form in an air mattress is that the material used to make the air mattress is of poor quality. Using cheaper, low-quality materials may reduce the cost (and price) of the mattress, but it does mean that the mattress is not likely to last very long. Caring for a low-quality mattress is considerably harder than doing so for a high-quality one.
Generally, the PVC used is thinner and thus more likely to wear out when over-inflated, leading to easier bubble formation. Additionally, if the mattress is manufactured with low-cost processes, the seams may be very weak. The seams may not be able to handle even the slightest over-inflation.
Improper use of an air mattress will inevitably lead to a bulge somewhere in the mattress. Aside from inflating it above its capacity, there are a few other ways you may be misusing your air mattress:
- Exceeding the maximum weight limits. The user’s manual usually includes a limit to the total weight that the air mattress can withstand. Continually using the air mattress with heavier objects (or people) on it will likely lead to uneven distribution of air pressure and wear out of the PVC material. Both these issues typically lead to a bulging in the air mattress.
- Keeping it inflated for prolonged periods. Most manufacturers recommend that an air mattress should be deflated periodically in order to reduce strain on the material. This issue is more prominent if the air mattress is kept over-inflated.
- Improper storage. Although unlikely, improperly storing your air mattress could lead to damage to the material, which may cause bubbles.
- Drastically changing ambient temperature. Changes in ambient temperature affect your air mattress because if there is a stark difference between its internal and external temperatures, more pressure is applied on one side of PVC materials. This difference leads to stretching and can cause bubble formation.
How to Fix a Bubble in Your Air Mattress
You can fix a bubble in an air mattress by deflating and re-inflating it. However, this princess wears down the material of the mattress over time, and preventing a bubble from forming is always better.
Regardless, fixing the bulge in your air mattress isn’t too difficult. Here are the steps in more detail.
- Carefully inspect your mattress to locate any, and all air bubbles present.
- Open the air valve as per the manufacturer’s instructions.
- Press gently on the mattress to deflate it, taking care to press on the bubbles.
- When the bubbles are no longer visible, and the surface is even, deflate the mattress a little more for extra measure.
- Close the air valve and re-inflate the air mattress according to the manufacturer’s directions.
Be careful while re-inflating the air mattress. Avoid adding too much air too quickly—going slow will allow you enough time to stop when you feel that the mattress is firm enough.
Is It Safe to Sleep on an Air Mattress With a Bubble?
Sleeping on an air mattress with a bubble is not safe, especially for prolonged periods. The mattress might pop, but it is more likely to cause back pain and other spinal health issues.
It’s worth noting that air mattresses aren’t particularly good for back support and are only meant for temporary use. However, this problem is exacerbated if you’re sleeping on an air mattress with a bubble. Not only will it be uncomfortable, but it can lead to serious irreversible damage to your back. Symptoms of conditions such as a slipped disk can become more prominent if someone is sleeping on an air mattress with a large bulge.
Of course, there is also the risk that the mattress will be punctured because the bubble is a weak point in the mattress’ exterior structure. While this is not dangerous per se, it may be startling during the nighttime if the air bed bursts during your sleep. The damage to the air bed would be practically irreversible.
Ways to Avoid Getting a Bubble in Your Air Mattress
By now, you’re probably wondering if there is a way to prevent bubble formation in your air mattress. If you care for your mattress properly and avoid misusing it, you can significantly prolong its lifespan. Here are a few ways you can avoid getting a bulge in your air bed:
Regardless of the quality of your air bed, it is always a good practice to pump slowly and carefully. If you are pumping air too fast into the mattress, you run the risk of over-inflating it or uneven inflation.
Some people even invest in a pressure meter to control the flow of air into the mattress, although this solution may not work for all air bed models.
Dual pump system air mattresses are more expensive, and rightly so. The two pumps are not both used in the inflation process. Instead, one is used as normal (to inflate the mattress), and the other pump is used to monitor and maintain pressure within the mattress.
The system is highly successful in preventing unnecessary overinflation and helps keep the mattress firmer for longer. This EnerPlex Air Mattress on Amazon is a good example. It comes in several different sizes and it’s very durable.
Keeping the air mattress inflated for a long time puts a lot of strain on the exterior plastic and the seams. Ensure that you deflate your air mattress periodically, especially if you do not intend to use it for a prolonged period.
For example, you might consider deflating the mattress when you wake up a couple of times every week and re-inflating it before you sleep. The only problem with this prevention strategy is that you run the risk of over-inflating the air mattress if you are not careful.
If the temperature in your room drops for any reason, your air mattress will deflate slightly. Although the amount of air that leaves the mattress may not be noticeable, it can accumulate over time. Moreover, the air inside the mattress contracting can cause an imbalance in the air pressure and lead to bulging.
To avoid this problem, make sure that the ambient temperature around the air mattress doesn’t fluctuate too drastically. If you intend to turn off the heat in your room, consider deflating the mattress first or raising it off the floor.
As I’ve mentioned earlier, manufacturers usually provide a recommended weight limit for each air mattress model. The limit is based on rigorous testing that is done on the air mattress to determine how much the air bed can handle without being damaged (either by rupturing or through other means).
Before you purchase an air mattress, consider who will be using it and whether their weight falls roughly within the weight limit. Additionally, do not place heavy objects on the mattress, especially while it is inflated.
Heavy objects place a lot of pressure on the air mattress and therefore weaken the material. Increased pressure on a small part of the air bed can lead to it bursting.
Before you inflate your air mattress, it’s a good idea to inspect the entire mattress for any uneven areas. It’s easier to fix a small bulge than wait for a larger one to develop.
Furthermore, make sure that you are watching your mattress during the inflation process. Look out for any areas that are inflating faster than others. If you feel that one part of the mattress is rising higher than the rest, stop inflating and even out the air.
You may need an extra pair of hands while inflating for this purpose. Have your partner press down on the bulging part of the mattress as you inflate it.
Last but not least, it’s good practice to allow your mattress to stretch out naturally. When a mattress is fully inflated, and you sleep on it, it naturally deflates a little. However, this will cause stretch on the areas where your bodyweight is pressing onto the mattress. The uneven stretching can make it easier for a bubble to form on pressure points.
To avoid uneven stretching of the mattress, it’s best to inflate it completely and leave it for 24 hours without putting any weight on it. This will ensure that the air mattress stretches out naturally without any added pressure. It may deflate slightly, so you may want to re-inflate it after the stretching-out process.
When the mattress is deflated, it is recommended that you store it in a cool, dry place in the same packaging that the manufacturer has provided. Check the instructions manual for specific recommendations on how to store your air bed.
Proper storage ensures that the exterior material of your air mattress doesn’t get damaged while it is stored. For example, pressing too hard on the seams stretches them too much and gives way to bulging.
Bubble formation in an air mattress is a common issue that many face at one point or another. Luckily, by following our tips, you can fix the bulge in your air mattress. With proper care and correct usage, you can also prolong the life of your air mattress and avoid getting those pesky bubbles moving forward.