Kite Valve Repair, by Dave Dorn.
Kite Leaks can be annoying, but fixing them doesn’t have to be.
You can have a professional repair person fix your leaks. But that takes time and money. So it is better to learn how to fix them by yourself. There are the slow leaks that are sometimes harder to find, and there are fast obvious leaks that are easy to find. If your kite gets a little soft after two hours of flying, I wouldn’t bother fixing it. But if the kite gets a little soggy after 30minutes, then you have to find the leak and fix it.
If you just crashed your kite in a tree, and your kite starts to leak, look for it where the obvious damage is.
If you kite just sprung a mystery leak, you should carefully check it over.
- Pump the kite quite hard, and then inspect the entire strut.
- Listen for leaks by putting your ear on the strut.
- If you cannot find it this way, spray the kite with water and look for bubbles, you can use soapy water too for better bubbles.
FIXING KITE LEAKS:
Big (fast) leaks on kites can often be attributed to the kite’s valves. The valves are easy to see and get to. The kite valves should be inspected and repaired as necessary. Kite Bladders valves can get loose, fall off, or delaminate. Most valves were attached with a process called “ultrasonoic welding”. This method sometimes tended to fail after a year or so.
To Inspect the Kite (L.E.) Valves:
- With the kite deflated, open the zipper on the kite’s leading edge.
- Then open the Velcro on the two valves “inflate and deflate” and then push them into the sleeve.
- Pull the kite bladder partially out of the zipper until you can clearly see the valves.
- Inspect the valve bases to see if there are leaks or separation.
- Often these will become loose if the kite has been stored for a long time or has been in a hot car etc.
- If you find a loose valve, do not try to glue it back on.
- It is better to replace it with a new peel-and-stick valve from Airtime.
To remove a loose Valve:
Carefully peel it away from the bladder, being careful not to tear the or stretch the bladder. If it is too stuck, try soaking it in a cup of hot water for a few minutes, and it should come off easily.
Buy the peel-n-stick replacement valve:
There are now aftermarket valves and patches that are peel-and-stick, available from kite stores. The U-Stick brand, from Airtime. (www.airtime.com)
These replacement valves at a store can cost about $15 each. Get some peel-and-stick patches too for small bladder leaks. Be sure to specify the size and type of valve: “inflate” or “deflate” etc.
- Remove the old valve carefully, (dip in hot water if necessary).
- Clean the surfaces with isopropyl alcohol, Allow them to dry.
- Attach the valve to the old hole on a flat or slightly convex surface.
- Press down the valve firmly, push out any bubbles or creases.
- Replace the bladder into the kite, locate the valve stems into their respective holes, and secure the zipper.
- Inflate the kite and check for leaks.