You spend a lot of money on your water sport gear, so you need to take steps to protect it. No matter how careful you are, there is likely going to be a time when you have a tear in your wetsuit. You could scratch it against a rock, or you could even tear it with your own fingernail. It’s just that easy to put a tear in a wetsuit.
Rather than having to go out and spend a lot of money on a new wetsuit, it is much better to learn how to mend tears. You are going to save a lot of money by doing this. Today we are going to take a look at how to repair tears in wetsuits, and how to maintain a wetsuit so it has as long a life as possible. Let’s get started.
Repairing Tears in a Wetsuit
First of all, you are going to need to pick up a few supplies to have on hand, just in case you do end up with a tear in your wetsuit. Some tears may be absolutely beyond repair, and you will have to buy a new suit. But small tears can easily be mended with wetsuit cement or adhesive. The cements work faster, but they are costlier.
Each time you use your wetsuit, inspect it for any rips or tears after you take it off. The sooner you find a problem, the easier it is going to be to repair. A small, unnoticed tear can turn into something you can’t fix before you even realize what has happened.
As mentioned, you will need to have some sort of sealant, cement, or adhesive. Look for one that is specifically designed for wetsuit repairs. If you can’t find this in a pinch you can use a puncture repair kit for bicycle tires.
You will also need a small bristle or artist’s brush, some rubbing alcohol, and a weighted object. Or, you can simply go out and get yourself a wetsuit repair kit, which will have everything that you need.
Once you have gathered up all of the supplies that you need for repairing your wetsuit, follow these steps.
- Clean and fully dry the wetsuit.
- Turn the wetsuit inside out.
- Clean the area around the tear with isopropyl alcohol. Let the alcohol evaporate.
- Open tear to reveal both sides.
- Apply a coat of adhesive to both sides. Do not press the sides together yet.
- Let glue dry for three to five minutes. It will go from glossy to matte as it dries, and it will feel a bit tacky.
- Apply a second adhesive coat to both sides.
- Let adhesive dry for 10 minutes.
- Press both sides of the tear together, keeping the seam as straight as possible.
- Place a weighted object on top of tear until the seam is dry and sealed. It takes less than five minutes for the adhesive to dry, but for the best results, let it dry overnight for a stronger seal.
- Once the seal has dried, you can also add an additional coat of adhesive to ensure that it isn’t going to leak. Be sure to coat both sides of the repair with this final adhesive coat. Allow to dry overnight.
If your wetsuit has a gouge rather than a tear, don’t worry, there is a way that you can repair it. There are products known as liquid fillers (liquid silicon or liquid rubber) that you can get that will fill in small gouges. Fill the gouge with the liquid filler, and then allow it to dry overnight.
Caring for Your Wetsuit
Now that you know how to repair tears in your wetsuit, let’s look at some things that you can do to extend the life of the wetsuit, and avoid tears, punctures, and nicks. The better you take care of it, the longer it is going to last. For starters, never stand on hard surfaces, rocks, or other rough surfaces when putting your wetsuit on.
If the neoprene were to rub against these surfaces, it can cause tearing. Also, be careful about wearing jewelry while putting on your wetsuit, and if necessary, cover your hands if you have long fingernails that could tear the suit.
Cleaning and Drying Your Wetsuit
It is important to make sure that you clean your wetsuit as soon as possible after each use. It should be thoroughly rinsed with fresh water (you can easily do this by hanging it in the shower and using a handheld attachment, or by using your garden hose outside), and hand wash the suit with mild, non-detergent soap (you can get special shampoos just for wetsuits, and baby shampoo will also work well).
Once the wetsuit is clean, it needs to be thoroughly dried before being stored. Turn the suit inside out. This is going to help keep the outside of the suit flexible. Hang the wetsuit on a padded clothes hanger, or one that has been designed specifically for wetsuits.
Never use a wire hanger, as this can damage the neoprene. Do not dry your wetsuit in the sun, because UV rays can damage neoprene. The best place to hang it to dry is in your shower stall.
Storing Your Wetsuit
Once your wetsuit is thoroughly dried, it should be stored on either a wetsuit hanger or on a flat surface. Do not fold the wetsuit as it can cause creases, which can lead to a loss of insulation. Do not put the suit in a bag or a trunk, as it can end up smelling bad, and being enclosed like this will cause it to deteriorate and have a shorter lifespan.
As long as you have the right tools, it is easy to repair rips in a wetsuit and maintain it so it has as long a lifespan as possible.
Some other tips for a longer wetsuit lifespan include never using bleach on it, never putting it into a washing machine or clothes dryer, never ironing it, never storing it inside a hot vehicle, never putting petroleum jelly on it, never peeing inside the suit, never lending the suit to others, and always using beeswax on the zipper to keep it working properly.