How to Correctly Find the Spot of a Leak in a Waterbed Bladder Mattress

This is the second part of our 3 part blog series:
#1: When is it OK to repair my waterbed bladder with a patch kit?
#3: Please save my carpeting! How to fix and properly repair a waterbed bladder leak
(part 3 will be linked after publication next week)

Unfortunately leaks happen and when they do and it is repairable do not put the job off.

The hole in a leaking mattress must be found:

First locate the leak in your waterbed mattress. Below are a couple methods to finding the frustrating hole in your mattress, but first be safe, you will need to unplug the waterbed heater immediately.

How to locate a hole in a water leaky waterbed mattress
Photo by: mikedefiant

You must make sure you dry up every drop of water you can get to. If you do not you will get a false positive result. This means you think you found the leak, when in reality you have only located remaining water residue from the leak you are looking for.

Ways to find the hole in the mattress

Some people recommend filling the mattress with air. Once you have inflated the mattress apply soapy water by rubbing it onto the mattress surface or applying the sudsy water with a spray bottle and wait for it to bubble up. This can be an affective method to find a waterbed mattress hole, but is often messy and could cause fiber baffle shifting if not properly handled.

The preferred method is to leave the partially filled water mattress in the wooden frame. Be sure to dry it off with an absorbent towel making sure to dry up any water remaining on the mattress. Next place your hands in a position where your index fingers and thumbs are touching as if you were going to give CPR chest compressions. This is another affective way to find a leak. Start by pressing down on corners until your hands bottom out on the floor of the bed. Next do the same with seams then all remaining untested areas. When a leak appears it will generally be a little bead or welt of water. Not a gaping gushing whole.

Once you have located the hole be sure to mark the mattress. You can do this by circling the area with a permanent black magic marker. Many people find the holes only to lose them when they walk away from the bed.

Whichever method you choose to find the leak is up to you. Eventually you will need the water mattress to be completely drained before reinstalling. This will allow you to dry the underside of the mattress. Be sure to dry up any remaining moisture within the safety liner as well.