Did you discover a tear in your wetsuit? Are you looking for a way to perform the right wetsuit repair?
Damage occurs to wetsuits in many different ways for surfers. Knowing how to properly repair a wetsuit helps save you money and extend the life of your suit.
Even the best wetsuits can become damaged. If you’ve found a tear in the smooth skin of the wetsuit or in the nylon laminate, it can be repaired. Of course, the best way to avoid wetsuit repair is to be careful when you put on the suit.
The most common reason a wetsuit becomes damaged is pulling too hard when putting it on. It can also become damaged if it catches on something sharp, such as your fingernails.
Before we get into the different ways to repair a wetsuit, it’s important to understand one simple rule, don’t use lower-quality materials when repairing a wetsuit. You probably spent a significant amount of money on your wetsuit. Make sure you use reputable, high-quality materials to perform any necessary wetsuit repairs.
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Wetsuit Repair: What to do First
When you notice a rip or tear in your wetsuit, you want to repair it as soon as possible. The first step should be to check with the maker of the wetsuit to see if it’s under warranty. If it is, you might be able to get it replaced or repaired for a very low cost or even free.
If it’s not under warranty, you can still take the wetsuit to a professional for repairs. However, if you plan to handle the wetsuit repair yourself, you’ll need the right materials and instructions.
Always make sure the wetsuit is completely dry before starting the repair process. It’s a good idea to hand wash the wetsuit and lay it out to dry before trying to handle any wetsuit repairs.
Repairing a Small Wetsuit Tear
You don’t want to sew a tear in a wetsuit. It can be tempting to get out the thread and needle but avoid it. Even if someone told you to use dental floss, don’t do it.
Many wetsuits are made of closed-cell neoprene, which won’t hold up if you simply sew it. While some wetsuits used for surfing and diving might stand up if you sew them, it’s better to perform the wetsuit repair properly.
With a small tear that hasn’t punctured the liner, you can use a glue specially designed for wetsuits. There are several options on the market which are inexpensive and easy to use.
Repairing a Larger Wetsuit Tear
Neoprene glues/cement set flexibly and can handle a certain degree of stretch required to move with wetsuit material, however larger tears will require more strength and stretch to hold in place for longer. For example, a larger wetsuit tear may go through the liner and wetsuit adhesive simply won’t be sufficient to perform the wetsuit repair.
With larger tears, you need a patch kit. This will give you more than just glue. It will include extra reinforcement and keep the tear from re-opening when it’s stretched.
A wetsuit patch kit will include an adhesive on one side of the patch, which can be activated by using an iron. You will need to turn the suit inside-out and cut your patch to the correct size. Make sure the patch is slightly larger than the tear.
As you apply the patch to the wetsuit, you want to make sure the material is pushed together as closely as possible. Then, apply the iron to the patch to ensure it adheres to the liner of the wetsuit.
Wait until the patch has cooled all the way before turning the wetsuit right-side out. Now, you can use the wetsuit glue to seal the outer layer.
It’s a good idea to allow the patch and the glue to sit for at least 20 minutes before tugging on the material. This helps to ensure it has time to fully dry. If the tear reopens when you tug on it, you may need to apply more wetsuit glue or a larger patch.
Dealing with a Stuck Wetsuit Zipper
There’s nothing more annoying than a stuck zipper. When you spend plenty of time in the sand and surf, you’ll end up with a stubborn zipper, sometimes. Keeping your wetsuit clean is a great way to keep your zippers working properly.
When a stuck zipper is the wetsuit repair you need to perform, you will need to get a specialised zipper lubricant. Don’t try to use household lubricants, such as WD-40. These lubricants can cause further damage and make the problem worse.
With the right wetsuit zipper lubricant, you can get a stuck zipper to wiggle free. Apply a little bit to the zipper and pull it back and forth until it releases. You can also use special wax from time to time to keep your wetsuit zipper working properly, but let’s face it who’s going to do that?
How to Avoid Wetsuit Repairs
While wetsuit repairs will be necessary at some point, one of the best ways to avoid them is with a good defense strategy. Knowing how to properly put on a wetsuit is a good start. You will also want to know how to wash a wetsuit properly.
Wash your wetsuit after every use
Regular rinsing of your wetsuit with cold water after each use will remove salt and other residue and prolong the life and condition of the wetsuit. Checkout our guide on how to wash a wetsuit HERE.
Properly Put on Your Wetsuit
Since most tears happen when putting on a wetsuit, it’s a good idea to get this part right. Turn the suit inside out, except the very bottom of the legs.
Then, start at the bottom of the legs and roll the suit onto your body slowly. Since the liner of most wetsuits is more durable than the outer layer, it can withstand the grabbing and tugging much better.
Another thing to be careful of when putting on or taking off a wetsuit is the ground you are standing on. If you are struggling around trying to get off your wet wetsuit on the rough bitumen of a car park, you will be causing damage. You might consider getting a surf change mat.
Properly caring for and storing your wetsuit will go a long way to help you avoid wetsuit repairs. However, if you are in need of a repair, you can do-it-yourself with the advice found above.
When the repair is too big to handle yourself or you simply don’t think you can do-it-yourself, it’s time to get a professional.
Maybe your suit suffered a jagged tear from a nail or from getting caught in a bike chain. Maybe you just don’t feel comfortable repairing it yourself. When this is the case, speak with a wetsuit repair company to ensure the wetsuit repair is handled properly.