If you get a tear or rip in your wetsuit, your first thought is probably to hop straight online and start searching for a new one while it is still warm from you wearing it. Although at Circle One we stock a great selection of different wetsuits for everyone, we fully believe in repairing and caring for your wetsuit so that it lasts as long as possible. One less wetsuit destined for landfill might not sound like a lot but if everyone tried their best to reduce their waste then it would make a huge difference to the environment. Here are some tips on how to repair your wetsuit including the tools you will need for the job!
Firstly, you can help to avoid getting rips and tears in your wetsuit by looking after it properly. Try to be gentle and go slowly when putting on and taking off your wetsuit. Don’t pull too hard and if you have long nails, try and use you fingertips instead or even wear gloves to stop them snagging the delicate neoprene. Rinse your wetsuit in fresh cold water after every use and use a wetsuit cleaner to remove salt and other impurities from the neoprene. Store your wetsuit on a wetsuit hanger with wide shoulders in a dark, dry place when you aren’t using it. If your zip starts to get a bit stuck you can put a bit of WD40 on to make it run smoother – better to do this that have to force it which can make it worse or rip the seams around the zip.
Things Which Can Damage Your Wetsuit
- Salt water
- Sharp objects – nails, stones, rocks, hooks etc.
- UV sunlight
- Hot water
- Washing machine, tumble dryer or dry cleaning
Small Rips & Tears
Try and inspect your wetsuit after each use for small rips and tears as they are much easier to fix when they are small, and will grow quickly with more stretch and use. 1 – 2 cm tears in the middle of neoprene can be fixed using a special neoprene flexible glue, which can be bought online or in some surf shops. Bike puncture repair kits are also good, as the glue is similar for fixing inner tube punctures. If the rip is bigger or on the seam or zip, then it is probably easier to get it fixed professionally or take a look at your wetsuit warranty.
To fix a small rip in the neoprene and repair your wetsuit, first make sure it is clean and dry so the glue sticks wells to it. Turn your suit inside out and find the tear and make sure you can access it easily. Apply some glue to each side of the tear, along the cross section of the neoprene. Before pressing the two edges together, let the glue dry slightly so it is tacky, for 1 – 2 minutes. Then apply a second coat of neoprene adhesive and again allow to dry for a few minutes until tacky. Taking care to line up the edges well, gently press the glued tear together to seal the neoprene rip. Hold it in place for another 3 – 5 minutes until you are confident it is dry and stuck together. You can add more glue over the top of the rip if you want to make it extra strong. Make sure you leave the wetsuit overnight or for at least 24 hours in a dry environment before you try and use it in the water or put it on to make sure the glue is completely set.
Fixing Glued and Taped Seams
If you have a small tear in a glued seam, then this can be fixed in a similar way to above, as there is no stitching involved. You could even add in a blind stitch or tape to strengthen the seam. You can get neoprene tape in wetsuit repair kits which you can glue onto the inside of the seam with the same glue, and adds in an extra layer of cold protection and strength to the seam. A blind stitch involves using a strong but very thin thread and only penetrating through half of the layer of neoprene, so it is tricky to do. This is important so you don’t make holes in your wetsuit which can let the water in.