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Taking Care of Your Rubber: Wetsuit Repairs
By Jorge Pulido, Wetsuit Repair Guy/ProMotion Wetsuits
Unlike a pair of well-worn jeans, wetsuits do not get more comfortable with age. At some point it is time to toss out the old rubber and upgrade. Until then, you can keep your wetsuit out of the landfill by getting it repaired.
The first question is, can you fix it yourself or should you take it to the wetsuit repair guys? Basically, if you can fix the problem using wetsuit glue, you should be able to fix it yourself. If the fix requires stitching or replacing a section of the wetsuit, you should probably take it to the repair professionals who have sewing machines that are geared for wetsuits and the right type of thread and materials.
If you are down in Baja and in a pinch, try to avoid dental floss and duct tape as these make doing proper repairs more difficult. Instead, take a can of wetsuit glue on your trip to keep you suit patched together.
Easy repairs you can do yourself
Gouges that don’t go all the way through the material can be easily fixed with wetsuit glue. The wetsuit glue we recommend is called Seal Cement. It is black runny glue that comes in a four fluid ounce can.
The inside of the lid has a small brush attached. Another product often sold for wetsuit repairs is a clear product that comes in a tube but we have found the best success with Seal Cement.
Split Seams are seams that have started to open on the outside but have not completely come apart. A bit of wetsuit glue will close the seam and should keep it from completely blowing out.
Note that you cannot repair a completely blown out seam using only wetsuit glue, unless you add a seam tape to the inside of the seam repair. Using a “glue-on” seam tape is a good option. Otherwise, send it to the repair guys.
How to do it
Hold the tear or split seam open as you brush wetsuit glue onto both sides of the tear. Allow the first coat of glue to dry for approximately 5 minutes. Next, apply a second coat of glue and allow it to dry one more minute.
Finally, close the tear or seam evenly and give it a pinch to help set the glue. Do this when your wetsuit is dry and you’ll be back on the water after two hours of drying time.
When to send to the repair guys
Material Replacements are done when a section of the wetsuit is either worn through or rotted out. If the jersey on the inside or outside of your wetsuit is separating from the rubber, it cannot be repaired but must be replaced.
Estimates can go from “worthwhile” all the way up to “toss it out and get a new one.” We also do not recommend iron on repair kits as this home remedy often results in a scorched wetsuit.
Broken Zippers can go a number of different ways. Sometimes only the zipper slider needs to be replaced. This type of a repair is inexpensive.
A more expensive repair is needed when the zipper has broken teeth. If this is the case, the whole zipper needs to be replaced. In both cases, have the repair guys do it as some stitching and material replacement is involved.
Most wetsuit repairs average $20 to $80.
ProMotion Wetsuits offers wetsuit repairs with estimates on any brand over the counter at their Hood River, Oregon shop. Wetsuits needing repair should be dry and sand free.
ProMotion also sells Seal Cement online at www.wetsuit.com, along with most surf and dive shops.