Compared to a lot of other equipment that is needed for water sports, wetsuits can be a hefty investment, especially if you are using a more expensive one.
But like everything you wear on your body, especially active wear, there is anxiety around what to do when it is damaged.
This is even more important with wetsuits.
These suits are designed to keep you warm in colder waters and if there are large enough breaches in the neoprene, their effectiveness can begin to suffer.
So if you want your wetsuit to stay in the best condition and want to avoid buying a new one, keep reading!
How To Avoid Damaging Your Wetsuit
The best way to avoid even having to consider fixing your wetsuit is to be able to prevent it from becoming damaged in the first place.
The best way to do this is to just be conscientious of how you are using it.
Whether this is what you are interacting with when you are wearing it, or how carefully you take it on and off, even the most sturdy and thick wetsuits still have the possibility to break.
There are some more specific tips, however.
Firstly you should avoid letting the suit dry in direct sunlight and using it in water that is too hot since this can damage the neoprene and limit its functionality over time.
This also means you should not be machine washing your wetsuit, as the heat from a washing machine can shrink and toughen the neoprene making it almost unusable after just one wash.
The best way to keep the wetsuit clean is to rinse in fresh water after use and if soap is needed, then use a mild detergent so as to not damage the material.
Also do not hang up your wetsuit to store it, hangers will eventually leave indents on the neoprene and will limit its functionality if stored like this for too long.
And the best piece of advice for a long-lasting wetsuit; the sooner you deal with damage, the easier it is to fix.
The best ways to fix damage are preventative or early measures as these are much easier and cheaper to cope with, but also these issues are very likely to evolve into larger issues.
So now you know this, how do you repair a wetsuit?
How To Repair Smaller Damage To A Wetsuit
Most wetsuits have a lining under the neoprene to make the wetsuit more comfortable for the wearer.
So the best way to classify smaller damage to a wetsuit is if the damage only affects the neoprene and does not pierce through the lining.
The best way to deal with a small tear or scuff is to use an aqua sealant specifically designed for wetsuit repair.
These products are custom-made for dealing with issues like this. They will work much better than any alternative or substitute you can think of and are usually inexpensive.
It is worth buying some when you purchase a wetsuit as it is the best way to ensure a long life for this essential equipment.
While each brand of sealant has its own specific instructions and directions, there is generally some good advice to follow when using it.
– Wait until the wetsuit is completely dry, not mostly dry, not just a tiny bit wet, completely bone dry. These products are designed to not adhere to water as it is what makes them waterproof.
So if there is any moisture anywhere too close to the surface you are trying to seal the product will not work effectively.
– Let the sealant dry for as long as possible. It might be tempting to want to use the wetsuit again as soon as physically possible.
But if you are too impatient, the sealant may not have fully set and if it comes into contact with water during this time it will become ineffective.
It is best to make sure to go well over the recommended time in the instructions just to take into account any factors like humidity or temperature that could affect how long the product takes to dry.
– Only use the appropriate amount. It is obvious to make sure to use enough, as the product will not be strong enough to fix the issue if you do not apply enough. But the inverse is also true.
Do not slather on excessive amounts of sealant. This will make it so the product will take too long to dry, and could also limit flexibility as the sealant is nowhere near as flexible as the neoprene of the wetsuit.
If there is also a big wedge of sealant on a wetsuit, it makes it easier to dislodge and even peel off, so it is best to keep repairs appropriately sized.
How To Fix Larger Damage To A Wetsuit
If the damage done to a wetsuit breaches the inner lining, it is very unlikely that a sealant will be enough, or effective in fixing the issue.
This is where some people recommend sewing, but unless you are a professional this is generally not recommended.
You can end up doing more damage than help and depending on wetsuit thickness, this can be an incredibly difficult task.
What is much easier and safer for a non-professional to attempt is using a heat-activated tape.
These tapes can be applied to the inside of a suit to fully repair a tear in the lining without damaging the neoprene on the outside.
By using a specific tape you are ensuring full coverage of the problem area, and with its heat activation, you can be sure that it will not come off like a standard tape would.
Make sure the product you buy is specifically made for this purpose and not a craft supply.
And keep in mind when applying to not use your heat source for longer than needed.
While it may feel like an extra precaution to make sure the tape is secure, it could be doing damage to the heat-sensitive neoprene on the other side.
Once the lining is taped up you can secure the neoprene using a sealant like in the previous step.
So these are the most effective, at home ways of fixing a wetsuit.
While they usually require specific tools, this is because repairing a wetsuit is a specific job that will not work well with inefficient methods.
While these methods are all effective, they can not fix everything, and if these methods do not work then you may need to contact a professional or the manufacturer for repairs, or in the worst case scenario, get a replacement.