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Drying out wet inflatables


Here in the UK, the weather can sometimes be unpredictable, and unexpected rainfall can turn an otherwise successful inflatable hire party into a dash for the nearest shelter.  Meanwhile the inflatable gets a soaking.  In the summer, this is not normally a problem as they tend to dry out very quickly.  But during the other seasons, the drying out process can be more time consuming and convoluted.

I have just found a great article from which gives some useful information as to how inflatables can be dryed out after they have become very wet. 

"Properly drying inflatables is one of the most time consuming but required things we have to do to maintain our equipment. Some inflatables have the big access zippers were small people can actually climb in and vacuum / dry out the units. If you have these units, please do not go into them without someone around to help in case of an emergency.

Some operators say if it is a light rain, leave the units blown up, problem with that is the blower will suck in water to the unit. Deflating it will allow water to enter through the seams. Having the customer fold it and covering it is the best thing if there is no one available to roll it up.

When an inflatable is blown up the air pressure will hold water up against the vinyl and not allow all of it to blow out the seams. Some of the baffle material and netting will also absorb and hold moisture.

When I have wet units we blow them up and tilt them to one side (facing the sun) with a hand truck under it for support. This allows standing water to go to one side and blow out of the stitch work. When it appears dry from the outside remove the hand truck, deflate the unit and allow any water up in the columns and support tubes to run back down. After it is deflated, blow it back up again. This will allow water to move around and drain out again. We repeat this operation several times to allow it to dry completely. We also spray Microban® into the unit which will kill and prevent mildew from starting.

In some worst cases where a unit has been left out in hours of rain we resort to slitting a small hole on the BOTTOM of the unit towards the front corner and tilt the unit on its side to allow water to flow out of it on site. This can be easily patched when you get it back and dried out.

By doing it in the same area for your units it will also make it easier if it happens again. Just pull the patch off the next time. It is on the bottom of the unit so looks are not all that important.

You will find that some manufactures use material that can hold up longer than others. I do set a priority though. Any thing with digital graphics or clear vinyl gets cleaned first. The water seems to want to damage the graphics before plain or painted vinyl.

The most important thing is to get them dry ASAP. There is a substantial investment in this business and once mildew has set into the scrim of vinyl it is impossible to get out".