WETSUIT REPAIR AND MAINTENANCE
Start with some neoprene glue and three basic household items.
a. Aqua-Seal Black Seal Cement 60mL (2fl.oz) tube (available at your wetsuit retailer or local dive shop)
b. Cotton Swab
d. Household Cellophane Tape
Clean and prep the surface in and around the fingernail cut. Make sure that the area in and around the fingernail cut is dry and clean. If dirty, use a warm damp rag to clean the surrounding area. Make sure that the area is completely dry before commencing with the next step.
Apply wetsuit glue to the fingernail cut with an applicator. By cutting off one end of a cotton swab, you’ve just make the perfect glue applicator. Lightly pinch the neoprene together as pictured, to open up the fingernail cut. Using the cotton swab, apply a small quantity of glue to the inside and outside edges of the cut. When you release the neoprene, some glue should ooze out. The secret to a good repair is to have a thin film of glue on the outside surface of the cut as well as inside.
Make sure the cut remains together until the glue dries. Apply a small piece of cellophane tape perpendicularly across the cut. This will hold the two sides together until the glue dries. Ideally, you want to allow the glue to dry overnight, but a few hours will do. Once the glue is dry to the touch, gently peel the tape away. The tape will come off easily and at the same time, remove any excess glue on the surface. The cut has now been repaired, and you can use your suit as normal.
Avoid contact of the smoothskin side of the neoprene with anything abrasive. It’s best that your triathlon wetsuit be used only for open water swimming. The rough side of the hook and loop (Velcro) closures at the top of the zippers of just about all triathlon wetsuits can really do a number on the smoothskin surface if not fully covered and closed when swimming. It’s also best to keep the rough part of the closure closed at all times so that the rough part of the closure never comes in contact with the smoothskin.
Never leave the wetsuit out in the sun for extended periods of time. The sun’s UV rays and the heat accelerate the break-down and perishing of the neoprene. Obviously, hanging it up in transition after the swim is unavoidable.
You should also avoid leaving the wetsuit inside your car. We have seen wetsuits completely melted after a few hours inside a car on a hot afternoon. Heat like this melts the glue and prematurely ages the neoprene.
Give your wetsuit a thorough freshwater rinse either just after you have used it or when you get home from a race or training swim. A garden hose or shower will work equally well. Many ask whether triathlon wetsuits can be used in chlorinated pools. It’s been our experience that occasional usage will not be a problem. Heave usage may be a problem – most likely shortening the life of the wetsuit. Again, after pool usage, give the suit a freshwater rinse.
After the rinse, hang the wetsuit up on a shaped suit hanger inside-out to dry. I find that suits dry fastest when they are turned inside out. Again, if you can, avoid hanging the suit in the sun, but in the shade in the open air. Once the inside is dry to the touch, turn the suit back right-side-out and put it back on the hanger. Always hang the suit up in a cool, dark place when not in use. the other option is to lay it flat on the floor under a bed.
At the end of the season check your suit over carefully, both inside and out. On the outside, look for fingernail cuts and other abrasions. On the inside, check all the seams as well as the zipper to make sure all the teeth are there and it still is working smoothly. If you have any fingernail cuts of seams coming apart, get them fixed now so the suit is ready to go in the spring. Don’t wait until one week before the first race next spring or summer. Minor fingernail cuts, as mentioned, are not to be worried about and can be easily fixed at home by using our Syn-Seal vulcanizer. For more information, please see our simple wetsuit repair video. If you have more major seam repair issues, contact us at 1-415-895-8192 to see if your wetsuit is still under warranty. Note that fingernail cuts are not covered under our warranty, but seam failure issues usually are.
Have you ever put your wetsuit on for the first time in the spring and found that it was too tight? It may be that your suit has lost a bit of flexibility over the winter because it has dried out completely. The micro bubbles in the neoprene hold in small amounts of water that make the rubber more elastic overall. To restore the suppleness of your wetsuit, soak your suit in the bath tub for a few minutes and then let it dry out.