With temperatures soaring in the summer months, solar overheating is a problem that is increasingly likely to affect inflatable boats, such as life rafts, river rafts, and RIBs. Exposure to sunlight and heat over a long period causes two problems: the rubber surface of a boat can become brittle and porous as it dries out; and the internal pressure of an inflatable can rise as the heated air expands, causing damage to the boat’s structure. In some extreme cases, inflatable boats have burst due to the pressure inside the chambers becoming too high.
What are the signs of solar overheating and what measures can you take to achieve solar heat reduction?
Signs Of Solar Overheating
There are many signs of solar overheating, but the following three are the most common:
- Leaks from joints and seams: as the internal air pressure of the boat rises during solar heating, joints and seams are placed under undue pressure leading to them becoming compromised. Leaks are likely to occur.
- Damage to chambers: inflatable boats have multiple chambers for stability. In extreme cases of solar expansion, the material can be stretched causing instability in the structure of the boat.
- Discolouration, fading, cracking, or brittleness to the rubber surface: Ultraviolet (UV) light from the sun causes chemical bonds in the rubber to be broken down, which can result in visible physical damage to the material.
Protecting Your Inflatable Boat From Solar Overheating
To prevent overheating from causing damage to your inflatable boat, you should follow these simple but effective measures:
- Fit a Pressure Relief Valve (PRV). A Pressure Relief Valve, also known as a pressure relief valve is an effective way to prevent the build-up of pressure inside your inflatable boat. High temperatures cause the air to expand inside the boat, increasing pressure, so a pressure release valve, such as the A6 PRV, will automatically allow air to escape: the valve will close once the pressure has returned to within its normal range. Leafield Marine offer a wide range of pressure settings to ensure your inflatable boat maintains optimum pressure.
- Remove inflatables from sunlight when not in use. Reducing unnecessary exposure to UV rays will protect the boat from damage and lengthen its lifespan. Simply remove the boat from sunlight when not in use or cover it with an appropriate protective material to shield it from UV.
- Regularly check the internal pressure of the boat. Leafield Marine supply pressure gauges to assess the air pressure within the chambers of an inflatable boat. We suggest regularly using this to ensure the internal pressure has not exceeded the recommended amount. You should be able to find the recommended pressure for your inflatable boat in the owner’s manual. If you are unsure, you can contact the manufacturer.
Contact Leafield Marine For Expert PRV Advice
At Leafield Marine, our expert team can help you to choose the most suitable Pressure Release Valves for your inflatable boats to protect them from overinflation in the hot weather. For more information, please call us on 01225 899 550.