If you’re shopping for an inflatable boat, you will have probably come across the term Boston valve. It sounds impressive as it is part of the advertising material, but wait a minute.
What on Earth is a Boston valve?
A Boston valve is one-way check valve with 2 ports, which allows for easy inflation and quick deflation of inflatable items. It is used in larger inflatable products, such as inflatable boats and mattresses, to speed up the process of inflation and deflation.
As you can see on the image below, it has 3 core elements:
- The base, which is built into the rubber tube (far right)
- The middle part, which is screwed into the base (mid)
- The top cap, which is screwed onto the middle part (far left)
How does a Boston valve work?
You can efficiently inflate and quickly deflate inflatable boats equipped with a Boston valve.
Unscrew the top cap, and you’ll be able to inflate your inflatable, without it losing any air while this first cap is open. This is because the Boston valve is a check valve, which allows air to flow in only 1 direction.
Insert the pump, and inflate the boat. After you reach the desired air pressure, simply remove the pump from the valve. There is a return flap built into the mid-section of the Boston valve, which prevents leakage.
Remember to screw the cap back on, and you’re ready to go.
If you want to quickly deflate your inflatable boat, just unscrew the middle “cap” from the base of the Boston valve. You will expose a large opening, so the air will escape very quickly.
If you have a pump which can be configured for deflation, it will speed up the process even more.
What kind of pump does a Boston valve need?
You can use any pump, but you will need to have a special Boston valve adaptor. The good news is that most pumps will come with one, since Boston valves are common.
Here are the manual and electric pumps I can recommend.
Checking the pressure in a tube inflated with a Boston valve is a bit tricky, since the valve does not let air out. This is the main feature of Boston valves. You need a specialized pressure gauge to check the air pressure inside your inflatable.
Here is a gauge that does just this. To use it, you insert the gauge into the valve, where it will register the pressure.
Boston valves sizes
There are 2 sizes of Boston valves: normal and small. This relates to the mouth of the valve, where you insert the pump adaptor.
While the Boston valve adaptor on pumps will fit 99% of the time, you cannot get generic replacements for lost/damaged valve caps for example. The threading and exact measurements vary by brand, so you need to find the specific size your product came with.
Boston valve losing air
It is imperative that the valve seals tightly, otherwise air will escape.
If you have a Boston valve which is losing air, unscrew it, clean the valve to make sure it is not dusty, and re-thread it making sure it is not cross-threaded. If it is still losing air, it is probably defective and you’ll need to buy a new one.
If you have an inflatable boat with multiple Boston valves of the same size, you can swap them to check whether it is, in fact, the valve losing air. This is a good way to make sure the valve is the culprit, not something else.
Also, you might want to read this article on how to find air leaks in inflatable boats.