Basketballs can leak. They can leak a lot. And they don’t only leak when punctured, but the seams can also weaken eventually and allow air to escape from within, leading to a slow but steady loss of inflation pressure. So, if you’ve got a basketball, and it’s getting flat because of one reason or another, this might be an issue to solve.
The steps in this article are intended for repairing a basketball that has leaked air through its seams. Having done these steps once before, I’m confident that the results are worth the effort.
Fixing a Leak
- The first step is to remove the valve core – the small black “cap” on the end of the valve. The greater majority of leaks are caused by a leaky valve pent, which means you’ll need to replace it. The standard process involves removing the valve pin, then removing the entire valve assembly after partially removing its sleeve with pliers.
- After removing the old valve assembly, you’ll want to remove any paint that might have built up on your new valve pent. The sleeve should have some sort of grip pattern to help provide friction for the valve pin, so it’s best to clean off any paint that might interfere with that.
- Once the valve pent is clean, you’ll want to apply some lubrication on it. Ballistol is a great choice here. Gently apply it all over the part of the pent where the valve pin will go through – this helps with smoother operation.
- The valve pin should be a smooth, solid piece of metal. If it’s a foreign object, inside or out, make sure to remove it before installing your new valve pent. You’ll want to find a pent that has the same size and dimensions as the old one – if your valve pent is too big or too small, you’ll end up with the excess movement of the sleeve while trying to get the pin in place.
- Once the pent is in place, you can put a little bit of lubrication on the valve pin. A good choice here is Ballistol as well. You can hear a distinct “click” once the pin has been fully inserted – it should be inserted all the way down until it’s flush against the sleeve, with no foreign objects sticking out from either side.
- This step is optional but recommended. Since the valve pin is made out of solid metal, it can be susceptible to rust. Inserting a small piece of toilet paper on both ends of the pin, then closing the valve before putting the cap back on will help ensure there’s no moisture between the pin and its sleeve.
- Once you’re done with that, you’ll want to test your valve assembly again – see if there are any air leaks after a few bounces. If you still have a leak, then check your prior steps and try again until you’ve fixed it.
- Another potential issue is that some valves are made of an inferior plastic material while others are more durable. For some, the valve core assembly can be removed with a little bit of force, but it will need to be forcibly removed for others. It’s not uncommon for the valve core to snap off, so you might want to take this step seriously.
- If you need to remove your valve core forcibly, use a small knife or pair of needle-nose pliers. Push them around the edges of the core while twisting gently and applying pressure against the knob at the other end – do NOT pull on the knob with force unless you’re sure it’s coming out.
- Once the core has been removed, you’ll want to clean off any excess paint and grease that might have built on it. There’s a chance that your old valve pent has the same issues, so it’s best to check for leaks and replace them both if necessary.
- For some reason, there’s a small amount of debate on the placement of valves – some people believe they should be placed in the middle, while others think it belongs at either end of the basketball. Either way, it’s unlikely that you’ll be able to get new valve pent covers with the exact dimensions as the originals; they all come in different sizes.
- One of my old valves has a small hole drilled through the outside of its pent – this allows for better motion between the valve and its sleeve and makes it more susceptible to leaking pressure. One alternative is to place a small piece of tire sealant on the outside of the pent, on either end of the hole, for maximum protection.
- The final step is to replace your valve cap – you’ll want to make sure the old one is clean and dry before placing your new one over it. You can then check if there are any leaks through your existing holes in your basketball’s exterior – if you notice any loss of air pressure, then you might end up with a leaky cap.
This guide covers most of the common basketball leaks and leaks that we’ve encountered; we hope we’ve given you an idea of whether it’s something you’ll need to fix or not and whether it’s something that can be fixed easily. If you’re an experienced basketball player, this will likely be something that can be fixed on your own; if you’re a beginner, I would highly recommend having the valve pins replaced by a professional.