What to look out for when buying a second-hand inflatable

Buying second-hand has always been a sensible alternative for those major purchases in life. Houses, cars, and boats, for example, are popular second hand purchases. Yet, buying second-hand also carries inherent risks. Are you getting a good deal or inheriting someone else’s problems? You’ll need your eyes, your ears (and your nose!) and a little gut instinct to know if the second-hand inflatable you are looking at buying will be a good investment or a complete waste of money. Here are a few things to think about before you buy a second hand inflatable.

Who is the manufacturer?

Is it a large manufacturer with a reputation to uphold or some chap on his own working out of a garage? The reputation and track record of the manufacturer can give you key information about the wisdom of your purchase.

Who is the seller?

Is the seller a private individual or the manufacturer? You may get a better price from a private individual, but a manufacturer is in a better position to repair an inflatable or offer a warranty.

A manufacturer also has his reputation to maintain. Let’s face it. If you buy a used inflatable from a manufacturer and it turns out to be a great investment, you’ll probably return to them when you are ready to buy new! And also tell other hire companies and fellow BIHA members.

Why is the seller selling?

You may not get a straight answer to this one, but ask anyway. Some hire companies have a policy of never reselling inflatables. Fortunately, inflatables take up relatively little space and even hiring the inflatable a few times a year may deliver a better profit than the second hand price would be.

If the answers you have received to this point are positive, it’s time to have a look at the inflatable. The best way to evaluate an inflatable is, well, inflated and in person. If for some reason you can’t inspect it in person (for example you live a long distance from the seller), ask for a recent video of the inflatable in action.

Assuming you are able to inspect the unit in person, your eyes are the first tool to use in your evaluation. Look for obvious wear such as places where the thread is giving way, abrasions to the vinyl and spots where seams are starting to separate.

Examine the stress points. Turn it over and check the bottom. Does the unit appear to have been dragged repeatedly? Are there mould/mildew spots, tears, nicks or duct tape repairs? Are there spots with mismatched vinyl denoting an amateurish patching or repair job? Is it clean?

Stay away from any inflatable that has a strong mildew smell. It will never go away.

Some final thoughts:

· If possible always ask for proof of purchase for two reasons. One is to know the true age of the inflatable. The other is to know the unit isn’t stolen.

· Consider more than just price when buying used. Take into consideration the amount of repair work required before buying for price only. Sometimes it is better to spend a little more money and be safe than sorry.

· Always ask for test certificates, manuals and any maintenance records.

With regards to buying a second hand blower / fan. Have a good look at the electrical connections, and check for wear, cracks and tears. Preferably the unit will have been recently PAT tested. Ensure you hear the blower working, if it rattles, then this may be due to worn bearings or a loose nut on the impellor. Check the blades of the impellor, are they in good condition?

When looking at second hand inflatables and blowers, it is always a very good idea to take someone with you who is experienced and knows what to look out for.