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“You know how to get Roll Balloons up quickly; just give them the gas. Here is how to make sure they stay up and looking good.”
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You already know that Roll Balloons can be bigger, easier, faster and longer lasting than an equivalent set of individual latex or individual film balloons. Just feed them helium to float them on air. Use nitrogen (80% of the air you breathe is nitrogen) or normal air to fill Roll Balloons and then hang them as garlands. You are quickly up and under way with minimum skill requirements.
But, how do you deal with damaged balloons and leaks? Wouldn’t a leak in one air chamber lead to loss of gas from all the connected chambers? What do you do about that?
If you missed the introduction to what Roll Balloons are, we recommend you pause now and read, “Rolling Out Roll Balloons”. It will get you “up to speed”.
(1) MINIMIZE LEAKS
(A) Choose brands and shapes for your Roll Balloons that have given you the best service in the past with individual film balloons.
If certain brands of individual film balloons have given you especially good service with a minimum number of defects, then it is likely that those brands of Roll Balloons will also give you especially good service and have a minimum number of defects.
If certain balloon shapes have an especially good record of holding up under heavy use for you, then choose roll balloon versions of those shapes for your first venture into Roll Balloons. My personal experience is that simple shapes with no sharp inside corners hold up best.
(B) Handle your Roll Balloons with care.
Normal precautions apply. Keep film balloons clean, cool and flat where possible. Do not drop them on gritty surfaces and walk on them or stack weight on them. Handle the valves gently.
Do not yank Roll Balloons or pull strongly on them. Do not tie them in knots.
If you are going to cut off a length of Roll Balloons and do not have a special connector to use at the end, then tape over the area where you plan to make your cut. This will reinforce the film and reduce chanced of tears. Most film balloons are strong, but the film tears easily if the tear has a place to start.
(2) FIND A LEAK
When you have a Roll Balloon of the general configuration below with a manifold (the long tube on the bottom) below the main chambers, then it may be relatively easy to spot the chamber with a leak. This is especially true when the Roll Balloon is stretched out and flat like you see below.
The gas would flow up and out of the leaking chamber without having much effect on the neighboring chambers. If the chambers go up and over in a high arch, then gas from lower chambers may flow up and out of the leaking one.
If the chambers form an arch and only the bottom (say 4) on one end are deflating, then the leak is most likely in the highest one of the four.
When you have a Roll Balloon configuration similar to the one below it may be a bit more difficult to spot the leak. The gas flows freely and directly from one major chamber to the next. It may be helpful to pinch the connection between major chambers. In this way you can temporarily isolate each chamber and more easily see which one is leaking.
On a long Roll Balloon you may prefer to start with just a few, widely separated pinch points. Observe which section begins to go down and then pinch that section into smaller sections. Repeat this process until you locate the leak.
(3) ROLL BALLOON MEDIC
A. BAND AIDES
Sometimes you may get lucky. If you identify a small leak near the edge of a film balloon, be it a Roll Balloon or a single, you may be able to seal it with simple, clear tape. Or, you may heat seal that small area without any major disruption of your overall display.
B. CUT IT OUT
Other times, band aides may not work for you. You may need to cut out the defective area and reconnect the new ends.
- For general consumer sales, I would expect defective Roll Balloons of this type to simply be returned for exchange.
- For professionals, I would expect at least two types of accessory “repair kits” to be available.
- The first would be small lengths of film tubes to be inserted into both of the new ends of the Roll Balloon and then heat sealed into place. This would reconnect the broken Roll Balloon and allow gas to flow freely among the reconnected chambers.
- The second type would be light weight fastners to connect the newly sealed ends without gas flowing between the two sections.
(4) BUFFER STRATEGY
For balloon professionals, I suggest that you make a practice of cutting your Roll Balloon arches a few units longer than you think you will need. These extra chambers can act as a “buffer” to help you deal with a variety of potential problems.
A. This will give you extra length in case you decide to make your arch a little taller or wider.
B. This will give you extra length in case you do cut out a chamber.
C. This will give you extra gas in case of a slow leak.
D. This will give you an extra resource to prepare for temperature changes.
A. LONGER ARCH
If you do, literally, have a long roll of balloons then you may be able to take the whole thing with you, inflate as much as you need and then roll up the excess at one end and camouflage it. If you have to cut the roll ahead of time, then including some extra units gives you flexibility in setting your final display.
B. BACK UP CHAMBERS
If you should have to cut your arch ahead, then having extra chambers in the length also means you can cut any bad unit/s you discover on site and make up the difference easily from the extra that you included.
If you discover that you have a slow leak, but you are not sure just where it is, there are at least three things you might choose to do to make sure your display of Roll Balloons stays up and looking good:
- One is to give the arch a shot of gas at the last minute before the show begins. This is easy to do through one end of the arch with Roll Balloons.
- Second, you might have someone check on things during the event and add gas as needed.
- Third, you might use those extra chambers that we recommended in a way that can automatically refill the main arch with gas lost from a slow leak. Extend that extra length out in a hidden area on the floor. Inflate them. Gas from the chambers on the floor will float up and into the arch as gas leaks out.
- If you are trying to prepare for a significant temperature drop during the life of your display, then those extra chambers may also prove useful. Use large rubber bands or long twistee balloons wrapped tightly around the extra chambers that are filled with gas on the floor. The rubber bands will squeeze the chambers and force gas up into the weakened arch and keep it looking tight and fit. If you had an arch of many independent balloons there would be little that you could do to revive them from their wrinkled look during the event . If the temperature goes back up, the expanding gas will be forced back into the extra chambers.
- In a similar way, you can use extra chambers to prepare for an anticipated significant rise in temperature. The procedure is much the same, but this time the rubber bands are around extra chambers with only the minimum of gas in them. As the heat rises and the gas expands, the gas now has somewhere to go and still remain under enough pressure to keep the arch looking fit.
(5) SPECIAL ROLL BALLOON CONFIGURATIONS
While I expect the first and most popular Roll Balloons to be long, single balloons that look like a lot of connected, independent balloons, there will surely arise many other configurations of Roll Balloons as well. Some of them will be especially effective at dealing with potential leaks. They are most likely to be Roll Balloons that provide individual, self sealing valves for major chambers of the Roll Balloons.
A. CONNECTED BUT SEPARATELY INFLATED CHAMBERS
This type of Roll Balloon is a single balloon in the sense that it is made from continuous film, but each major chamber is inflated and sealed separately. It makes it very easy to spot leaking chambers and prevents leaks from spreading. It retains the advantages of having the chambers already connected and properly spaced. But, it gives up the ability to inflate and deflate all chambers at once.
This type Roll Balloon could be produced without the self-sealing valves (show here as vertical gray strips), but self-sealing valves are a convenience that customers have come to expect in film balloons large enough to float on air.
A. MANIFOLD BELOW THE MAIN CHAMBERS
The form of Roll Balloon shown below looks like the first Roll Balloon diagram under (2) FIND A LEAK above, but each of the major chambers now has a self-sealing valve added to it (shown as a vertical, gray strip). All the chambers can be inflated at once through the manifold (the horizontal tube at the bottom). Each chamber seals separately. This make it easy to spot one with a leak and prevents a leak from spreading. This form of Roll Balloon does sacrifice the ability to deflate chambers without damaging the balloon.
B. MANIFOLD INSIDE THE STRING OF CHAMBERS
With this general configuration of Roll Balloon the manifold is in line with the main chambers instead of below them. This makes manufacture more complicated, but produces a clean look and, when the manifold is centered, it allows the chambers to float nicely for canopies and vertical walls. It does make it easy to spot leaking chambers and prevents leaks from spreading. This form of Roll Balloon does sacrifice the ability to deflate chambers without damaging the balloon.
C. VALVES BETWEEN CHAMBERS
The general configuration of Roll Balloon shown below looks a lot like the one shown under B. PINCH under (2) FIND A LEAK near the beginning of this article. In this case self-sealing valves (show as horizontal, gray strips) have been added. This will make it easier to spot leaking chambers and it will greatly reduce the risk of a leak spreading. Gas that is under significant pressure to the right of a leaking chamber can still flow toward the leak. It is possible to deflate this configuration of Roll Balloon; just roll up the balloon starting from the right end.
First, minimize the potential for leaks by selecting Roll Balloon in shapes and from manufacturers that have served you the best in the past. And, then take good care of your Roll Balloons.
Second, stretch out your Roll Balloons to observe them for leaks. If necessary, temporarily pinch connections between major chambers to isolate a leak.
Third, you may be able to patch small leaks with clear tape or by heat sealing a small area. Other times you may need to cut out the defective area and reconnect the new ends.
Fourth, make a practice of cutting your Roll Balloon a few units longer than you think you will need. These extra chambers can act as a “buffer” to help you deal with a variety of potential problems including leaks.
Fifth, make use of special Roll Balloon configurations when you have a situation that is especially sensitive to leaks.
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