How To Fix A Wetsuit Zipper
How To Fix A Wetsuit Zipper
It’s one of the most frustrating situations ever. You pull up to the surf spot and start gearing up for what should be a fun day of catching waves. Then when you try to zip up your wetsuit, you realize the zipper is broken. You start asking friends you’re with for guidance on how to fix a wetsuit zipper… Only to be met with a shoulder shrug. Your day of surfing is over before it can even begin.
So, what’s next? Do you need to buy a whole new suit? When it comes to how to fix a zipper on a wetsuit, you do have a few options. And you can test them out before making the decision to buy a new one. Hopefully, some of the fixes we talk about below will get you back in action before you shell out the cash on buying a replacement wetsuit.
Common Wetsuit Zipper Problems
Before we start talking about zipper fixes, let’s lay out some of the most common zipper issues that pop up.
#1: Zipper Slider is Stuck
Perhaps the most common problem is a stuck zipper slider. This usually happens due to corrosion. Saltwater dries up in and around the mechanism, and this causes a jam. If this is the case for you, be thankful! This means there’s a good chance you can get it working again. And you can also prevent it from happening in the future! (More on that in a moment.)
#2: Zipper Slider is Off-Track or Came Off
This happens from time to time on wetsuits. However, since most wetsuits nowadays use high-quality zippers, the sliders don’t come off easily. But there are times when we tend to put too much force on a zipper. This, subsequently, can cause it to come off its track or rip off entirely.
#3: Zipper Slider Won’t Stay Up and Keeps Unzipping
Have you noticed when you zip up your wetsuit, the zipper seems to unzip on its own? Maybe from things like the force of the water, or even simply from gravity? It has been known to happen. However, most wetsuits have a zip stopper or piece of velcro that holds the zipper up and prevents this from happening.
#4: Zipper Separates After it is Zipped Up
This is a very common problem with zippers on more than just wetsuits. It happens all the time on jackets and zip-up hoodies. And it’s usually caused by the zipper teeth breaking or simply wearing out. It can also happen if the zipper slide wears out or becomes too loose, not providing the tension needed to snap the teeth together.
#5: Zipper Slider Breaks
Cheaply made zipper sliders (made from plastic) are known to break completely. But fear not, because this happening is not the end of the world. Just go to Google and type ‘how to fix a zipper on a wetsuit’ in the search bar. You’ll notice there are companies that have some great products that are made to handle this exact problem.
#6: Zipper Teeth Break or Fall Off
If your specific problem involves missing or broken zipper teeth, you will likely need to buy a new wetsuit, pay for a repair, or dedicate serious time to replace the whole zipper. (Which is a long, intricate process.)
Now that we’ve laid out the common problems, let’s get to the fixes. We do want to point out that these fixes may not work for your exact issue. But the solutions we lay out below might do the trick, so it’s up to you to give it a try. The goal is to prevent you from having to buy a new wetsuit, especially if yours is still in decent condition.
However, a broken zipper is a big deal. You may be required to buy a new wetsuit or find someone who can install a new zipper system. A professional zipper repair or replacement might also be an option, but that could run you anywhere from $100 to $300. At that point, it would make more sense just to buy a new suit.
How To Fix a Stuck Wetsuit Zipper
If your zipper is stuck in an unzipped position and won’t seem to move when you try to make it work, the problem is likely corrosion. One way to fix it is to use common white vinegar to clean it out. Grab the vinegar and an old toothbrush and brush it all over the zipper slider. Get the bristles as deep as you can into the area that is stuck.
Be generous with the vinegar, but try to wipe the excess off that will inevitably spill onto the neoprene. Vinegar will more than likely not hurt the neoprene on your suit, but it is a strong substance. Therefore, it is best to be as safe as possible and wipe off any that gets onto the rubber.
Once you have the area that is stuck saturated with vinegar, let it sit overnight so the vinegar can do its work. The next day, after some wiggling and jiggling, it might just come loose, and you will be back in business.
To keep the corrosion from happening, you can apply some silicone lubricant which will stop the corrosion from popping up again. There are also specialized zipper lubricants you can pick up on Amazon or other stores that will provide the same protection. If you can’t afford these, you can also use surf wax to stop corrosion.
How To Fix A Wetsuit Zipper Slider That Won’t Stay Up
If your zipper keeps falling down after you zip it up, the best solution is to create something that prevents it from falling and will hold it in place. Most wetsuits that zip up from the back have a piece of velcro across the neck collar which prevents the zipper slider from falling down. If yours doesn’t have this, you might be able to create one on your own using standalone pieces of Velcro that are stitched on or glued on and hold the zipper slider in place.
How To Fix A Wetsuit Zipper That Separates or is Missing The Slider
If your zipper separates after you zip it up or the slider has broken off, a company called FixnZip sells replacement zipper sliders of all different sizes. It allows you to fix the wetsuit zipper without tools or sewing. According to the website, the thumbscrew on the FixnZip® allows you to slide it right over the existing zipper teeth and then lock it into place.” This mechanism can help repair both a separated zipper and a zipper slider that has fallen off.
When a zipper separates, it could mean the zipper slider is too loose or doesn’t have the tension needed to close the teeth together properly. You can try tightening it up yourself, or you can carefully take it off and throw on a Fixnzip mechanism. This should provide the tension needed to get it working again.
Replacing A Zipper
If your wetsuit zipper is missing teeth or has suffered some other issues that appear to be catastrophic, then replacing the entire zipper system may be your only option. In my view, a zipper replacement is not necessarily a DIY job. (Unless you have experience with sewing or clothing alteration.) Replacing a zipper requires you to remove the old zipper system, which can mean carefully removing the stitching that is holding it on.
If the zipper is glued on, then you must be extra careful not to tear your suit while you’re trying to pull the zipper apart. Once it is removed, you must be able to sew or glue the new one in. You can pick up new zipper systems on Amazon for a relatively low price.
As I mentioned, if you need to have your zipper fully replaced, then having a professional do it might be the best option. Especially if you aren’t too handy with a thread and needle. Be prepared to shell out some cash, though, because a zipper replacement job is not going to be cheap. And remember that purchasing a new wetsuit might be cheaper than a repair job!