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Waterbed Product FAQs

Mattress Questions

What mattress sizes are available?

Hardside mattress sizes:

  • King 72"x84"
  • Queen 60"x84"
  • Super Single 48"x84"

Softside and/or Conventional mattress sizes:

  • California King 72"x84"
  • King 76"x80"
  • Queen 60"x80"
  • Full 54"x75"
  • Twin 39"x75"

Can I use any type of mattress inside of my bed frame?

You need to use a wooden frame mattress for a wooden frame waterbed; you need to use a specific softside mattress for a full depth softside waterbed and special cylinders or mattresses for a shallow fill bed. Although a few of the current metal legged frames that headboards and footboards come with are capable of holding a full depth or shallow fill softside bed, it is best to use a special heavy duty 9 legged metal softside frame that has "flat feet" instead of the rollers with axles.

What is a free flow mattress?

A free flow mattress or full wave mattress is a mattress that contains only water but no baffles or inserts.

What is a semi-waveless mattress?

A semi-waveless mattress is a type of mattress that contains a few fiber inserts and/or baffles to control the water motion and increase support.

What is a waveless mattress?

A waveless mattress is a type of mattress that contains many layers of fiber inserts and/or baffles to control the water motion and increase support.  Frequently the better mattresses contain additional layers in the center third of the mattress called special lumbar support.

What is a single mattress vs. a dual mattress?

A single mattress is one mattress only inside the frame cavity.  A dual mattress is two individual mattresses inside the frame cavity that provides a couple with their "own" comfort level.  Dual mattresses usually use two heaters to provide separate temperature control as well.

How do I fill my waterbed?

Attach the faucet connector that comes in the fill and drain kit to a nearby faucet, attach your garden hose tightly to the connector, or attach hose directly to an outside faucet.  Flush water through the hose to clear any bacteria residing in the hose before placing the fill kit attachment on the other end of the hose and screwing the fill kit snugly onto the extended mattress valve.  Keep a towel handy to dry any wayward drips.  Add your bottle of multi-purpose water conditioner.  Start filling the mattress with luke-warm water, making sure your mattress is straight in the frame, and checking for wrinkles in the bottom of the mattress, cover and liner.  When the mattress has about 1" of water, with your helper, tug each component against each other to ensure that there are no wrinkles/folds in any of the components.  Continue to fill until your mattress is about 1" below the frame edge.  Do not overfill.  Adjustments will probably be needed, but it is much easier to add water than to take it out.  Burp the bed, insert the plug, screw on the cap, and test the bed for fill level.  Plug in the waterbed heater.  If you used luke-warm water, the bed should be very comfortable to sleep on right away.  If you had to go to an outside faucet, it will definitely be up to a week before it is warm enough to comfortably sleep on it.  Additional air bubbles will rise as the bed is slept on so you will need to burp again in a few days.  (See section on Filling Your Bed for more detailed instructions.)

How full should my waterbed mattress be?

Fill level is a matter of personal preference, but the following is a good starting point.   After completing the above steps for filling, lay on the mattress flat on your back with no pillow.  If two people share the bed, both should do this.  You want your bodies, at this point to be fairly parallel with the floor. If you feel your heads are lower than your mid section, and you feel like you?re rolling off to the sides, you have too much water in the bed, and will need to drain some out.  If you feel like you are lying in a hammock with your mid section lower than you head and feet, you don't have enough water in the bed, and will need to add more.  Once you have achieved the parallel position, you can adjust more or less for personal comfort.  If you are more comfortable alone in bed than together, your bed is over filled.  When a person gets in or out of bed, you are effectively adding or subtracting an amount of water equal to their weight.

If the mattress is too soft, should I add more water?

More water will help to give a firmer feel up to a point, but you don't want to add so much that the mattress is too full (see above question), or so full that it is above the liner level.  A better method for giving a firmer feel is to change to a waveless waterbed mattress with more layers of fiber, or possibly a waveless waterbed mattress with lumbar support.

How do I make my mattress firmer / softer?

Adding water to a full wave mattress makes it feel firmer.  Ironically, subtracting water from a motion reduced mattress makes it feel firmer.  You are changing the ratio of fiber to empty space within the box (mattress).

I think I will get sea sick on a waterbed. Is this possible?

Sea sickness, or feeling nauseous because of motion, is very unlikely. A free flow waterbed does have a fair amount of motion though, and although some find this relaxing, the motion may disturb others. It is a mistake though, to miss out on the benefits of sleeping on water because the motion may bother you. Today, we have waveless waterbed mattresses that are almost as still and as firm as a conventional bed, but offering the comfort of a temperature controlled waterbed.

How do I drain my waterbed?

Unplug the waterbed heater.  Place some heavy objects (without sharp edges) around mattress valve to keep hose connector in the water.  Have some towels on hand to catch any leakage.  If you have an electric waterbed pump (the easiest method), attach the hose connector from your fill and drain kit to the suction side hose on the electric pump, and screw snugly onto the extended mattress valve.  Attach your garden hose to the outlet side of the electric pump, and run the hose to where you want the water to drain.  Turn pump on.  If an electric pump is unavailable, attach the hose connector from your fill kit directly to your garden hose, attach the drain attachment from your fill and drain kit tightly to the faucet connector that has been attached to a nearby faucet.  Making sure the drain attachment's bell valve is in the up position, turn the water on.  The water will begin to enter the bed.  Once water is flowing into the bed, drop the bell valve to the down position allowing the water to flow into the sink.  Leave the water running full force.  This is what allows the water to be pulled from the bed.  Allow one to two hours depending on water pressure for the water to drain.  Don't allow air into the hose by having the hose connector pull out of the water in the mattress.  This will interrupt the siphoning action, and may damage your electric drain pump if you are using one.  If you have a wave reduced mattress, take care to avoid bunching up or damaging the interior structure of the mattress.  In lifting the mattress from the head of the bed, to allow water to move toward the valve, be sure you have a hold of all layers of fiber to avoid having them slip to the center of the mattress.  As the draining process nears the end, begin to roll the mattress from the head, squeezing the water toward the drain valve.  When fully drained, the mattress will have a wrinkled look, and will have pulled away from the sides of the bed.

How often should I drain my waterbed to change the water?

As long as the mattress is given proper care, you should only need to drain it when you move it.

What do I do about air bubbles in my mattress?

Air is dissolved in the water used to fill your mattress, some enters the mattress during the fill process, and bubbles are sometimes present due to being trapped in the fiber layers of a wave reduced mattress.  Mattresses are made of vinyl which physically is a semi-permeable membrane.  This means that small amounts of air can pass through vinyl but water cannot.  So even though the cap and plug is closed tightly on the mattress, small amounts of air still pass through over a period of time.  It is common to have to burp your mattress every few months especially during the colder months when your heater may be working harder.  Bacteria in the mattress can also cause air bubbles. Use of a good multi-purpose water conditioner every six months will keep air bubbles to a minimum, keep the water clean and also condition the inside of the mattress.  Even so, the mattress will periodically need to be burped. This is easily achieved by pulling up the fill and drain spout and removing the cap and insert.  It is suggested that until you become used to burping your bed, that you lay a towel as a moat around the spout to catch any mistakes.  Slowly and gently lay across the pillow end of the bed with the covers removed. While stretched out, slowly roll or crawl towards the foot of the bed making sure that your body is covering the whole width of the mattress to gently ?scoop? the air towards the spout.  As you approach the spout, lift it slightly upwards and the floating air bubbles will burp out of the spout.  Depress the spout into the mattress to replace the air in the valve with water and replace the cap and plug quickly once the air has been released.  If your waterbed sounds like the ocean or is noisy, it simply needs to be burped.

Why does my mattress have condensation?

If the waterbed does not have a heater, and the climate is humid, your mattress may develop some condensation. If your bed does not use a heater, and you are experiencing condensation, you may want to use a waterbed heater set on low just to keep the mattress dry. If the room temperature and the heater temperature are too close, you may also experience some condensation. There should be at least a 10 degree variation in room and heater setting to avoid condensation.  Do not allow this condition to continue, or you will eventually have a mildew problem that can affect allergies, and damage the bed and bedding.

How do I fix a leak in my mattress?

Once the leak is located, determine whether it is in a seam or the body of the mattress.  Seam leaks are manufacturer's defects.  If the mattress if under warranty, circle the spot with a felt tip marker, and call or e-mail the dealer or the manufacturer for how to handle warranty problems (see our policies).  If the leak is in the body of the mattress and where you can get to it, there is no need to drain the bed.  For a small pinhole, dry the area and apply a drop of glue from the patch kit.  Let this dry, and apply a second drop.  Allow to dry a few hours before sleeping on the mattress.  If the leak is more than a pinhole, you will need to use a piece of the vinyl from the patch kit that you have cut with rounded corners slightly larger than the puncture.  Cleaning the area of the mattress to be patched with rubbing alcohol is a good hint.  It removes any body oil that may be present.  Dry the area around leak, put glue around patch edges, and place over puncture.  Allow to dry a few hours before sleeping on the mattress.  If puncture is too large to patch, or if it is on a corner, where it is difficult to patch, you may want to consider a new waterbed mattress.

What's the best way to store a mattress?

Waterbed mattresses do not store well for long periods of time, but you can store them for a short time if you take precautions.  Drain as much water as possible out of the mattress, pour in a bottle of multi-purpose water conditioner to control bacteria growth, replace the cap and plug, and either roll the mattress, or fold over something soft to keep as many folds as possible out of the mattress to avoid fold cracks.  It is important to grab a handful of the fiber baffle ensuring that it stays in place whenever moving, folding or rolling the mattress.  Store your mattress at moderate room temperatures and cover or box to protect from punctures.

Why is my mattress dry and brittle?

Improper care may be the reason. A multi-purpose water conditioner keeps the inside of the vinyl conditioned, and periodic use of a vinyl cleaner to condition the outside of the vinyl is recommended.  Bleach and other household cleaners can remove the plasticizers, the chemicals that make your mattress soft and supple instead of a telephone receiver, and have a drying effect on mattress vinyl causing them to become brittle.  Not using a good mattress pad to absorb body oils; and/or not laundering the pad often enough is another common reason for brittle vinyl in a waterbed mattress.  Once a mattress has become dry or brittle, it will be much more likely to develop cracks and tears. It is best to replace it with a new waterbed mattress before any damage occurs.

My waterbed mattress has a strange smell.  How can I fix it?

Odors emanating from the mattress usually fall into three categories. The first occurs when the mattress is new. Waterbed mattresses are made from vinyl, and vinyl does have a smell when it is fresh.  Once the mattress is in the bed and exposed to the air for a while, this smell should dissipate.  Use of a vinyl cleaner may speed the process.  

The second cause is not so easily cured.  If you are experiencing a musty odor, this is usually caused by bacteria growth.  This may be from the outside of the mattress being moist from condensation or a puncture.  If this is the cause, dry the area thoroughly, fix the problem, and clean the outside of the mattress, liner, and heater pad first with a product like Lysol and then with vinyl cleaner.   Be sure to launder any bedding that may have mildewed.  Try to leave the bedding off and the mattress open to the air for a while to speed the process.  If the odor is particularly strong when the cap and plug is removed from the mattress, the problem is being created from the inside of the mattress.  The usual cause is from bacteria that have entered the mattress from a hose that has not been thoroughly flushed, the erratic or non use of water treatment or the use of weak water treatment purchased from discount stores that is for all water mattresses not fiber mattresses.  Bacteria multiply rapidly in the warm environment of a waterbed mattress.  Always use a multi-purpose water conditioner regularly to keep the water in the mattress free from bacteria, but multi-purpose water conditioner will not fix a bacteria growth that has already started. Use of a shock treatment to solve this problem will be necessary.  You will need to use the shock treatment for both the inside of the mattress, and also to wipe down the outside of the mattress, the safety liner, and the heater pad.  Caution-do not allow any of these treatments to get in your eyes.  Musty odors will permeate the vinyl to affect these other items, and if they are not treated, even though the mattress has been treated, the odor will return. The third cause we occasionally hear about having caused an odor from the bed is from well water in an area with a high mineral content.  A double dose of multi-purpose water conditioner may help keep the problem to a minimum.

How is a waterbed mattress made wave reduced?

The manufacturer incorporates what is called a baffle into the interior of the vinyl bag.  This may be what is known as hydraulic baffling, which is a system of vinyl cells that restrict the motion of the water inside the mattress.  The more cells there are in the mattress, the less motion and more body support. The more common method for creating wave reduced waterbed mattresses is using sheets of fiber. Closed cell, very porous, non absorbent fiber layers are placed inside the mattress to restrict the motion of the water. The more layers of fiber there are in the mattress, the less motion and more support.  These layers usually are cut the full length and width of the waterbed mattress, and may or may not be attached (tethered) to the corners of the mattress. Additional partial layers of fiber may be placed across the middle width of the mattress, sandwiched between full layers, to create lumbar support waterbed mattresses.  Extra care should be taken when draining wave reduced mattresses to make sure that the fiber baffle stays in place.

Can I straighten out the baffle that has bunched up in my mattress?

Extra care needs to be taken when handling a wave reduced mattress.  Once the baffle has shifted, it can be difficult to move it back to where it belongs, and if the baffle was tethered to the corners, the tethers may even have pulled loose. The more bunched up the baffle is, the more difficult it will be to straighten it out. That being said, it may be worth the effort for an expensive mattress that is not too bunched up. Patience is a virtue!  Drain the bed all the way so that two people can lift one end of the mattress. Put some air into the mattress using an air pump, a shop vacuum or simply pull the valve away from the mattress.  Put the cap and plug back on. Lift the end of the mattress where the baffle is located making sure you have a firm hold on all layers of the baffle, and give the mattress a shake. This means really give it a shake!  The baffle should start to straighten toward the other end.  It may be necessary to lay the mattress on the floor and for one person to hold the baffle in one corner while the other person pushes their hand into the mattress to grab the opposite corner of the baffle through the mattress and stretch it out into the other corner.  Refill and burp the mattress.

Liner Questions

Are there precautions that I should take while installing a waterbed liner?

Make sure that there are no wrinkles in the liner.  Wrinkles over a waterbed heater pad can insulate the pad creating a "hot spot".  During the filling process of your waterbed mattress, when there is about an inch of water in your mattress, tug on the liner against your partner to remove any wrinkles and to ensure that the liner is "square" in the frame.  The inch of water adds the weight necessary to keep the liner in place; much more than an inch and it is too heavy to tug.

What is the difference between a premium liner and a regular liner?

A heavier gauge of vinyl is used in a premium liner.  A premium liner will usually also reach to the top of the wooden waterbed frame and be looser in the corners so there is less pressure on it preventing premature wear and tearing.

Do I really need a safety liner?

A safety liner could be considered a necessity since it will catch any water in the unlikely event that your mattress should develop a puncture or tear, and prevent water damage to furniture and rugs.  Never fill your waterbed mattress higher than the top of your safety liner.

Heater Questions

Do I need a heater for my waterbed?

Although some people have been known to enjoy the cool feeling of a waterbed without a heater, most would find it unbearably cold.  There are beds made to be used without a heater, such as a softside waterbed with a pillowtop, and some people eliminate their heater by using a thermal mattress pad or enclose their mattress in a quilted, zippered pillowtop mattress cover.  For many, though, one of the therapeutic benefits of sleeping on a waterbed is the warmth provided by the waterbed heater.

What is the difference between a low watt heater and regular heater?

A low watt heater usually operates between 100-125 watts and has a thick, stiff heating pad.  This extra metal plate dissipates the heat evenly over the whole pad and prevents hot spots.  Low watt heaters are used in shallow fill softsides or softsides with tubes and can be safely positioned on top of foam or uneven surfaces. 

A high watt, regular or deep fill heater usually operates between 300-400 watts and is used exclusively in wood frame waterbeds and occasionally in deep fill, 8" or greater softsides.  Characteristically, regular heaters come with the pad rolled like a tube.  Because regular heaters lack the thick, stiff pad, one should be careful to not place the pad over cracks in the decking or on top of anything that would create an air bubble over or under the pad.  The wattage is always written on the heater pads.  Both types of heater are available as mechanical (B/C) or solid state.

What is the difference between a B/C heater and a solid state heater?

The easiest way to physically tell the difference is a B/C heater has a copper tube as a temperature sensor and the solid state has all line cords.  Most B/C heaters are accurate to plus / minus 1 ½ or 2 ½ degrees when they are brand new.  As the mechanical points inside the temperature controller wear (like the old fashioned points in a car), the accuracy window becomes wider and wider.  This is why when you get into a waterbed with an old B/C heater it could feel cold at first then hot over a five or six hour period.  Mechanical heaters are either on at full wattage or off.

A solid state heater is accurate to plus/minus an eighth to a quarter of a degree and remains that way over the life of the heater.  Solid state heaters cost a little more to purchase but offer a tremendous energy savings during operation.  This is achieved in two ways, they don't over heat your bed and when they are in the bottom quarter degree envelope, they significantly back off in wattage like a trickle charge.

The light on my heater seems to constantly flicker.  Is something wrong?

There is probably nothing wrong if your heater is a solid state (has all line cords).  Solid state heaters are so accurate that they sometimes "fake" themselves out.  They are "thinking", do I need more power, yes / no, yes / no, blink, blink.  It is very unusual to see flickering on an OK B/C heater.  Unless your bed is staying at a relatively constant temperature, you should probably consider buying a new heater.

What temperature should I set my waterbed heater?

This is a personal preference call, but most will start their waterbed heater at about 85 degrees, and adjust up or down from there in couple of degree intervals.  Give your new bed approximately two days to achieve the correct temperature, and then, if it needs adjusting, do so in small increments, giving time after each adjustment for the temperature to achieve the desired mark.  Our bodies have an amazingly accurate thermometer and are able to sense a degree or two of temperature change.  Keep the mattress covered with bedding to speed the warming process if it is warmer than room temperature, and to hold the heat in after it reaches the desired temperature.

Where do I place the heating pad/sensor?

Place the pad and sensor of the waterbed heater under the safety liner, with the pad towards the foot on one side of the bed or the other, but not over any open cracks in the decking.  Placing it towards the foot of the bed makes it more comfortable for those who sit up and read, watch TV or use a laptop in bed.  If two people share the bed and one likes the bed warmer than the other, place the pad on their side of the bed.  It will be the slightly warmer side. Place the sensor at least 12" away from the heating pad, and also from the bed frame.  If it is too close to the pad, it will shut the heat down too soon, and the bed will never achieve full temperature.  If it is not fully under the mattress, it will run continuously, and be far too warm, or even cause damage to the liner and mattress.  Never place anything over the heating unit except the liner, mattress and a quilted, zippered pillowtop mattress cover.  Damage can result if anything else, such as foam or bedding, is placed on top of the heating unit restricting the ability of the water to properly transfer the heat away from the pad.

The heater has stopped heating my mattress. Do I need a new one?

Maybe yes and maybe not. Before going to the expense of a new heater, do some checking.  Has a child or pet been around the bed and pulled the cord slightly or fully out of the wall outlet or the control box?  Is the light still lighting?  If so, you have current flowing to the control box.  Even though electricity may be coming to the box, if the cord has pulled loose from the control box, it will never follow through to the heating pad.  Disconnect both plugs, clean if necessary and reconnect firmly.  Is the outlet controlled by a wall switch that someone has inadvertently turned off?  Has the bed recently been moved?  Check to see that the sensor has not been placed too close to the heating pad, and that the temperature setting is high enough (see above question).  Has someone adjusted the temperature down and not mentioned it?  Have you allowed a newly filled bed three to seven days minimum for the water to achieve the temperature setting?  After checking these points, try turning the temperature up about 5 degrees. If the bed is still cool in a couple of days, it appears you may need a new heater. If it is under warranty, call or e-mail the dealer or the manufacturer for how to handle warranty problems (see our policies). If it is no longer under warranty, you may wish to consider purchasing a new waterbed heater.

What is all this talk about waterbed heaters and the electromagnetic field?

This is a case of the media blowing a subject all out of proportion.  Anything electrical throws off an electromagnetic field, and some worry this could be damaging. This concern has been taken into consideration in the design of currently manufactured waterbed heaters. The lower wattages, and other design features make any electromagnetic field of today's heaters almost zero.

General Waterbed Questions

In what order should the components of my waterbed be installed?

After your waterbed frame has been assembled, place the heater pad on the deck boards. Do not plug in at this time. Unfold the safety liner in the frame removing as many wrinkles as possible by running your hand over the bottom and sides. Place the mattress evenly inside the safety liner. Make sure your mattress has reached room temperature. Unfolding a cold mattress could result in cracks. Carefully unfold, placing the valve end facing up and at the foot of the bed, and square the mattress in the frame. Fill the mattress. Plug in and turn on the waterbed heater.

How much does a waterbed weigh?

A hardside (wooden framed) waterbed weighs approximately 300 lbs per foot of width. This makes a queen sized waterbed weigh approximately 1500 lbs. A softside waterbed will weigh approximately half of this amount because of the reduced water volume. A softside waterbed with tubes will be the lightest of the waterbeds with the tubes weighing approximately 40 lbs each. Since the weight of a waterbed is distributed over a fairly large area, the weight per square foot is usually not a problem for any home built to code.  Refrigerators and aquariums weigh a lot more per square foot than a waterbed.

Will my trailer hold the weight of a waterbed?

No problem.  Trailers are constructed with steel I beams running the full length.  Stick built houses should be so lucky and waterbeds are not on wheels that may penetrate the floor.  It would probably be a good idea to remove most of the water from your mattress before moving them.  Some folks have mentioned that a waterbed adds to their trailer's stability during high wind storms.

What is the difference between waterbed sheets and conventional sheets?

Waterbed sheets are two flat sheets frequently attached at the center foot, and having triangular pockets sewn onto the corners of the bottom sheet to wrap around the waterbed mattress corners.  The top sheet is attached to the bottom sheet since it would be difficult to tuck the top sheet under a heavy waterbed mattress, and attaching it keeps the top sheet from pulling loose.  New styles of waterbed sheet sets are called six pocket sheets.  The top sheet, instead of being attached at the center foot, also has a pair of triangular pockets at the bottom.  This allows for mixing and matching your sheet sets and makes them easier to fold when coming out of the dryer.  Conventional sheets, which are used on softside waterbeds in addition to innerspring, air, and foam beds, have a separate fitted bottom sheet and a flat top sheet.

Why are waterbed comforters sometimes different sizes from conventional comforters?

Waterbed comforters are usually tucked between the wood frame and the waterbed mattress.   Since they only tuck in a few inches, they don't need to be as large as a comforter that "drapes" over a conventional bed.  Some people though, prefer to "drape" their comforter over the sides of the frame, and may opt for a larger size to have this feature.  Always measure your bed and compare to the given comforter measurements to be sure you are getting what you want.


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