When I get a puncture on tubeless, why doesn’t it seal? I spin the wheel to move the fluid around, but it doesn’t help.
Tubeless tires are surrounded by confusion for some reason. The technology has been around for a long time, and some of us have great luck, while others have terrible luck. I believe there are a few things that affect a tubeless system, but the most important is to understand the system before anything.
First and foremost, is the sealant in your tire still good? There are a slew of choices, and some companies like Orange Seal offer two versions. In their case, the regular formula seals larger leaks, but doesn’t last as long before drying up and needing replenishing. The endurance version will last longer but takes longer to seal a hole.
There are a few ways to determine if the sealant is still liquid, but to be safe, we would say to check it every two months. I normally put a small piece of gaffer’s tape on the rim with the install date marked on it. While most sealants will last longer than that, it’s always good to be proactive. Orange Seal provides a dipstick that can be used to check sealant level if you remove the valve core. This is convenient since you don’t have to remove the tire and break the seal.
The next big problem is the rim-tape seal. Many times people damage this while installing a tire, or they rush through the installation. Rim tape is one of the most important parts of a well-sealed system. It is also hard to identify as a problem, because the air will leak into the rim cavity. A telltale sign is if the air seems to be leaking from the nipple holes.
The last thing is identifying the leak. If your tire is leaking from a specific hole in the tire, then hold the tire so that hole is at the lowest point. This will allow the liquid sealant to pool over the hole and seal faster. Spinning the wheel really doesn’t help much, unless you are trying to make a mess.
Some holes are too big to seal, and this is when you should resort to the messy job of installing a spare tube. Make sure you remove the tubeless valve stem and save it, as well as putting a boot of some sort over the tear in the tire. Usually, if it’s too big for sealant to repair then it’s big enough for a tube to hemorrhage out of and fail too.