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What Causes A PFD To Wear Out Over Time?

Last Updated on April 8, 2023

A personal flotation device, or PFD, is a crucial piece of safety equipment for anyone who spends time on the water.

It’s a device that helps maintain buoyancy and supports the chest during heavy breathing. A PFD is usually worn on the shoulders or waist. This is essential equipment to have on board your boat. 

It allows the wearer to stay afloat while they are having difficulty breathing, regardless of the situation and direction in which they are drifting.

PFDs are intended for use when swimmers need to manage their buoyancy in an emergency—whatever happens to be at the time. But even the best PFD will eventually wear out and need to be replaced. 

In this article, we’ll take a look at what causes a PFD to wear out over time and tear so that you can extend the life of your own PFD.

What Causes A PFD To Wear Out Over Time

What Causes A Pfd To Wear Out Over Time

One of the main causes of a PFD wearing out over time is improper care and storage. If a PFD is not properly cared for, it can start to break down and degrade much faster than one that is well-maintained. Here are the most common causes of a PFD wearing out over time.

Ultraviolet Radiation 

UV rays from the sun are the main cause of wear on a personal floatation device. This is such that the synthetic material used to make the majority of PFDs can no longer be used.

A personal flotation device’s hue will indicate how long it has been exposed to the sun. You’ve probably seen a tone of flotation devices that have been exposed to the sun’s rays. Keep your kayak or boat’s personal flotation devices (PFDs) out of the sun to prevent damage.

Water Content and Humidity

Not allowing your PFDs to dry before storing them can also lead to personal floatation devices wearing down over time. The buoyant materials in your PFDs deteriorate if you frequently wear them wet.

Your PFDs won’t float as well as a result. The longer moisture and humidity are allowed to remain inside the life jacket, the greater the likelihood of the life jacket becoming moldy or covered with mildew.

To ensure that your PFDs last as long as possible, air-dry them. Overall, different types of PFD(personal flotation devices) are available, so you need to check carefully before buying.

How To Care For Your PFDs?

Wear and tear are inevitable with any product, but there are ways to help extend the life of your personal flotation device (PFD). Here are some tips on how to care for your PFDs:

  1. Rinse it off after use. This will help remove any saltwater, chlorine, or other chemicals that can cause damage over time.
  2. Store it in a cool, dry place. Heat and humidity can break down the materials in your PFD, so it’s best to store them in a cool, dry place when not in use.
  3. Inspect it regularly. Check for signs of wear and tear, such as cracks or fraying fabric. If you notice any damage, replace your PFD immediately.
  4. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions. Every PFD is different, so be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions on how to care for your particular model.

When Is the Best Time to Replace PFD?

A PFD’s functionality and capacity to keep you safe might be impacted by wear and tear, therefore it’s crucial to inspect it frequently. When checking your PFD, keep an eye out for the following things in particular:

  • Check fabric, such as holes, fraying, or tears.
  • Check wear in the stitching, such as loose threads or gaps.
  • Check after wear, such as corrosion or cracks, on the buckles and fastenings.
  • Look for signs of compression in the foam, such as flat patches or dents.

Replace your PFD if you see any of these wear indicators. This can be accomplished by either buying a brand-new PFD from a dependable retailer or having your current PFD expertly fixed.

Factors Contributing to PFD Damage

Every time a personal flotation device is used, it suffers damage, just like any other piece of water safety gear. Even worse, PFDs exposed to the elements such as sunlight, rain, dirt, and other particles when left outside between uses. Experts recommend indoor storage to ensure that the PFDs last as long as possible.

Do not store items on your boat. Leaving your life jacket on board when not in use is one of the worst things you can do to it.

PFDs made from kapok, balsa wood, cork, and polyvinyl will not last forever. Store them in cool, dry, and well-lit areas to prolong their life.

Keep Sharp Items Away – Avoiding contact with sharp things including scissors, knives, fishing hooks, anchors, and box cutters is imperative.

Keep Sharp Items Away – Avoiding contact with sharp things including scissors, knives, fishing hooks, anchors, and box cutters is imperative.

Store indoors in a shed, garage, or basement to keep items secure. It’s better to always store your PFD.

Before storing, allow items to dry. Before storing, let the item air dry to prevent the growth of mildew and mold.

Eliminate Stains As Soon As You Can – Use warm water and mild soap to get rid of stains.

What is the expiry date of normal PFD?

A personal flotation device and/or life jacket have no expiration date, but if they have been repaired or altered, they are no longer valid and must be replaced and disposed of for recycling.


There are many reasons for what causes a PFD to wear out over time, but the most common one simply ages. As a PFD gets older, the materials start to break down and degrade, which can lead to leaks and other problems. If you take good care of your PFD and keep it properly maintained, you can extend its life somewhat, but eventually, it will need to be replaced.

Nicky Jones

Nicky Jones is a fashion and lifestyle content creator. She often writes about the latest fashion trends, nail art, beauty tips, home décor, travel, food & fitness. She basically loves to write about anything that interests her and she wants to share it with the world.

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