When you invest in a deep cycle battery for your equipment, you need to know you’re getting the most bang for your buck. And getting the maximum life out of your battery means maintaining it on a regular basis. This means detecting battery problems early on and getting them resolved quickly.
The most accurate test of a deep cycle battery will require an inspection of the batteries fluid condition and voltage after charging service is completed. Doing this will require the purchase of inexpensive tools - a hydrometer and DC voltage meter - which you can find at your local auto parts or battery retail store. But, if your battery is giving you trouble, there are a few troubleshooting steps you can do on your own, by simply looking at your battery.
Before you take steps to troubleshoot a battery, you should be familiar with the potential risks connected with handling any battery. This includes wearing personal protection equipment (goggles, gloves, etc) and working in an open, ventilated area.
Before your your inspection always make sure you fully charge the battery to get an accurate reading of the battery condition. Or, if you can’t charge the battery, let it sit for one hour after use.
Check for Damage
You can often detect problems with your battery simply by looking at it. Make a quick inspection of the battery and look for:
Broken or loose terminals: If any terminals or connections are loose, damaged, or corroded they can result in short circuits and can be dangerous.
Leaking or a damaged battery case: In flooded batteries, a leak can indicate a damaged battery case, and while the damage won’t prevent the battery from working, it is dangerous to operate a battery with a damaged case. Leakage will not occur with an AGM battery, even with a damaged case, but you should keep an eye out for this with your flooded battery.
Dirt and grime: During your inspection, check the top of the battery and terminals for dirt and grime. This corrosive buildup could cause the battery to self-discharge when the battery is not working. Make it a point to remove any corrosion from your battery terminals or connecting cables to ensure the battery is working and charging efficiently.
Simple and Safe Inspection Process
- Inspect the batteries fluid condition using a hydrometer to measure the condition and density of the specific gravity of acid within the fluid.
- Following battery charging service, the hydrometer reading of all cells should be at least 1.225 and show less than 50 points difference between the high and low reading.
- A fully charged and healthy battery will show clear fluid with no discoloration and a hydrometer reading of 1.265.
- Battery voltage after charge is an effective indication of battery health.
- Batteries with less than 100% voltage should be recharged before use. A 12-volt battery will read 12.6 volts or higher after charge; a 6-volt battery will read 6.4 volts or higher after charge.
- Make sure the battery terminals are free of corrosion before testing.
Load Test Inspection
- Batteries must be at 100% voltage before a load test can be applied.
- When load testing remove all battery cables from their terminals.
- Using a load tester, apply a 15-second load equivilent to 50% of the battery CCA rating.
- Refer to the load testers minimum passing voltage to determine the battery condition. If the test voltage is below the minimum, replace the battery.
If your battery is showing poor performance, some of the reasons could be:
- Poor maintenance
You can find more information and troubleshooting ideas in our seasonal battery brochure.
Don’t let small problems with your battery go unnoticed as small problems can lead to bigger problems and end up damaging your battery beyond repair. Get the most life out of your deep cycle battery by checking for small things and performing tests regularly.