Watering Your Lead Acid Battery: The Basics

Posted by Crown Battery on Jul 14, 2017 9:02:55 AM

 

 

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Nothing feels better on a hot day than a nice cool drink of water. It’s refreshing and rejuvenating and helps your body perform. That refreshing drink of water is just as important to your lead acid battery. The fluid levels in your batteries are extremely important and keeping them at a safe level may require watering your battery regularly. Overwatering and underwatering can both damage your battery. To keep your lead battery running at peak levels, follow these watering guidelines.

 

First – Start with Safety

To get started, make sure to wear personal protection equipment such as protective eyewear and gloves when working on batteries.  Also, it is very important to understand that some batteries require regular watering service – while other batteries deliver maintenance-free operation.  Make sure to look for information on the battery labeling that indicate whether the battery can be opened and serviced.  Depending upon the battery type you are using, the warning labels on your battery should direct you to “DO NOT OPEN” the battery, or “KEEP VENT CAPS TIGHT FOLLOWING WATERING SERVICE.”  Make sure to follow the warning label instructions.

When to Add Water

Conventional batteries contain a liquid “electrolyte” which is a mixture of sulfuric acid and water. The plates in a lead battery contain an active material that should be continuously bathed in electrolytes while oxygen and hydrogen gas are released during charging.

While a battery should only be filled after it is completely charged, you should check the water level before charging. Before charging, make sure there is just enough water to cover any exposed plates. After charging, add enough water to bring the level to the bottom of the vent, about ¾ below the top of the cell. 

It’s important to note that battery owners should never add sulfuric acid to their battery.  During normal operation batteries will only consume water – and not sulfuric acid.  When your battery’s electrolyte is observed to be low, filling the battery with water will keep the battery healthy and safe for use. 

 

Don’t Over Water

While a battery is charging, the density of the electrolyte solution will increase. If too much water was added before charging, the electrolyte levels will expand and cause the battery to overflow and damage the battery. Additionally, excessive watering of a battery can result in additional dilution of the electrolyte, resulting in reduced battery performance.

 

Frequency

How often you add water to your battery will depend on how often you use it. A golf cart battery that is only used on the weekends may only require once a month watering. A forklift used all day, every day, may need to have its battery watered every week. When the weather is hot, this will increase the need for watering. It’s important to check your battery’s fluid level regularly – and the best practice is to do so after the battery is finished charging.

 

Avoid Tap water

When filling your battery, regular tap water isn’t going to cut it. Tap water contains minerals that are harmful to batteries, even if added in small amounts. This is particularly true for water softened by water softeners which contain chlorides. To be safe, distilled water is your best bet and is a much smaller investment than a new battery.

Remember, that water will sit on top of the acid solution in your battery until it is mixed by the bubbling produced by charging. If you are taking hydrometer readings of the electrolyte, it’s best to take them after charging is complete.

Don’t let your battery get dehydrated. Keep it watered during hot months and all year long.

 

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Tags: Battery Maintenance