Safety and Servicing Batteries
Many tools may help in properly caring for and maintaining batteries. Below is a list of basic items that are recommended for this task:
- Insulated tools sized to match nuts, bolts and cables in use
- Distilled water for flooded batteries (if not available, good clean tap water is better than nothing)
- Hydrometer for flooded batteries
- Post cleaner and wire brush
- Baking Soda
- Petroleum Jelly
- Goggles, Gloves (wear polyester clothing)
- Fire extinguisher
CAUTION: Always wear protective clothing, gloves, and goggles when handling batteries, electrolytes, and charging your battery.
Batteries should be carefully inspected regularly to detect and correct potential problems before they can harm. It is a great idea to start this routine when the batteries are first received.
Examine the outside appearance of the battery:
- Look for cracks in the container
- Check the battery, posts and connections to ensure they are clean and free of dirt, fluids and corrosion.
- Any fluids on or around the battery may indicate that the electrolyte is spilling, leaching or leaking out. Pay close attention to this if it is a flooded battery. You are checking as a low electrolyte situation in the battery may cause excessive gassing and dispensing fluid on or around the battery.
- All battery cables and connections should be tight, intact, and NOT broken or frayed.
- Replace any damaged batteries
- Replace any damaged cables
- Re-torque all connector bolts. See the manufacturer’s recommendations for torque values.
Proper Initial and annual Maintenance Torque Values for Connection Hardware are:
- Automotive SAE: 45 in/lbs. (5NM)
- Automotive Side terminals: 70 in/lbs. (8NM)
- Wing nut terminals: 95 in/lbs. (11NM)
- T stud type terminals: 140 in/lbs. (15NM)
- L, LT, UT terminals: 110 in/lbs. (13NM)
DRY CELL AGM:
- X terminals (U1) terminals: 45 in/lbs. (5NM)
- Light Duty L terminals: 45 in/lbs. (5NM)
- Standard Duty L terminals: 80 in/lbs. (9NM)
- Heavy Duty L terminals: 95 in/lbs. (11NM)
- Automotive SAE: 70 in/lbs. (8NM)
- M5 Button type terminals: 45 in/lbs. (5NM)
- M6 Button type terminals: 55 in/lbs. (6NM)
- M8 Button type terminals: 70 in/lbs. (8NM)
WARNING: Do not over-tighten terminals. Doing so can result in post-breakage, post-meltdown, and fire and Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
Batteries seem to attract dust, dirt, and grime. Keeping them clean will help you spot trouble signs if they appear and avoid associated problems.
- Check that all vent caps are tightly in place (flooded batteries).
- Clean the battery top with a cloth or brush and a solution of baking soda and water.
- When cleaning, do not allow any cleaning solution or other foreign matter to get inside the battery (flooded batteries).
- Rinse with water and dry with a clean cloth.
- Clean battery terminals and the inside of cable clamps using a post and clamp cleaner.
- Clean terminals will have a bright metallic shine.
- Reconnect the clamps to the terminals and thinly coat them with petroleum jelly (Vaseline) to prevent corrosion.
- Keep the area around the batteries clean and dry.
Watering (flooded batteries only)
Flooded batteries need water. More importantly, watering must be done at the right time and in the right amount or the battery’s performance and longevity suffers. Water should always be added after fully charging the battery. Before charging, there should be enough water to cover the plates. If the battery has been discharged (partially or fully), the water level should also be above the plates. Keeping the water at the correct level after a full charge will prevent having to worry about the water level at a different state of charge. Depending on the local climate, charging methods, application, etc., it is recommended that batteries be checked a minimum of once a month and/or once every seven discharge–charge cycles until you get a feel for how thirsty your batteries are.
Important things to remember:
- Do not let the plates get exposed to air. This will damage (corrode) the plates.
- Do not fill the water level in the filling well to the cap. This will likely cause the battery to overflow with acid, consequently losing capacity and causing a corrosive mess.
- Do not use water with high mineral content. Use distilled or de-ionized water only.
CAUTION: The electrolyte is a solution of acid and water, so skin contact should be avoided.
Step-by-step watering procedure (Flooded batteries only):
- Open the vent caps and look inside the fill wells.
- Check the electrolyte level; the minimum level is at the top of the plates.
- If necessary, add just enough water to cover the plates at this time.
- Put batteries on a complete charge before adding additional water (refer to the Charging section).
- Once charging is completed, open the vent caps and look inside the fill wells.
- Add water until the electrolyte level is 1/8" below the bottom of the fill well.
- A piece of rubber can be used safely as a dipstick to help determine this level.
- Clean, replace, and tighten all vent caps.
WARNING: Never add acid to a battery.