Battery Maintenance

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Cranking an engine with a hand crank to get it started went by the wayside when starters and lead acid batteries came into being. We use lead acid batteries in our cars, boats, lawn mowers, snow mobiles, and numerous other vehicles. Unfortunately we give little thought to battery maintenance. We just change the battery when it no longer works. We can prolong the life of batteries for as much as five years if we just take the time to do a little battery maintenance. I have a boat and lawn mower with batteries that are ten years old and still works fine. Performing battery maintenance will save you money and will contribute to protecting our environment from excessive hazardous waste.

A lead acid battery contains two essential ingredients to generate electricity; a sulfuric acid solution and lead plates. The lead acid battery is an electrical storage device that uses a reversible chemical reaction to store energy.

The lead plates and the electrolyte solution consisting of diluted sulphuric acid, converts electrical energy into potential chemical energy and back again. The electrolyte of lead acid batteries is hazardous to your health and may produce burns and other permanent damage if it comes in contact with your skin or eyes. In addition, most battery casing are made of plastic.

Batteries such as Compaq Presario R3000 battery, Hp Pavilion DV1000 battery and Hp CGR-B1870AE battery should be removed from vehicles during periods of inactivity and stored in a dry place that are above freezing. Never set a battery on a concrete floor for storage. Place it on a wood board or shelf. When disconnecting a battery, even a supposedly dead battery, observe the following safety tips.

1. Use safety goggles.
2. Wear long sleeves, and rubber gloves when refilling battery liquid.
3. Prevent electrical sparks by keeping tools away from the positive (+) terminal. The batterycable leading to the starter is usually the positive terminal
4. Clean deposits from the battery post and wiring.
5. Neutralize spilled electrolyte with a solution of baking soda.

To prevent sparks and a possible explosion, always disconnect the negative terminal first followed by the positive terminal. Lead acid batteries vent hydrogen gas which is very explosive. Any small spark will ignite the hydrogen gas.

Check the electrolyte in your battery by removing the cell caps and checking that the liquid is above the plates. Battery strength will be reduced if the liquid level drops below the plates and induce cell shorting ruining the battery. Always use distilled water in your battery if it's available. Tap water contains minerals that will decrease your battery life. Most car batteries are sealed batteries that do not permit adding water. If you have a choice when purchasing a battery, do not purchase a sealed battery.

Servicing Battery

Prior to installing your battery ensures that it is fully charged. Simply checking the voltage will not necessarily indicate that the battery is fully charged. Measuring the specific gravity of the electrolyte with a hydrometer is the only accurate way to determine if a battery is fully charged. If you do not have a hydrometer or a battery charger take the battery to a service center for recharging. It takes approximately 24 hours to fully charge a car or boat lead acid battery.

If you live in a desert region or dry climate check your battery water level periodically. Remove any corrosion from the battery terminals with water. If there is electrolyte spillage around the battery container remove the battery and clean it with a baking soda solution to neutralize the acid.

Performing routine battery maintenance will save you money and reduce the high consumption of batteries that require recycling.

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This article was published on 2010/11/02