How to maintain a battery

How to maintain a batteryRegular maintenance is very important for the proper functioning of a battery. If you do not maintain a battery properly, the battery may acidify or dry out, or there may be an acid deposit in the battery. With maintenance you prevent malfunctions and extend the life of the battery. In this article our specialist explains what kind of maintenance a battery need.

Check for damage

Check the battery regularly for cracks or thickening. If the housing is damaged, you will need to replace the entire battery. Do not use a damaged battery anymore, as this can lead to dangerous situations and in the worst case to an explosion. 

Corrosion

Corrosion can occur at the battery terminals. This can be recognized by small white grains. Remove the corrosion as follows:
  1. Disconnect the battery.
  2. First remove the negative clip which is identified by the minus sign. 
  3. Then remove the positive clip which is identified by the plus sign. If it is difficult to remove the clamps, you can use pliers. Make sure that you do not cause a short circuit. 
  4. Mix two tablespoons of bicarbonate soda with a tablespoon of water and stir to a paste. Apply the paste to the corroded battery terminals using a toothbrush or a damp cloth. As soon as it is in contact with the corrosion, it will froth. Make sure that the paste does not get into the battery as this can neutralize the battery acid. 
  5. Allow the paste to soak in for a while and then remove the residue with a steel brush. Wear acid-resistant gloves.
  6. Clean and dry the battery terminals with a cloth. 
  7. Apply some petroleum jelly to the battery terminals to prevent corrosion. 
  8. Then reattach the clamps to the battery terminals. First the positive terminal, then the negative terminal. 

Refilling the battery

A battery is filled with battery acid and demineralised water. The demineralised water evaporates when the battery is used. You should check the acid level regularly (at least every 3 months). If the demineralised water level falls below the minimum level, a malfunction may occur. Refill the demineralised water as follows:
  1. Open the battery.
  2. Pour the demineralised water into the battery. Do this carefully so that no battery acid splashes.
  3. Fill the demineralised water to the maximum level indicated. If no maximum level is indicated, fill up the demineralised water until the plates are about 1 centimetre under water.
  4. Then close the battery again. 

Note: Never use tap water to refill a battery. This contains all kinds of salts, lime and minerals, which is harmful to the battery.

Safety precautions for battery maintenance

When carrying out maintenance work on a battery, always take appropriate safety precautions. Battery fluid is highly corrosive. 
  • Avoid contact with the skin by wearing gloves and always wear safety goggles. If you are in contact with the battery fluid, wash your hands immediately with soap and water. If your eyes are in contact with the battery fluid, rinse your eyes with water for 5 minutes and seek medical advice. 
  • When working with a battery, do not wear jewellery such as rings, bracelets, necklaces and watches. A short-circuit current can cause a piece of jewellery to melt, resulting in severe burns.
  • Prevent a short circuit and make sure that there is no electrical connection between the battery terminals. The battery cover must be undamaged. Bare spots or dents can cause a short circuit!

Other precautions

Besides maintenance, it is also important that you take a number of other things into account:
  • Never open a battery. The substances released are harmful to health.
  • Always protect batteries from heat and sun. If a battery becomes too hot, it may explode. 
  • A (nearly) dead battery already freezes at a few degrees below zero. Protect the batteries from cold. 
  • Make sure that the battery does not contact moisture. This may cause a short circuit. 
  • Charge a battery only when necessary. Unnecessary charging may cause the battery or adapter to overheat.
  • On the other hand, make sure that the battery never runs out of power, as this can cause damage. 
  • If you do not use a battery for a long time, for example during the winter period, charge the battery 100% and disconnect the terminal clamps before storing the battery. Learn how to prepare a battery for winter here. 

Michael Visser
Questions about battery maintenance
Do you have any questions about the maintenance of a battery, or would you like to get advice? Then contact product specialist Michael Visser, or ask your question using the form below.


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