Why do you need to clean your battery?
Surfaces in industrial settings are dirty, that’s a fact of life, dust from concrete, oil from machinery, dirt from outside blowing straight in through doors and vents. With batteries, the problem is magnified due to the film of moisture from the gas given off during the battery operation, particularly at the end of the charge, or during equalise charges, which attracts filth. Much of the water in the gas given off by the battery evaporates but the acid remains to pose a safety hazard to operators. Any dirt on the battery sticks to the film of moisture creating a layer of grime. Electricity from the battery leaks as it ‘tracks’ across the grime, which reduces runtime and leads to increased battery changes, therefore reducing forklift productivity. Electricity always wants to track to earth so with the help of moisture and grime the electricity continues to track across the top of the battery until it finds ‘earth’ in the form of the steel battery case. This poor electrical connection causes a build-up of white and yellow highly corrosive substance all around the battery case. If left untreated this corrosion expands, crushing cell walls, corroding the steel case away, but also robbing the battery of power and causing cells to become very uneven in output and prematurely fail.
Battery Cleaning Cautions
If water is used in the cleaning process then it should be removed from the battery tray as it will corrode it, eventually leading to the tray needing to be replaced and an expensive rebuild. It is common practice in some parts of the world to put holes in the tray to enable the water to drain out, however, this practice is banned in many regions as the runoff will often pose a danger to operators or damage equipment.
Corrosion will require extra attention with a liberal application of 7Clean and a wire brush. If corrosion is a common occurrence in the application a terminal protector should be applied to any bare metal, including inter-cell connectors and accessories.
Vent caps or single point watering systems should be in place to seal the vent hole in the cell so no cleaning materials can get into it.
The dirt and corrosion on batteries have a high acid content and should not come into contact with skin or clothes. Goggles, gloves and aprons should always be worn when working on batteries and showers and eyewashes need to on hand in the immediate vicinity.
When to clean
- If the battery has had a ‘boil over’, whereby it has been watered prior to charge and the electrolyte levels have risen so the cells overflow.
- When the battery has been overfilled.
- When dirt is beginning to accumulate upon the battery. This can be as frequently as fortnightly or as infrequently as every six months, it depends on the environment and use of the battery.
In the case of 1 and 2, liquid may have got into the tray. In which case, there is really no way of knowing unless it was witnessed. A liquid in tray monitor will indicate if the battery tray has liquid in it and needs draining.
Moisture from small spills and overflows and be simply removed with rags and towels. Do this as soon as it is seen and it will stop the build-up of dirt.