Battery maintenance should be carried out regularly, and an essential element of this is cleaning your lead acid batteries. To maintain effective battery performance, you need to make sure that the intercell connectors, vent caps and any battery filling system installed are all clean and dirt-free at all times.
Will I need to clean my lead acid battery?
The average industrial setting for a lead acid battery is dust, grime and general dirtiness from the machinery used to the dusty concrete floors. Another issue with many lead acid batteries is that gas is given off during battery operation, which can create a film of moisture specifically towards the end of charging or during an equalise charge, which will attract added dirt.
While most of the liquid particles in the gas given off by the battery evaporate, the issue is that the acid itself remains, creating a safety hazard. Electricity from the battery will leak as it ‘tracks’ over the dirt. This creates reduced running times which leads to increased battery charges; this results in poorly performing batteries. When electricity tracks across a battery, it can lead to battery explosions as it can ignite gasses.
As the electricity always wants to track to earth even with the moisture and dirt, it will continue to track across the top of the battery until it finds what it is looking for, usually a steel battery case. Due to the dirt, there is a poor electrical connection, which builds up a highly corrosive substance that grows on the battery casing. Left untreated, this corrosive substance will grow, and as it gets larger, it creates destruction; it crushes cell walls, the steel casing corrodes and steals battery power. The battery cells start to become uneven in their output, causing the battery to fail prematurely.
So, cleaning lead acid batteries is much more than a cleaning issue; it is also a considerable safety hazard if not done regularly. Battery performance will be vastly reduced in your forklifts, lift platforms and any other lead acid battery powered machinery, so you must keep them clean at all times.
How do I know when to clean the battery?
Our advice would be to clean your lead acid batteries before they need cleaning, as it is much easier to keep on top of a clean, well-maintained battery than trying to reverse any damage created by leaving them dirty. Prevention is key. Our tips for when to clean your batteries are:
- If your battery has boiled over, it has been watered before being charged, and the electrolyte levels cause cells to overflow.
- If the battery has recently been overfilled.
- If dirt build-up has begun on the battery
- Cleaning can be done as frequently as every two weeks or as infrequently as every six months, depending on your battery’s environment and battery usage.
It is worth mentioning that if your battery ‘boils over’ or it has been over-filled, both issues can mean that liquid has gone onto the tray. To keep on top of this issue, a SmartBlinky Tray Monitor will let you know if a tray has any liquid on it and therefore needs draining. An Electrolyte Vacuum Pump can remove any split liquids and stop them from causing corrosion on the bottom of the battery tray.
Another helpful tip is to keep 7Clean wipes handy to remove any liquid spills, product from gas leaks, and other battery build-ups. If you have a more extensive spill, the SpillPro can make cleaning up the spillage easier and faster.
It is good maintenance practice to wipe the battery when it is being watered to keep on top of battery cleaning and keep the batteries in tiptop condition at all times.
How to clean your lead acid battery
Some simple, basic methods of battery cleaning include products that can be purchased from the supermarket, such as window cleaner and baking soda. Unfortunately, although cheap and easy to access, they are not very effective in cleaning a battery. Household cleaning cannot neutralise battery acid, and baking soda creates a paste on the battery, which will need to be removed before use. More importantly, it doesn’t have any degreasing properties.
Instead of looking at battery cleaning as something inevitable, we recommend keeping on top of your battery cleaning and maintenance in the first place. Keeping your batteries free from dirt and grime is key to battery maintenance; one product that can help with this is a lead acid battery filling system that stops your battery from ‘boiling over’ and overfilling. A top battery filling system we recommend is the AFS system, which uses float valves that are put into the vent caps; they are then connected using tubing. These will prevent your battery from overfilling and save time when watering your batteries and is safer than doing it yourself. The most you have to do is run your distilled water through to the connector, leaving the AFS Battery Filling System to do the rest.
It is always best to use products specifically designed for cleaning batteries, such as the 7Clean wipes, as this product acts to neutralise the battery acid and contains industrial strength degreaser to remove any dirt. The wipes should be used directly on the battery and then rinsed off or removed with a cloth. 7Clean wipes do the job of both neutralising and degreasing in one, which makes battery cleaning quicker and more effective as:
- They can also be used on battery racks and flooring.
- The neutralisers remove any safety or environmental hazards.
- The degreaser removes any dirt.
- The wipes change colour when acid is present, so it is easier to check if all acid has been removed effectively.
- They are wallet-friendly and easy to use.
- Thoroughly tested to make sure they do not harm the battery in any way.
We recommend these battery cleaning products:
- 7Clean wipes or spray concentrate – Neutralises and degreases.
- A Stiff Brush - To remove stubborn substances such as corrosive materials.
- Safety Equipment – Including gloves, an apron, safety goggles and spill kit.
- Waste Disposal.
Battery cleaning steps:
- Choose the batteries which need cleaning.
- Make sure there are no safety hazards before you start on your battery cleaning.
- Remove the batteries from the application or charger if possible.
- Ensure that the cell caps are closed before using the 7Clean all-in-one wipes, cables, and casings; note that the 7Clean will change colour if any acid is present on the battery.
- If you need something more substantial, use a brush.
Now you have learnt all the tips and tricks for safely and effectively cleaning your lead acid batteries. We very much favour a preventative method along with regular and effective battery maintenance using our recommended cleaning products. If you have any questions or comments, please get in touch with us at firstname.lastname@example.org or below.