Exploding Batteries

Discussion in 'Tech/Mech General' started by tonyidle, Feb 12, 2016.

  1. tonyidle

    tonyidle Funster

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    A while back there was a thread about batteries exploding due to ignition of the hydrogen/oxygen mix produced when they're on charge. The discussion centred around the care needed and I was one who contributed. Well ........................... this afternoon I was doing some routine maintenance on the van & decided to top up my batteries. They're under the drivers seat and I've found that by unbolting it from the base box & tipping it onto the steering wheel there's nearly enough room to access the cell caps. As an aside my Banner batteries need a broad & thick (14x1mm) blade to unscrew the caps so there was a delay whilst I made one. They're very tightly screwed down.

    Anyway with all the caps released on the first battery I pushed the battery clamp out of the way so I could top them up. The clamp made contact with the +ve post of the battery which sparked & ignited the gas in the nearest two cells. The explosion took out half of the left wall of the battery and part of the top cover that's over the two cells nearest the +ve post that sparked. The battery clamp is a strip of angle aluminium and near one end is a stud used as a common earth point - hence the spark.

    I caught most of the spray-back on my chest, face, and glasses, which elicited a race to the kitchen sink removing clothing as I went. I used a spray bottle of bicarb solution to find & neutralise any acid on the carpet & upholstery and so far all seems good - I found very little. I'm OK, the van is OK, I only need a battery, so luck was on my side.

    So I now have first-hand knowledge of how to do it in case anyone else wants a go. I can confirm that all it takes is a confined space, an idiot, a piece of metal, and total disregard of the essential safety precautions. Do as I say - not as I do! :Eeek::Eeek:.
     
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  2. Enword

    Enword Funster

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    Lucky Bunny glad your ok (y)
     
  3. Figaro

    Figaro Funster

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    Wow - scarey. I thought these leisure batteries were sealed, no top up`s needed ?
     
  4. Khizzie

    Khizzie Funster

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    Was not a sealed battery . Like many still..
     
  5. Eddystone

    Eddystone Funster

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    Both sealed and 'top-up' leisure batteries are available.

    It is always advisable to dis-connect the earth terminal before removing the tops. The under seat location has always been a hazardous place in this respect. A student of mine had a similar accident many years ago which split the battery even with the plugs still in place.

    Brian
     
  6. dave newell lvs

    dave newell lvs Trader-Vehicle Services

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    Thankfully I've never done it myself but I did witness a battery explosion about 35 years ago. Car battery had been charged overnight on the car in the workshop and the mechanic then tested it after disconnecting the charger, bad move! On connecting the drop tester the resulting spark ignited the hydrogen from the battery and it exploded in his face destroying the battery completely and spraying hot sulphuric acid over a wide area and most of the car. The memory of that incident hovers in my mind whenever I do anything with lead acid batteries. Glad you are OK and your motorhome has not suffered too much.

    D.
     
  7. Khizzie

    Khizzie Funster

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    I was apprenticed to Lucas in the late fifties,and my first job was to fill new batteries with dilute sulphuric acid and charge them ready for sale after a couple of years I was in sole charge of the batter room where we would charge or top up charge upto fifty batteries at any one time...one day when opening the door to the battery room where we had about two dozen batteries on initial charge I switched on the lights ,and that was the last I knew till I came to with the staff all around me ,I was unhurt but lost a lot of hair ,eyebrows etc the side wall of the room had totally blown out and every battery had exploded .a company van which was stood nearby had a hole right through the side where a battery terminal had gone through. ..the damage was unbelievable. .i have never ever charged batteries in an enclosed area where a spark of any kind could set off an explosion.... So take heed ..and keep safe
     
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  8. tonyidle

    tonyidle Funster

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    Thanks all. I knew all that & still took the chance (or really didn't think about the battery hold-down). As I said in a previous thread I too have seen the result of a glass cell explosion caused by the spark from a poor connector under a heavy load. I shouldn't have needed reminding!! I thought I'd relate the incident though in case anyone else is tempted to be as foolish as I was. I'll post a pic or two of the battery tomorrow.
     
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  9. Dave and Ginny

    Dave and Ginny Funster

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    Very pleased you're ok and not too much damage. My same type Banner battery is also under seat and this is a good timely reminder of the need to take care.

    As an apprentice motor mech back in the late 60's it was my job to look after the charging bank of anything up to a dozen or so bubling batteries all connected up with a wiring nightmare of cables and crocodile clips. Fortunately I never had a bad experience but another mechanic removing a battery caused a spark and three batteries went up! He was ok but my goodness did that make me cautious around lead acid batteries for ever and a day!
     
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  10. Khizzie

    Khizzie Funster

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    Don't forget aircraft alkaline batteries are just as lethal not just lead acid ones..Roy..
     
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  11. PhilandMena

    PhilandMena Funster

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    I suggest the first thing you do is disconnect the negative cable from it's terminal, thus preventing sparks in the first place. Glad you came away unscsthed, a scary experiance I'm sure.
     
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  12. jockaneezer

    jockaneezer Funster

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    Glad you had a lucky escape and hopefully the van will be ok too.
    We bought a refurbished cherry picker at work that was a real bodge up. I used to do the weekly checks and charge it up but had to get a contractor in to do the Loler inspection and some minor repairs. He had the covers off the batteries and knocked over a large aerosol of WD40 which landed on the uninsulated live terminal and made an earth with the chassis, this blew a hole in the aerosol which erupted into a fireball and engulfed him in a ball of flame. He had a hiviz vest and a nylon football type top on which melted onto him, luckily one of the flt drivers heard him and managed to douse him in water. He suffered mostly superficial burns and peeling skin, he got out of A&E the same afternoon. So just be carefull working anywhere near batteries folks.
     
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  13. vin0114

    vin0114 Funster

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    Crikey, you were lucky Tony, a very good reminder for all of us. 2 new leisure batteries I bought recently (both sealed) advised the removal of both red plugs but no pipes or connectors included or advised. The very fact that they are LEISURE batteries would suggest that they are going into a confined space in either a boat, Caravan or motorhome and not into an open engine bay:eek:
     
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  14. Taran_Las

    Taran_Las Funster

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    Glad to hear you're OK.(y)
     
  15. peterc10

    peterc10 Funster

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    I used to have two lead acid Banners in my last motorhome. They had a small vent hole in the side that you should stick a vent tube in to vent gas. My Banners did not come with the vent tubes so I contacted Banner and they sent me them free of charge. I vented mine through the floor of the van.

    Another thing I learnt (after a lot of cursing) is that the ideal "tool" to unscrew the cell caps on a Banner battery is a 20p bit held in a pair of pliers. Perfect size and shape.
     
  16. pappajohn

    pappajohn Funster Life Member

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    And this weeks winning lottory numbers are ???

    Good job you wear glasses !
     
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  17. Gromett

    Gromett Funster

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    So glad you weren't injured. Valuable lesson learned with no physical cost....

    I learned a lot on my apprenticeship. The biggest one was always buy your own padlock for locking off electrical boxes and never leave the spare key where anyone else can get it. The next biggest one was always remove the battery before working on it. Enclosed spaces and batteries make for an error prone environment that can be fatal.
     
  18. Allanm

    Allanm Funster

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    Well, looks like I have all the required equipment easily to hand, and a leisure battery charging in my small tangled wire storage shed.
    As soon as I fix the bare wires and loose case on the microwave, I'll go and check the battery....
     
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  19. tonyidle

    tonyidle Funster

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    Trouble is - I was well aware of the safety requirements before I started ........................ :(
     
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  20. Gromett

    Gromett Funster

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    Sorry shouldn't laugh but there is no one worse than those who should know better. I know I am guilty of it as well :p.

    Just think of it as a reminder ;)
     
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