Sulfur Odor from Battery Bank - SailNet Community
Reply
 
LinkBack Thread Tools
post #1 of 11 Old 08-29-2012 Thread Starter
Junior Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2012
Location: San Francisco
Posts: 25
Thanks: 0
Thanked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Rep Power: 0
 
Sulfur Odor from Battery Bank

Did an overnight anchor-out at China Camp in SF Bay last weekend - noticed a rather pungent sulfuric odor once we got back to our marina in Sausalito. My knowledgeable berth-neighbor informed me that it was from the batteries being recharged, creating hydrogen sulphide in the process.

I've not experienced this with charter boats, which may have newer batteries, and having purchased our boat only 6 months ago, have no idea how old the batteries are.

So my questions:

a) is this a clear sign that the batteries need to be replaced? They seem to hold their charge well, but the odor is significant and not easily ventilated.

b) I'm also told that the gas created is extremely flammable. Is this true? Definitely a minus if so.

Not sure if these unpleasantries are something to be tolerated if batteries are still functioning fairly well, or if they are eliminated by installing a new bank. Or, if this is a common occurrence with any battery bank.

Thanks in advance....

Neal
Tartan 4100
djangodog is offline  
Quote Quick Reply Share with Facebook
Sponsored Links
Advertisement
 
post #2 of 11 Old 08-29-2012
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jun 2012
Location: Chesapeake
Posts: 140
Thanks: 0
Thanked 4 Times in 4 Posts
Rep Power: 4
 
Re: Sulfur Odor from Battery Bank

When charging I'd suspect it is exceeding tolerance or else maybe there is a weak connection within one or more of the battery cells. Not good. I'd check the charging voltage is within tolerance and check for hot spots on individual cells. The sulfur smelling gas is likely flammable. Hot spots on an individual location would suggest there's a bad cell. I assume the cells are closed (maintenance free) but maybe not and maybe out of electrolyte.

BatteryStuff Articles | Guide to Understanding Flooded, AGM, and Gel Batteries
Sea Dawg is offline  
Quote Quick Reply Share with Facebook
post #3 of 11 Old 08-29-2012
Senior Member
 
SecondWindNC's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2008
Location: Washington, NC
Posts: 523
Thanks: 3
Thanked 8 Times in 5 Posts
Rep Power: 7
 
Re: Sulfur Odor from Battery Bank

That smell sounds like wet-cell batteries that have been overcharged and evaporated all the water. If there are caps to fill with water, make sure they're full with distilled water. And check to make sure the charger (or alternator since it sounds like this happened underway not on shore power) is dropping to a trickle charge when the batteries are nearing full charge.


To view links or images in signatures your post count must be 10 or greater. You currently have 0 posts.


Who is staring at the sea is already sailing a little.
SecondWindNC is offline  
Quote Quick Reply Share with Facebook
post #4 of 11 Old 08-29-2012 Thread Starter
Junior Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2012
Location: San Francisco
Posts: 25
Thanks: 0
Thanked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Rep Power: 0
 
Re: Sulfur Odor from Battery Bank

Thanks Sea Dawg. Informative link as well.

Second Wind, I filled each of the house batteries to the brim prior to departure but will check to see if they possibly could have evaporated. Still getting to know this boat!

This did happen under way, so will check the alternator too...

Sounds like something is definitely awry, which is certainly good to know....
djangodog is offline  
Quote Quick Reply Share with Facebook
post #5 of 11 Old 08-29-2012
Senior Member
 
Capt. Gary Randall's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2012
Location: Mongolia
Posts: 379
Thanks: 0
Thanked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Rep Power: 4
 
Re: Sulfur Odor from Battery Bank

Batteries can definitely explode! I've seen it several times. Usually there is an occurrence just like you are experiencing, all that takes is a spark. In the explosions I have seen usually there is a bad connection and then a load on the battery such as starting the engine. The bad connection may Spark, and then boom plastic everywhere. You could have a cell going bad causing the odor in just one battery. Keep a eye on the level in every cell throughout your battery bank, if you see one that is bubbling more than the others, evaporating quicker, that Battery should be replaced. Also as suggested on the above posts check your battery voltage.......ps don't smoke or create a spark while you're doing this and by all means wear safety glasses. captg


To view links or images in signatures your post count must be 10 or greater. You currently have 0 posts.
[SIGPIC] The only difference between an ordeal and a adventure is your attitude!
To view links or images in signatures your post count must be 10 or greater. You currently have 0 posts.

To view links or images in signatures your post count must be 10 or greater. You currently have 0 posts.
Capt. Gary Randall is offline  
Quote Quick Reply Share with Facebook
post #6 of 11 Old 08-30-2012
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Feb 2011
Location: San Francisco Bay area
Posts: 2,676
Thanks: 5
Thanked 63 Times in 63 Posts
Rep Power: 5
 
Re: Sulfur Odor from Battery Bank

Quote:
Originally Posted by djangodog View Post
Thanks Sea Dawg. Informative link as well.

Second Wind, I filled each of the house batteries to the brim prior to departure but will check to see if they possibly could have evaporated. Still getting to know this boat!

This did happen under way, so will check the alternator too...

Sounds like something is definitely awry, which is certainly good to know....
You shouldn't fill them to the brim, just to the fill line / marker, a short distance (5mm?) above the plates. Filling them to the brim leaves no room for gas, and hence it has to vent. Charging raises the acid level and overtopping can result in acid overflowing, too.

I wonder if the smell was just overflowing sulphuric acid.

Bristol 31.1, San Francisco Bay

Last edited by MarkSF; 08-30-2012 at 04:45 PM.
MarkSF is offline  
Quote Quick Reply Share with Facebook
post #7 of 11 Old 08-30-2012
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Oct 2011
Posts: 1,421
Thanks: 13
Thanked 24 Times in 24 Posts
Rep Power: 4
 
Re: Sulfur Odor from Battery Bank

The charging could be producing hydrogen sulfide gas, normally due to low liquid level within the battery cells. Hydrogen sulfide is extremely toxic. Do not breath it. Problem may be with the charger or the battery.
Seaduction is offline  
Quote Quick Reply Share with Facebook
post #8 of 11 Old 08-30-2012
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Feb 2011
Location: San Francisco Bay area
Posts: 2,676
Thanks: 5
Thanked 63 Times in 63 Posts
Rep Power: 5
 
Re: Sulfur Odor from Battery Bank

Did you read this? "I filled each of the house batteries to the brim"

Bristol 31.1, San Francisco Bay
MarkSF is offline  
Quote Quick Reply Share with Facebook
post #9 of 11 Old 08-30-2012 Thread Starter
Junior Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2012
Location: San Francisco
Posts: 25
Thanks: 0
Thanked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Rep Power: 0
 
Re: Sulfur Odor from Battery Bank

Not meaning for 'to the brim' to be taken literally, but I did top them off to make sure the batteries had plenty of water prior to shoving off.

I'm heading up to the boat later today to look into a few things. Will report any findings relevant to what's been mentioned.
djangodog is offline  
Quote Quick Reply Share with Facebook
post #10 of 11 Old 08-31-2012 Thread Starter
Junior Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2012
Location: San Francisco
Posts: 25
Thanks: 0
Thanked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Rep Power: 0
 
Re: Sulfur Odor from Battery Bank

Inspected the batteries yesterday and there is nothing notable to report. Water levels are essentially unchanged and there is no sign of leakage of either water or acid. Everything 'looked' totally normal.

One battery seems to bubble slightly more that the others, but the water level is no lower. I'll keep an eye on that one.

Seems the next likely step is to check the alternator, which I'll do when she's next fired up.

Any other next steps? Seems we are narrowing down to either charging issues or potentially a poor connection. Are there any other issues to look into?

Thanks in advance.
Attached Thumbnails
Battery Bank.jpg  
djangodog is offline  
Quote Quick Reply Share with Facebook
Reply

Quick Reply
Message:
Options

By choosing to post the reply above you agree to the rules you agreed to when joining Sailnet.
Click Here to view those rules.

Register Now



In order to be able to post messages on the SailNet Community forums, you must first register.
Please enter your desired user name, your email address and other required details in the form below.
Please note: After entering 3 characters a list of Usernames already in use will appear and the list will disappear once a valid Username is entered.


User Name:
Password
Please enter a password for your user account. Note that passwords are case-sensitive.

Password:


Confirm Password:
Email Address
Please enter a valid email address for yourself.

Email Address:
OR

Log-in









Human Verification

In order to verify that you are a human and not a spam bot, please enter the answer into the following box below based on the instructions contained in the graphic.




Currently Active Users Viewing This Thread: 1 (0 members and 1 guests)
 
Thread Tools
Show Printable Version Show Printable Version
Email this Page Email this Page



Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Battery Bank Options gbm4th Gear & Maintenance 19 12-01-2011 02:06 PM
New battery bank /new charger imsaint007 Electrical Systems 3 07-09-2011 11:05 PM
What's your Battery Bank cvsheppard Pacific Seacraft 4 09-30-2009 07:08 AM
Battery Monitor - One Bank or Two? montenido Electrical Systems 12 09-27-2009 09:54 AM
Battery Bank Design Kevin Jeffrey Cruising Articles 0 05-12-2003 08:00 PM

Posting Rules  
You may post new threads
You may post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is On
Trackbacks are On
Pingbacks are On
Refbacks are On

 
For the best viewing experience please update your browser to Google Chrome