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post #21 of 40 Old 07-27-2014
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Re: Battery Acid!

m-
Replacing acid with water, will mean whatever acid was left in there is now very diluted. Ignoring whether anything else was in solution or what balance was...The many comments you've gotten about using a hydrometer (buy the foot long glass one WITH A CASE to prevent it from being shattered and spitting acid around) and replacing what you've got with proper acid, are on the mark. And no, DHS won't bother you if you buy a pint or quart of acid. Just take precautions, googles and rubber gloves and old clothes or a plastic apron, because the Gods of Acid apparently aren't in love with you.(G)

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It isn't just hydrogen that can gas off. The sulphur also goes off as hydrogen sulfide, so topping up acid with water isn't necessarily a 100% rejuvenation. Of course, as a battery discharges "sulfites" precipitate out permanently as well. I'm more concerned with why my hair went gray and whether I can fix that chemistry than with being intimate with the battery acid. You know, priorities.(G)
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post #22 of 40 Old 07-27-2014 Thread Starter
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Re: Battery Acid!

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m-
Replacing acid with water, will mean whatever acid was left in there is now very diluted. Ignoring whether anything else was in solution or what balance was...The many comments you've gotten about using a hydrometer (buy the foot long glass one WITH A CASE to prevent it from being shattered and spitting acid around) and replacing what you've got with proper acid, are on the mark. And no, DHS won't bother you if you buy a pint or quart of acid. Just take precautions, googles and rubber gloves and old clothes or a plastic apron, because the Gods of Acid apparently aren't in love with you.(G)

Med-
It isn't just hydrogen that can gas off. The sulphur also goes off as hydrogen sulfide, so topping up acid with water isn't necessarily a 100% rejuvenation. Of course, as a battery discharges "sulfites" precipitate out permanently as well. I'm more concerned with why my hair went gray and whether I can fix that chemistry than with being intimate with the battery acid. You know, priorities.(G)
I get it, believe me. I've lost acid and replaced it with water; things won't be the same. I understand. I can measure the specific gravity of the electrolyte, but I won't know what it means in terms of how much acid to add; and that begs the question of how exactly do I add whatever that amount might be. I've already filled the cells, so there is no room for me to add anything really at this point. I'm not about to dump out the electrolyte that's in there now.

I think I have two options at this point: suck it up and just use the battery until it croaks; or, take the battery to a battery expert and ask them if they can help. Given the really small loads I put on a battery (I use it to start my 8 hp outboard and to run my chartplotter for a few hours at a time), I'm inclined to go with option 1.
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post #23 of 40 Old 07-27-2014
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Re: Battery Acid!

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Originally Posted by mstern View Post
I get it, believe me. I've lost acid and replaced it with water; things won't be the same. I understand. I can measure the specific gravity of the electrolyte, but I won't know what it means in terms of how much acid to add; and that begs the question of how exactly do I add whatever that amount might be. I've already filled the cells, so there is no room for me to add anything really at this point. I'm not about to dump out the electrolyte that's in there now.

I think I have two options at this point: suck it up and just use the battery until it croaks; or, take the battery to a battery expert and ask them if they can help. Given the really small loads I put on a battery (I use it to start my 8 hp outboard and to run my chartplotter for a few hours at a time), I'm inclined to go with option 1.
The battery is designed to have the lead plates and the acid content in the correct "stoichiometric" proportion. That means that when the battery is fully discharged, the sulfate ions are fully consumed (leaving just water) and the lead plates are saturated with as much sulfate as they're designed to absorb.

By spilling some acid and replacing with water, the battery will have lost some percentage of its capacity, because the sulfate will be fully consumed before the lead is saturated with sulfate. No biggie. But you really should know how much capacity it has lost. And that's just easy to do with a hydrometer. Measure the density of the sulfuric acid and it will tell you its concentration. Compare that to the proper concentration for 100% charge, and you know the percentage of capacity that you've lost. If the percentage lost is negligible, great, be happy. If if it's significant, you can easily calculate how much concentrated sulfuric acid to add. Do the math, and you'll know to suck out x grams of the current acid, and replace it with y grams of concentrated sulfuric. Then you remeasure with the hygrometer and confirm that you're at the right concentration.

Or, take it a place the really knows how to repair batteries and let them do it for you.

But I can't really figure your reluctance to fix something that could be so easily fixed. You've got a new battery, and you should keep it new.


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post #24 of 40 Old 07-27-2014
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Re: Battery Acid!

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Originally Posted by svHyLyte View Post
One cannot measure the state of charge with a Voltage meter. The only true measure of the state of charge is the specific gravity of the electrolyte. N'any case, it's your battery/your choice. Good luck...
This is simply not true... However in this case I would suspect some cells may now be imbalanced so an SG test I'd best.

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Last edited by Maine Sail; 07-27-2014 at 09:31 PM.
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post #25 of 40 Old 07-28-2014 Thread Starter
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Re: Battery Acid!

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But I can't really figure your reluctance to fix something that could be so easily fixed. You've got a new battery, and you should keep it new.
Time my friend, time. Going out and buying the equipment and material to do it myself and then doing the work sounds like a project that would take me an entire afternoon (at least). Even taking the battery to a shop would require a couple of hours of driving around.

I don't know about you, but I have to work very hard just to cram 10-15 sails in every summer. And with my very busy family obligations, finding a spare afternoon to try and "fix" a problem that doesn't stop me from sailing isn't so high on my list.

Maybe when the season is over and I have to take the battery off the boat anyway, I'll take it to a battery store and see what they can do for me.
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post #26 of 40 Old 07-28-2014
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Re: Battery Acid!

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Originally Posted by Maine Sail View Post
This is simply not true... However in this case I would suspect some cells may now be imbalanced so an SG test I'd best.
Jeeze--Maybe I've suffered brain slip Main Sail but it was you that told me that during one of our exchanges a year or two ago when I was looking at replacing our batteries, no?

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post #27 of 40 Old 07-28-2014
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Re: Battery Acid!

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Originally Posted by svHyLyte View Post
Jeeze--Maybe I've suffered brain slip Main Sail but it was you that told me that during one of our exchanges a year or two ago when I was looking at replacing our batteries, no?
I don't think that was me, in fact I usually advise folks to stay out of their batteries unless they notice something out of the ordinary......... The only way to measure for a cell imbalance is with SG but OCV, if allowed to rest, is as good an indicator as SG but SG also needs a rest period and many folks don't fully understand this.....

The problem with SG readings is:

*Most folks do SG tests incorrectly and get GIGO, garbage in/garbage out readings.

*Most folks don't own quality tools and mistake the readings on cheap tools as being accurate

*Many folks incorrectly store their hydrometer and thus contaminate the batteries and in turn destroy them prematurely

*Many folks do not properly clean battery surfaces before opening them up thus causing more contamination and more harm than good.

*Most folks who check SG, & measure an imbalance, don't do anything about it, so what is the point other than burned holes in clothing?


You'd be amazed at how may hydrometers I find in drawers with rusty tools filthy and covered in rust. The owner is then shocked to find out cells 1, 2 & 3 are gassing at float voltages and using water unevenly....

While not always the case, I find a direct correlation to shorter battery life & low gassing voltages with owners who routinely check SG.. Keep the tools clean, the battery surfaces clean and rinse the hydrometer with distilled water before being placed back into its own Tupperware container and this won't happen but it does happen...


OCV can't tell you individual cell condition but it can give you a cumulative translated SOC.

SG can tell you which cells are out of balance and when to stop equalizing (when they become balanced). OCV can't do that...

The only way to test SOC, without other means, for AGM and GEL or other VRLA batteries, is open circuit voltage readings...

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Re: Battery Acid!

Back in the old days when I sold batteries, they were shipped with no acid in them at all. The dealer would add the electrolyte at the time of sale. Made for a nice fresh battery. We would poor in the contents of the bag until the battery was full, No Water. The electrolyte came pre mixed with water. If the stuff they sell is the same, all you need to do is poor out the contents of the battery and add new from the bag and BAM!!! the problem is over.
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post #29 of 40 Old 07-28-2014
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Re: Battery Acid!

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Back in the old days when I sold batteries, they were shipped with no acid in them at all. The dealer would add the electrolyte at the time of sale. Made for a nice fresh battery. We would poor in the contents of the bag until the battery was full, No Water. The electrolyte came pre mixed with water. If the stuff they sell is the same, all you need to do is poor out the contents of the battery and add new from the bag and BAM!!! the problem is over.
The battery place I visited last month did the same thing. The guy told me that all their flooded batteries were received dry, and they added the acid at the time of sale. Fully draining the battery into a dishpan and replacing with new acid would seem to be pretty easy, though I have never done this before, so I really can't say. Safe disposal of the acid would be very important. Also, it would seem to be important to fully charge the battery first, so you're not dumping out a whole bunch of hazardous lead solution, which is both an environmental hazard and would deplete the battery's plates.

My advice to OP is to pull the battery from the boat next time he's there, drop it off at a battery shop, and let them do it the right way. I don't understand his claim that this would "require a couple hours of driving around."


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Re: Battery Acid!

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I don't understand his claim that this would "require a couple hours of driving around."
Really? Unless you know how far I live/work from my boat, and the relative location of the closest battery shop, I don't understand why you would doubt my statement.
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