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Old 04-10-2019, 09:30 AM   #1
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Battery question concerning dribbling water from cells...

I have a Deka 12V deep cycle battery that came in my 5'ver when new...it will be four years old in about two weeks.

I moved to Yuma, Arizona last summer (one of the hottests cities in the US of A) and found the battery box all wet inside during the several-day 120+ degree heat wave we had last summer.

I pulled the battery out and stored it on my shed instead as I tracked the inside temperature of my 5'ver at over 160 degrees, so I thought that my battery was boiling from the heat.

I took it to the local O'Reilly's Auto Parts store last fall and had it tested and they said it was OK, and since we didn't use the 5'ver all winter I kept in on a trickle/maintainer charge in the shed for a few weeks, then put it back in the battery box and left it unhooked out there in the storage lot, so that I could hook it up and open the slides or use the lights if I needed to.

Anyway, even though the water level inside is right where it should be (just below the indicator inside the filler holes), the battery is always wet on top and it is dribbling down the sides.

I brought it up to the house the other day to put it back on the charger and it was again all wet on the top.

I've also somehow gotten little burn holes in my clothes, which I'm guessing is somehow related to this issue.

Bubbling splatter maybe (kinda like grease splattering from frying bacon)?

I'm guessing it is time for a new battery...

But wondering why the battery is doing this...any ideas?
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Old 04-10-2019, 09:36 AM   #2
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I’ll be watching what others have to say, however......

On occasion I’ve found small holes in my clothes in the days following working on/with batteries. Clearly I believe somehow the off gassing/acid is getting on or near my clothing to do this. Maybe even because the clothes went through the laundry and that’s when I noticed the holes, but I can’t be sure. Ask yourself, we’re you carrying the batteries close to your body while moving them?
I think that’s when it happens most but can’t be sure.

Not sure I would have posted this under “boondocking”
Just sayin’
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Old 04-10-2019, 09:46 AM   #3
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Battery acid will eat holes in your clothes lickety-split. Due to their weight, we tend to carry them close to clothing.
It sounds like your battery is overcharging, which causes the bubbling, sizzling and out-gassing you are seeing.
Was your RV plugged in to shore power while this was occurring?
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Old 04-10-2019, 09:48 AM   #4
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Have you checked your converter to see what voltage it is putting out?



It sounds almost like the converter may be overcharging the battery... Can you hear it "cooking"?


The holes in your clothes are from the sulfuric acid inside the battery, which has now migrated outside... chemistry at work


Another possibility is that the battery is just overfilled, and it's trying to "find it's happy level". Hopefully this is the case, and not the converter
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Old 04-10-2019, 09:57 AM   #5
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No power to the trailer in the storage lot and I have a small 4-amp trickle charger in my shed.

The water in the battery is slightly below the bottom of the filler tubes that hang down inside the battery.

And is still dribbling down the side of the battery even though I don't have it hooked up to the charger right now.

As for the holes in the clothes...they did show up after going through the laundry.

And, when I carry the battery, it is pretty heavy so I hold it with both hands out in front and away from me for the short trip from the battery compartment to the back of my truck, and the same from the truck to the shed.

As for posting this in the boondocking section...this is where all of the battery talk seems to happen...thus why I put it here.
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Old 04-10-2019, 10:04 AM   #6
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No power to the trailer in the storage lot and I have a small 4-amp trickle charger in my shed.

The water in the battery is slightly below the bottom of the filler tubes that hang down inside the battery.

And is still dribbling down the side of the battery even though I don't have it hooked up to the charger right now.

As for the holes in the clothes...they did show up after going through the laundry.

And, when I carry the battery, it is pretty heavy so I hold it with both hands out in front and away from me for the short trip from the battery compartment to the back of my truck, and the same from the truck to the shed.

As for posting this in the boondocking section...this is where all of the battery talk seems to happen...thus why I put it here.

If it's a true trickle charger, and there's no load on the battery, then you're overcharging it. A battery maintainer is just that, it maintains the voltage and shuts off when charged. trickle chargers, and older converter/chargers, were notorious for boiling batteries. Don't know why it would do it when sitting alone disconnected, unless the process had already begun and just continued.
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Old 04-10-2019, 10:23 AM   #7
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If it's a true trickle charger, and there's no load on the battery, then you're overcharging it. A battery maintainer is just that, it maintains the voltage and shuts off when charged. trickle chargers, and older converter/chargers, were notorious for boiling batteries. Don't know why it would do it when sitting alone disconnected, unless the process had already begun and just continued.
It is a maintainer...

It has a 'Snowflake' mode (maintainer mode, according to the paperwork for the charger).

However, it was doing the water dribble before I purchased this battery charger a few months ago.

I just went out and took a photo of it and it does look like it might have a slight bulge on the side of the battery.

When I ran my fingers over the bulge to investigate...they got wet.

It hasn't been plugged in for at least three days.
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Old 04-10-2019, 10:31 AM   #8
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Out of curiosity, what is the voltage that the maintainer is having the battery at when it is fully charged and in float mode? You battery is likely "done". When those places test the battery, they do not test for capacity. You have to do that on your own by putting a constant current for a set time and reading the voltage.

Next time, buy a true deep cycle battery unless all you do is full hookups.
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Old 04-10-2019, 10:34 AM   #9
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Might want to check your maintainer and see what it's actually putting out... and to ensure that it is actually going into "maintain" mode and shutting off.



Could just be a defective maintainer/charger.
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Old 04-10-2019, 10:39 AM   #10
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Heat is the greatest enemy of a lead acid battery. If the case of the battery is bulged or leaking then the battery is toast and must be replaced.
In that type of heat all of your batteries will last much shorter lives, 2 years or so is about max for a battery working in that type of heat. Also the quality of the battery (cost) seems to make very little difference in that type of heat.
You may be better off if you do not use a battery maintainer unless you can find one that has a temperature probe that attaches to the battery. Just charge the battery just prior to use.
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Old 04-10-2019, 10:53 AM   #11
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Out of curiosity, what is the voltage that the maintainer is having the battery at when it is fully charged and in float mode? You battery is likely "done". When those places test the battery, they do not test for capacity. You have to do that on your own by putting a constant current for a set time and reading the voltage.

Next time, buy a true deep cycle battery unless all you do is full hookups.
Full hookups is all I've done for years, although recently we've decided to do a couple of local boondocking one-nighters just to see what we can get out of the battery...not much!

Just went out and plugged it in for a couple of minutes to monitor the display on the charger.

The maintainer is running at 13.9V...in full charge it was at 13.7V.

That was the battery that was installed in the 5'ver when I bought it, so I guess it is time to replace it.
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Old 04-10-2019, 10:54 AM   #12
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It's not unusual for a "Non Maintenance Free" battery (true deep cycles are usually in this category) to have electolyte vent from caps and form droplets on the top/sides. Especially in hot climates where the ambient can climb into the mid-hundreds. Even a maintainer can cause "gassing" when the electrolyte is that hot. If you're keeping the electolyte levels up and regular hydrometer checks show proper specific gravity with it being even (or within 50 "points" across the cells) your battery is probably OK.

It would be a good idea to give it a regular bath using a solution of Baking soda and water to keep the electrolyte that's on the surface of the battery from providing an electrical path that will discharge the battery. Half a dozen tablespoons in a quart of warm water makes a good battery cleaning solution. Give it a scrub with an old paintbrush that you've cut the bristles down by half. I would avoid real stiff brushes as they tend to cause splatter and you don't want that at all when cleaning a battery.

Clean the battery well until fresh solution doesn't bubble when you apply it but DO NOT ALLOW ANY TO GET INTO THE CELLS. MAKE SURE CAPS ARE TIGHT AND AVOID SCRUBBING THE TOPS WHERE THE VENTS ARE.

Rinse well with hose water and this is also a good time to clean the battery terminals so they are "shiny metal to shiny metal" where they connect.

Heat kills batteries and about the only thing one can do in the great american desert is to make sure the battery compartment is ventilated as well as possible. Might bring temp down from 160 to 120 but that helps.

Lastly, charging voltages for super warm batteries should be greatly reduced. If using a maintainer it might be necessary to put it on a timer and only run it an hour or so every day as it may not be able to compensate for the extreme temp. Alternative would be to invest in a charger that has temperature compensation built in and uses BATTERY temp for reference. This is a nice feature of solar controllers like the Victron series. They have optional battery temp sensors that help the controller select the proper charge rate/voltage.
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Old 04-10-2019, 11:09 AM   #13
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Heat is the greatest enemy of a lead acid battery. If the case of the battery is bulged or leaking then the battery is toast and must be replaced.
In that type of heat all of your batteries will last much shorter lives, 2 years or so is about max for a battery working in that type of heat. Also the quality of the battery (cost) seems to make very little difference in that type of heat.
You may be better off if you do not use a battery maintainer unless you can find one that has a temperature probe that attaches to the battery. Just charge the battery just prior to use.
Totally agree. As temp goes up, charge voltage needs to be reduced. Unfortunately, not many converters have temp compensation. Many solar controllers do though. Better off using a good solar controller in the long run.
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Old 04-10-2019, 01:16 PM   #14
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You have a group 24 true deep cycle battery of roughly 80 amp hours that is now toast due to improper charging at extreme temperatures without voltage adjustments. MANY battery mfr.s will tell you not to charge AT ALL if battery temps rise to 122 degrees or greater. Certainly keeping a float voltage of13.8 or so is overkill...and NO charging is needed to maintain a fully charged battery.

If you MUST charge a battery in high temps...the PER CELL charging adjustment for every 10 degrees farenheit over 80 degrees is -0.028 V ... or .168V for a 12V battery PER 10 degrees. That's .84 Volts below optimum at 130 degrees! (i.e 13.6V BULK charge...and no more than 13.2 floating at an amp or two!)

I don't know what the answer is for you in such temps except to charge at night and disconnect your batteries when not in use to preserve as much cycle life as possible in extreme conditions.
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Old 04-10-2019, 01:55 PM   #15
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You have a group 24 true deep cycle battery of roughly 80 amp hours that is now toast due to improper charging at extreme temperatures without voltage adjustments. MANY battery mfr.s will tell you not to charge AT ALL if battery temps rise to 122 degrees or greater. Certainly keeping a float voltage of13.8 or so is overkill...and NO charging is needed to maintain a fully charged battery.

If you MUST charge a battery in high temps...the PER CELL charging adjustment for every 10 degrees farenheit over 80 degrees is -0.028 V ... or .168V for a 12V battery PER 10 degrees. That's .84 Volts below optimum at 130 degrees! (i.e 13.6V BULK charge...and no more than 13.2 floating at an amp or two!)

I don't know what the answer is for you in such temps except to charge at night and disconnect your batteries when not in use to preserve as much cycle life as possible in extreme conditions.
I do think you are right that the heat destroyed this battery, not to mention that it is probably aged out as well.

I think you missed where I just moved here last summer and the battery itself wasn't on that charger at all during the heat of the summer.

But was just sitting disconnected in the trailer for most of the summer, until I checked on it one day to get the 5'ver ready for the one summer trip we took to cooler weather (to Sedona) when I found it all wet and moved it to my shed.

I just bought the charger back in late October or November when the temps are in the mid-60's to 70's most days.

I gave it a full top-off when I bought the charger, then every couple of weeks I put it on maintain mode overnight to keep it topped off.

I was kind of hoping to keep this battery and buy another and hook them both up, but I think it's time to retire it.
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Old 04-10-2019, 01:55 PM   #16
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JohnD10, you may have a cell going bad. Leave the battery disconnected for a few days and check voltage. If the voltage is below 12 volts or so, one or more are going bad. Even with a cell going bad, the battery will appear to be working, at a lower voltage and capacity. A bad cell may cause the electrolyte to gas off and get electrolyte outside the battery. Once this begins to happen, it goes from bad to worse rather quickly. Plus, makes a mess of things.
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Old 04-10-2019, 02:00 PM   #17
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I had a Surveyor up until August 2017 that did this. My newer SOB (Big Country) with dual 12v batteries does not splatter acid and had always been dry. Would like to have known what caused the splattering. Maybe by following this thread I'll find out.
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Old 04-10-2019, 02:03 PM   #18
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JohnD10, it is not a good idea to hook a new battery to an old battery. While it can be done, the old battery will often take out the new due to the differences in the internal resistances these batteries develop with age or construction differences. This will also cause the batteries to charge/discharge differently.

Best practice is to get 2 of the same make/type with similar ‘born-on” dates.
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Old 04-10-2019, 02:04 PM   #19
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The battery appears to be the typical battery RV dealers put in units and call a deep cycle battery. It is more of a dual purpose marine battery. You mention battery box. Does it have vent? That battery will out gas when charging and if the box is sealed, you will get condensation in the box.
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Old 04-10-2019, 02:09 PM   #20
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The battery box is vented to an opening on the front of the 5'ver...

You can see it...the black square to the left of the front basement door.

The vertical door just around the corner on the door side of the 5'ver is the battery compartment.
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