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Dutch

Battery Explosion

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Al
Hi, Had a battery explode in my face in 1958 when I worked at the Ford Garage nights. Had a charger on it and just unhooked the cables, 1 spark, 1 blown up battery. What saved me was I was right next to the wash rack and just turned on the faucet and laid on the floor face up with the water running in my face. Luckily I received no lasting injury, had I not been right by the water and within probably within 5 seconds had water running on my face and in my eyes, it would have been a disaster. In 1977 when we started our current business we only dealt with golf cars. I have probably seen 10 golf car and 1 farm tractor with exploded batteries. Ususlly the golf cars are going along and there is an explosion like a 12 guage shotgun. When a battery is charging hydrogen gas is generated in the cells above the acid. This gas is also vented through the caps. When this gas condenses on metal you have acid. These fumes are what causes the corrosion on the battery terminals etc. This is also why if these terminals are completely covered and sealed no corrosion occurs. [Grease works well for this] If you are charging a battery and just unhook the charger the spark may ignite the hydrogen gas fumes and like gasoline fumes cause an explosion. If the battery is in use as in a golf car and the car is moving and hits a bump and inside there is a bad connection. For example one of the plates is cracked loose at the buss that joins the plates, a jar may cause the plate to break or make its connection at the fracture and you have a tiny spark in a cell that the open space is full of hydrogen gas. Remember the Hindenburg? The rest is flying debries. If the plate has a fracture, or one of the busses that connect the plates and the cells has a fracture, potential for disaster. With the charger on as the battery charges, it warms up, this causes mechanical expansion and could cause enough movement to provide the spark. Any vibration such as thunder, a car horn, loud noise, garage door noise might enough to trigger it. It would have to either be charging or be discharging [being used] or no spark would occur. These explosions are almost always the result of a failed mechanical connection and to create a spark there needs to be current either going in or out. It only requires a microscopic movement in that concentrated gas environment. This is why it is a good idea to wear safety glasses when working around the electrical systems and if you ever Jump a vehicle. It is also why one is supposed to connect the positive cable to the battery and the negative to a ground away from the battery and always disconnect the ground first. That way any spark will be away from the battery. My 2 cents worth and it is free, value accordingly. Al Eden Also, When working around any hi current system such as a battery and associated cables, one should REMOVE ALL RINGS AND METAT WATCH BANDS ETC. If they get between + and ground they become INSTANTLY RED HOT and cannot be removed. This type of injury has resulted in the loss of fingers and hands particulary with people working with 24 and 36 volt systems. When I was a technician at Rockwell Collins it was MANDATORY to do so when working on any hi-current equipment.

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JoeJ
Dutch, A few years ago, when I was a young fella, A former boss ran a tube from a charging battery to a paper cup of soapy water. Mind you, just the bubbles had gasses in them. I liked to have passed a cow when he thew a match in it!!! Sence then I've had an awsome respect for those danged things!! And always thought it was a darned good way to show the results too! I never smoke around them again!! JoeJ

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JonetteP
Hi, my father and I had the same experience with a battery. However, my face was only about a foot from the battery when it exploded! Yes it is much lowder than a shotgun blast! This happened in about january of last year. So being in minesota, we went outside to the garden hose and washed each other off. Man was that cold! Then we used every once of soda we had around to nuetralize the acid. BE CAREFULL with soda around batteries. If you get soda in a battery, it causes a violent reaction! Another explosion.

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Dutch
My friend John (who got me addicted to these Simplicity tractors), has a 29’ Donzi. He winterized it last fall, and connected an automatic battery maintainer. This morning John heard an explosion. He said it sounded much louder than a shotgun blast. Upon investigation, he discovered smoke coming from the engine compartment vents of the Donzi. One of the two relatively new batteries had exploded. Fortunately, John heard the explosion and was able to neutralize the acid (using several boxes of baking soda and almost 50 liters of club soda), and flush the engine compartment before the acid could do any damage. The battery maintainer was outside the engine compartment. There was nothing inside the engine compartment that should have caused a spark. Any ideas why the battery exploded? Could the battery have developed an internal short? Just goes to show how accidents can happen. Be careful with those batteries in garden tractors. http://home.att.net/~herb.niewender/batseq2.jpg

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johnmonkey
I worked in a battery warehouse when I was 19. We used to charge pallets full of batteries, about 5 or 6 pallets with anywhere from 15 to 20 batteries per pallet. I had to hook up the charge leads in series from the positive terminal to the negative terminal of the next battery. One day I went to un-hook the batteries and my foot bumped a battery and caused an arc. the top of the battery blasted up to the roof of the warehouse (about 2 stories) and showered me with battery acid. Fortunatly I did not get any acid in my eyes. My clothes were covered with acid and after I washed the clothes they were riddled with holes (including my scivies). The explosion was very loud. Ever since then I have had a lot of respect for charging batteries and jump starting cars ( That hydrogen gas is quite potent!!) John H

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MPH
Hum,I timed out imagine that happyjack-playtime@comcast.net I used to have "charge" no pun intented lol of charging batteries for hi-lows-fork trucks and all battery operated equipment used in a factory. One thing we all learned and were tault is that if a battery is left on a charger for any period of time whether even a low volage setting the water or acid will boil out in time. If this happens the battery over heats then the plates warp and short the battery out causing an explosion from inside the battery. If the battery has a short in it the acid boils out in a fairly short time and the battery charger sense's the battery being low and keeps sending a charge to it. I feel either the battery had a short in it causing a continueing charge or the battery was not mantained to the proper level of fuild. The spark therey is very true but a warped plate does not cause one but a dead short inside the battery and this is all that is needed. The plates in this battery look warped even in the area were the battery didn't actually explode. Boats-Rv's or anything that relies on battiers for both starting and runnning accessories need to be checked for shorts before leaving a charger of any-type connected to it or them unattended for months or even for a few weeks as they will put off a sulfer oder that can be detected before this type of problem happens in most cases if not left unatented. Also the vibration that comes from a boat is so intense that it seems like someone would design a battery box that would help keep the battery from being subjected to this as this is another reason batteries can short out. This is just my opinion from my experince and from looking at the battery that it happened to. I can't see from the picture for sure but normally the positive end ot the battery blows out if it is a shorted battery. Also always replace batteries in pair or sets not just one as the weaker one will damage the stronger one do to them trying to equilize one another. Also if you would have had 2 batteries connected it only takes one bad one to cause both batteries to be over charged thus causeing both batteries to explode from the gases caused from being low on fuild of a shorted plate. The gases that are caused from either the short or the over charging in most cases can happen even if the batteries were out in the open but more so in an inclosed area even with proper venting. I saw a motor home this past summer with 4 six volt batteries all wired together do this same thing and it blew the battery door off the side of the motor home along with damaging the interior from the smell of sufer that can't be removed. This unit had only been setting unattended for 3 days when this happened but it had a 85 amp charger that had been charging at full charge the whole time. It was found that one of the batteries had a shorted plate and the owners insurance company is having a night mare trying to blame either the battery manfacture or the battery charger company for this accident. By the way the batteries were less then 2 months old and the owner never checked the fuild level in the batteries. I am by no means an expert but having had my fair share of experience in this area over the years. As always feel free to correct me where needed but I did the best I could to explain this in a non-tectnical way. What a shame but no one was hurt that's the main thing, >>->happyjack<-<< Herb, does this show you what I was talking about? Great site, sounds like a great bunch of guys. My apologies to Happyjack for butting in on his message. THE LURKER

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