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Old 09-25-2010, 06:19 PM   #1
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Acidy buildup in battery compartment

Our coach has 6 house batteries, and in the compartment is a plastic cover over them that needs to be removed to access them. I check them every 3-4 weeks, and although the terminals are all clean, the metal bars between the rows of batteries seem to get some white acidy buildup around them. I noticed on a 2006 model, there were 8 batteries, and no cover, and the battery compartment looked very clean. Does the cover trap the gasses, enabling more corrosion? Are there pros and cons to the cover? I would not remove the cover, however I was curious as to other people's experiences.
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Old 09-25-2010, 08:33 PM   #2
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My cover was destroyed in a battery fire. I don't miss it! I like the ability to see the batteries directly, check water levels, and clean the batteries.

Just yesterday after returning from a trip I filled a bucket with water then mixed in a box of baking soda. I threw the mixture over all the batteries and then sprayed it off with a water hose. It looked very clean.

MAKE SURE THAT NO CABLES ARE LAYING ON THE BATTERY HOLD DOWN BRACKETS!!! This was the cause of our battery explosion & fire.
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Old 09-25-2010, 09:06 PM   #3
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Off gassing is normal when the battery is being recharged. The more deeply discharged a battery is the more gassing that takes place when charging. I presume the plastic cover is to keep the sulfuric acid under control, the effects of which can be seen on the metal straps. But I wonder if it's a good idea to trap and concentrate hydrogen gas under the plastic. That's the reason why battery compartments are vented.
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Old 09-25-2010, 10:25 PM   #4
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Believe that is why some batteries has a layer on oil on top of the water in each cell to prevent gassing
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Old 09-26-2010, 03:50 AM   #5
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I don't believe any hydrogen etc. will be trapped by the cover. It only takes a tiny bit of air movement for the gases to escape from underneath. I suspect the cover is for aesthetic purposes only...or possibly to provide some protection for the terminals if you need to work in that area...preventing a short. Every time I checked under my cover, the tops of the batteries were loaded with dust and dirt (plenty of airflow). The cover created an additional nuisance when checking and maintaining the batteries so I removed it some time ago. I also had problems with battery corrosion build-up every couple months so I put mineral oil in each cell (about an ounce and a half per cell). The oil lays on top of the electrolyte and prevents much of the outgassing. Now I only have to deal with corrosion problems every 8 -12 months, and I add water at that time.
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Old 09-26-2010, 08:25 AM   #6
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I eliminated the plastic cover too. I like to be able to take a look at the batteries and cables etc ever so often. I also put about 2 ounces of mineral oil in each cell 6 months ago and have eliminated the corrosion and acid buildup. Also, have only needed to add distilled water 1 time all summer.

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Old 09-26-2010, 08:50 AM   #7
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Think both the battery cover and the metal hold-down straps[strips of plastic cutting board work great] make nice yard art. I wash down the batteries everytime I wash the coach. That red terminal spray seems to help also. Auto-fill systems and anti-gassing caps may help, and there is always AGMs--but not cheap. If you fill manually, keep the water slightly below the inside fill rings. Seems older bats tend to gas more, and not all inverter/chargers are created/function the same in float. The mineral oil idea is interesting--would like to hear more testimonials--like from Interstate????
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Old 09-26-2010, 02:16 PM   #8
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One thing you can do is buy these - DaleG loves them. They are expensive, but keep the gassing down to a minumum. I want them for the new batteries I will purchase next year.

EcoVantage Catalog: Battery Cap - Hydro Caps For T105 & L-16

I like the idea of pouring soda water over the entire compartment, I might try that next time I do the batteries. I usually do it very carefully by hand using up lots of blue towels. And I cannot get between the batteries unless I take them all out. I have taken the bars out, cleaned them up, and then coated them with a little grease to keep them from corriding up, it last for a while. Using a spray bottle would also work and not make quite the mess the bucket idea does.
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Old 09-26-2010, 07:37 PM   #9
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I'm pretty sure the cover was to keep road spray & dirt off the batteries. One thing that would make it less inconvenient would be to cut down the threaded rod that takes the hold-down nut. IIRC that thing has a pretty long thread to traverse every time the cover has to come off.

Its important to keep the battery tops from getting wet w/acid splash. I've been in lots of battery compartments where the charging gets difficult, and the charger has to run higher than ordinary and longer than ordinary, because of voltage leakage across the liquid on battery tops to the battery hold-down straps & into the frame. Once this condition starts, the charging process is screwed up, and things need cleaning soon.
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Old 09-26-2010, 07:45 PM   #10
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The original batteries in my 79 Kountryaire 5er was canadian built and came with oil in the cells. However this can present a problem when trying to take a specific gravity reading with a spectometer.
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Old 09-28-2010, 11:39 AM   #11
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I agree with Old Scout: when we first bought our motorhome, I thought that having a metal hold-down strap next to all those positive battery terminals looked kind of precarious, so I replaced it with a plexiglass one. No chance of voltage leakage or shorting from lugs or cables now.

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Old 09-28-2010, 06:38 PM   #12
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Just to clarify--when I said I washed the batteries down everytime I washed the coach, I meant it literally. Just turn the water hose on and blast the tops of the batteries thoroughtly with water pressure. With no cover to get in the way, its easy, safe and effective for keeping the bats bright and shiny...
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Old 09-28-2010, 06:46 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RVhauler View Post
The original batteries in my 79 Kountryaire 5er was canadian built and came with oil in the cells. However this can present a problem when trying to take a specific gravity reading with a spectometer.
You're right, but as long as you can get the hose under the oil and avert sucking up the oil into the specific gravity device you'll be good to go.

How much oil is in each cell and who makes the batteries??
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