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Old 03-24-2013, 09:24 AM   #1
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Battery Explosion

The other day I was visiting with a fellow MH owner at our storage lot. He had just started his Monaco diesel to warm it up prior to backing out of his space. All of a sudden, POW, an explosion came from a basement compartment and liquid and shrapnel rained down on the asphalt.

One of his chassis batteries had exploded into dozens of pieces. It was an Interstate battery, the no maintenance kind.

Why would it do this? It was pretty scarey at the time since we didn't know what might come next, like fire. But that did not happen. Just battery electrolyte everywhere, and pieces of battery. Upon examination, he said many internal parts had oxidized.

Any thoughts?

Don
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Old 03-24-2013, 09:32 AM   #2
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I had an Interstate Wet Cell house battery explode several years ago. The battery people thought maybe it had run dry and shorted across the plates. But yours was maintenance free so I don't know how it could run dry. It could still internally short out and cause the gas to explode.
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Old 03-24-2013, 09:35 AM   #3
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Sounds like when he started and moved the RV there was just enough vibration to have the heavily oxidized batteries fall apart internally, causing the battery to short it's self out. Once it shorted out it build heat till the sealed battery (no maintenance) exploded from the pressure build up.

If his battery compartment is anywhere near the drivers seat, time for a new set of short britches!!
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Old 03-24-2013, 10:18 AM   #4
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This is a very real and scary situation. When charging batteries they will emit a gas and should there be a spark mixed in with that it isn't pretty. That is why it is so important when charging batteries, hooking up clamps before plugging in and unplugging battery charger is so important.
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Old 03-24-2013, 11:00 AM   #5
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It's called sulfating and if your self maintaining charger does not put at least 10 amps to the charger they will sulfate. On the boat I use the Pro Mariner ProSport 20 Plus to keep the batts maintained over the winter. Best part is i never have to take them out of the boat. As it's a multi-stage charger it desulfates the batts then keeps them at a constant charged state. I'm actually thinking of adding a pair of these to the MH as I don't see MH auto chargers doing this.
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Old 03-24-2013, 01:04 PM   #6
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I had one blow up in a pickup truck I had one time, I pulled in to get gas, filled up and got back in the truck. As soon as the key turned to the 'on' position BOOM...and I saw the life of it leave as the dash lights faded to black.
Don't know how or why it happened, but it was certain I was going to need a new battery.
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Old 03-24-2013, 02:20 PM   #7
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Was getting my car battery boosted and it exploded. It was a good job the person doing the jumper did things correct. He hooked my battery first. Then did the pos and then the neg on his veh. Just as the Neg touched on his veh. My battery blew apart. No damage to him but I had H2SO4 all over my hood and fenders. It was scary and I was in my car about to start the engine. The battery must have had an internal short.

Batteries can be dangerous.
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Old 03-24-2013, 02:30 PM   #8
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You need to get a couple cans of battery acid neutralizer (from AutoZone) and spray the area down. It turns color when on acid so you can see where the problem areas are.
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Old 03-24-2013, 02:41 PM   #9
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when heavy current flows in the Battery they gas.

It is hydrogen and oxygen, maint. Free types have large chambers to store the explosive mixture

Add a possible cracked connection between the internal cells or between a plate and buss system and you get a spark, then boom.

Does not happen often but it does.

C&D produced a batch of GR12-160F that had a poor design that did not support the inter-cell connections.

Combine with installers who eat banannas and walk on their knucles and you have easily damaged batteries that overtime would blow their covers off.

Batteries are FRAGILE, handle them like they are eggs.

Newtons law applies, things moving want to keep moving, do when you place them on the ground do so gently as the heavy internals do not like sudden stops.

If you have explosion flood everything with lots of water, twice.

Then baking soda or Battery cleaner and flood it again.

Add a coat of paint since it is now clean and batteries out of the way.
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Old 03-24-2013, 02:47 PM   #10
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You need to get a couple cans of battery acid neutralizer (from AutoZone) and spray the area down. It turns color when on acid so you can see where the problem areas are.
Or hose out the acid best you can and then use baking soda to neutralize the acid that is left over. It will fizz where ever there is acid.
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Old 03-24-2013, 06:19 PM   #11
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Combine with installers who eat banannas and walk on their knucles and you have easily damaged batteries that overtime would blow their covers off.


You made me laugh, a true and totally politically incorrect wonderful laugh, because of it's honest truth. Can you say "free installation" with purchase, and wonder if it can't be that easy, because, " if it's too good to be true ......"
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Old 03-25-2013, 08:05 AM   #12
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Some of the things cited here are true enough, but have little to do with a battery explosion. An explosion occurs when hydrogen gas released from the battery during charging is ignited by heat or spark. It is normal for a battery to "gas" a little as part of the charging process, but excessively high or long charging can cause unusual amounts of hydrogen to be released and if it accumulates rather than drifting away, an explosion is possible. It takes a combination of problems for that to happen, so explosions are rare, but they do occur. Even with maintenance free batteries.

Some of the conditions include:
- A charger that lacks adequate controls to prevent over-charging (a common problem in single-stage chargers from the 80's and 90's)
- A battery that has an internal short and draws too much charging current. This is likely to happen if the battery is allowed to run dry (no water in the cells). However, a top quality charger would usually prevent overcharging in this scenario.
- Clogged vents in the battery case so that internal gas cannot escape to the atmosphere.
- Lack of ventilation in the battery compartment, so that the batteries get too hot and/or gas accumulates in the battery compartment.

The least like configuration to have an explosion would be a sealed, AGM-type, battery with a quality three-stage charging system. They design pretty much eliminates the causes of out-gassing and explosions and alsolargely eliminates the maintenance problems which contribute to battery failures.
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Old 03-25-2013, 07:35 PM   #13
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You need to get a couple cans of battery acid neutralizer (from AutoZone) and spray the area down. It turns color when on acid so you can see where the problem areas are.
X2 and lots of water !!!! and I'd do baking soda too just to be safe.
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Old 03-26-2013, 07:58 AM   #14
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Don,

A couple of questions that can help narrow down the cause, so that we may find a way to help prevent another incident.

While in storage was the RV plugged in to shore power, or does it have a solar charging system?

Is there a switch that isolates the batteries and what position was it on?

You had said in the original post that it was the house batteries, how many where there?

Did all of them explode or just 1?

When you say explosion, do you mean flames, or an explosion like the popping of a water balloon?

What is the status now of the RV and batteries?
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