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Old 04-23-2014, 10:37 AM   #1
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Battery (?) problem

Yesterday morning I got a call from the people I rent my slip, in front of their condo, from. They told me the boat was "beeping", never something you want to hear about your boat! So I drove over hoping at best maybe the batteries on the CO detector needed changing at worst she was sitting on the bottom.
She was still afloat! when I opened the door I got a strong, strange odor(not propane) and the propane alarm and the CO/smoke alarm were beeping. I opened the doors to vent, the propane cylinder valve was closed.
I opened the engine compt. hatch and battery box and found both batteries bubbling away, lots of moisture ( Electrolite) condensing on the box lid inside and all over the batteries and bottom of the box. I checked the Link monitor it showed the batt.s on float charge at 12.5 V. I turned off the charger, it is a magnum 2012 inverter/charger and the voltage on the Link monitor dropped to 10 then 6 V right away. I disconnected the cables from the battery and having comitments yesterday and today won't be able to check more till tomorrow. I haven't been out in the boat since last years trip, 11 months.
The battteries have been on float charge the entire time. the batteries are two 8D Interstate "Workaholic" I don't have the specs here but do on the boat they are I believe 230 AHR and 1400 cca, conventional flooded lead acid. They were installed new Feb 2010 I havent had any problem with them before. They serve as house and starting battery for the single Cummins 6BT 5.9. At dock I leave the fridge on shore power.
So I don't know what caused the problem to begin with, a fault with the charger? A problem with the batteries? I checked them last about 10 days ago water levels were fine. I was at the boat last about 5 days ago didn't check the batts but all was fine no strange odors. Maybe just left unsed too long on float charge?
Any suggestions? Comments welcome?
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Old 04-23-2014, 11:09 AM   #2
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Sounds like a thermal run-away, but 12.5V is well below even a float charge. Maybe you arrived just after the charger tripped off. Would have been interesting if you took a voltage reading right at the battery terminal.

Leaving your batteries on float charge (13.2 to 13.6V dependent on outside temp) is normal practice.

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Old 04-23-2014, 11:09 AM   #3
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A few thoughts:
1) Those gases are explosive.
2) 12.5 volts is not enough to make the batteries visibly bubble. I suggest you put a volt meter on the battery to confirm that its voltage is only 12.5. If it is higher, then your charger is malfunctioning. If in fact they are bubbling at 12.5 volts, then you probably have at least one shorted cell, in effect reducing the battery from 6 cells of 2 volts each to 5 (or viewer cells) of correspondingly higher voltage -- that would account for the bubbling.
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Old 04-23-2014, 11:19 AM   #4
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I would check the cells with a hydrometer. You will probably find one or more dead cells. I had the same thing happen to a two year old Interstate Workaholic 8D. I attributed mine to an alternator that was charging at 15.3 vdc and I couldnt see it due to a bad voltmeter.
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Old 04-23-2014, 11:21 AM   #5
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Like others have said probably an internal short related to shedding. Read here for more on the subject:

http://batteryuniversity.com/learn/a...internal_short


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Old 04-23-2014, 11:45 AM   #6
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Not sure about the 2012, but my Magnum (4024) shuts off completely at full charge. Agree with others it sounds like a bad cell(s).

Your case is a good advert for the need for detectors, that could have developed into a very bad situation. Be very careful as you remediate the situation.
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Old 04-23-2014, 12:35 PM   #7
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One shorted cell causes the remaining cells to severely overcharge and cook out electrolyte. Check electrolyte levels in all cells, if all dry but one, the full one shorted.

Two new batts in your future. And be careful changing them as that acid mist has gotten all over the place.

Once new batts are in, monitor terminal voltage often to make sure charger has not been freaking out and overcharging.

And check electrolyte levels more often.
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Old 04-23-2014, 01:15 PM   #8
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Pretty weird...night before last at 0450...my CO alarm was going...same scenario...

I changed battery chargers as I'm working on relocating the batteries....and guess what...

After my 4 month trip and sitting/charging for a week..the batteries had a few dry cells in them. The 4D was warm and bubbling so it got disconnected. The golf cart batters were fine and back in service.
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Old 04-23-2014, 01:31 PM   #9
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Per chance you overfilled your batteries ten days ago and it blew acid out the cap vents? I've seen it happen on Interstate 8Ds, don't ask for details. I do know that removing about 1/4" of electrolyte cured the problem.

The batteries are fine now.
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Old 04-23-2014, 06:06 PM   #10
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You're lucky the boat was still in one piece. That was more than likely hydrogen gas you were smelling. Can you say "Hindenburg"!
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Old 04-23-2014, 07:20 PM   #11
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You're lucky the boat was still in one piece. That was more than likely hydrogen gas you were smelling. Can you say "Hindenburg"!

Bill hydrogen gas is odorless. It's more than likely that smell was stibine (a byproduct of overcharging lead acid batteries). Aka antimony hydride it does stink and also happens to be pretty toxic.


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Old 04-23-2014, 08:30 PM   #12
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VENT VENT VENT. Have a hose close by and a few buckets of water. Wear EYE FACE protection and rubber gloves. Clean rinse whole area down. Be careful and Check out slowly. I have no idea as to your skill level, but it may be time to part with the money and get a good marine Sparks to come find the problem.
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Old 04-23-2014, 08:40 PM   #13
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man... a simple overcharged battery that is outgassing some...

my CO meter was chirping and was showing about 60ppm on the gauge of whatever it was sensing.

sure it can be dangerous but of the dozens of overtemping batts I've seen...the fumes and situation were never this explosive, toxic, or environmental disaster.

Sure they can get there...but like boat explosions...pretty rare for as many as could happen.

Be careful but full proximity suits are only necessary when you can HEAR the battery telling you to stay away....then call the fire department...
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Old 04-23-2014, 09:24 PM   #14
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Quote:
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Bill hydrogen gas is odorless. It's more than likely that smell was stibine (a byproduct of overcharging lead acid batteries). Aka antimony hydride it does stink and also happens to be pretty toxic.


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Thanks for setting me straight on that. But either way it can go boom! :-(
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Old 04-23-2014, 09:32 PM   #15
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Lots of good ideas, thanks!
Tomorrow I'll go by there and clean things up as much as possibe with the batteries in place no way I'll be able to lift them out. The farm hands are busy, at the next rain, forecast for early next week I'll get a couple of strong ones to lift out the old batts and I'll pull out the fiberglass box and cables to clean all that, and the area under them.
In the mean time I'll check charger output, battery cells with hydrometer, etc.
then the big crunch time, what to buy
Two new 8D lead acid?
Smaller size batteries to fit in same box with similar AHR capacity for example Group 31s? 4 or 6
AGMs, 8D or other size?
Other?
On the bright side, It happened in my slip not out on a cruise and I don't have a big trip planned anytime soon.
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Old 04-24-2014, 12:05 AM   #16
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I just installed 3 new AGM's and along with an existing AGM, these 4 batteries make up my house bank. All are 105 AH. I also installed a 100 amp Charles charger. Float charge is, (give me a minute I'll check) 13.1, a little low but the charger is continuously on.

My batteries are completely inaccessible so AGM's were my only option.
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Old 04-24-2014, 07:33 AM   #17
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I attributed mine to an alternator that was charging at 15.3 vdc and I couldnt see it due to a bad voltmeter. __________________

This is very common ,many boats cane equipped with useless analog volt gauges.Tho many are pretty!

Folks that have not yet installed a real digital volt meter for the dash can simply use their $ 8.95 Radio Shack digital meter in a cigar lighter socket.

If installing a digital gauge lead the wires to the batt terminal at the starter, so you can observe the start voltage , the alt voltage and the rest of the charging system stuff , wind solar and dockside power hose and noisemaker charging..
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Old 04-24-2014, 07:49 AM   #18
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The farm hands are busy, at the next rain, forecast for early next week I'll get a couple of strong ones to lift out the old batts and I'll pull out the fiberglass box and cables to clean all that, and the area under them.
After you clean out the boxes and before you install the new batteries in them consider dusting the bottom of the boxes with baking soda so any battery acid that may find it's way down there will be neutralized and the next time you have to change batteries you don't have to worry about having to deal with an acidy mess in the bottom of the box and on the bottom of the battery.
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Old 04-24-2014, 11:58 AM   #19
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I would go AGM, exspensive but maintenance free.
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Old 04-24-2014, 12:14 PM   #20
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AGM's are even more sensitive to correct voltage regulation. You seem to have good access for maintenance....I'd go 6v golf cart batteries again anytime. They represent the cheapest Ah for the $ and are easy to install.
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