Reviving your battery
Are your lead-acid batteries ready for spring?
If boat owners haven’t used a battery charger during winter storage, they can anticipate sluggish or dead batteries in spring.
All batteries, regardless of their chemistry, self-discharge when not in use. Batteries also suffer from severe sulfation buildup, which can result in premature failure.
To bring those batteries back to peak performance, follow this checklist:
Not all batteries can be totally recovered. If a battery has a short circuit or physical damage, it’s impossible to bring back.
- Give the outside of the battery case a quick clean to remove any dirt.
- Clean terminal posts and remove corrosion. If significant, clean the terminal posts with a small wire brush to remove sulfate deposits. Use dielectric grease or corrosion inhibiting spray to minimize future corrosion.
- Make sure the electrolyte levels are high enough. If levels are below the maximum line, add distilled water (not tap water) up to the line. Not all batteries have a maximum fill line. If that’s the case with your battery, simply fill to 1/8 inch below the ring of plastic that extends into the cell. Never overfill the battery.
- Use a battery tester to ensure the battery has a minimum charge of 12.6 volts. If the charge is below that level, you will need to charge the battery in a well-ventilated area. To ensure best performance, use a smart charger for a week or more to dissolve the capacity-robbing sulfates, which will allow the battery to be fully charged and retain full capacity.