Lead Acid Battery Explosion
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    Mr. Moose's Avatar
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    Lead Acid Battery Explosion

    As the title suggests, this morning I had a lead acid automotive battery blow its top off in my basement. I have cleaned up the spill with baking soda, but I am at a loss for what to do with the battery itself. The case is cracked, top blown away (into bits around my basement) and still half full of acid. Should I attempt to transport the battery as is in some kind of container, or should I attempt to neutralize the acid then transport? Is a 5 gallon bucket capable of withstanding this acid?

    I am fine, by the way, as I was upstairs at the time. It sounded like a balloon of the same volume popping, only a lot louder!




    Mr. Moose
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    Glad you are ok

    I'm very glad you are ok. Any good plastic container should resist the acid. The trick will be getting it into the container. I'm leery of trying to neutralize the acid inside as any base will react quickly and could cause more trouble than it saves.

    Definitely use protective googles or face shield, rubber gloves and if possible a protective apron when trying to get the remains into a container. Once it's outside and in a relatively safe place you could probably just flood it with water using a hose from a distance. Normally you add acid to water, not vice versa but if you are outside and away from anything you can hurt, I would probably put the hose on a sprinkler patter and thin the acid down considerably from a distance. If it runs onto the ground, add some lime to totally neutralize it.

    Stay safe!

    Treefarmer
    John Deere 790, 300 loader w Ken's Bolt on Hooks & Piranha tooth bar, grapple, back blade, box blade, Bush Hog mower, couple of red tractors, hay equipment, various old stuff some red, one orange, some I don't remember

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    Quote Originally Posted by Treefarmer View Post
    If it runs onto the ground, add some lime to totally neutralize it.

    Stay safe!
    The soil is a great neutralizer,,, I would rather loose a little grass for a year than the trunk of my car,,,

    Water (LOTS of it) from a distance is the best idea,,, IMHO,,,
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    Mr. Moose's Avatar
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    If I add more water it will overflow since the case is cracked. I got a 5 gallon bucket from Home Depot that I thought I could use to contain the sloshing of transport, but the battery is about an inch too big.

    I think I am going to dilute it some with the hose then find a larger container to transport it in. There is a hazardess materials redemption center near by, at least the last time I checked.


    Mr. Moose
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    Mr. Moose's Avatar
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    Oh, here is the pic or it didn't happen pic!

    Click image for larger version. 

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    Mr. Moose

    P.s. I don't know why it is upside down. I just uploaded it from my iPad and not through tapatalk.
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    Tomfive's Avatar
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    Also glad you and your house are OK. Now I have to ask what were you doing that caused the battery to explode? Sounds like it could be a dangerous occurrence if you were close when it blew up and got acid in your eyes.

    Be careful with the acid. Be safe.
    Tom

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    Mr. Moose's Avatar
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    This was one of four batteries we use to run our pellet stove when the power is out. We have an un-interruptible power inverter that was designed just for this operation and has been working great for 5 years, it also recharges the batteries when there is power. I figured this was an appropriate forum since it is the same style battery found in our favorite toys... err... utility tractors.


    Mr. Moose
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    Tomfive's Avatar
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    I keep a deep cycle battery in my basement on a 1.5 amp charger/maintainer to power my wood burning fireplace insert in case of a power outage too. I know that 1.5 amps doesn't really generate enough heat to boil a battery, but i guess that other things can happen and possibly cause a short. Maybe it's time I invest in a battery case to contain any future mishaps? Something like a marine or RV battery box.

    Thanks for sharing your story.
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    Tom

    2011 1026R/R4's -- H120 FEL/49" -- 260 BH/12" -- Bro-Tek Ripper -- Artillian Forks/42" -- 244 lbs JD Rear Wheel Weights -- KBOH Hooks and Clevis' --
    Block heater -- 180* T-stat -- Evans HP Waterless Coolant

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    The most common reason (but not the only possible reason) for a flooded lead acid battery to blow its top like that is for it to be exposed to too high of a voltage for too long of a time. This causes some serious damage to the battery, creates free hydrogen, and generally destroys the battery.

    You say you have 4 batteries in this battery bank. Right there, alarm bells start going off in my head because there's a right way and a wrong way to do that. The common way to do it is, unfortunately, the wrong way and often results in exactly what you just experienced. How are the batteries connected? Series? Parallel? 2-series/2-parallel? If there are parallel connections, how are they made and what gauge of wire are you using to do it? We can probably work out why this happened and try to prevent it from happening in the future with a little more information.

    Also, since you're using flooded lead acid batteries, both the IRC and the NEC require that you house the batteries in a vented battery box for the reason you just discovered plus the fact that they make hydrogen when charging.


    As far as cleanup, sounds like you've handled it already, but the home remedy method of dealing with this is to ventilate the everlovin heck out of the area for a while and then slooooooowly pour box after box of baking soda onto it until the battery stops doing anything interesting in response to the addition of more baking soda. You can also mix up a solution of 1 pound of baking soda to one gallon of water if you have a situation where you need to flush the area with water (like rinsing it out of something) rather than pouring a powder onto it. As others have noted, lab goggles (preferably a face shield), heavy gloves, and a heavy apron are definitely necessary.
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    Mr. Moose's Avatar
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    The batteries were on a wood shelf about a foot off the floor with about a foot clearance on top covered by another plywood shelf. Ventilation is open to the basement. Forgive me if I get any terminology wrong, but we have them set up for capacity, that is parallel (right?). Positive to positive. They are connected by 2 foot 6 gauge pre-manufactured copper terminal wire. Was this the correct way to set it up? In Series would be positive to negative and increases voltage, correct? We did it years ago and have not set up any others since, so I have forgotten if this is correct or not. The battery that exploded was on the end, farthest from the inverter and also was the oldest by purchase date, has the same manufacture month as another, but all are now about five years old and the same capacity. These batteries are not sealed and we checked the water level on the remaining three. Each was above the plates but below the neck, where should it be? My thought on the exploded battery is that it over heated many times, evaporated water and exposed the plates which created an internal short that ignited the hydrogen. Was it co-incidence that the one on the end is the one that exploded? Or was it because it was also the oldest? Obviously, we don't want another explosion and we think we can get away with only two batteries since we now have a generator for long term outages. We are looking into getting battery boxes and most likely will have two new batteries in the near future. Everything is currently unplugged for evaluation and want to make sure we re-connect properly to minimize the risk of a future explosion.



    Mr. Moose
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