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Old 01-17-2014, 04:24 AM   #1
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House Battery Explosion

I am aware of RV batteries exploding. On our style motorhome, to access anything under the hood, I have to put my upper body through the hood opening and thus find my head and shoulders directly above the house batteries and next to the starting battery. Any safety suggestions? Would it minimize the chance for an explosion if the rig was disconnected from 110 volt service? Would it help to turn off the chassis and coach battery disconnect switch near the entrance door? Should we do either or both or is it just a game of Russian Roulette?

Just trying to be cautious. A Sulfuric acid bath from an exploding battery would not be pleasant!

Sam
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Old 01-17-2014, 04:52 AM   #2
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If you are really worried about it, lay an old blanket over the batteries before accessing that area.
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Old 01-17-2014, 05:21 AM   #3
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You're right in that it can happen, but it's also pretty rare. People work on cars all the time with the battery right next to them and never have a problem. Overlander63's suggestion makes sense to me.
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Old 01-17-2014, 07:29 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by overlander63 View Post
If you are really worried about it, lay an old blanket over the batteries before accessing that area.
Protective eyeware also.
It is extremely unlikely this will happen though.
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Old 01-17-2014, 07:53 AM   #5
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Happened to me once. Got in the car and heard a bang the instant I turned the key to start it. Cracked the battery open but did no other damage.

Freaky! And for no apparent reason.
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Old 01-17-2014, 11:18 AM   #6
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You need a spark for ignition and usually that is caused by disconnecting a battery or trying to start a vehicle. Batteries blow because they are being over charged or over drained. Remove cables from the batteries preferably on the end away from the batteries. Don't remove cables right after charging a battery. Ventilate the area and remove the caps if it is not a sealed battery.

NEVER put batteries is a sealed box that is not ventilated. I remember a Hydrogen safety course I took at NASA where they had a sealed metal box that they were using in a neutral buoyancy simulator (Big swimming pool). The box had batteries to power equipment. They removed the box from the pool and started to remove the lid. Something sparked and it took a guy's head off.

The battery in a girlfriend's car blew one time. She hit the starter and boom. The whole top blew off the battery. I am guessing a spark happened from a loose cable. It made a mess. We had just gotten back from a long trip. Battery cables are frequently loose and corroded and they arch when you start the car. Batteries that don't have to vent are much safer than the ones with open caps. There are very few things more explosive than hydrogen.

Perry
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Old 01-17-2014, 11:36 AM   #7
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Switch to AGM type battries. I use the AGM battries on my boat because the batteries are located in the cabin.
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Old 01-17-2014, 09:46 PM   #8
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A couple of years ago, I heard a loud "boom" on the way to the NorCal Casini and pulled off. The top had blown off one house battery and the acid was quietly bubbling away.

Everything worked okay, plugged in for the few days, then replaced both batteries.

My theory about cause: I had left the moho plugged in for months and then refilled the batteries because they were low on "water." I think the 1-2 hours drive with the alternator putting more charge into the battery made it really H2 productive, and blam.

This could happen when you are working under the hood, but highly unlikely. The blanket and safety glasses are a good idea anyway, and I always wear the glasses under the hood.
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Old 01-18-2014, 12:39 AM   #9
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It sounds about like a .38 going off. Seen it while jump starting a car in the winter. Don't remember if Joe got any permanent damage or not.
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Old 01-18-2014, 05:48 AM   #10
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Thanks for the replies. Seems as if there are two choices to greatly minimize the chance of a battery explosion, namely isolate the power source to the batteries, or switch to AGM batteries. The AGM battery suggestion is the most fool proof action. Even with the batteries isolated, one could inadvertently cause a spark at the battery.

Removing a cable on our type motorhome requires getting in close proximity to the batteries. Placing a blanket over the batteries is a sound solution, except when we need to add water to the batteries.

I think that unplugging the rig from 110 volt service or activating the battery isolation switches will
disconnect the battery from a power source and eliminate that chance of a spark.

As noted in the replies, safety glasses are a must.

I know the chances of a battery explosion are small, but it is a possibility. I wanted to start this discussion to make sure we remember that possibility when we work under the hood on our rigs.

Sam
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Old 01-18-2014, 05:50 AM   #11
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If this DOES happen, remove the battery from the vehicle, then mix some baking soda and water, and spray or wipe it everywhere any acid may have gotten. That will minimize any future corrosion from the spray from the explosion.
And wash your hands with plenty of soap and water. The safety advice about heavy rubber gloves you here from OSHA is great, but I have never been able to get heavy rubber gloves, my hands, and a car battery all into a battery box at the same time.
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Old 01-18-2014, 05:56 AM   #12
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Unplugging from house power is only part of it. If there is something using 12V in the trailer when you remove the cable it will spark. If you smell rotten eggs then there is most likely hydrogen present. Baking soda is a good cleanup method. A cup with some baking soda and water in it is a good thing to pour over battery connections. Also a good spraying of lithium grease afterwards is not a bad idea either.

Perry
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Old 01-18-2014, 11:44 PM   #13
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There was a thread on here of batteries blowing up a while ago. Something about whether the battery was being charged or not helps cause the explosion. H2 is being made while charging the plates.
Here's one of them: http://www.airforums.com/forums/f37/...ery-95074.html
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Old 01-27-2014, 07:58 AM   #14
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Any recommendations I have seen is to disconnect the negative connection to the battery first which will prevent the accidental shorting to ground. Also when "jumping" a dead battery connect the + connection first and the - to a major metal part as in engine block or a substantial metal body part away from the battery itself to prevent sparks igniting any Hydrogen gas. And the usual blanket and eye protection mentioned previously.
Steve
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