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Old 05-12-2011, 06:06 PM   #1
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Electrolyte

First question for the battery experts:
Does the electrolyte deteriorate in a battery as it ages?
The reason I ask is that I had a battery in the back of my TV that tipped over on a bumpy road. I know I should have secured it in a better way. Any way, I lost some of the electrolyte; not enough to uncover the plates when the battery is in the correct position. But the level is down.
Is there any reason I can't take some electrolyte from the old battery I removed. The old battery has a shorted cell, when charged it still has a specific gravity of 1260.
In my mind it would be better to refill the new battery to the proper level with electrolyte than distilled water. Am I wrong here?
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Old 05-12-2011, 07:12 PM   #2
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How do you know what the proper level for electrolyte is?

I would not do this by guess or by golly, as they used to say.

Pat
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Old 05-12-2011, 07:31 PM   #3
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If the specific gravity is 1.260 it's good. Use it.
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Old 05-12-2011, 08:05 PM   #4
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If the plates are covered sufficently without adding anything to the new battery right now and the specific gravity is correct, you should be ok to use distilled water.

If the electrolite in the old battery is at correct SG, it would not hurt to use that if you want to. Make sure you do not transfer any solids.
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Old 05-12-2011, 08:30 PM   #5
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If you really want to be precise, you can charge both batteries until they have the same specific gravity, then transfer fluid. I think it would be more trouble than it's worth, though.
On a related note, baking soda will help neutralize the spilled electrolyte. Do that first, then rinse with plain water.
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Old 05-12-2011, 09:09 PM   #6
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Correct Level

@pmclemore; The proper level would be determined by looking in the hole in the top of each cell. If the level is low (below the slots) the liquid looks like a round image. When at an acceptable level it will look more like the shape of a football or eyeball.
It is important not to overfill the cells as they will spill out the top while charging.
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Old 05-13-2011, 09:44 AM   #7
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But is that the level of electrolyte, or the level when water is added to the electrolyte? Sorry - it's just that I don't know. Rather, I just know enough to get into trouble.

Happy trails. Pat
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Old 05-13-2011, 04:33 PM   #8
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Pat,

I see what you are getting at. In the case of a spill it might be best to use electrolyte, not water.

Electrolyte is a mixture of 65% water and 35% sulfuric acid. Normally, the level is low when water evaporates frorm the the acid, you replace it. How you know what the ratio is after a spill, who knows if you add water. In case of a spill, adding electrolyte makes more sense.

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Old 05-13-2011, 08:59 PM   #9
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Thanks, Alan. But I still wonder whether the correct lever for electrolyte might be to cover the plates - then distilled water to reach the correct level as described by TG Twinkie.

I just don't know answers - only questions. But then, I am an accountant (auditor) by trade.

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Old 05-13-2011, 10:03 PM   #10
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the member mexray would have the answer :-)
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Old 05-13-2011, 10:47 PM   #11
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Here!...

Go out to your tool box and install some safety glasses on your snozz...

1. If you spill electrolyte from a battery, it's best to refill with fresh 1.265 SG electrolyte to about 1/4" above the plates...the electrolyte will expand as the battery is charged so you don't want to overfill at this point...

2. Recharge the battery - check with a hydrometer to see when it's fully charged...

3. You can now top off each cell with electrolyte to the proper level - just barely to the bottom of the vent 'tube'...

4. Another 1/2 hour on the charger should mix the added electrolyte with the existing fluid...

5. Most battery shops have fresh 1.265 SG battery acid in bulk to fill your battery...it's cheap stuff!

6. DO NOT try to dump any existing acid from the spilled battery...you run the risk of allowing any 'crud' from the bottom of the battery to lodge between the plates and cause a premature failure...

7. I've used electrolyte from another battery in a pinch, but don't recommend it if you have a choice - fresh, properly mixed 1.265 SG electrolyte is the preferred route...

8. As mentioned above, when you add distilled water to cells with low fluid levels, you are actually replacing the water that's been evaporated, and restoring the proper 'mix' of water/sulfuric acid...adding water to a battery with spilled electrolyte will dilute the fluid and you'll never be able to get the SG back up to 1.265 for a full charge...

Where's my lounge chair - all this talk of batteries throws my back out!
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Old 05-14-2011, 09:09 AM   #12
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Thanks for doing the heavy lifting; nice to have a knowledgeable resource.

Pat
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