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Flooded Cell
Battery Cleaning
Battery Charging
Battery Storage
Battery Testing
Battery Caution
Equalizing Batteries
Cycling Batteries
Surface Charge
Storage Myth

Battery Maintenance

CAUTION: Always wear protective clothing, gloves, and goggles when handling batteries, electrolyte, and charging your battery.

Batteries should be carefully inspected on a regular basis in order to detect and correct potential problems before they can do harm. It is a good idea to start this routine when you first establish your battery bank.  AGM batteries have no accessible electrolyte that can be drawn from the fiberglass mat and are also usually sealed (VRLA**)  therefore cannot be tested for specific gravity testing.  However resistance and also voltage can be used if the AGM batteries have had absolutely no electrical loads or charging for 4+ hours. Flooded lead-acid batteries are easy to test.

Inspection Guidelines:

lead acid battery

Examine the outside appearance of the battery:

  • Look for cracks in the container.
  • The top of the battery, posts, and connections should be clean, free of dirt,  fluids, and corrosion. If batteries are dirty, a weak solution of household baking soda and water can be used to neutralize any spilled acid. Make sure no solution enters the vent cap and gets into the battery.
  • Ensure that battery tops and terminals are dry and clean after each maintenance.
  • Replace damaged batteries.

Any fluids on or around the battery may be an indication that electrolyte is spilling, leaching, or leaking out. Leaking batteries must be replaced unless the spill is due to overfilling the battery.

Check all battery cables and their connections.

  • Look closely for loose or damaged parts.
  • Battery cables should be intact; broken or frayed cables can be extremely hazardous.
  • Replace any cable that looks suspicious.
  • I use a laser thermometer to check connections and individual cells as well.


  • Monthly - Check battery cell electrolyte level for correct electrolyte volume once a month. Battery cells should be watered with distilled or deionized water back to the original electrolyte level which for most batteries is - " below the bottom of the vent well.

  • Quarterly - Record the specific gravity readings of each cell and the voltage of each individual battery unit.

State of Charge


Specific Gravity


1.255 1.275


1.215 1.235


1.200 1.180






Battery Ailments and Problems

Stratification: Heavier charged ions within a lead acid battery sink to the bottom of the cells.  This leaves discharged electrolyte or diluted electrolyte at the top. The results is oxidization at the top of the plates and accelerated corrosion at the bottom of the cells due to higher acid concentration.

Sulfation: The depositing of lead sulfate crystals on the plates occurs as the battery is discharged and permanently reduces the capacity of the battery. Deep discharging of the batteries can cause the sulphate to expand the negative lead plates separating the lead from the grid,  or shorting it permanently damage the cell.  Batteries, which remain partially, discharged for extended periods of time develop "memory" of the reduced state of charge due to sulfation. Sulfation accounts for approximately 85% lead-acid battery failures. Avoiding extended periods of deep (>20%) discharge will reduce sulphation.

Battery RX for flooded acid cells

Stratification and lead sulphate may be partially removed from cells via a controlled equalization charge.  During equalization a 2.35 - 2.4 Volt per cell is charge is applied to the battery. 

Equalization is indicated when:

  • after extended periods of deep discharge
  • if any cell has a variation of more than 0.05 V from the battery voltage
  • when temperature corrected specific gravity is 0.010 below the full charge value or differs  SG 0.015 from the other batteries within the array.

REMINDER: Tighten all wiring connections to the proper specification. Make certain there is good clean contact with the terminals.

WARNING: Do not over tighten terminals. Doing so can result in post breakage, post meltdown, or fire.

** VRLA = valve regulated lead acid

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Last modified: January 12, 2023