Watering Your Industrial Lead Acid Battery

Your Electric Equipment Batteries Need Regular Watering

Keeping your forklifts and other electric equipment running is critical to keeping your operation productive. For electric forklifts, watering the battery is an essential maintenance step. Like humans, lead acid batteries in electric forklifts can’t go without water. Failing to water them at the right time can lead to serious damage.

Why do batteries need water?

Water is a key part of how a lead acid battery works. Batteries are made up of flat lead plates that are immersed in an electrolyte consisting of water and sulfuric acid. The metal plates activate the electrolyte solution to create energy. During the operation of your forklift, some of the water will evaporate. Also, during charging, the water breaks down, releasing small amounts of hydrogen and oxygen gas. Gassing causes water loss which is the reason that additional water is needed to maintain proper functionality.

Why is it important to water a battery correctly?

Overwatering or underwatering can damage your battery, reduce the time between charges (cycle time) and shorten the lifespan of the battery by as much as half. Underwatering exposes the metal plates to dry air that can damage the battery. Overwatering can cause water to overflow from the battery cells, reducing the concentration of sulfuric acid and lowering battery performance.

When should I water a battery?

  • Check your battery’s fluid level regularly. As a general rule, check water levels and fill the cells every ten charges, at least for the first few years of the battery’s life.
  • For reconditioned battery, cut this interval to once every five charges to ensure electrolyte levels.
  • Add water after charging the battery to avoid overflows since electrolyte levels rise when charged. The exception is when the metal plates of the individual cells are exposed. In that case, water the battery enough to the cover the plates, charge the battery, and then complete regular watering of the battery.
  • Make sure the battery is completely cooled before watering.
  • Anyone who waters a forklift battery should wear proper PPE to protect themselves from any splash back from the sulfuric acid.

What type of water should I use?

Water that is free from impurities and measuring between a 5 and 7 on the PH scale is preferred. Forklift battery water should always be clean and pure. Using water containing even small amounts of impurities, such as regular tap water, can lead to battery damage from the chemical and mineral content in the water.

How much water should I add?

Only add enough water to cover the plastic element protector by ¼”. The extra space is needed for expansion while gassing/bubbling at the end of a charge. A single-point watering system will save time by filling all the cells at once.

Let our Trained Technicians Service Your Batteries

New forklift batteries can be expensive. Let Southwest Toyota-Lift take care of your batteries. Call Southwest Toyota-Lift today to set up a battery maintenance program for your fleet.