Every forklift battery starts to sulphate from the moment it was manufactured. The usual operation of charging and discharging (cycling) the battery results in an increased buildup of sulphates on the battery plates. This is because the charging technology isn’t 100 percent efficient.
After charging the battery, small sulphates are left unconverted, and with time, these sulphates buildup (resistance) preventing the battery from being fully charged. That’s the reason forklift batteries that have been in use for a long-time discharge very fast. The battery charger reads voltage plus the resistance (the sulphates buildup) resulting in a high voltage. This tricks the battery into perceiving itself as fully charged.
Probably you have experienced this before or you’re currently torn between replacing and repairing your forklift battery. But before you decide to repair or replace forklift batteries in Toronto, it’s wise to know when to replace or repair and perform a few checks.
Inspect the Cables and Connectors
Check all the wires, connectors, and the appearance of the top area of the forklift battery. If you find any form of corrosion, remove it. Note that this inspection and cleaning should be done after you disconnect the unit from the forklift.
Test connectors by pulling them gently and flexing the cable back and forth. In case of a loose connection, you can repair the unit by replacing the connector or contact. But if you notice that the cables are swollen especially at the unit connection points, you may need battery repair in or consider replacing the unit.
Lead burning or fusing wire terminations is a potentially dangerous process that must be performed by a professional. Besides, if you’re not sure of what to look for or replace, it’s wise to get an expert to inspect your forklift battery and determine if it can be repaired or must be replaced. The expert can also determine if you need forklift repair in Toronto depending on the state of the unit.
Analyze The Battery’s Voltage
An ordinary DC voltmeter can help you check a battery’s voltage level, but these numbers must be analyzed to determine if the unit is operating efficiently or not. When taking the voltage readings for an entire row, a variation in volt or more may indicate a problem with a cell within the row.
Besides, get the voltage level under the load when the battery is fully charged. If you’re handling a lift truck battery, tilt the mast back against a stop to offer a short but high amperage load onto the unit. Then check the voltage reading for a group of cells or each cell. The cells voltage shouldn’t fall below 1.70 volts unless there is a problem.
Check Various Gravity Levels
Specific gravity level is an important measurement when it comes to the determination of electrochemical health and state of charge of a forklift battery. Use a hydrometer to take these readings and spot cells that are falling out of the line. A normal battery gravity level ranges between 1.150 (when discharged) and 1.290 (fully charged).
If the hydrometer shows a lower specific gravity than the other points (normally 25 points of difference), it’s a sign of a failing battery that should be replaced.
Smell the Battery
If you detect a strong hydrogen sulfide (rotten egg odor), it’s a sign that the forklift battery has suffered extensive damage beyond economical repair. The hydrogen sulfide gas is produced when the battery has suffered an impact to the cells containers. If you must repair it, the task should be handled by an expert.
Refurbish or Replace?
To answer this question, it’s wise to analyze the factors discussed and answer the following questions:
- What weights should be lifted?
- How long is the battery in use daily or weekly?
- Are battery maintenance resources readily available to ensure the recovered capacity isn’t lost?
- How long should the battery last before it’s replaced?
To decide if a battery replacement is necessary, here is what to check.
- The unit’s charge level degrades to one or a few hours of operational use
- The battery must be charged more than once daily to get a full shift’s work done
- Corrosion accumulation on the battery casing
- The unit produces rotten egg smell (indicates the presence of hydrogen sulfide)
- The battery begins smoking while in use or charging
The average life of a forklift battery is about five years. When necessary, the unit can be repaired or replaced for many years of work with the forklift. Note that battery replacement isn’t the same as tire replacement. These units are bigger and heavier and costly. Therefore, you must decide when a battery can be repaired or replaced depending on its current performance and the expected performance.