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Forklift Battery FAQ: Maintenance and Care

Battery FAQ Maintenance and Care

1. What is a lead acid battery composed of?

Lead plates, lead oxide and a solution composed of 35 percent sulfuric acid and 65 percent water are the lead acid batteries’ components. Together, they create a chemical reaction that forms electrons.

2. What are the hazards associated with industrial batteries?

Hydrogen gas/flammable

Charging causes this effect. Hydrogen gas is extremely flammable and gas vapors can be neither seen nor tasted.

Sulfuric acid/electrolyte

Can burn skin and eyes.

Electrical shock

Batteries can discharge a high rate of current, causing shock to anyone too close.

Heavy weight

Lead is the main ingredient in batteries. It is extremely heavy and can be dangerous. Electric lift trucks are designed to use the battery as part of the counterbalance design.

3. What safety items should I keep near industrial batteries?

  1. Acid neutralizing solution or baking soda
  2. Proper eye wear, masks and gloves
  3. Non-metallic containers to handle liquid
  4. Eyewash facility
  5. If battery acid is ingested, drink water or milk. Do not induce vomiting. Call a physician immediately.

4. What protective clothing is required to be worn when handling a battery?

  1. Protective goggles
  2. Face shield
  3. Rubber apron
  4. Rubber gloves

5. How do I change a battery?

  1. Make sure you are trained in using any of the battery changing equipment.
  2. Ensure the battery gate or other devices securing the battery in the lift truck are removed.
  3. Disconnect the battery cable from the lift truck.
  4. Use non-sparking and insulated tools.
  5. DO NOT lift by post or cables.
  6. Keep metallic objects away from uncovered batteries. 

6. How do I know if the battery is bad or discharged?

To be completely positive, measure the Specific Gravity in each cell, using a hydrometer. This determines the state of charge.

7. How do I use a hydrometer to test specific gravity and the state of charge in a battery?

  1. Remove the battery caps to each cell
  2. Make sure the electrolyte level is full, but not overfilled.
  3. Put the hydrometer into each cell and draw enough electrolyte to make the float rise in the cylinder. Make sure to hold the hydrometer in vertical position.
  4. Record the level at which the fluid intersects.
  5. Do this for every cell.

8. Is there another tool that can be used to measure the specific gravity?

Yes, a refractometer is a tool designed for use by trained personnel to measure the specific gravity of battery acid

9. How is a refractometer used?

In the interest of education we’ve described how to use a refractometer below.  However, the procedure should only be carried out by a trained technician because contact with battery acid is dangerous. (If you need help our trained staff is qualified to assist you with this process.  Contact our Concierge to find out more about this service.)

  1. Take a drop of battery acid from a cell and put it on the clear sample window and close it.
  2. Use the eyepiece and look at the drop.
  3. The specific gravity of the drop appears in the spot where the light and dark areas intersect.
  4. Record and wipe the window.
  5. Repeat for each cell. 

10. What do the specific gravity readings tell me?

When the specific gravity reading is low, it means that the electrolyte consists of more water than battery acid. This means that the battery is running at a low state of charge. If the specific gravity reading is high, it means that there is more battery acid than water. This is probably due to someone adding battery acid instead of water.

11. How do I know I need to replace the battery?

When measuring specific gravity, the maximum difference between low and high is 50 points. If the range is greater than 50 points, replace the battery.

Related content: Forklift Battery FAQ

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