There are a few basic safety precautions that should be taken when watering forklift batteries. These precautions include ensuring that the person watering the battery is wearing appropriate personal protective equipment or PPE. This typically includes protective gloves or protective aprons and eye protection. These simple pieces of equipment greatly reduce the potential of skin contact with the electrolyte batteries.
Forklift batteries should be watered in an appropriate area which includes a stable and leveled surface, adequate ventilation, and absence of spark or flame producing items. While the electrolyte itself is not flammable, there may be residual hydrogen gas inside the battery cells from the charging process. Lastly, if there are other people in the area, please make sure to make them aware of the situation, so they can be cautious as well.
There are two basic ways of adding water to a forklift battery. One way is to add water directly to the individual cells of the battery. The other way is to add water to the cells by using a specialized watering system. There are several brands and models available on the market, but they all function similarly.
After the battery is fully charged, you can begin the watering process. Supposing the battery does not have a watering system installed, you have to remove the cap on every cell of the battery and check each cell individually looking if you can see the electrolyte level. If you can see the electrolyte covering the top of the protective splash plate, then the cell is not in need of water. If the electrolyte level is below the splash plate, the cell requires water. Ensure the water in the nozzle is adjusted properly for the battery watering. On most models, this is done by inserting the tap into the battery until it contacts the splash plate then adjusting the depth indicator to ensure each cell is watered to the same level.
Activate the water flow on your device
These devices are designed to shut off water flow on back pressure. It means that when the water level reaches the tip of the nozzle, the flow is automatically shut off. This is your indicator to move to the next cell. Repeat this process until all cells have been watered, then close or reinstall the caps.
Watering systems are designed to speed up the watering process eliminating the need to remove the battery from the stand and minimizing other inherent hazards of the watering process. While the PPE requirements are typically relaxed, good safety practice is always recommended.
- Remove the dust cap on the battery watering system if equipped.
- Attach the connectors on the battery to the water source.
- Activate the water flow on the device.
- Monitor the flow indicator on your watering device. This will shut off when each cell has received an appropriate amount of water.
- Disconnect the watering system from the device.
While watering systems are designed to water each cell of the battery, it is a good idea to check each cell from time to time just to ensure there are not problems.
Regardless which process you used to water your batteries, it is always good practice to conduct a visual inspection on the battery every time you water it. Typically, look for things like the condition of the battery cables. They should be free from exposed copper and not have excessive residues in their protective cases. Make sure the connectors are not cracked or broken. Evaluate the overall cleanliness of the exterior of the battery. If any of these conditions are found, they should be corrected by a qualified battery service provider that can help you deal with forklift battery repairs or maintenance.
Watering is not the only maintenance that is required from industrial batteries. Planned maintenance is also an important way to maintain your batteries in the long term.