Battery corrosion is a pretty common phenomenon among conventional lead-acid batteries. And although it can be frustrating to see that powdery material formed around the terminals of your battery, there are some things you can do to help. If you don’t, that buildup can eat up terminals and destroy your battery over time, so obviously upkeep is important! Corrosion and sulfation are pretty much a lead-acid battery’s worst enemies. But what causes a corroded battery terminal in the first place, and what can you do to avoid it?
Better yet, is there an alternative option that skips battery corrosion altogether? We’re here to answer these questions and more, right below. So stick around!
What is Battery Corrosion and What Does It Look Like?
Corrosion mostly occurs in lead-acid batteries. When you’re dealing with a corroded battery terminal, you’re likely to see a buildup of white, light blue, green, or even brown powdery material around your battery terminals. The colored material is usually flaky or crumbly too. Corrosion is often on nearby metal surfaces, like battery terminals, electrical connections, or other components of the battery that are exposed to the hydrogen gas.
What Causes Battery Terminal Corrosion?
When a battery is charged or discharged, a process called electrolysis takes place. The negative electrode produces hydrogen gas, while the positive electrode produces oxygen gas. It’s normal for these gasses to be emitted from a lead-acid battery, but it becomes an issue when they’re properly vented. Without venting, the gas builds up within the battery. This is a big problem for many reasons. Beyond corrosion, there’s the risk of the battery catching on fire or exploding.
One form of corrosion is sulfation. This occurs when sulfuric acid, which is part of the battery electrolyte, leaks and reacts to the metal surfaces of the battery. Eventually this causes sulfate crystals to form, which can impair a battery’s performance, or even cause the battery to die altogether. To avoid this from happening, make sure that no excess water leaks onto the terminals when you’re watering it. And also be sure to clean the terminals whenever you see any substances forming. You may even want to use anti-corrosion products. But more on that later!
What Happens When You Have a Corroded Battery Terminal?
When battery terminals corrode, they hinder the flow of energy from your terminals to the device you’re powering. What does this mean? That you’ll likely experience less efficiency and a decrease in power. Depending upon what type of lead-acid battery that you have (starting or deep cycle) you may have issues firing your engine up or keeping things running. Overheating is another potential issue, and so is damaged electrical components. Ultimately, your battery will likely die too much sooner than it should, putting another dent in your wallet. While annoying, maintaining your lead-acid batteries is well worth the time and effort to lengthen its lifespan.
Does Battery Corrosion Mean a Bad Battery?
Battery corrosion doesn’t mean you can’t use your battery. In many cases, the battery is still usable, but it’s simply not operating as well as it could be. More than anything, corrosion is usually a sign of either normal wear and tear or user error, in terms of maintenance. This is common in lead-acid batteries used for deep cycles like boats, RVs, and golf carts. To prolong your battery’s use and to keep it from completely failing, follow the steps below.
Or better yet, opt for lithium deep cycle batteries for a superior, safer alternative.
How to Clean Corroded Battery Terminal
To clean a corroded battery terminal you’ll need products that can help break down the acid on the terminals. You can purchase these products from auto parts stores or online shops.
You could also opt for homemade corrosion removal methods. One option thrifty users take is mixing proper measurements of baking soda and water. This can be an inexpensive yet effective way to remove corrosion from battery terminals.
So how do you clean a corroded battery terminal with baking soda? Here are the steps wikiHow suggests in a nutshell:
- Wear protective gear— gloves and eye protection
- Disconnect and get the battery out
- Mix baking soda with water.
- Using a toothbrush or wire brush, apply the mixture on the terminal and scrub out the corrosion. Ensure no liquid gets into the battery cells.
The above steps should leave you with a cleaner battery. Remember, while baking soda water solution cleans terminals it does not repair battery terminals or necessarily prevent further damage.
Avoid Battery Corrosion by Switching to Lithium Batteries
Most batteries, particularly lead acid batteries, get corroded over time. It can be daunting to control this corrosion. The best way to avoid battery corrosion is to use batteries that aren’t prone to this issue.
Lithium batteries are an amazing alternative, because they don’t require maintenance, venting, or face issues of corrosion. They don’t emit the corrosive gasses that affect terminals, thus, they’re considered safer and more reliable.
What’s more, Ionic’s brand of lithium batteries are made using only grade A cells to last longer and offer optimal performance. They have two times the power of other types of batteries, are fast charging, and are way lighter.
If you’re looking to make a switch to corrosion-resistant lithium batteries, then LithiumHub is your plug. We offer the best ionic lithium batteries in town. Whether you want a battery for your home, RV, UTV, golf cart, or lawnmower we’ve got you sorted.
Need batteries for your golf cart? Shop here!