Mazdax605
Mazdax605 UberDork
5/2/19 9:55 a.m.

Hey guys, 

 

I do maintenance on generators, AC and DC power plants and switch gear for a large telecom company. Yesterday I was out on Martha's Vineyard Island which I travel to twice a month. Around noon or so I got a call from a guy in another department that we assist occasionally if they have issues with the generators in their line of site and radio transmission facilities. 

 

The guy calls me and tells me that one of the start batteries for the generator at the tower not far from where I am has exploded!! I asked if he was sure, and he said oh yes I'm certain. I called my boss to tell him that I was going to help them with the clean up and replacement of the batteries as they asked for assistance. 

 

Here's what I found upon arrival. Sorry for the bad pics. Lighting was poor. I neutralized the acid as best as I could and we have a hazmat team going over to clean it up properly. 

 

I have no idea why the battery exploded, and I'm glad they weren't standing near it when it did. I'm now going to be more aware of where I'm standing when I'm starting a generator. Be careful people!! 

 

Professor_Brap
Professor_Brap GRM+ Memberand Dork
5/2/19 9:59 a.m.

I have only seen one do that, it was due to a overcharge from what we could figure out. 

TJL
TJL Reader
5/2/19 10:08 a.m.

Yeah id guess overcharge. Check the other battery and see if it shows bad since they were in series. 24v system?

Toyman01
Toyman01 GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
5/2/19 10:09 a.m.

Low on water will do it every time. Build up a little hydrogen because of low water, hit the start button to throw a spark and BOOM. I've seen it happen several times in cars. 

Mazdax605
Mazdax605 UberDork
5/2/19 10:13 a.m.
TJL said:

Yeah id guess overcharge. Check the other battery and see if it shows bad since they were in series. 24v system?

I'd guess low on water too. We maintain the ones on our generators pretty well, and replace after 5 years. This was in another facility that the other department maintains. That writing on the battery is my co-workers handwriting from when we helped them out 7 years ago, and I'm sure nobody has done the proper maintenance on those batteries.

 

Yes 24V system.

KyAllroad (Jeremy)
KyAllroad (Jeremy) UltimaDork
5/2/19 10:14 a.m.
TJL said:

Yeah id guess overcharge. Check the other battery and see if it shows bad since they were in series. 24v system?

Even if it tests ok, I think I'd want the other battery to be replaced now no matter what.  Who knows if it was damaged in the boom.

Crackers
Crackers Dork
5/2/19 10:17 a.m.

I had this happen once while I was standing next to it. Turbo Dodge we had just put a new head on. Went to start it and *kapow* me, the car, a freshly media blasted 70 Chevelle and a customer's finished Model A touring with a soft top were all covered in battery acid. 

Spent the next several hours cleaning the Model A. In our haste to get the acid on the A neutralized the Chevelle was ignored and developed hundreds of tiny rust spots the next day. Oops...

Mazdax605
Mazdax605 UberDork
5/2/19 10:17 a.m.
KyAllroad (Jeremy) said:
TJL said:

Yeah id guess overcharge. Check the other battery and see if it shows bad since they were in series. 24v system?

Even if it tests ok, I think I'd want the other battery to be replaced now no matter what.  Who knows if it was damaged in the boom.

We replaced both batteries. we have a come as a pair, leave as a pair mentality. You think NAPA will take that as a core?

Mustang50
Mustang50 New Reader
5/2/19 11:25 a.m.

I do a lot of jump starts at my part time job in a parking garage, should I be concerned??

1988RedT2
1988RedT2 UltimaDork
5/2/19 11:30 a.m.
Mazdax605 said:
KyAllroad (Jeremy) said:
TJL said:

Yeah id guess overcharge. Check the other battery and see if it shows bad since they were in series. 24v system?

Even if it tests ok, I think I'd want the other battery to be replaced now no matter what.  Who knows if it was damaged in the boom.

We replaced both batteries. we have a come as a pair, leave as a pair mentality. You think NAPA will take that as a core?

Shoot, they might.  They want the lead, not the plastic.

Mazdax605
Mazdax605 UberDork
5/2/19 11:30 a.m.
Mustang50 said:

I do a lot of jump starts at my part time job in a parking garage, should I be concerned??

I would be aware of the dangers at the very least. I've been around batteries and generators like this for 22 years, and never seen this happen, but now that I have, I'm more aware of the dangers.

jimbbski
jimbbski Dork
5/2/19 11:45 a.m.

I had that happen to me once when charging a battery. It was out of the car on the floor but I did hurry to clean up the acid before it did any damage. Actually it did discolor some paint on my race car but it was under the hood, yeah the acid did fly that far. There's still some stains on the underside of a cabinet that is on the wall above where the battery was.  Can't imagine what would happen to someone if their face was above the battery?

codrus
codrus GRM+ Memberand UberDork
5/2/19 11:57 a.m.

Did it blow the cover off the battery box?  Or was there no battery box?  Having the bare terminals exposed like that where you could drop something metal on them doesn't give me a good feeling.

 

drsmooth
drsmooth HalfDork
5/2/19 12:00 p.m.

My brother had a battery blow up in a golf cart he was driving. It was under the seat. The seat lifted up enough for him to hit his head on the roof of the golf cart fortunately the seat shielded him from battery acid.

Vigo
Vigo UltimaDork
5/2/19 12:04 p.m.

They want the lead, not the plastic.

Car batteries are also one of the most highly recyclable pieces out there, as in they reuse basically the entire thing. I wouldn't take it in just in terms of the likelihood of issues caused by handling it. But if i was a cool dude i might give core credit and just refuse to take possession of the core...

 

As far as batteries exploding, you can say overcharging and low water as separate things but they usually aren't. The battery won't really 'use' an appreciable amount of water unless it IS being overcharged. But, overcharging is a funny word too because what's a normal charge voltage for a good battery is overcharging for a battery with a dead cell. 

The only battery explosion i've personally been near was inside a big jump start 'cart' and even though nothing made it out of the cart housing, it still sounded like a gun going off in the shop.

Mazdax605
Mazdax605 UberDork
5/2/19 2:22 p.m.
codrus said:

Did it blow the cover off the battery box?  Or was there no battery box?  Having the bare terminals exposed like that where you could drop something metal on them doesn't give me a good feeling.

 

No battery box or covers on this genset battery setup. I'd say 99 percent of the ones I work on have battery boxes, but this one doesn't Again it is a different type of site than I'm used to, and not one I've been to very often. I feel it should have a guard on it too, but not my call.

Gearheadotaku
Gearheadotaku GRM+ Memberand UltimaDork
5/2/19 7:09 p.m.

The thought of a chemical bomb going off in my face has always left me a bit skittish around batteries...

mad_machine
mad_machine GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
5/3/19 12:19 a.m.

I am surprised they were not boxed up just to keep what happened from happening. Hopefully they will consider it in the future

pinchvalve
pinchvalve MegaDork
5/3/19 7:48 a.m.

"Yesterday I was out on Martha's Vineyard Island which I travel to twice a month. Around noon or so I got a call from a guy in another department that we assist occasionally if they have issues with the generators in their line of site and radio transmission facilities."

There is nothing that is not cool in that paragraph.  

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