Rescuing And Restoring Almost Dead Lead-Acid Batteries

William Seavey
By William Seavey August 2, 2019 09:01

Rescuing And Restoring Almost Dead Lead-Acid Batteries

Most batteries in cars, trucks, motorcycles, and boats, as well as solar electric back-up systems, continue to be the lead-acid batteries. You all know them. They can last a very long time, if they are cared for properly. That means:

  •  They must be kept at full charge
  •  They must be watered regularly (if not the sealed type)
  • Their terminals/posts must be kept free of corrosion.

But I am sure almost all of us have mistreated them at one time or another.

From a prepper’s point of view, you need to know about batteries well enough to have them available and fully charged in an emergency. Batteries will keep your house lights on and even your refrigerator going, among other things.

Besides a basic lead-acid battery, you will also need an inverter that hooks up to the 12-volt battery or batteries directly and converts the DC power to 110 AC. Inverters are available in all sizes, from 200 to 5000-watt capacities. Harbor Freight is a good place to look for them locally at reasonable prices.

Just 400 watts will lift a garage door and power almost all electronics. Five thousand watts (if you have enough batteries) is probably enough to power your whole house via cheap extension cords and power strips (but not the ideal approach, which is quite a bit more costly).

Rescuing And Restoring Almost Dead Lead-Acid BatteriesMost of us really don’t understand the way batteries work and don’t want to.

I still get a little mixed up about volts versus amps. We just want them to work when we need them. And we throw them away (or recycle them), not knowing most can be recharged in some way.

I started experimenting with small-scale backup solar electric systems that use oversize lead-acid, wet-cell DEEP CYCLE (marine) batteries over 25 years ago. I wanted to have some power grid independence. (I first started with an RV setup that allowed for “boondocking”.) And, boy, did I screw up some batteries! Until recently, I just put them in a dead battery “graveyard”.

The usual reason for my screw-ups has been that charging was inadequate due to not enough amperage from my solar panels (resulting in too low voltage under the necessary 12-volt threshold for utility).

I had a small solar electric system for many years, which had two deep cycles being charged by one 100-watt PV panel. I had ignored it for some time as I’d developed a stronger system using one 180-watt panel and didn’t really need it. It languished in an outside cabinet. The batteries slowly lost their charge and started to sulfate. At that point, I considered the graveyard as they registered only 10 volts. And a couple cells looked dead.

Related: How to Build Your Own Solar Panels

Rescuing And Restoring Almost Dead Lead-Acid BatteriesThese ten-year-old batteries from Costco looked like new from the outside (as they were kept clean).

Normally Costco would take back any battery whether new or old, and give you a refund—except that in my case, Costco no longer carried their Kirkland brand and had replaced it with Interstate (but the same size batteries).

Somewhere I had read or heard that you could actually restore deeply discharged, sulfated, and almost dead lead-acid batteries.

Since these new batteries were selling for almost $100 apiece now, I figured the two deep cycles I had could be part of a smaller backup system that I planned to use when PG&E might shut off our power for up to five days in California if we were threatened with a wildfire. Yes, you read that right.

In anticipation of that, I had not only backup solar electric (using deep-cycle batteries) but various portable power sources (with small plug-in inverters), and in a worst-case scenario, I had a 100-foot extension cord I could run across the street to an AC outlet off my neighbor’s natural gas-powered Generac generator! Nice to have neighbors like that!

Related: Are you a Community Member or a Lone Wolf Survivalist?

I got my initial encouragement that I could restore my two lead-acid batteries from a couple of YouTube videos. They suggested that what you needed to do was drain the batteries of their electrolyte—the battery acid that goes bad over time, starts eating away at the internal plates, and needs to be replaced, assuming the issue is that there hasn’t been enough charging, which it almost always is.

The videos clearly showed what you needed to do, and the answer was cleaning out the built-up metallic oxides that had liquefied and replacing the contaminated electrolyte with a solution of Epsom salts and distilled water. No promises were made on how long these supposedly restored batteries could last, but one video guy said maybe two to four years.

While this is an “it depends” solution, I thought it was worth giving it a try if you are handy, have time on your hands, and like a challenge. It certainly is cheap since Epsom salts, the baking soda, and the water you need to use to clean out the batteries cost only pennies. And elbow grease of course. I don’t have all that much time (we run a home-based B&B), but I’m handy and up for a challenge.Rescuing And Restoring Almost Dead Lead-Acid BatteriesWhen I say that restoring dead batteries the YouTube way is dangerous, it is only if you don’t pay attention to the suggested procedures. You need to wear waterproof gloves, in case your hands come into contact with battery acid, and a pair of goggles in case the battery “erupts.”

You might also be concerned about getting shocked working around electricity, but believe it or not, it’s never happened to me. You can touch a battery’s terminal with a bare finger (or, for that matter, one wire, whether negative or positive) as long as you don’t touch both at the same time and stand barefoot in a puddle of water. But be cautious when taking a battery out of a vehicle since there are metal parts nearby. Just disassemble the terminals one at a time and keep your tools in a safe place, away from any hot wires.

Fear of being shocked must keep many away from batteries and maintaining them properly. It’s really sad and ultimately expensive.

Now, onto the procedure:

#1. What you first want to do is drain the batteries of the existing electrolyte. This was the really hard part as the deep cycles I have are rather heavy, and you need to turn them upside down and place them over a bucket.

#2. Then you need to pour a solution consisting of 10 ounces of baking soda diluted in a gallon of regular water into the battery orifices, one at a time, with a funnel. That’s when you will get an “eruption,” although I don’t think it’s very dangerous since most of the acid is gone by now.

#3. When you pour the baking soda solution out, you will see how black the water has become, which is the bad oxides that have built up within the case and on the plates. I did this three times with each battery, and black continued to foul the water. Obviously, there was a lot of bad electrolyte there.

#4. On YouTube, one guy at that point rinsed the inside of the batteries with a hose nozzle with its jet setting. I just poured regular water into the holes to give the plates a final “rinse” then turned the batteries upside down again.

#5. Then I started adding a warmed up solution of Epsom salts (12 ounces to one gallon of distilled water) into the holes until the plates were covered in each battery. (No more eruptions, FYI!)

#6. I then put the caps back on securely.

I put my automatic battery charger connections on one battery and plugged it in. On the 2 amps setting, I immediately got a “fault” reading and knew no electricity was going into the battery but wasn’t sure why. So I looked it up on Google and learned that unless a battery is at or near 12 volts, automatic chargers won’t work; you need to use a manual charger or at least a trickle charger.

Rescuing And Restoring Almost Dead Lead-Acid BatteriesWell, I didn’t have either, but I did have two cheap float chargers and the charging power of the 100-watt panel that was still active on the roof (the one that couldn’t keep the two batteries charged over time). I connected the float charger and solar charger with its charge controller to one battery.

Two days later, the battery reached 12 volts, and the automatic charger no longer went into fault mode when I attached it. SUCCESS! Now I just needed to get the battery up a little higher, say 13–14 volts, which I knew would be more than enough to keep it fully charged even without constant attention.

The other battery, on my other float charger, at that point had only reached into the 11-volt range, but it didn’t have both a float charger and solar charger on it.

FYI, neither of the batteries ever went below 10 volts after being drained, doused, and refilled; I wasn’t expecting that. I just assumed they would “die” without fluids. They didn’t. So while one might have considered them “dead,” they were far from that.

Rescuing And Restoring Almost Dead Lead-Acid BatteriesAnother day later both batteries were well above 12 volts, and after attaching my 400-watt inverter, which also has a fault mode that screams when there isn’t enough voltage, it was generating AC power again! Frankly, I was amazed.

I don’t know how long at this point the batteries will stay chargeable since they obviously have both experienced damage to their plates. After all, they were ten years old! If they don’t stay chargeable, I probably wouldn’t repeat the experiment. But for now, they are backup batteries for an outage, and I will keep them both on a float charger in readiness. The float chargers take very little electricity. I remain mystified that common Epsom salts can substitute original battery acid—and for pennies.

I had fun with this project (except for the lifting of the batteries) and already had all the equipment on hand to make it doable. Float chargers (Centech) are only about $10 at Harbor Freight. Next I will look into lithium ion batteries, which I know will be more expensive but probably even more durable. They are in my hybrid EV, a Toyota Prius Prime, and can be recharged thousands of times.

For more information on how to restore batteries, you can check out this video.

William Seavey wrote two more articles for our website. Some of his books on DIY projects can be found at williamseavey.com. To see what he has developed as a solar backup power strategy, see powerfromsun.com.

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William Seavey
By William Seavey August 2, 2019 09:01
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53 Comments

  1. Bronco August 2, 13:38

    Most informative & straight forward. I will be trying this in the future!

    Reply to this comment
  2. Spike August 2, 14:05

    I know enough about batteries to say that just because they show 12+ volts doesn’t mean there is any amp hours of reserve capacity. Totally different things. I’m anxious to hear comments from knowledgeable people on this. I think electrolytes are more than Epsom salts and water or they wouldn’t be called “battery acid”. Epsom salts are neutral ph

    Reply to this comment
    • Dr Don August 2, 20:04

      I agree. Just Epson salts mixture does not seem good for a good WH capacity. You mentioned “drined and refilled” in the article. Did you mean drained of the Epson salts , flushed with water and then filled with new battery acid?

      Reply to this comment
    • left coast chuck August 2, 20:11

      Spike: You are quite correct that battery fluid is acid. The first paragraph is from a Google search for battery acid.
      the second paragraph is from Wikipedia on the same topic.

      “Conventional batteries contain a liquid “electrolyte” which is a mixture of sulfuric acid and water. The plates in a lead battery contain an active material that should be continuously bathed in electrolytes while oxygen and hydrogen gas are released during charging.Jul 14, 2017”

      “The electrical energy produced by a discharging lead–acid battery can be attributed to the energy released when the strong chemical bonds of water (H2O) molecules are formed from H+ ions of the acid and O2− ions of PbO2.[9] Conversely, during charging the battery acts as a water-splitting device, and in the charged state the chemical energy of the battery is stored in the potential difference between the pure lead at the negative side and the PbO2 on the positive side, plus the Sulphuric Acid in aqueous condition.”

      The chemical formula for sulphuric acid is H2SO4 also known as hydrogen sulfate. From my chemistry class more than half a century ago, sulphuric acid is a highly corrosive agent which can cause severe skin burns and destruction of skin.

      The chemical formula for Epsom salt is MgSO4·7H2O. It is a hydrous form of magnesium sulphate which is MGSO4. Now whether the H2 portion of sulphuric acid can be replaced by pure magnesium to activate a lead-acid battery is beyond my knowledge of chemistry but if it were possible, I believe manufacturers would be doing so because it would lessen the danger of handling sulphuric acid.

      Reply to this comment
      • Pops August 2, 22:31

        As for touching both terminals if wet both my thumb and pinky on one hand and touched them at the same time and nothing happened

        Reply to this comment
    • Screech August 4, 16:25

      When the fluids react with the plates, this is when it becomes an acid. Chemical Reaction.

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      • Lee the Geek August 7, 23:43

        @Screech, you are incorrect. New lead-acid batteries come with the acid as a separate package.

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        • Dr Don August 8, 14:45

          no, many batteries come pre-charged and with acid mix installed and sealed.

          I looked at several at Walmart today.Dr Don

          Reply to this comment
          • left coast chuck August 10, 02:30

            You are both correct. Some automotive batteries come dry and the acid is added before the battery is installed in your vehicle. Other batteries come ready to go as it were right into vehicle without the necessity of adding acid. Don’t know what makes the difference. Perhaps it is just manufacturer preference.

            Reply to this comment
    • Lee the Geek August 4, 17:46

      If you put Epsom Salts in your battery, you will compromise it. Battery acid is ACID, not SALT!

      Reply to this comment
  3. AVGDUMMY August 2, 14:40

    best way to wire a battery bank? parrallele or in series?

    Reply to this comment
    • john August 2, 16:12

      Do you want to double the voltage? That is 6 V = 12 V——12 V = 24 V use series. Want more power? use parallel, Voltage stays the same but there is more power available.

      Reply to this comment
    • Screech August 4, 16:31

      How many volts are you looking to get? If you do parallel you keep 12 volts no matter how many batteries (amp hours will add up, 2 50amp_hour batteries will be 100 amp-hours total) series will multiply volts (12, 24, 36 etc.) This is the short version.

      Reply to this comment
  4. Todd Clark August 2, 14:40

    What did you do with the old electrolyte that came out of the batteries?

    Reply to this comment
    • mjt11860 August 2, 15:38

      i would like to know that too. did he answer u?

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      • Bill August 2, 19:29

        I probably should have recycled it some way but just poured it on dirt in an area that where nothing was growing on my “back 40.” Didn’t want to mess with it any further…

        Reply to this comment
  5. John August 2, 15:18

    great information. I’m going to try this

    Reply to this comment
  6. Jan August 2, 15:35

    Thanks for the excellent article!

    Does anybody know if there is a way to purchase ready-made battery acid instead of mixing your own? Also, when rinsing and for the refill, does it matter what type of water (tap, bottled, distilled) is being used?

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    • FVP August 3, 01:55

      Goldsmith / Master Jeweler here: look up jewelers supplies. RioGrande.com they sell sulfuric acid in liquid or in powdered flake form. they may not mail the liquid type. I’ve been wanting to try this as a project. by the way I don’t use gloves when putting my hands inside the jar with sulfuric acid. yes i dilute it. when diluting it reacts with water and becomes very hot. I wait till cooled. plus also used sulfuric acid to stop bleeding on hands, burn like you wouldn’t believe.

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      • Allen August 11, 03:30

        So does ultrasonic cleaner!
        Yes, I’m a Goldsmith too, 44 years!
        I just wanted to give you a tip. I used to be an avid bowler and if you get a blister or cut there is a product to shield your fingers from further damage from the bowling ball. It works well in the workshop too.
        It’s called Bobby’s sure release skin protector. It has gauze as well as a liquid to cover any small cut. It is a lifesaver and way better than just super glue!

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        • FVP August 11, 14:55

          Tips Hat Off to fellow Goldsmith. I would use ultrasonic cleaner for muscle cramp relief especially from hand engraving and pave’ setting with white gold the ‘ol way not how it’s done today with gravermiester.

          Survivormann99 can chime in with The Gettysburg Address or my personal favorite:
          Miss Crabtree: (shocked) I’m going to be punishing the next child severely who gives me a foolish answer! (looks around) Farina, what was Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address?
          Farina: Sixteen Forty-Four South Main Street!
          HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA
          still gets me everytime

          Reply to this comment
    • Fred Brown August 3, 03:46

      Yes! Your local automotive store or Tractor Supply Co. will have battery electrolyte in packages for batteries that need refilling such as garden tractors and large mowers.

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      • Bill August 3, 19:19

        If original battery acid is available, especially in dry form, and it’s not expensive, then I certainly don’t see why it shouldn’t be used instead of epsom salts (but more carefully!) to better restore old batteries once the other procedures have been followed. Theres a lot of great information from my fellow preppers here. (Author).

        Reply to this comment
  7. insanecandycane August 2, 15:44

    i worked for a guy in Iowa that used electric forklifts for lifts in his golf car/ small engine business. he had me solder a set of 4 diodes (to make a bridge rectifyer) onto a 2 micrafarad capacitor and an electric cord to plug it into ac electricity along with 2 wires with battery clamps on one end and placed the capacitor in a large plastic glass with spray foam.
    this we plugged into 120 volt ac wall outlet and it put out 120 volts DC but pulsed 60 cycles per minute. when hooked to definately bad golf car batteries or any other lead acid battery it would bring them back to life. i made one for myself and placed it in a small plastic tool box.i used it to bring back dead car batteries etc…
    he bought the forklifts with no batteries and kept the forklifts stationary. he did have to have cores to turn it when getting new batteries for customers golf cars/ lawn mowers so we tested batteries often and sent the ones with least amount of charge as cores. always keeping the strongest ones for his use. you need to use an battery load tester (the kind with a wire that heats up when drawing a load) mine is from harbor freight.
    i also used anderson connectors like on a snow plow to hook to my 36 volt golf car so i can convert it into either 12 volt or 36 volt at will by plugging in or dis connecting the connectors.so i can charge the batteries with my 12 volt solar panels.

    Reply to this comment
  8. Survivormann99 August 2, 17:52

    I am no expert here, but I have to think that the cost of using actual battery acid in the effort to revive the batteries would be small. Using Epsom salts seems to be pennywise and pound foolish approach.

    In order to make the effort as effective as possible and to provide the most useful information to readers, why not simply use battery acid? I have to think that if Epsom salts were the best choice, battery manufacturers would use Epsom salts.

    And why not wait until the test results were obtained in order to avoid wasting readers’ time?

    I have six Trojan batteries that are simply sitting there and doing me no good. I will be delighted to hear that these batteries can be returned to useful, even if not perfect, service, but I prefer not to waste two or three hours going through this process only to find that it is a bust.

    Reply to this comment
    • FVP August 6, 17:07

      Author: Survivormann99
      Comment:
      I won’t be clicking on “Notify me of followup comments” in the future.

      How did the comments on the subject matter of batteries deteriorate into a discussion of classic cars?

      What’s next? Posting comments about Lee’s decisions on the 2nd day of the Battle of Gettysburg?

      LMAO: I’m to blame, I made comment of my battery preference. I don’t like maintenance free batteries on my cars. I like to add the distilled water. I buy refurbished 12 month batteries and have lasted me 5 years. and I mentioned my Slant Six. I’m the 2nd owner, use to tune it up for the Original owner six I like to wrench on cars. when he passed away he Will it to me. My first car was a Convertible ’66 Vette then had a couple Pony’s ’65. ’78 Trans Am, Lexus GS 300 Fabulous Car… but now proud owner of this ‘Ol Gal. Aww when I adjusted the valves with engine running (best way and only way to adjust) no squirting oil as other engines.

      Now someone can chime in with Gettysburg Address…
      LOL that comment gets a “i Like, OLE!

      Reply to this comment
  9. Sierra August 2, 19:52

    You should probably have more than rubber gloves and goggles for safety equipment. A rubber apron or possibly rain gear and face shield I would suggest, also the fumes from the acid could be dangerous, you might like to have a respirator as well with charcoal or cartridges rated for acid?

    Reply to this comment
  10. left coast chuck August 3, 00:41

    Wow!!! I’m not a chemist and don’t portray one in any media, but even as slow witted as I am, I can see some significant safety problems with this experiment.

    First off, even though it has been more than 60 years since my chemistry class, one ALWAYS pours the caustic solution into the water solution, NEVER the other way round. Of course he got an eruption. He’s extremely lucky the acid didn’t splash on him or he would be writing the article from the emergency ward of his local hospital.

    Even in its dilute state in a fully discharged lead-acid battery, sulfuric acid is HIGHLY — I emphasize again — HIGHLY caustic. It will give you a burn as bad white phosphorus. Any military vet who had even a modicum of infantry training will tell you white phosphorous is some of the nastiest stuff on earth. Well, sulfuric acid ranks right up there with W.P.

    You don’t want to be wearing just some rubber gloves and “some” goggles. You want heavy duty rubber gloves with long sleeves. You want your skin covered. As someone else suggests, you want a rubber apron covering your front. You want a full shield over your face — that is, unless you want some really interesting scars to attract/repel the ladies.

    Considering the age of my chemistry background, I wonder how “rejuvenated” the batteries really are. To my way-out- date technology, it would seem that the epsom salt has removed the lead oxide which is what causes the battery to not react with the sulfuric acid. I suspect the charge that he shows in the batteries is what is remains of the weak reaction to the water and whatever sulfuric acid didn’t wash out of the battery case and the rejuvenated lead plates. However, if that is the million dollar question, don’t call me, call somebody else.

    Now as far as getting rid of the dilute or diminished sulfuric acid. I am sure all of the readers of this list have heard of that infamous federal bureaucracy called the Environmental Protection Agency. Some of you, I am sure, have widely varying opinions about that agency. Whatever your opinion, let me assure you if you dump that mixture on the ground you are in violation of several EPA rules which will subject you to bureaucratic opprobrium. In fact, if you pour it down the toilet or the drain in the sink you will also incur said opprobrium. (Read: Go to Jail. Do not collect $200).

    Disposing of such material falls under the heading of disposal of hazardous waste and it must be disposed of in accordance with numerous tedious regulations.

    Of course, one is always free to disregard such burdensome bureaucratic drivel, but one does so at peril to one’s fortune and liberty.

    My suggestions: Put a trickle charger on the battery for some period of time. If after a week or so the battery still continues to show no charge, trade it in.

    If it does gain some charge, be advised that a fully discharged lead-acid battery never, repeat, never; repeat, never; repeat, never regains anything like its full strength. It will always show a barely viable battery upon testing.

    The foregoing advice is not based on any advanced degree in inorganic chemistry or physics or electrical engineering, but based on owning a car for almost 70 years and during the early years, batteries which were 6 volt at that time were notorious for dying at the most inopportune time and were never guaranteed for more than a year and ALWAYS were dead on a very cold winter morning necessitating rolling downhill and jumping the car in second gear to get it started. When I first started driving cars didn’t last as long as batteries last today.

    Final word of advice: If you have lots of time and need something to occupy your time, go for it, keeping in mind the several precautions I have mentioned. OTOH, if you are running a little behind schedule as many of us are, forgeddaboutit. Significant waste of time, effort and creation of obnoxious, difficult to dispose of toxic waste.

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    • Bill August 3, 19:35

      Remember, readers, that the eruption Chuck fears occurs while going through the cleaning process with baking soda, and no or little sulfuric acid is involved since the battery is emptied at that point. The eruption is mild but startling except that I knew it was coming from the You Tube videos. I doubt it is dangerous and we are talking only an inch or so high out of the orifices of the battery. Frankly, I thought it was fascinating, indicating there was still life in the battery. (If there wasn’t, I presume I should have quit right there as it would be a waste of time). I’m no battery expert but for anything you’d like to know go to batteryuniversity.com. I found the “it depends” recommendation about recycling with epsom salts there. (Author)

      Reply to this comment
      • left coast chuck August 5, 04:25

        This is as a result of a Yahoo search on the reaction of adding water to sulfuric acid:

        “When you mix concentrated sulfuric acid and water, you pour the acid into a larger volume of water. … Sulfuric acid (H2SO4) reacts very vigorously with water, in a highly exothermic reaction. If you add water to concentrated sulfuric acid, it can boil and spit and you may get a nasty acid burn.”

        Well, the ancient memory banks still are holding the data. It was my recollection that adding sulfuric acid to water caused a heat reaction that made the water boil.

        While the author thinks that the sulfuric acid had been drained from the battery, I would suggest that it is quite difficult to get all the sulfuric acid out of a battery due to the construction of the battery with its numerous plates and plate holders. What the author saw foaming out of the battery cap holes was a mixture of water and sulfuric acid reacting. Fortunately for him, the sulfuric acid was dilute enough that the reaction was limited to merely foaming and spilling over the battery top. Had the sulfuric acid been stronger and had he been looking down at the battery, his face would have been bathed in sulfuric acid and even weak sulfuric acid is nothing to play around with. It’s like flesh eating bacteria on steroids.

        My chemistry master would be pleased to know that even after all these years I retained at least one fact from the class even though I am quite positive that I finished the semester just a few days ahead of him suggesting that perhaps I would be better suited taking some other course.

        Reply to this comment
        • FVP August 6, 00:48

          HAHAHAHAHA
          “the ancient memory banks still are holding the data”

          And you gave your chemistry master his credit due.
          I can respect that!

          Reply to this comment
      • Lee the Geek August 7, 23:41

        Unless you thoroughly rinsed out the battery, there will still be acid inside, DUH!
        I personally see no reason to rinse out a battery to begin with…

        Reply to this comment
  11. Lee the Geek August 3, 02:08

    No, the acid cannot go bad. You can reuse the old acid. Just let the lead settle out and filter it. Yes, it eats the plates. Any acid (including water) will eat any lead plate.
    The greatest damage to lead-acid car batteries comes from leaving them uncharged or at least undercharged even for a few hours!
    The second greatest enemy of lead-acid batteries is temperature extremes.
    Voltage is a potential also called Electromotive Force (EMF). It can be likened to a pressurized full garden hose – until part of the water inside is moved, that potential just sits there.
    Current is like that water flowing when the nozzle is opened. The wider you open the nozzle, the more current.
    Your car battery has a voltage potential of nominal 12.5 volts. The starter motor represents a resistive load to the battery, so current flows through the wires when the switch is in the start position. Voltage (potential) * Current (flow) = Power usually measured in watts, joules, or coulombs.

    Reply to this comment
    • FVP August 3, 02:45

      Lee the Geek,

      I must disagree. it does go bad, I should now. impurities makes it go bad in jewelry repair. In batteries, I can’t make same comment, will have to look into it since I happen to be a Photovoltaic Technician.

      I am a “NABCEP Certified PV Installation Professional” who specializes in off-grid, custom controls/electronics, and highly custom jobs. Of course I also do the regular grid tie solar. I got all of my training at ELASC in Lincoln Heights Ca. and then by experience.

      I am also highly into all kinds of DIY. I find that almost all forms of construction rely primarily on common sense and with a little experience you can do most of your own work… but… no, I don’t do sheet rock or concrete. Certain things are best to have done by someone else.

      You sure know your Ohms Law. My Hat off to You.
      i Like, OLE!

      Reply to this comment
      • Lee the Geek August 3, 13:01

        Sorry, but I must respectfully disagree. If you get contaminants in the acid, it is now contaminated and therefore not pure Sulfuric Acid, but that doesn’t reduce the quality of the acid unless there is a chemical reaction – it merely pollutes it.

        Reply to this comment
        • FVP August 3, 16:16

          Let’s agree to disagree.

          All batteries will develop Sulfation over time regardless if fully charged. I’ve had brand new bottles of sulfuric acid turn brown when I finally opened. Oxygen also contaminates it. I still was able to use it.

          Anyways the topic was restoring almost dead batteries. I have a couple around and I’m going to try this method.

          Before I forget, someone asked where to buy sulfuric acid, I mentioned where, but Never Add Sulfuric Acid to a battery. I looked up in my school notes During normal operation batteries will only consume water – and not sulfuric acid. When your battery’s electrolyte is low, filling the battery with distilled water will keep the battery in good condition.

          I prefer non-sealed batteries in my ’68 Slant Six Dart.

          You sure know your stuff Lee and hope this helps others.

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          • Ivy Mike August 5, 00:38

            I had a slant 6 in my 65 Valiant, don’t get rid of yours! Ultimate Gramdma car, now very cool.

            Reply to this comment
            • FVP August 5, 03:50

              Ivy Mike
              Thanx, everyone wants to buy it, my 12 year old daughter will beat me up if I do LOL Like the Beach Boys song Little “Ol Lady From Pasadena she drove the “68 2 door with a Hemi. mines a 4 door. I read that somewhere. This gal’s taken a beating but keeps on running strong. I’m very happy with it.

              Reply to this comment
            • left coast chuck August 5, 04:40

              My wife almost divorced me when I sold our ’62 Valiant two door hardtop. She loved the push button drive. It was the first newish car I bought It only had about 1000 miles on it. It was the car she learned to drive in and was her car that she ferried the kids around to all their activities. They hated it. It had “wings” They almost didn’t want to be seen in it. We had it 20 years when I sold it. We saw it around town and she wanted to punch the kid out who bought it because he wasn’t keeping it clean like she used to. I’m sorry I sold it but it was getting hard to get parts for.

              A traffic safety engineer told me that that particular model Valiant was a superbly safe automobile for its time. The engine horsepower to weight ration was ideal and Plymouth had brake assemblies left over from a larger car that had been discontinued, so they put that brake assembly for a larger car on the Valiant, giving it more braking power than other similar sized cars.

              Although SoCal is reputed to be the land of really old cars by the automotive industry, I haven’t seen a 60s Valiant or 60s Dodge Dart in years. Even in the 60s Plymouth and Dodge were struggling.

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              • Lee the Geek August 6, 00:17

                Do you guys realize that the Chrysler Corp vehicles of the 60s and at least into the 70s had torsion bar suspensions in the front. Best damned suspension system ever engineered into anything from Detroit.
                And those /6s were phenomenal. I had a 64 Dart with a 170 and even when the bearings were so bad that it couldn’t maintain any semblance of oil pressure at idle, I still burned rubber with it.
                Contrast that with the craptastic Detroit excuses for suspension in the 90s and those 4-bangers in the K-cars. The K-car made me swear I’d never buy another Chrysler product. Still true!

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              • FVP August 6, 00:52

                There’s some driving in Bellfower Ca. plus Classic Industries in Huntington Beach has original parts. LOL your wife wanting to punch the poor kid

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  12. TWP August 3, 03:04

    Caution on disposing of the liquid drained from old Lead Acid batteries. Not only is it Sulfuric Acid but it contains Lead Sulfate which can contaminate your soil, your septic system and YOU and your livestock and pets.

    DO NOT DUMP THIS LIQUID! Take it to a commercial disposal site or recycling business.

    Before you drain the liquid from old batteries, check the liquid level and add DISTILLED WATER to bring the level up to cover the cell plates. Then connect a recharger and give the battery a full recharge BEFORE YOU DUMP THE OLD ELECTROLYTE LIQUID! Use a voltmeter to determine when the cell has reached full charge.

    This will push as much lead back on to the plates as possible. It will not completely remove the lead from the liquid, not will it completely rebuild the lead metal plates, but it will help to start this process with the cells in as good condition as possible.

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    • FVP August 3, 16:18

      Great Comment!

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    • Bill August 3, 19:51

      This sounds like a good idea, I had no idea that adding distilled water to top off the almost dead batteries and then giving them a full charge would return lead to the plates. Just remember, only a manual charger will work on batteries that can no longer reach 12 volts, the automatic ones won’t do the job, thus I didn’t charge until after the process and the auto charger then worked once I got up to 12 volts with trickle charging.

      The batteries I have simply stand in readiness for an outage, and I will add distilled water as needed. I don’t know if I need to add a solution of more epsom salts in the proper ratio, what do you think? (Author).

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  13. Ridgerunner August 3, 19:29

    We used tp fifty years ago revive our batteries by hooking them up to an arc welder and giving the positive a little tap while behind protection in case the battery blew up. I have not had this happen. I now use an electric battery reconditioner. Some of my batteries are 20 + years old.

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  14. Nemo August 4, 18:43

    William;
    I know from where your battery charge meter came from (a battery tester for automotive batteries and such) and I was wondering if you got just the meter from somewhere off the net, or was it cannibalized from the above mentioned test meter? I would like to use one as you did for my batteries. Thanks!……………nemo

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  15. Survivormann99 August 6, 15:58

    I won’t be clicking on “Notify me of followup comments” in the future.

    How did the comments on the subject matter of batteries deteriorate into a discussion of classic cars?

    What’s next? Posting comments about Lee’s decisions on the 2nd day of the Battle of Gettysburg?

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  16. Survivormann99 August 7, 15:47

    I have discussed this article with someone with decades of experience with batteries while working for AT&T. He believes that the article poses considerable risk to anyone who tries what is proposed here, and that someone is going to get hurt.

    Beyond that, getting a battery back to a 12 volt reading is one thing. Getting it to a point where it can provide serious use, is another.

    This takes me back to my original point. Why didn’t the author wait until he had tested the batteries under a heavy load before putting this idea out there for readers??? Why waste readers’ time if it was a dud???

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    • FVP August 9, 02:35

      You have a valid point. One of the main reasons I took Photovoltaic Course was because of the battery back up system. I was hoping they’d teach how to recondition batteries.I will try this method to see if it works. Besides the people who do this are tight lipped.

      Reply to this comment
      • left coast chuck August 19, 00:58

        Perhaps that is because their lips are scarred from being burned by sulfuric acid boiling up out of the battery. Scar tissue does have a propensity to limit skin elasticity. Despite the author’s assertions that I am overly cautious, I most heartily recommend extreme caution when dealing with sulfuric acid. Like white phosphorus, it will continue to eat away at your flesh until it has no more flesh and bone to destroy or until it has been so diluted that it no longer has the sufficient strength to react to the water in your flesh. Adding water to it will only exacerbate the exothermic process until you have sufficiently diluted the sulfuric acid to where it no longer has sufficient acidity to react which is a very weak solution. By that time you will have sustained a really significant injury.

        As for me, if I can’t restore a battery with my battery charger to the point where it shows adequate amperage and voltage when tested, then I will replace the battery. I don’t like wandering the mall parking lot trying to importune various motorists for a jump start and after three emergency calls for jump starts from the auto club they start sending letters demanding battery replacement the next time you call them..

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