Wet cell (also called flooded lead-acid) batteries are the least expensive and potentially longest-lasting battery option available. They also require the most maintenance.

“It’s weekly checking of water levels,” says Pogue. “You have to train the end user on the right amount of water; too much is just as bad as not enough. You also need to use distilled water instead of tap water so you don’t have impurities.”

Manufacturer reps see a lot of dry batteries in the field. Unfortunately, some end users don’t realize they need to add water to flooded batteries. 

“That’s just a breakdown of communication and education,” says Delzeit. “The distributors are a lot closer to the end users so they can get out there and spread the news.”

End users may also avoid watering batteries because it is inconvenient. In some floor care machines, the water tank sits on top of (and limits access to) the battery. Also, larger machines often have multiple batteries; removing the caps from each to check water levels is time consuming.

Distributors can help end users simplify the watering process by selling single-point watering systems. They connect all the batteries to one watering line with one watering point, allowing the user to simultaneously bring up the water levels in all batteries in a few seconds.

Watering kits are about $10 per valve and generally come with a 5-year warranty. It’s a small investment to improve the maintenance and lifespan of a wet-cell battery.

It’s also important to routinely check the terminals of a wet-cell battery. When corrosion builds up, it can affect performance. If a terminal melts, the battery will fail.

“You need to make sure they’re kept clean and properly torqued,” says Delzeit. “Every battery has a torque specification, you don’t just tighten it until it’s tight. And a lot of people don’t realize that.”

There’s almost no chance of corrosion on a maintenance-free battery (gel, AGM or lithium), nonetheless it’s a good practice to occasionally check their terminals as well.

“Do a visual check every two or three months,” says Karlovic. “Make sure the batteries look normal and aren’t deformed or swollen where the material has moved, which indicates an issue with charging or the battery has internal damage.” 

Becky Mollenkamp is a freelancer based in St. Louis.

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Battery Charging Issues Aplenty