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(ET) How NOT to check your batteries...

...an idiot's guide to maintaining your batteries and checking their water 

I went outside to my garage for a completely unrelated task, and I noticed 
distinct aroma in the air, the smell of ozone (I wrote about this days 
the smell of my ET's charger going.  That's strange, I thought.  The 
was running last week too, and while my ET is in storage, the Landis 
usually only trips the charger once every other month or so, and I check 
water levels once a month like clockwork.  So, I put down what I was 
doing, and 
I checked my batteries immediately.

To my amazement, I heard loud boiling coming from all 6 of the batteries.  
immediately unplugged the charger, tripped the cutoff switch, and began 
checking the battery water levels.  I unscrewed the middle cap of each of 
batteries, and all but one of them had a water level below the plates.  
Wow, I 
thought, what the hell happened?!  It was then I realized what a stupid 
I had made.  Just 2 weeks previous, when I checked the water level, I did 
exact same thing, removed only the *middle* caps on each of the batteries. 
Using a high powered flashlight this time, I saw what I hadn't realized 
the middle cell of the battery does not join the other 2 cells; they're 
off from each other.

All of this time I thought the cells were open to each other, and if I 
opened one cap to check the water level, then I'd checked it for the whole 
battery.  WRONG!!!  I immediately removed every cap from every battery, 
and I 
discovered that the cells all had different water levels.  Not to mention 
fact that by now, with every battery having low water in at least 1 cell, 
voltage had severely dropped, and keeping my ET plugged in with the 
Landis Controller, unsupervised, the charger had been constantly cycling 
on & 
off over the course of countless days, boiling away my batteries.

I quickly poured distilled water into every cell, raising the water level 
significantly above the cell plates, but not too much.  I restored the 
switch, plugged the charger back in, flipped my manual switch to go back 
to the 
stock timer, and set the charger in the "5-6 year" range for battery age.  
After that was over the next day, I again cutoff power, and checked both 
voltage of every battery and the water levels.   Phew!  The water levels 
good, and the voltage is from 6.5 to 6.6 volts per battery.  Now, after 2 
of rest from charging, the charger still hasn't tripped again.  But, I'm 
my batteries are damaged.  I saw "things" floating in the water.  Is that 
legendary sulfation I've heard so much about?

I don't know why I thought that adjoining cells were open to each other 
would have the same water levels.  It must've been a case of assumption 
compounded by ignorance.  When I bought my batteries, they didn't come 
with an 
instruction manual, or even a tip sheet.  They were just 6 naked batteries 
carried out to the trunk of my car when I bought them, no box, no package, 
paper, or anything.

Sheepishly yours,
Jeremy Gagliardi
Potomac, Md