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Old 02-04-2019, 07:24 AM   #1
Winnebago Camper
Join Date: Jun 2018
Posts: 27
Question did I fry something?

Before I take my 2017 Fuse 23A into a RV service center, I thought I'd ask here for advice with a coach battery issue. I contacted Winnebago previously and believed my problem was a "fluke" one time thing but now I'm not so sure!

I keep my rig stored inside and plugged into 30 amp with the battery switch on. I monitor things in the barn every couple of days to be sure I haven't lost power (we've had some winter weather!) and always check the control panel to be sure the coach and chassis batteries are maintaining a good charge. Coach batteries usually register about 12.6V when stored and plugged in.

A month or so ago I unplugged it and pulled my rig outside on a nice sunny day to do a routine run on the generator and to check the water level in the coach batteries. In the coach battery compartment I saw what looked like water stains...and some corrosion stuff around the top of the batteries and dribbled down to the bottom of the shelf. I cleaned that up with distilled water and scrubbed at the corroded stuff. The water level was low so I added distilled water and tested the water with, I think it's a hydrometer, to see what the electolytes were and that read OK. After 15 minutes or so I was inside and I saw a reading of about 14.8V for the coach batteries! That seemed way high so I shut the generator down (thinking maybe I was double charging something with the sun on rooftop solar panel AND the gen. running??? even though that didn't make sense).

I called Winnebago and described all this and they were like "oh" and offered no help or information.

I put my rig back in storage, plugged her in and turned the battery disconnect switch to off (which I never do while in storage).

Yesterday I unplugged and pulled out into the sunshine so I had room inside to move some other equipment around. Again the coach battery monitor read way high, like 14.8! I checked the battery compartment and there was no new corrosion or anything that looked different from when I last cleaned it up and added water.

I'm still sort of a newbie with this my first motor home that I've had for 2 years now. What in your esteemed opinions do you think is going on here?

Thanks in advance for your insights before I make a service appointment!

2017 Fuse 23A
High Feather Ranch, NM
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Old 02-04-2019, 07:30 AM   #2
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Download the electrical drawing for your year and model from here, find out which converter/charger you have and have it tested or replaced;

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Old 02-04-2019, 07:59 AM   #3
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14-15 volt charge is not abnormal, it will taper off as the batteries become fully charged and then remain at the float voltage of the charger.
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Old 02-04-2019, 12:41 PM   #4
Join Date: Jun 2015
Location: The hilly part of Texas
Posts: 334
Marianna, 14+V is not unusual for initial charging of a battery bank.

Just a Crow's opine...... I've probably ruined more batteries by continual charging (even with a modern, electronic, multi stage charger that 'conditions' the batteries than I have by letting them rest and charging them periodically. A big fat clue that you are over charging the batteries is that you needed to add water to them and there was moisture around them when you checked. Plug in and forget is not, in my opine, a great idea except for batteries used in uninterruptible power or emergency applications. The downside is that you end up replacing burned out batteries a bit quicker than if they are periodically cycled.

The batteries in our View will go 6 - 8 weeks (but I usually do 5-6 weeks) without charging. They are called 'STORAGE' batteries for a reason. The State of Charge (SoC) when I begin to charge them is about 85 - 90%,

Almost always.... you need to have the "Master Electrical System" ON when plugged into shore power. Your RV may be different but all of mine required the MES to be ON if you are charging on shore power or the generator.

Yes. Do check the build sheet to determine what converter/charger you have. For quite a few years Views/Itascas use a Progressive Dynamics PD-9245 converter charger. It's a pretty good one with multi-stage charging and a maintaining cycle. Good stuff. OTH, a careful read of the operations manual for the PD-9245 shows that it will 'maintain' the batteries every 21 hours (after they reach full charge) on shore or genny power. That means that once a day your batteries are being 'maintained' . Again, just a Crows opine..... modern batteries are NOT your GrandPaps or your Daddy's battery that powered up his 54 DeSoto or tached up the old Buick Deuce and a Quarter. Modern batteries are built on a razor thin scale balancing materials and power production and longevity. Maybe the old Prestone or Delco of days gone by could handle a 21 hours cycle repeatedly but the new ones probably don't and won't. So, be gentle when charging these puppies.

Like very living thing... they need to 'rest'.

For your information (in case you can't sleep at night!!!!) here's a link to the Progressive Dynamics PD9245 "Charge Wizard' page. The graphs, RECHARGE PROFILE & RECHARGE CURVES) will help you understand how almost all modern converter/chargers work. Of particular interest will be the length of time it takes to 'fully' charge a battery when 50% depleted. Next, how the rates of charge change over that period of time to protect the battery; and the Recharge curve which shows you how the applied voltage varies over time for the various charging modes.....

Most chargers work in a similar fashion.... so the curves are sort of a 'school solution' if you will.

Last point... some basic, old school chemistry here. You need to add a touch of baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) to the water you are using to clean the OUTSIDE of the batteries, connections and surrounding areas. Yes, just snag a bit from that good old box of Arm & Hammer in the kitchen!!! Sodium bicarb will neutralize the acid in the splashes and moisture on and around the battery. DO NOT! LIKE NEVER EVER!!!! get the bicarb INTO the battery.

And last, Crow being a 'safety man'.... says always...always.... always wear good eye protection when messing with these batteries. A freaky splatter in the eye and you are in deep trouble.

Ok last point.... (I lied about the above being last point!) Our RV is not continually on shore power. I make it a habit to open the coach door and turn the Master Electrical Switch ON. I immediately go to the 'One Place Panel' that displays the tank levels, LP level and the battery State of Charge. I check the state of charge on both the chassis and coach batteries. Usually they are about 12.3-4 in the summer after sitting for a month to 6 weeks and down to about 12.2ish in the winter in 30-25F weather. When you go to shore power or the genny, the voltage (SoC) will slowly rise as the charger begins to 're-fill' the batteries. Tells you two things.... you know what the battery bank's SoC is... about 80-90% AND that the charger is working as it pulls the SoC up. (Note: Shore and genny will only charge the coach battery bank!!!! so it should start to rise while the chassis battery does not. That's normal.

It is also a good idea to check the SoC before you fire up the coach if you are not on shore or on the genny for awhile. Like when you move it out of the shelter. Check the SoC when you open it up as above. Start the engine and then go back to check the SoC. You should see it begin to rise as the engine's alternator is re-filling bot the chassis and coach batteries.

I hope this helps...
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Old 02-04-2019, 12:49 PM   #5
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Thanks to all and esp. Old Crow! Your info was very helpful! I've only added water one time (after almost 2 years it had always checked OK) and that was when I saw that "stuff" had boiled over. I'll continue to look further into this but I think everything is functioning as it should. One last question: what makes the corrosive stuff boil over?
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Old 02-04-2019, 01:00 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by highfeather View Post
One last question: what makes the corrosive stuff boil over?
Overfilling, overcharging, and defective chargers can contribute to battery boiling.

P.S. Don't forget to used distilled water to fill your batteries. $1/gallon at Walmart.
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Old 02-04-2019, 02:09 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by highfeather View Post
Thanks to all and esp. Old Crow! Your info was very helpful! I've only added water one time (after almost 2 years it had always checked OK) and that was when I saw that "stuff" had boiled over. I'll continue to look further into this but I think everything is functioning as it should. One last question: what makes the corrosive stuff boil over?

Thank you for the flowers!

That sounds very reasonable. Always good to preventatively check the water levels. Adding once in 2 years is not an issue. And always use distilled water. Cheap enough at the grocery store. Here in Texas Hill Country it is about 87 cents a gallon jug.

As WinnieView said: Overfilling, overcharging, and defective chargers can contribute to battery boiling. Boiling is a misnomer. Here the meaning is that the temperature of the electrolyte is high enough to vaporize some of the acid/water solution and/or drive off the hydrogen which vents and collects around the caps an on the top of the battery mucking things up. The solution has the appearance of 'boiling' if you could see inside the battery (not recommended!!!) due to the hydrogen gas bubbling off the lead plates when it's being over charged. Over charging would look like the water in that boiling pot before you toss the spaghetti in!! It is not a good thing, obviously. And neither is running to low on electrolyte. You want the happy 'middle'. Think of the 'three bears' story....

Usually there's a ring or gauge about 1/2" below the filler neck or something similar. You want to leave a good 'head space' in the battery so the gasses collect and the acid and water recombine and little is vented. You don't want to fill above that mark. Just to touch it is good enough. Filling may also depend on the ambient temperatures. Fluids expand when warm >>>> hot. So, filling to the mark on a cold battery may result in a bit of over fill when it's warm (summer) or after it's been charged for awhile.

The electrolyte in"flooded" lead acid batteries a solution of sulfuric acid (H2SO4) and water. It is nasty!!!! Corrosive and highly reactive to just about everything but glass and some other materials. It will eat through metals and your tissues. (Think of the spittle from the movie Alien!) ={;-o If it gets on anything that is reactive it will appear to 'boil and bubble' as it releases hydrogen gas and other nasty stuff....

Same thing when you treat it with Sodium Bicarb.... the 'boiling is a chemical reaction releasing gases as the acid is neutralized,

You could help minimize the acid collection/corrosion on and around the battery by putting some battery anti-corrosion washers on the battery. Ideally, they install under the cable connection but they will work if they are placed on the battery. They are not that smart and won't know they aren't under the terminals.

A good alternative when the time comes to replace batteries is to look for a suitable Acid Glass Mat (AGM) battery vs a 'flooded" one. Same idea but the glass mat types use a jelly like acid electrolyte and different construction. They are generally 'sealed' for life or in some cases, like the chassis battery on the Mercedes Sprinter, vented with a small tube running outside the battery compartment.

Again.... safety first and last!!! Wear some nitrile gloves; long sleeves, and quality eye protection when messing with batteries.

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Old 02-05-2019, 11:47 AM   #8
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If the converter supplying the batteries is in good condition, not overcharging, there is a trick you can use with flooded cell batteries that will greatly reduce or entirely eliminate corrosion or the liquid on the outside of the battery that comes from overcharging by poorly designed multi-stage chargers.

Just add 2 oz of mineral oil (3-in-1 oil) to each cell. A plastic turkey baster can remove excess electrolyte. What adding the oil does is slow down any bubbles that charging is causing. Before adding the oil what occurs is that bubbles created by the charging process (normal) reach the surface of the electrolyte and bust, casting acid water into the air. That acid infused air seeps out of the vent holes and settles near the battery. Especially when you're often changing locations and barometric pressure is involved.

When you add the oil, the bubbles are slowed down as they reach the surface and when the bubble bursts, it's not as forceful. So the acid infused air stays near the surface instead of floating out of the battery. As a result, you can go years without needing to clean any corrosion off the terminals or outside of the battery. I went 3 years in my '94 Bounder without needing to service my batteries and as soon as I bought this '02 Winnie, added the oil to the new set of batteries I bought and 2 years later, no corrosion.

Adding mineral oil is a 100 year old trick of the battery trade. Edison himself recommended it.
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