How Often Should You Really Water Forklift Batteries?

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By Jennifer Taylor March 28, 2016

how often should you water forklift batteriesThe experts are hard to pin down on how often batteries really need to be watered. Some swear by a once-a-week schedule. Others will tell you that twice a month is fine. In fact, there is no one-size-fits-all recommendation for any forklift battery maintenance task.

Your ideal battery watering regimen will depend on the specifics of your operation. Still, there are some basics that all battery room operators should keep in mind. After you get the fundamentals down, you can modify your maintenance schedule according to your unique needs.

Setting an Initial Battery Watering Schedule

Most industry experts recommend watering your forklift batteries once per week. However, weekly watering isn’t ideal for every facility. This can be a time-consuming maintenance task, and efficient operations don’t spend more time than they need on any given project. To figure out how often you should add water to electrolyte, consider these three factors:

  1. How frequently is the battery charged? Every 24 hours? Every 36 hours? 3 times per week?
  2. What is the water storage capacity of the cells in the battery? This often varies by battery make and model.
  3. What is the age and condition of the battery? Older batteries or batteries in poor condition tend to consume water more rapidly.   

Battery water levels deplete during charging. If you charge a battery every day, you’ll definitely want to check the water weekly — at the very least. If your batteries store more electrolyte, are newer and in great condition, and you only charge them a few times a week, you might be able to get away with less frequent watering.

Adjust Watering Intervals for Your Motive Power Needs

AC Powered 10 Gallon Watering Cart

Before you go to a lighter schedule, start by checking water levels every week. Then you can assess how well your plan is working. If some batteries still have low electrolyte levels, then go to a twice-a-week schedule. If you haven’t had to fill up a cell in a few weeks, try watering batteries twice-a-month.

Keep track of these changes with a watering log. Logs not only give you valuable data about your batteries’ performance, they also provide a crucial document if your battery has problems while it’s still under warranty.

You can increase efficiency and flexibility in battery watering tasks by providing staff with a portable watering cart and a targeted watering gun. These tools let staff top off electrolyte anywhere in your facility, and reduce the chances of spills or overfilling.

After you've determined your ideal process, it's still a good idea to "spot-check" your batteries' electrolyte levels in between pre-planned watering times. Keep on top of electrolyte levels to prevent costly damage to batteries. No matter how often you end up watering your batteries, remember that this is vital maintenance; a dry cell will soon become a dead cell.

References:

Forklift Battery Charger - 10 Charging Tips for Lift Truck Batteries.WarehouseIQ. WarehouseIQ, 5 Sept. 2011. Web. 29 Feb. 2016.

Vanasse, Harold. “Other Voices: The major impact of watering on battery room operations and maintenance.” MMH. Peerless Media LLC, 10 Sept. 2015. Web. 29 Feb. 2016. 

Watering Your Battery.Forkliftexpress. Forklift Express, n.d. Web. 29 Feb. 2016. 

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