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Hints, Tips and Solutions (Do NOT post requests for help here) If you have any useful general hints and tips for vintage technology repair and restoration, please share them here. PLEASE DO NOT POST REQUESTS FOR HELP HERE!

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Old 29th Oct 2013, 2:40 pm   #1
Nickthedentist
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Default Remove those batteries when out of use!

Hi everyone,

A bit of a silly one, but I've been caught out twice recently by batteries that have leaked, damaging equipment.

This used to be commonplace of course, but was virtually eliminated by the introduction of good quality, "leakproof" batteries, which would generally behave themselves for many years after the use-by date.

However, the current crop of own-brand Chinese(?) imports seem to be more unpredictable, even the better alkaline ones. Unusually, I've found that most of the cells have been fine, with just a single one letting the side down.

My old Nikon Coolpix 2100 camera is a complete write-off with 1 year-old batteries causing whole chunks of print to disappear and all the chromed parts of the case to peel off. And a home-made amplified speaker with 2 year-old batteries will need the battery holder replaced and the oak case thoroughly cleaned.

The cells in question were from Halfords and Robert Dyas, though a recent post highlighted Sainsbury's ones as a problem too.

You've been warned

Nick.
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Old 29th Oct 2013, 3:02 pm   #2
Alistair D
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Default Re: Remove those batteries when out of use!

I have a Maglite AA torch fitted with a LED conversion and end cap on/off switch. I always put top quality batteries in it. One of these leaked and damaged the switch. After a couple of calls to the battery manufacturer they sent me the cost of a new conversion kit, the switch is not available on its own.
leaking batteries can happen to even the best manufacturers.

Forgot to mention that the use by date of the batteries was 2018.

Al
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Old 29th Oct 2013, 4:29 pm   #3
mark pirate
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Default Re: Remove those batteries when out of use!

I never buy cheapo batteries, although you can be caught out by fakes.
I have had Duracell batteries leak and cause damage to my wall clock, the battery was well in date, but leaked from the negative end ruining the contact spring, luckily I managed to repair it.

I have had similar problems with Sainsburys own brand batteries as well.
I have used Energizer batteries for the last two or three years with no problems, I will stick with these.

Mark
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Old 29th Oct 2013, 4:40 pm   #4
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Default Re: Remove those batteries when out of use!

While I have had batteries leak, the leaks do not normally cause any damage. I remove as much crud as possible and then apply ordinary household vineagar. When the fizzing stops, I wash with water and dry. However, for things like my camcorder tha do not get used for extended periods, I remove the batteries from the remote as a precaution.

Maplin's own brand did go through a bad patch a few years ago: I had several unused ones leak while still in their sealed packs of 4, but the recent stuff seems OK.
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Old 29th Oct 2013, 5:11 pm   #5
Lloyd 1985
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Default Re: Remove those batteries when out of use!

The worst thing I've found is some batteries (Duracell's!) tend to carry on working as normal while leaking away...

I had this in a radio controlled digital wall clock, it was working fine, and then one day just stopped completely, no fading display as the batteries aged or anything, nice and clear one day, then dead the next.

What was even more surprising was when I disturbed the leaking batteries (which had made a hell of a mess) the clock came back on again! All 3 cells were checked with a multimeter, and all were reading above 1.5v.

I didn't know you could return them and get the cost of whatever they damaged back at the time, so just cleaned it all up and put new batteries in.

I could see this becoming a problem in my Megger, which uses 6 AA cells. I don't use it much, and recently stuck a new set of Halfords own brand cells in it. I might take them out and keep them in a bag separate from the meter.

Regards,
Lloyd.
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Old 29th Oct 2013, 7:25 pm   #6
Outrun_uk
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Default Re: Remove those batteries when out of use!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Alistair D View Post
I have a Maglite AA torch fitted with a LED conversion and end cap on/off switch. I always put top quality batteries in it. One of these leaked and damaged the switch
Back from holiday I ruined a (fairly expensive) scuba diving torch by leaving the batteries in it (Energiser AA). Good job I checked before we left the UK for the next holiday, about 8 months between them!! Live and learn...

Cheers,

Kev
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Old 29th Oct 2013, 7:37 pm   #7
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Default Re: Remove those batteries when out of use!

Oh yes, forgot my AAA Maglite and my sister-in-law's AA version: both WEEd thanks to leaky (but still working) cells.
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Old 29th Oct 2013, 8:11 pm   #8
Alistair D
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Default Re: Remove those batteries when out of use!

Nick, I read on another forum that if you send Maglites somewhere (even battery damaged ones) they will be repaired FOC. Something to do with their lifetime warranty I believe. Might be worth investigating.

Al
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Old 29th Oct 2013, 8:13 pm   #9
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Default Re: Remove those batteries when out of use!

Thanks Al. A bit late for me now, but if it happens again...
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Old 29th Oct 2013, 8:42 pm   #10
Alistair D
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Default Re: Remove those batteries when out of use!

It was Duracell batteries in my torch. For those who have experienced similar problems with these I would urge you to search the Internet for leaking Duracell. The information on Duracell's unwritten policy about compensation is out there.

In my case I was asked;

What was the use by date? 2018.

How long were the batteries in the torch? Less than a year.

Did I still have the batteries and the faulty Parts? Yes.

What is the cost of repair? 10.95.

They agreed to reimburse me. Two weeks later I had not received anything I contacted them again. They explained that there had been a delay and that the cheque had been written a couple of days ago and to keep the batteries and faulty parts for a week after I received the cheque. Two days later the cheque arrived and I have not heard anything further in 3 months.

I am not writing this post as a means of conning Duracell. All I wanted was a fully working torch that was damaged even after using the worlds leading battery maker's product.

Al
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Old 30th Oct 2013, 7:50 am   #11
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Default Re: Remove those batteries when out of use!

I ad a two-AA-cell Maglite ruined by leaky Alkaline batteries (brand forgotten); problem was when the batteries leaked they corroed themselves so firmly into the body of the Maglite that I couldn't actually get them out [well, I did in the end but it involved a lathe and the Maglite was mortally wounded in the process].

I _think_ I understand a bit about the failure-mode: this Maglite was one which lived in the car, and was regularly exposed to extremes of temperature, even though its actual _use_ as a torch was very infrequent. Summer in-vehicle temperatures of 50+, and a period in the subsequent winter where ambient temperature was -10 or below for over a week. My feeling is that it was the hot and cold that accelerated the battery-bursting. Now, some people suggest keeping unused batteries in the fridge to prevent self-discharge: whether keeping batteries in the freezer would be a good idea I have my doubts.
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Old 30th Oct 2013, 9:13 am   #12
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Default Re: Remove those batteries when out of use!

The last leaky batteries I had were in a cheap Cygnett iPod dock - within a month the cheapies that came with it (remote and clock backup) were starting to leak.

I use Dick Smith's home brand ("DSE") alkalnes - AA, AAA and 9V - and never had a problem.
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Old 30th Oct 2013, 9:23 am   #13
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Default Re: Remove those batteries when out of use!

I favour the "procell" cells and batteries made by Duracell.
These are said to be exactly the same battery as the well known Duracells sold everywhere, but in a different package, primarily intended for trade use and not meant to be sold retail.

Because the "procell" branding is less well known I suspect that they are not work faking and are therefore allways genuine.
The retail branded Duracells are often fakes and therefore of doubtful qaulity.

Procells may be purchased from trade suppliers, or on line.
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Old 30th Oct 2013, 9:41 am   #14
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Default Re: Remove those batteries when out of use!

We use Procell at work, always from reputable suppliers. Sad to report that these are not immune to leaking either.
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Old 30th Oct 2013, 12:52 pm   #15
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Default Re: Remove those batteries when out of use!

Strangely though, I've removed long dead, I mean DECADES long dead batteries from ancient Avo's that have not leaked at all. The most surprising recently are 2 x Eveready 1289, 4.5 volt plastic cased with bar codes so within the last 20 years or so old, another 1289 but REALLY old, with paper and card case at least 50 years old, and a No.11 1.5v cell, tall, square column shape, wax paper case, dated March 1970!! All totally leak free! Also have a handfull of B121's and B122's dead but in leak free condition. One is marked GPO No.27 made 6/73! Yet I've had a number of top brand Alkaline cells leak like they were designed to, over the last 2 or 3 years.
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Old 30th Oct 2013, 1:15 pm   #16
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Default Re: Remove those batteries when out of use!

There are very few manufacturers of batteries I haven't used at sometime over the years and most have contributed leakers at some time or other but I think it would be fair to say that a couple of brands have produced conspicuously few, GP and Sanyo. I too have had the leaking whilst still producing a decent e.m.f. scenario from Duracell and Panasonic.

The destroyed Maglite appears to be a "rite of passage", I think it was Panasonics which did for mine. As an added precaution in larger flashlights ('C' & 'D' cell) where the cells aren't an interference fit I make a liner using and old 'polyrol' centre (other kitchen towels are available). If a cell leaks the cardboard takes most of the grief - it doesn't help so much if the cap gives way but a couple of my 'emergency' flashlights have been saved when cells have leaked round the edge or split a side seam.
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Old 30th Oct 2013, 1:28 pm   #17
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Default Re: Remove those batteries when out of use!

You can also wrap the cells in clingfilm which sometimes helps.

I agree with the experiences of others, it's completely unpredictable. I've had cheap Chinese factory fit zinc carbons in remotes last for over a decade without leaking, and I've had expensive Duracells leak well within the use by date.

Battery leakage does seem to do less damage than it used to though - maybe the chemistry has changed.
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Old 30th Oct 2013, 1:49 pm   #18
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Default Re: Remove those batteries when out of use!

I keep spare battery stocks in a large insulated container, commonly refered to as a picnic cooler, though of course it does not actually cool at all.
The contents of a thermaly insulated container will remain at a relatively steady temperature similar to the average temperature of the surroundings, but protected against extremes.
I would expect that the risk of leakage would be reduced by storage at a steady temperature.
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Old 30th Oct 2013, 3:48 pm   #19
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Default Re: Remove those batteries when out of use!

Even the more expensive brands leak nowadays. I had to remove some Duracell alkalines from a device. One of them had started leaking and made a mess of things. They had a service-time of maybe 10% of what batteries in that position normally do.

Also a few years back I had Philips batteries that leaked while still in their packaging. Stored at about 15 C in a dry environment. I showed them at the shop, but they were not willing to replace them.

It is indeed good advice to remove batteries from equipment or remotes not in use.

Jac
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Old 30th Oct 2013, 5:15 pm   #20
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Default Re: Remove those batteries when out of use!

I have recently written off a solid milled aluminium LED torch due to leaking batteries, one wall clock and another clock battery compartment badly damaged. As Lloyd has stated, they often carry on working and the only clue is a streak of rusty slime running down the wall from the clock battery compartment. Very frustrating! John.
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