Fire Hazard Warning!

If your remote battery charger panel suddenly shows a red fault light, drop everything and figure out what’s up.

When we returned to the boat, we assumed the stinky smell was coming from the bilge and we were partially correct.  However, as I was writing the stinky bilge post, the True Charge+2 remote battery charger panel behind my computer screen suddenly shifted from normal lights to a red fault light.  And the smell intensified.

David opened the engine compartment, climbed in and the engine starting battery was red hot and SMOKING!

David

David “in the hole” after removing the defective engine starting battery

YIKES, this is a new challenge!  It’s a lead acid battery, new in Panama in 2009, and luckily, isolated from the rest of the system.  But in the meantime, it was literally smoking — maybe they call it “off-gassing” whatever.

We got the battery out of the boat immediately.  But what would have happened if we hadn’t been sitting right here? If David hadn’t been watching football and I was writing a post on the bilge stink.  What might have happened if we had stayed for the weekend at my Dad’s?  Would the boat have burned to the waterline?

Oh my goodness, that was SCARY!  Everything is working correctly now, or at least it seems so.

Living on a boat is a lot of things, but it is NEVER NEVER boring!  Now we can catch our breath, go take a shower and resume our Saturday afternoon.

Comments

  1. We always store a big box of baking soda beside the batteries. The soda will neutralize the acid of the battery before you have to handle it. Reducing the chance of a chemical burn.

    • Great idea! This battery was maintenance free and hadn’t leaked any acid yet, thank goodness. But it was off-gassing or smoking or something seriously – and the sides were bulging which makes me think explosion imminent.

  2. Leon A. Falde says:

    Thank God you’re both safe. It sounds like a cell shorted out in the battery. When they are on full charge, this can make the battery very hot. It could catch fire or even explode if enough hydrogen gas accumulates. The age of the battery is not at issue since I have seen this happen in nearly new batteries. Again thank God you’re both safe. So on to the next adventure.

    Leon

    • Thanks Leon! I’m thinking imminent explosion since both sides were bulging and there was serious stinky smoke (or off-gassing) coming out the top. Whew, I still shudder to think what would have happened if we’d stayed over the weekend at my Dad’s or if we hadn’t noticed the battery charger fault light and went to bed … 🙁 Every day is a blessing! Cheers — Jan

  3. Yikes! One of my worst nightmares besides a shark attack. I feel a lot better with an automatic extinguisher in our engine room, but not sure if that would help in an explosion though. Geez. Was the charger still charging or did it quit with the fault? What brand of battery was it?

    Super glad you found that.

    PJ
    SV Kelly Nicole
    Jax FL

    • Hi PJ — the charger is designed to shut down anytime there’s a fault warning, so no charging was happening at the time. I think we literally caught it as the charger switched to the red fault light since I happened to be sitting at the nav desk at the time. I’d like to think the battery would have cooled off on it’s own and not caused any problem since the charger shut down, but I’m glad we didn’t test it! Thx! Jan

  4. Very timely post as I’m dealing with a dead battery bank and a charger/inverter problem. I’ve currently pulled the charger out of the boat since it would no longer switchover when plug into 110v. Its uncomfortable checking the bilge without a way to run the pump, but probably safer than over charging the batteries or a fire hazard malfunction.

    • Hi Rich! We’re not electricians, but try to error on the side of safety. I hope you solve your issue soon and don’t have to manually check the bilge for much longer. Cheers! Jan

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