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Why Does My Forklift Battery Smell Like Rotten Eggs? 

 September 19, 2021

By  Phil Borges

Forklift batteries can act out in a number of ways when something goes wrong with them. This might include slower speeds, excessive heating up, swelling and a rotten egg smell, among others. The smell of rotten eggs can particularly be bothersome. What exactly causes this kind of smell?

A forklift battery can smell like rotten eggs due to the excessive heating up of the battery that can cause the present sulfuric acid to turn into hydrogen sulfide. This kind of overheating can happen due to reasons like a bad warehouse floor, poor water quality or a defect in the battery itself.

What exactly can you do to get rid of this smell and solve the problem? Are there any possible ways to prevent this? In order to find out more about this harmful problem, you can keep reading further.

Electric Forklift Battery Smells Like Rotten Eggs

An electric forklift battery is usually made from lead acid. It comprises a combination of sulfuric acid and water. Sometimes, this battery can end up smelling like rotten eggs which can be both unpleasant and dangerous.

During the process of charging and the natural discharging that happens later, it is possible that the forklift battery might not be able to hold in the charge inside it to function efficiently. Whenever this happens, the charger keeps supplying the charge but the battery is unable to handle it.

This causes the battery to overheat, causing the sulfuric acid to boil and convert into hydrogen sulfide, leading to the smell of rotten eggs. This can not only cause discomfort but can also be potentially harmful to the people around the battery.

It is, therefore, necessary to figure out the exact causes behind this so that it can be dealt with and prevented at a later point.

Potential Causes Leading to the Smell

What causes the forklift battery to heat up excessively to such an extent that it starts to emit a rotten egg smell? There are several potential reasons behind this that we can look into in further detail in this section. Knowing these causes can equip you to fix the problems so that you don’t face a similar issue again.

Warehouse Floor

If the floor of your warehouse is irregular and rough, it might cause your forklift truck and its battery to bang around. This could affect the plates and cells in the battery, causing friction to remove certain parts of the plates. This can lead to a short circuit, impacting the battery’s ability to hold a charge properly.

This issue with the plates and cells can particularly be felt and noticed while charging the battery due to the rotten egg smell.

If you notice that your warehouse floor is rough, you should get it repaired as soon as possible.

Water Quality

You need pure or clean water every time you water your forklift battery to refill it. This kind of quality is ensured by using either distilled or deionized water that gets rid of all the minerals and dirt that might be present inside the water.

If, however, you end up using water that has not been filtered and treated properly, some minerals may still remain in the water that could gather inside the battery, preventing it from charging to its fullest extent.

The presence of the electrical charge but the inability of the battery to hold and convert this charge could cause it to overheat, making it smell like rotten eggs.

Battery Defect

Once your forklift battery starts getting older, its efficiency will decrease as it begins to near the end of its warranty period. If there are any defects in your battery itself, such as problems within the cells like shedding and tearing, you might be able to notice them within the first two years.

If you notice a rotten egg smell in such a case, you can simply see if you can ask a professional to repair or replace the problem for you. If your battery is still within the warranty period, this might be easier for you to access.

How to Solve the Issue

There are several things you can do if you notice this rotten egg smell coming from your forklift battery. Take a look at some of these steps below:

  • Firstly, you should switch your battery or forklift off completely. If your battery is being charged, make sure you turn off your charger.
  • After turning the device off, you should let the battery rest for a while so that it can cool down.
  • Cooling down will make it more secure for you to remove the battery from the forklift, so once you have determined that the battery is cool, you can carefully take it out.
  • Keep this battery in a separate place and indicate that it is defective so that you can prevent its usage.
  • Contact a professional to take a look at the damage to the battery so that they can make the necessary repairs. You might even need to replace it if it is completely damaged.
  • Once these repairs are done, you can test the battery out to ensure that it is in a good condition to work efficiently.
  • Undertake regular cleaning and maintenance of the battery to prevent such issues in the future. If there are external issues such as bad flooring or poor water quality, make sure you fix them as well.

Can you keep using the battery despite the bad smell?

No, you should immediately stop using the battery as soon as you notice the rotten egg smell. This is because it can end up causing further damage to the other parts of the battery while also spreading the harmful smell and gas among the nearby workers.

Further, a damaged battery might lead to frequent overheating, a shorter battery life, poor efficiency and excessive power consumption that could waste energy as well as money.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is the Rotten Egg Smell from a Battery Dangerous?

Yes, the rotten egg smell from a battery is dangerous as it can lead to the emission of hydrogen sulfide into the warehouse. This could cause discomfort among the workers while also leading to health-related issues such as irritants in the nose, ears, eyes and mouth.

It could affect the levels of focus as well. If this gas makes it into the lungs, it could also lead to breathing issues and long-term problems.

In some cases, it can cause people to lose consciousness while also leading to death in an extreme scenario. For this reason, the safer option for everyone is to simply stop the battery from functioning until you can get it repaired or replaced.

Is Smelling Battery Acid Dangerous?

Smelling battery acid is dangerous, whether that is to a small or large extent.

If you come in contact with battery acid and end up inhaling it, it can cause several issues that can range from mild discomfort in your nose, eyes and throat, breathing difficulties if it makes it to your lungs, loss of consciousness to the development of cancer or death.

In order to avoid any kind of adverse impact, therefore, you should take safety precautions to avoid this kind of inhalation, especially if you work in a warehouse. You can do this by wearing protective equipment such as masks, safety glasses or even earplugs if required.

This can be a good way to protect sensitive areas on your face so that you can prevent the gases from the acid (mainly sulfuric) from making their way inside your body.

How Do I Know If My Forklift Battery Is Bad?

The rotten egg smell is one such indicator that your forklift battery might be bad. Apart from that, there are several other indicators that can point to this. For instance:

  • The battery might not be working at its usual speed, slowing down the overall process.
  • There might be smoke c0ming out of the battery whenever it is in use.
  • The battery terminals might have started to wear off.
  • There might be a build up of rust on the exterior of the battery.
  • The battery might be heating up much quicker than usual.
  • These signs might point to a need for repairs or replacement.

What should I do if my car battery smells like rotten eggs? 

It can be quite distressing, not to mention dangerous. You have a potential leak in your car battery, and this needs to be addressed right away if you want to avoid extensive damage to other parts of your car. 

About the author

Hi, I'm Phil Borges.. thanks for reading.. My wife says I can't shut up about batteries so to save my marriage I've started this blog .. where I'd be ranting about batteries! Please leave a comment if you have any questions, I'm happy to help!

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