How & When to Water Forklift Batteries

Forklift battery maintenance – it’s a chore, but a necessity. In today’s age, more than ever, proper battery watering methods are vital to reaching the full life expectancy of a forklift battery. Since the battery usually costs roughly 30% of the entire cost of the forklift, proper battery watering procedures are essential.

Why Water a Battery?

A forklift battery is expected to last for five years. To achieve the expected lifespan proper watering and charging guidelines need to be strictly followed. Not properly watering a forklift battery risks lowering the life expectancy of a forklift battery by up to 50%, or two and a half years. The cost is too high to ignore these guidelines. On a basic level, forklift batteries need to be watered so that they don’t burn out. If batteries aren’t properly watered, downtime and maintenance increases, and battery lifespan and safety decreases.

When to Water a Battery

In a perfect world, batteries are run for 8 hours, charged for 8 hours, and cool for 8 hours. Some lift trucks offer an indicator, but the best time to water your batteries is always right before each shift, after batteries have had time to cool, and the worst time is right before or during chargingIf watering occurs before or during charging, it can lead to the water boiling over and acid leaking from the battery.

How to Water a Battery

There are different methods used for watering forklift batteries. These methods vary in the convenience they offer, but no matter which is used, it’s vital that each cell in each battery is only watered until the top of the lead-acid plates is reached. These plates are visible in each cell and usually 2.5 inches below the cell cap. Over-watering will lead to problems discussed below.

  • Gravity Feed System –  This system features a large water drum or tank hoisted in the air and has a hose attached to it that the operator takes from cell to cell until they are properly filled. This method may require a flashlight to see the level of water in each cell.

  • Battery Watering System – These systems hook your batteries up to a “hose-like device” that attaches to each cell and properly fills each cell. After this, it automatically shuts off when each cell is properly filled. These systems offer the most convenience and fill accuracy.

  • Hose / Watering Gun Method – This method involves hooking a battery watering gun attachment to a hose and going cell-by-cell and manually filling each cell to the proper level discussed above. As with the Gravity Feed System, this method may require a flashlight to see the level of water in each cell.

  • Over watering & Under watering
    Batteries should be filled to the level discussed above and not anymore or any less. Doing the contrary can lead to leaks or downtime. 
Forklift Battery Over-watered

This picture shows a battery that has been over-watered. 

By filling water above the lead acid plates, acid has leaked and has lead to the formation of “cauliflower.”  Under-watering will lead to the battery running dry and most likely downtime and maintenance.

How Do You Put Water in a Forklift Battery?

There are different methods for this, but no matter which is used, it’s vital that each cell in each battery is only watered until the top of the lead-acid plates is reached. These plates are visible in each cell and usually 2.5 inches below the cell cap.

Watch how easy watering a battery can be. Here is the process it takes to water the Crown H2Go battery.

Do you have questions about your forklift battery?

Feel free to ask our experts any questions!