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Thread: Leaking alkaline batteries

  1. #1

    Default Leaking alkaline batteries

    It seems like I have recurring problems with alkaline batteries leaking. I had a streamlight LED that took 3 AAAA and I noticed at one point that it wouldn't turn off completely. I inspected the batteries and found that they had leaked. Since that was a rarely used light I figured it was just a bad idea to let the batteries sit in the lights. I took the batteries out of all but the two lights I use regularly.

    Recently with another streamlight (7 LED 4 AA model)--one of the two regular users--I used the light and it seemed decently bright, and then I noticed that it wasn't turning all the way off. And sure enough, the batteries had leaked.

    Why are these batteries leaking? I recall hearing that alkalines might be subject to leaking if they get overdrained, but these batteries were stilling giving decent light output.

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Leaking alkaline batteries

    Quote Originally Posted by adrianmariano View Post
    Why are these batteries leaking? I recall hearing that alkalines might be subject to leaking if they get overdrained, but these batteries were stilling giving decent light output.
    Brand matters. My Energizers, Rayovacs and Duracells have never leaked on me.
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  3. #3
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    Default Re: Leaking alkaline batteries

    Quote Originally Posted by ltiu View Post
    Brand matters. My Energizers, Rayovacs and Duracells have never leaked on me.
    I've had both Energizers and Duracells leak on me. Some had never even been used!

    Yet another reason to stick to Eneloops or other LSD cells...

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Leaking alkaline batteries

    I thought my AAA's would be leaking in my lights now, but somehow I have had 2 separate occassions where I thought to be trusted new Duracell Coppertops AA to destroy my Inova and LED lantern.

    Both times, I got reimbursed from Duracell though. Excellent CS!! But now I don't know if I would trust Duracell without doubt anymore. I guess it happens..
    Looking for a Z52 tailcap LOTC with witness marker on the edge where it meets the body. I prefer email over PM, por favor.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Leaking alkaline batteries

    DONT MIX
    beyond them being discharged, there is the reverse charge issue, which gets many consumers, because they just stuff some battery that fits into a device.
    EVEN though the instructions on most of these devices, in the first part of the manuel with all the rest of the garbage nobody reads :-) it says, dont mix brands, styles, types, age, or drain ammount . well something like that.

    when you use batteries in SERIES, you should use the same brand, the same type, the same package, the same ammount of use, if you mix up batteries in a drawer (we all do even me) then toss them in something, one could be WAY different capacity.
    so ONE cell dies and the others keep going, and the one that died gets a reverse charge, and that can make it more Likly to leak.

    so that is one factor, and is more likly to occur in Multicell lights (specially 4X or more).

    AGE
    a second factor is AGE, even if the cell is unused, there is toxic corrosive materials being contained to give you power. the Can that holds this stuff eventually breaks down over time. the more the manufactures shrink the can, to get more capacity, the sooner it can break down. then of course there is probably plastic linings and stuff, but all are effected by age. some manufatures push the edge of this containment envelope to far.
    and over time , even without using the battery an old cell might be way low in capacity, which puts it back in factor 1 , one cell dies early.

    RECHARGABLES
    Most rechargable cells are better sealed, i have never had a rechargable damage a light unless i messed up something , meaning my fault.

    TEMPERATURE
    Temperatures, people USE this stuff, when they do it can sit in a 140*F car, it can get left in a -20*F garage, and temperatures can cause expansion and contraction of anything, loosening things up , or expanding them to failure.

    RUST
    water getting into your light, can increase the rate of oxidation,,, etc etc.

    most all of this stuff is indicated on some packaging or spec sheet somewhere, but even if you do everything exactally right, stuff still fails, it just fails lots less.

    The best thing you can do, is be a teeny bit more aware of all the things that can occur, and tell the "Family" not to mix up cells (takes 5 minutes), use rechargables, and ask the manufacture to repair or replace anything screwed over by thier product, so they Know what is important.

    CHECK MORE
    open up the light and check the cells say once every 6mo or so, it takes time to do the major damage, and the cells show inconsistancies before they ruin everything. look for changes in color on the wraper, Rust forming on the metal, or what looks like a liquid oil changing the coloration of the wraper.

    DAMAGE
    denting a battery , even from a hard drop on the floor, even a rechargable, even if you dont see the damage, an internal short can occur, which can discharge the battery or reduce the effectiveness of the seal.
    Last edited by VidPro; 08-07-2007 at 11:19 PM.

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Leaking alkaline batteries

    Everyone has had bad experiences with leaking alkalines. Currently, they are not as bad as they were in the past.

    Early on, there was no "expiration date". The first printed "expiration dates" were for only a short time into the future (I don't recall, but something like two years). Then, came the built-in battery capacity testers (push the dot and watch the line grow...). Where is that feature today?

    If you didn't check your flashlight every six months, you might find massive leaks (not just a drop or two) and salt deposits. I had three or four Maglites ruined in my car's emergency kit. Most of those were Eveready alkalines.

    A couple of years ago, I had five of twelve Eveready AAA alkalines leak in the package. From my experience, I would never leave an Eveready alkaline battery in a "good" device for an extended period of time. I would pop them in and run them down, but only if I knew I would be removing them after a short period of time.

    That said, I had an "out of date" Duracell AA sitting on the table when I noticed it was leaking. I tracked down the other one in the pair and it was leaking, too. I have described that incident elsewhere (it was in a recalcitrant Inova X1).

    Now, I will start relying on LSD NiMh (Rayovac Hybrid) and a couple of boxes (buying one every year or two, depending upon finances) of Kirkland AAs (to be used for a major emergency).

    I just hope we find that LSD NiMh batteries also stands for Low Self Destruct, too. (Do I get to copyright that?)

    .
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  7. #7
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    Default Re: Leaking alkaline batteries

    Interesting...

    I just had 2 Duracell copper tops with a date of March 2011 leak on me, and a third was bulged and looked like it was ready to leak. Let's see, 3 out of 4 going bad, I must have had a matched set.

    Tom
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    Most batteries don't die - they are tortured to near death, then murdered...

  8. #8

    Default Re: Leaking alkaline batteries

    In both incidents, the batteries were of the same brand. In the case of the light with 3 AAAA batteries I know they were from the same package as well, because I don't have a drawer full of AAAA size batteries. Those were radio shack brand (all I could find in the right size).

    The more recent incident involved four duracells. It's possible that batteries from different packages got mixed. I saved the offending batteries and can check the expiration dates. I'll also check and see if they exhibit widely varying voltages. Is it possible for four cells in series to discharge nonuniformly so that one ends up depleted in advance of the others?

    The flashlight has a pretty large deposit of crud from the incident. The head end with the circuitry and LEDs was spared, but some of it may have gone down into the tail end where the switch is. Any cleaning advice? If I can't fix it and I complain to duracell they will pay for a replacement?

    I have thought now and then about maybe starting to use rechargeables but have been discouraged by the self discharge problem. I don't use my lights every day. I don't want my light to not work because I let the batteries sit for 2 weeks, and storing all the batteries in the freezer seems like a bother (how long to reach room temp?). My battery consumption is fairly modest so I haven't been driven by financial incentives to switch to the rechargeables. I did a brief search on LSD. Do the LSDs live up to the hype?

    How important is it to use a brand of LSD (Eneloop) vs, say the greenbatteries.com store brand? Has anybody done comparisons of this sort?

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Leaking alkaline batteries

    the alkaline is alkali , so its a base, and an acid can "nutralise" it, but vinagar the acid that could nutralise it, will blacken raw metal quickly, so I dont try and nutralise alkaline battery spills.
    instead i just rince it out with copious quantities of water, (soap is alkaline) use a bottle brush, dry completly (to dry i sometimes flush the water out with 99% alcohol which drys faster) and then clean all the contacts with sandpaper or a file , then recoat with something like a silicoln spray or special de-oxit stuff.

    the manufactures say things like "will repair or replace after you mail it to us" and you pay to have it shipped to them. if you send it in to manufacture, you basically want to leave it as-is, so they accept that it is thier fault. somebody said, they asked them to remove the batteries, but long ago you would just send the whole mess into them.

    LSD enloops are good so far, Silverfox tested them, as did others, just search enloop in titles. nobody can know about total time with the LSDs yet because they have not been out for long. i have been using them since they came out in singapore.

    series cells are Supposed to have the same current flow on each one in the series set, so discharge should occur evenly. but there is a situation that occurs, i dont know how to explain, where the top battery, the one connected to the + side of the light, can discharge faster (if i remember right) , it was sugested that it might have to do with the HEAT at the head end of the light? i donno. but science says the current flow is the same, and the science is right , if you include all the science , like mabey the heat?
    Last edited by VidPro; 08-08-2007 at 09:33 AM.

  10. #10

    Default Re: Leaking alkaline batteries

    Streamlight has a good guarantee, so I could send it back to them. But if it's really Duracell's fault it seems kind of lame to make Streamlight bear the burden.

    The problem with doing a decent cleaning job is that there is no obvious way to get at the contacts which are at the tail end. One of them is a spring which is going to be pretty hard to clean well when it's stuck at the end of a 5 inch tube.

    With unregulated LED lights like the Streamlight will I lose a lot of brightness if I switch to the enerloops? Any charger recommendations?

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    Default Re: Leaking alkaline batteries

    IIRC, the Streamlight 4AA LEDs are disassembled by unscrewing the rubber switch cap, which has the threaded switch retaining ring inside it. Then the battery contact+switch assembly falls out from the inside.

    I've seen plenty of leaking alkalines and see no pattern myself. Last week, I just noticed a puddle of liquid next to my desk phone, and sure enough, one of the Rayovac Industrial C cells inside had recently decided to leak. The cells were probably 5-7 years old, though. I must've caught it fairly soon as the damage was minimal.

  12. #12
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    Default Re: Leaking alkaline batteries

    theres gotta be a way
    make a new tool, stick sandpaper to a stick? scrape the metal with a screwdriver. get a Wire brush bottle brush at the auto store, get a extention line on your dremmel tool, and use the wire brush.

    the streamlight propolymer thing with the 4AAs is not unregulated, if that is the one your referring to, there is even a recent thread on it, showing the great curcuit in it. i have seen the streamlight PP 4AA thing running on ni-mhy, the user said it worked fine like that. from what i know it should work great on ni-mhy, but i dont own one.

  13. #13
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    Default Re: Leaking alkaline batteries

    I've had problems with C-cell Energizer alkaline batteries. At different times, they've leaked in a Trek 19, an Underwater Kinetics 6C, and a Streamlight Twin-Task light.

    The batteries in the Twin-task leaked so badly that I couldn't even get the batteries out of the light. In addition, the rubber switch and the reflector were badly deteriorated, so I just tossed the light.

    I've also known people who've had problems with Duracell batteries leaking in Gaglites (various sizes).
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  14. #14

    Default Re: Leaking alkaline batteries

    I tested the leaking batteries (after cleaning off the contacts) and found them all to be 1.2 V to within 0.02 V. They all had the same expiration date as well. So it doesn't look like a mismatched set. And from what I understand, 1.2 V isn't particularly low.

    I tried to unscrew the switch and couldn't turn it. Trying to clean the springs with sandpaper on a stick or a screwdriver might be good for a rough cleaning job, but if I'm trying to get the contacts clean and shiny that's not going to cut it.

    I'll clean what I can reach, and if it doesn't work after that then I guess I'll send it back.

    What happens to NiMH batteries if you leave the light on indefinitely?

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    Default Re: Leaking alkaline batteries

    You must be talking about the Streamlight Stylus. I have 5 or 6 of them, all loaded with 3 AAAAs. ( But not for long, although I did check them a couple months ago, and all was well).

    They are rare, but there are NiMH quad As. (AAAA). I saw a link posted here recently, but I don't think they were LSD. Maybe try a search?

    And, at the very least, a NiMH cell may be ruined if one leaves a light on indefinitely.

  16. #16
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    Default Re: Leaking alkaline batteries

    Here is another technique to reduce damage from leaking cells.

    Write your name and address on a piece of paper, roll it into the shape of a tube, then insert it into the flashlight between the batteries and the barrel inner surface. This won't work if the batteries are too tight a fit.

    The information on the paper will identify your flashlight if you lose it.

  17. #17

    Default Re: Leaking alkaline batteries

    Yes, it was a streamlight stylus with the three AAAA's that I had problems with a couple years ago. I did send that one back to streamlight and got a replacement which actually was better made. And since then I don't keep the AAAA batteries in it. I also responded to the leakage problem by putting lithium batteries in the emergency light in the car and in my wife's rarely used Arc keychain light. And I took the batteries out of all the other lights I have that I don't use regularly.

    The light that just suffered the spill problem was a Streamlight Propolymer LED 4AA which I use as my general household light.

  18. #18
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    Default Re: Leaking alkaline batteries

    Is there any way to visually check to see when I cell is going to leak ?
    This post , thanks adrianmariano , comes at a time when I'm worried about cells in my lights

    For regular cells ...does turning them on once a week help?

    Beyond taking them out of my lights how else can I avoid a leeky cell

    M
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    Default Re: Leaking alkaline batteries

    Quote Originally Posted by Sarratt View Post
    Is there any way to visually check to see when I cell is going to leak ?
    Not that I'm aware of. Often the wrapper will become discoloured from leaking material before it does any actual damage - but you can't count on that - and that's not a warning that it's going to leak, since it has already started!
    For regular cells ...does turning them on once a week help?
    As a test? No - leaking cells can still run a flashlight.
    Beyond taking them out of my lights how else can I avoid a leeky cell
    Replace them with low self discharge rechargeables such as Eneloops of course!

  20. #20

    Default Re: Leaking alkaline batteries

    The flashlight that provoked me to start this thread was still working. I knew there was a leakage problem because it wouldn't turn off properly---it remained dimly lit even when I switched it off. But when it was on it was acting normally.

    I've had leaks in batteries powering a digital scale which is used daily, and a clock which is on continuously. So regular operation is clearly no cure.

    With the new low self discharge rechargeables it seems like there's no excuse to continue using alkalines, so I'm going to switch over. They are only in AA and AAA right now, but the majority of my stuff runs on one of those two sizes.

  21. #21
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    Default Re: Leaking alkaline batteries

    Leaking alks is a pet peeve I'd like to lose. In 40+ years of experience I've had ALL major brands leak under all conditions including new cells with an expiration date of 2014! Often, quite often, in fact, one of four cells will fail after freshly installed in a device - even after load testing to "insure" viable & matched cells. Modern cells haven't proven too much better than alks of the 70's & 80's in my experience. YMMV, however, and probably will.

    Interestingly, some cells have not leaked and still have some juice left after 12+ years sitting in little used items.
    I'm absolutely certain that I need another flashlight.

  22. #22
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    Default Re: Leaking alkaline batteries

    Had some Kodak alkalines leak inside a 4D copper Mag even though they still lit it up :cry:

  23. #23
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    Default Re: Leaking alkaline batteries

    Quote Originally Posted by ltiu View Post
    Brand matters. My Energizers, Rayovacs and Duracells have never leaked on me.
    I've had alkalines from all three brands you've mentioned leak over the years, different size cells, often in flashlights, and I never mix batteries, they always come from the same package.

    I still use alkalines in flashlights I keep around the house and check them routinely, but for the flashlights I keep in all four of all cars, it is lithium or nothing. I've had numerous alkaline cell powered flashlights leak in cars in the last 15-20 years.

    FWIW I've had AAAA cells leak in several of my Streamlight Stylus lights. I typically keep most of my AAAA cell powered flashlights empty now. Too bad Energizer doesn't release lithium AAAA cells, but there probably isn't much of a market for them.
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    Default Re: Leaking alkaline batteries

    Anyone here ever had a leaky akaline in a remote experience? Please share your story?
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    Default Re: Leaking alkaline batteries

    Quote Originally Posted by ltiu View Post
    Anyone here ever had a leaky akaline in a remote experience? Please share your story?
    Yep - I've seen leaky alkalines in remotes - the most recent was in a remote for a TV belonging to my mother... Didn't totally destroy it, but it did corrode one of the springs that hold the cells in place...

    I also had an alkaline leak in a wall clock as well.

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    Default Re: Leaking alkaline batteries

    OK, since it is not possible to check on batteries all day everyday. What are your recommendations to keep batteries from leaking?

    Will changing batteries every year help prevent leaking?

    I know about making sure all batteries are the same type and charge and from the same pack, but what else do I have to keep in mind?
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  27. #27
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    Default Re: Leaking alkaline batteries

    Has anyone ever sent an item to Energizer/Duracell after batteries had leaked? How did you go about it? How did it go?

    I've had batteries from EVERY brand leak on me at some point, all were in very light duty service (remotes, calculators, etc). I've also had batteries leak inside their original, unopened packages, well within the expiration date.
    ========
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  28. #28

    Default Re: Leaking alkaline batteries

    A salt water environment is probably hard on cells, like it is on most other things. Salt leads to corrosion which leads to leaks. Are you near the coast?

    Quote Originally Posted by SilverFox View Post
    Interesting...

    I just had 2 Duracell copper tops with a date of March 2011 leak on me, and a third was bulged and looked like it was ready to leak. Let's see, 3 out of 4 going bad, I must have had a matched set.

    Tom
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  29. #29
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    Default Re: Leaking alkaline batteries

    Hello Ray,

    While I agree that corrosion is hard on cells, this was not an issue with corrosion. It appears to be bad seals.

    Tom
    Behind every Great man there's always a woman rolling her eyes...

    Most batteries don't die - they are tortured to near death, then murdered...

  30. #30

    Default Re: Leaking alkaline batteries

    I've found that WD-40 makes a good solvent for removing the corrosion caused by leaky batteries and rejuvenating the contacts.

    If a device is going to be stored for a long time but doesn't have to be instantly available for use, I take the batteries out and put them into a ZipLoc bag, then put that bag with the device inside another ZipLoc to keep them together. Polyethylene isn't bothered by the stuff leaked by batteries or by hardly anything else. Obviously, you still have to check from time to time to make sure the batteries aren't leaking -- leaky batteries won't be much good when the emergency comes.

    c_c

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