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Old 10-31-2013, 09:44 AM   #1
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Warning ...

Had an interesting experience yesterday that might be worth sharing. The Mrs came home and found our basement carbon monoxide (CO) detector going off in a rather random fashion. Tech from gas company came right out and found small levels in basement but couldn't find obvious source in furnace room or around gas water heater. I mentioned to him that I had just brought in the batteries from my 19 the day before and had them on the floor near the furnace. CO probe showed levels of 70+ ppm near top of each battery. Tech had never heard of batteries as a source of CO and promptly checked with his supervisor who said it was rare but not unheard of. Batteries will spend a colder winter in the garage. FWIW...
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Old 10-31-2013, 10:42 AM   #2
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Never, never store batteries near a source of ignition, the off gas is flammable. I would never bring in an automotive battery into my living quarters, that is why they are outside or in a vented enclosure. You may well have been lucky, that alarm may have prevented a bigger alarm.
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Old 10-31-2013, 11:48 AM   #3
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Originally Posted by lefttee View Post
CO probe showed levels of 70+ ppm near top of each battery. Tech had never heard of batteries as a source of CO and promptly checked with his supervisor who said it was rare but not unheard of.
My guess is that the rare event is a carbon monoxide detector being fooled into false alarming by something in the vicinity of the battery... and there is no CO at all created by the battery.

The flammable gas from a battery is hydrogen, which will not accumulate in a basement, and I doubt hydrogen is produced when the battery is not charging.

I would not keep a battery near a potential gas leak source (the same appliances which could be ignition sources), but personally I wouldn't worry about a stored battery as flammable gas source.
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Old 10-31-2013, 11:50 AM   #4
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Brian, Why is there a "Warning" on batteries about sparks and igniting the off gas? Would not that be present storing your battery near a furnace?
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Old 10-31-2013, 11:55 AM   #5
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Brian, Why is there a "Warning" on batteries about sparks and igniting the off gas? Would not that be present storing your battery near a furnace?
The flammable off-gas (hydrogen) is produced during fast or excessive charging - not a storage concern. I wouldn't charge a battery beside a furnace, but I would (and have) store one in a basement.

Of course, the zero-risk option is not to bring the battery in the house, and everyone needs to make a choice they are comfortable with.
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Old 10-31-2013, 03:05 PM   #6
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I was aware of the hydrogen produced with heavy duty charging but that doesn't explain carbon monoxide. Big difference.
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Old 10-31-2013, 04:02 PM   #7
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Found this on the web:

Quote:
Carbon Monoxide Detectors and Charging of Lead Acid Batteries
When charging lead acid batteries, hydrogen (H2) gas is produced. Hydrogen gas is a by-product from the electrolysis reaction (charging) of the lead acid battery. Hydrogen gas can interfere with the carbon monoxide detector's sensor. The carbon monoxide sensor is sensitive to and will respond to hydrogen gas at about a 10 to 15 % of it's actual concentration. If you find you are getting high carbon monoxide readings around battery charging operations do not be alarmed, but be cautious. The Lower Explosive Limit (LEL) for hydrogen is 4.0 % by volume (40,000 ppm by volume). If your carbon monoxide detector alerts, and you are charging a lead acid battery in the area, disconnect the battery charger and ventilate the space in order to dissipate the gas.
The public should be aware of the limitations and interferences that can affect CO detectors. CO detectors are electrochemical sensors, which detect a variety of specific gases. In most cases, the gas of interest reacts with the chemical solution in the sensing electrode to produce ions (charged particles) that move through the solution to an electron-accepting electrode, completing an electric circuit. The number of ions produced and the magnitude of the current developed are proportional to the concentration of the gas being measured.
Additional interfering gases of similar molecular size and chemical reactivity may produce false positive response. Major interferents that can affect CO detectors are acetylene, dimethyl sulfide, ethyl alcohol, ethylene, hydrogen cyanide, hydrogen sulfide, isopropyl alcohol, mercaptan, methyl alcohol, propane, nitrogen dioxide, and sulfur dioxide.
Fire Engineering, September, 1996.
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Old 11-01-2013, 10:48 AM   #8
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Definitive answer. Thanks. I have always stored batteries in furnace room through the winter but this is the first year I have trickle charged them. I have never worried about the small amount of hydrogen produced...rather like small amounts of methane being produced around the house during the day. You pay your money and you take your chances.
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Old 11-02-2013, 02:01 PM   #9
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Boom

In another life I worked in a shop up north where people would bring in their dead vehicles often due to weak or frozen batteries. Old tired batteries will produce a lot of hydrogen when trying to charge them, batteries that are too long gone even more so. Even with making/breaking the connection away from the battery there is often a spark at the terminal and on two occasions (two too many) it was immediately followed by a very loud boom and then several second later the sound of pieces of plastic falling to the ground.

Apart from your detector issue, I wouldn't worry about bringing working batteries into a house given there is always some ventilation, but maybe not right beside the furnace. For old or questionable batteries I wouldn't do it. If you keep your batteries at a lower temperature (e.g. outside) they will not charge to the same level which I believe is harder on batteries. Maybe you could make an outside box near a wall outlet so the batteries still get warmth from the house and you can charge them.

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Old 11-03-2013, 12:04 PM   #10
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Found this on the web:
Good research, Dave
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