Charging your car's battery at home is made easier with the help of a portable battery charger. However, keep in mind that the battery houses certain chemicals that emit hydrogen gas while in use. And hydrogen gas is volatile. As a matter of fact, the battery can explode if not charged or jump-started properly. This is why you need to take extra caution when charging the battery at home. To help you get your car battery up and running the right way, here are some safety tips:
Double-check if you're using the right battery charger.
This is basically common sense, but some motorists may not be aware that not all types of chargers can be used on all kinds of car batteries. Before you start plugging anything, check your vehicle manual to see which type of charger is best used on your vehicle's battery. You can also consult your local mechanic regarding the best type of charger to use.
Warm up a frozen battery before charging.
Below-zero temperatures can quickly freeze up a discharged battery. When this happens, the battery's acid turns into water. So to prevent cracking up the battery, remove it from the vehicle and take it inside for at least two hours before charging it. This way, the frozen acid is thawed a bit. Once it's thawed, slow charge the battery to continue the thawing process until it's full.
Clean the terminals before charging.
To make sure the charging process goes smoothly, clean the battery terminals first. Make sure you're wearing protective gloves because battery acid is toxic. Use water and baking soda to effectively get rid of airborne corrosion and to stabilize any acid that might have leaked.
Find the right location for the battery charger.
As much as possible, the charger should be placed far away from the battery. Just make sure that the DC cables can handle the distance. You shouldn't also place the charger directly on top of the battery you're charging since gases from the battery will easily corrode the charger.
Connect the right cables to the right terminal.
Attach the red positive cable clamp to the positive terminal (+) and the black negative cable clamp to the negative terminal (-). See to it that the black and red clamps or cables don't touch each other or any metal component to prevent arcing.
Test the charge strength before unplugging the charger from the battery.
After 20 or 30 minutes of charging, check the amount of charge inside the battery. Depending on the type of battery charger you're using, you just need to either push a button or twist a dial to do this. If it seems that the battery is not retaining the charge, you'll probably have to get a new one.
Look for signs of trouble during charging.
Once the battery charger is properly connected to the battery, switch it on and observe both the battery and charger for a few minutes. Watch out for leaking fluids, smoke, sparks, or other signs of potential trouble.