We have all been there.  You get the cooler ready, a picnic basket packed, and towels in your lake bag.  You get on the boat and have silence when the key is turned.  Not only is a dead battery a pain in the hull, but it also can be a direct reflection of how you prepare your boat in the spring.  We at Lake Fun are going to show you some simple ways to make sure the heart of your boat’s electrical system is in peak condition before you ever head to the boat ramp.

First off, batteries can be very dangerous.  Be sure to read all the warning labels on your battery.  Some key points I would stress is to wear eye protection, no smoking, wear gloves, and keep all pets and children away anytime you work on your boat’s battery.  Another good tip is to mix 2 teaspoons of baking soda with a cup of water and wipe down the areas of the battery you will touch to help neutralize any acids that might be hanging around just waiting to burn you.

A boat’s battery takes quite a beating.   It get used occasionally and you run the radio all day with engine off.  Then when the summer is over it sits without being used for an extended period of time.  All practices that can wreak havoc on your marine battery.  Your battery is glad that you took some time to provide it some tender love and care so ahead and unstrap your battery box or hold down fixture and let’s get to pampering that misused boat battery.

Now that the battery is loose from it’s enclosure go ahead and disconnect your positive and negative cables from the terminal.  Take the battery away from the boat to a saw horse table or work bench that you do not mind getting dirty.  Your first test for the battery is an eye test.  Do you see any cracks, bends, or dings?  If so, it may be time to get a new battery.  If your battery is in good condition externally and passed the eye test now you want to look for corrosion, caked on scum, and dirt.  Clean the exterior shell of the battery with your mixture of baking soda and water to remove this grime.  Carefully discard of the cloth, sponge, or paper towel as it might contain active battery acid, even after being neutralized with the baking soda.  Also be careful to use the baking soda and water lightly and sparingly.  Baking soda has acid neutralizing capabilities, it could neutralize your entire battery if you soaked your battery in a large amount of the mixture.  If you did this, it is again time to go buy a new battery.

Now leave the battery and go back to the boat.  Place your attention to the battery cables and clean the ends of those with your baking soda solution as well.  A piece of sand paper might work well to knock off any dirt or grime still hanging around and taking away from the metal contact area of your cables.

If your battery is clean and so are your cables it is time to reconnect the battery to your boat.  Hook the terminals back up and let’s go ahead and set up a charger system that will benefit you all summer long.  What I use on my boat is a 1 amp trickle charger.  This will not charge your boat’s battery quickly.  A marine battery’s electrons like to be slowly excited.  The idea behind this is to leave the trickle charger on for long periods of time.  This makes for a much stronger, longer lasting charge.  If your are 5-10 days away from going on the lake the time to hook up your trickle charge is now.  What I do is set up my trickle charger with an extension cord next to where I park my boat all summer long.  So every time I get off the lake I hook up the trickle charger, put the cover on, and go fire up the grill.  This way I never have to worry about finding a dead battery when all my friends and family are ready for fun on the lake.

Your boat’s battery will provide you years of enjoyment if you treat it right.  I am pretty sure mine was manufactured in the 1990’s.  You really can get decades of use out of a marine battery if you take some simple steps to care for it before, during, and after the season.  We love to help you keep your boat running and see you having fun.  If there are any tips on marine battery maintenance we have missed please feel free to send them to us on Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter, or Google +.  Thanks for reading.  See you on the water.

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