Battery leakage: causes and prevention

If you have a tv remote, a torch or a toy race car, you’ve definitively come to find out what happens when you leave your batteries in for too long. A white, powdery crust leaks out of them, making them unfit for use. What causes battery leakage? And what measures should you take to prevent it? Read on to find out.

What causes a battery to leak?

When an (alkaline) battery works, i.e. releases power, the chemicals inside create a gas. If this occurs too much, the battery cell may rupture. This is where leakage may occur. Normally, the battery seal prevents this.

Why is that a problem? Should a battery be able to withstand such pressure? Well, yes and no. After normal use, a battery should not leak. The cell is strong enough to withstand built up gases inside.

Leakage happens when a battery is left in a device for too long, especially when it’s not used. As that device is left unused, it still periodically ‘checks’ for the remaining power. That puts a certain amount of stress on the battery, putting it at a greater risk for leakage.

Battery leakage

Discover more battery usage tips in this article. 

How to prevent battery leakage

To prevent your batteries from leaking, take them out if you plan on not using your device for longer periods of time. 

Also, when inserting multiple batteries into a device, always use the same brand, the same type, and the same energy level. Why? Mixing batteries will cause an imbalance: the ‘stronger’ battery will overcompensate and discharge too quickly - putting it at a greater risk of leakage.

What to do with leaked batteries

What should you do when you notice battery leakage? Remove the battery immediately, but proceed with caution: work in a well-ventilated area, away from heat sources. Wear protective eye-wear and gloves if possible to avoid contact with the residue. After removing the leaked batteries, clean out the battery compartment with a cotton swab or an old toothbrush. Put the batteries in a plastic bag and recycle.

Be sure to avoid contact with the discharge at all times. Always wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water afterwards. In case of eye contact, seek medical attention immediately.
 

Find the right batteries for all your appliances