I Hate It When This Happens (Leaky Battery Blues)

November 1st, 2009 by Benj Edwards

Burst Macintosh Clock Battery
VC&G Collecting Tip: Remove your old computer clock batteries.

Right now.

I’m serious: do it. Despite my regular battery purges (done to avoid just such a situation), I forgot to remove the Mac IIsi PRAM battery you see above because the computer was buried under a bunch of stuff. The battery electrolyte leaked out and corroded everything it touched, ruining the logic board. Sometimes you can recover from battery leaks with extensive cleaning if the damage isn’t that bad. In this case, it wasn’t worth the effort. Bye, bye, IIsi.

While you’re ditching the vintage clock batteries, do yourself a favor and remove the main power batteries from any laptops in your collection. I typically store laptop batteries in a gallon zipper bag each. Even if the batteries are dead/bad (which they usually are), I save the plastic cases for re-use if I plan to rebuild the battery in the future.

As a good rule of thumb, never keep batteries (no matter how new) in any electronic device for longer than a couple weeks of non-use. Any longer, and you’re just playing Russian roulette with your gadgets.

Almost all batteries leak eventually. If your old ones haven’t leaked already, you’re very lucky. Focus on alkaline and NiCd batteries first, because they leak the worst; lithium cells can leak as well (as seen above), but it’s less common overall.

Regardless of the type, if they’re old, remove them now — even if it requires clipping or desoldering — and spare yourself the leaky battery blues later on.

4 Responses to “I Hate It When This Happens (Leaky Battery Blues)”

  1. Brian Hanifin Says:

    This is one of the saddest things to see in an old pinball machine. For this reason it is common practice to move the batteries off the circuit board into a new remote battery pack.

  2. Moondog Says:

    This picture reminded me of a few Maglites I owned over the years, and had to toss because batteries swelled up or leaked.

  3. orsty3001 Says:

    I pull the batteries out of all my old electronics now. I had a few things die because of that.

    Also I just ordered a Dreamcast memory card and it wouldn’t work because the batteries had corroded. Apparently it doesn’t take that long for something to become f***ed because of old batteries.

  4. Matt Says:

    Guys, there are a lot of available retrofit kits to remove the batteries from the board (particularly for arcade games). In the related field of arcade collecting, these are pretty common, particularly for old machines that used 9V backups of score. Non-permanent mods… definitely worth the money.

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