Battery swelling is a fairly common issue that can cause permanent damage to a phone, and it’s potentially harmful both for the phone owner and the technician handling it. There are a lot of misconceptions around the reasons why a battery swells and how to properly handle the issue. This article will help you understand what causes a battery to swell, how to replace it, and how to prevent it from happening again.
Causes of Battery Swelling
The causes of battery swelling can be divided into two groups: gas and solid. Sometimes the wrapping surrounding batteries is airtight and won’t allow the gas to be released. The problem arises when that battery releases gas over time. When the wrap prevents the diffusion of gases, the battery swells. The battery can also react to impact, rapid temperature or pressure change, or exposure to moisture in a certain way that causes the solid materials to expand inside, also causing a battery swelling.
Another reason can be using the wrong charger for the device multiple times. Phone chargers typically provide a 5V supply and if a person charges their phone with anything higher, there’s a chance the circuit will be overloaded causing the battery to expand.
When fixing a phone with battery swelling, the importance of being cautious cannot be overstated, especially if it’s solid swelling. When it comes to solid swelling, the battery is compromised and is more likely to have other issues when exposed to high heat or pressure. However, any kind of swelling will damage the phone if not handled properly.
Keep in mind the risk of the battery catching fire. If a device smells bad or is overheating, power down the phone and follow safety fire procedures by placing it in a fireproof container.
Preparing Your Work Area
To make sure you have a safe repair space, make sure the battery’s charge is as close to zero percent as possible. If necessary, use a device such as the Kaisi iPhone Battery Charger Activation Board to draw down the charge level. It’s also very important to keep the area ventilated, wear safety goggles for eye protection, and safety gloves to prevent any skin contact with the battery’s chemicals.
As we previously explained in our article on How to Build a Safe Repair Space, using non-flammable surfaces and ESD safety mats is ideal. Since there’s a chance of the battery catching fire, it’s not a bad idea to have a bucket of sand next to you.
Do NOT, in any case, expose the battery to water or moisture. The reaction of the water in contact with the lithium can cause very serious problems.
How to Safely Remove the Battery
Now that you have a proper space, start by removing the battery using isopropyl alcohol or an adhesive remover. This will help to remove the battery more easily and you most likely won’t need to use pry tools (that can potentially puncture the battery, causing it to catch on fire).
Be mindful that solvents are flammable, so handle them with care. Do not use any metal tools. Instead choose dull, plastic ones. If the device starts to warm up or get smoky, immediately place it in the fireproof bucket of sand and wait for it to cool down before trying again.
There’s only one way to dispose of a battery: recycle it.
How to Prevent the Battery Swelling
Educate your customer about letting the battery run out to almost zero and charging it at normal temperatures, not letting the phone charge for longer than it needs to, or stopping and re-starting charging multiple times at short periods.
Another crucial thing is to avoid dropping the device at all costs. Cracking a screen can be the least of someone’s issues! Drops can puncture the battery and cause serious and potentially disastrous problems to a device. And last but not least, explain to the customer that batteries get old and can start releasing toxic gas until they explode. A good way of preventing this from happening is by replacing the battery from time to time before the worst happens. How about offering clients free battery check-ups when they come to replace their screens? This is a great way of upselling and making them happy for sharing your knowledge!
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