No one is pleased when the time comes to do maintenance on their boat, but holding off on maintenance can make your marine voyage much less enjoyable or productive. Whether you use your boat for business or recreation, keeping up with maintenance is incredibly important. While most issues that can happen on the water are likely to be an inconvenience, some maintenance issues can pose more significant danger. One of the most important systems to keep functioning while on the water is your electrical systems. Many parts of your boat rely on the battery working as intended; everything from the motor to the radio relies on electricity from your battery. While many boaters keep a good eye on the battery itself, it can be easy to unintentionally overlook an equally important component: Boat Battery Cables. In this article, we will explore the warning signs you can watch for to know when it’s time to do maintenance on your battery cables.
1. Watch for Fraying and Splitting
One of the easiest ways to tell whether or not you need new boat battery cables is to check the cable for fraying or splitting. Fraying indicates severe cable degradation that has reached the copper center of your cables. Fraying can pose significant risks, so ensure that your engine is turned off and that you are cautious if you discover a frayed wire. Somewhat less dangerous, but equally important to address, are cables with cracked or split insulation. While cracked cables are less likely to pose risk of shock, they can easily let moisture in that could short your system or create a dangerous situation. Frayed and split cables should be replaced immediately.
2. Carefully Inspect for Corrosion
Corrosion of cables is most common around the connectors where your boat battery cables attach to your battery. Corrosion can not only damage your cables but your battery itself. To inspect for corrosion, look for white crust around the connectors of your battery cable. Be careful to use work gloves while inspecting, as the residue itself can be corrosive.
If you find corrosion on your connectors, it’s worth purchasing new cables. While corrosion is not as pressing as cracked or frayed cables, it can quickly worsen, so don’t neglect it!
3. Use Your Other Senses
It usually doesn’t occur to most boaters to inspect cables using their sense of smell or hearing; however, both of these senses can be helpful in determining issues with your cables. First off, if you smell an acrid smell or the smell of burning rubber in your battery compartment, it is likely a sign of degradation somewhere in the compartment and can warrant further inspection. Especially in the case of a burning rubber smell, be sure to do a detailed search of the compartment immediately. Burning smells can directly indicate that a cable is overheating, which can be the result of degradation of the cable.
As for utilizing the sense of hearing, if you are having electrical issues or are simply doing routine inspections, gently flex your battery cables. If you hear a crackling noise, it can be a sign that there is damage to the interior of the cable. Don’t hesitate to replace wires that crackle or pop when gently flexed. Don’t over-flex your cables, however, as over-flexing can cause damage to the cable insulation.
If you’ve determined that you need replacement cables, or if you’ve decided you’d like to have a spare set on hand, make sure to come by our store at ewcswire.com. Our team of professionals can help you get the right cables as well as answer any questions you might have about your electrical system needs. Come visit today!