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What Is Wrong With My Charging System?

CodyWe have had some conversations recently regarding battery powered electronic systems used in this industry. Soft washing pumps and some electric start pressure washers rely on the correct amount of voltage and amperage to operate correctly. I would like to share some of my basic electronic knowledge to assist in trouble shooting.  You may run into an issue with a component that could just have of the simplest of things to resolve.

When checking 12 volt electronic equipment, I recommend using a voltage meter as oppose to a test light. A test light is a good tool to have to see if power is coming in but it will not tell you exactly how much. A volt meter can help truly determine if you’re getting the right amount of power to the component that is tested.

When attempting to troubleshoot an issue like this I usually ask the following questions. Did you replace anything? What happened before it stopped working? What changed?

So I will give a few examples:

You have a battery that is fully charged but the unit will not power on. Check a few things in this scenario. Starting from the battery to the switch.
Here are some helpful troubleshooting tips to get started.

  • Corroded Terminals- One of the most overlooked simple problem is a corroded or loose terminal. If your former shiny new terminal looks green, its needs to be cleaned. Use an aerosol spray terminal cleaner and a wire brush. Check the wires at the terminal for corrosion too. In some cases, corroded wire may have to be replaced if it’s too bad.
  • Check your ground- if the ground wire is loose this will cause many problems especially with charging properly. If the ground wire connects to the frame check the terminal and ground screw for continuity with a volt meter.
  • Loose or damaged wires- So, if you able to move the wire and hold the wire in a certain spot then it works but not when it sits normal ,then something is wrong. The wire may not be connected properly, burnt, or even cut in some cases.
  • Burnt Fuses- If your system has a fuse, easily check the fuse for a broken connection inside the fuse. Replace the fuse and see if it pops. If it continues to pop there may be a short from the ground or an electronic component that is malfunctioning.
  • Battery and Charging System-Verify the battery has the specifications required to power the system properly. A battery can be tested for 12 volts easily with a volt meter or test light. But it can be difficult to test the amount of amps the battery is pushing out. Diaphragm pumps require 30 amps out of the battery to work properly. When under 30 amps this may cause the relay to malfunction and need to be replaced. Since battery chargers do not normally come with batteries its best to match up battery charger with the battery. My personal preference is a 10/2 amp with an analog meter that can give you a visual of where your charge is at. Digital Chargers are good but some of them only offer led lights that show charged, or charging.  If your charging system is part of your pressure washer, then check the voltage coming off of the system and check for loose belts.
  • Check your switch- look for corrosion, or a damaged switch. Are the terminals connecting to the wires? In some cases the switch just needs to be replaced.

There are many similar connection scenarios that can be resolved by just checking a few simple things. But sometimes the situation may require a little harder and sometimes frustrating troubleshooting. Reviewing a diagram or schematic for a detailed map of what goes where is very helpful. I will touch base on this more in the next coming articles.

Have a great week and Wash on

2 thoughts on “What Is Wrong With My Charging System?”

  • Peter

    Great advice. Thanks for sharing this. Having this knowledge will be a great help in the field. I had to learn the hard way, trial and error.

  • Randy

    A low impeedence volt meter will show 12 volts, a test light may light up or be dim, or no light. You need a load on a circuit to test it, and a volt meter is usually power with a battery in the meter. Trailer brakes cannot be tested with a voltmeter for the same reasons. A halogen bulb is the best as it will dim and brighten when the brake" gain" is increased or decreased. A person needs to learn how to use a test light and there is more to it than a ground and power. True amp test should be run in line ,not just a clamp on meter. Hope this helps.

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