Many small gadgets are powered by miniature batteries, often called button batteries. Lucky for us, they are easy to check and replace. This Fix-It Guide on button battery repair tells how a button battery works, what often goes wrong, how to identify a button battery problem, and what parts and tools you will need to fix it. It then gives simple step-by-step instructions for how to test a button battery.
How Does a Button Battery Work?
A battery stores and delivers electric current. All batteries contain two electrodes and an electrolyte, which produces the chemical reaction with the electrodes resulting in a current. In “dry” batteries, the electrolyte is a paste of powdered chemicals. A battery’s voltage depends on the metals that are used in its electrodes and the number of cells.
A button battery contains powdered zinc and mercury oxide with an alkaline electrolyte. The zinc loses electrons as it becomes zinc oxide, while the mercury atoms gain electrons as the mercury oxide changes to mercury. Button batteries typically produce 1.35 volts. One side of the battery is marked with a [+], the positive side, and the other is the negative side. Button batteries are round, but come in various heights and widths.
What Can Go Wrong with a Button Battery?
Like other consumer batteries, they either work or they don’t. They aren’t rechargeable, so fixing one means replacing it. In addition, button batteries can corrode, losing their electrical connection. In extreme cases they can leak, damaging adjacent components.
When replacing a button battery in a device, always replace it with the same size and type, indicated by the battery model number, typically etched on the top side.
How Can I Identify a Button Battery Problem?
If the device stops doing what it is supposed to do or is no longer accurate, inspect the battery for corrosion or leakage. A discolored, corroded, or leaking battery should be discarded. You also can test the battery to see if it has lost its power (see below) and replace it if it is faulty. To test a button battery, make sure you use the lowest DCV (direct current volts) scale on the multimeter because voltage is very low.
What Do I Need for Button Battery Repair?
The only part you’ll need to fix a button battery is another button battery. Tools, however, depend on what the battery is installed in, because you have to gain access to it to visually and electrically check it. Typical disassembly and testing tools for smaller electrical devices are these:
- Emery cloth for cleaning
What Are the Steps to Button Battery Repair?
Test a button battery:
- Look on the battery to determine the battery voltage.
- Set the multimeter to the DCV scale.
- Touch the red multimeter probe to the battery’s [+] side and the black probe to the [-] side. If the reading is more than 10 percent below the rated output (2.7 volts for a 3V battery), the battery is bad and should be replaced.
Check your other button battery-powered devices to determine if they use the same model, and purchase batteries in multiple packs to save money.