A Look Into Swollen Batteries: Causes and What To Do With Them

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Swollen batteries - ifixit

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Recently, Tech YouTuber Mrwhosetheboss shared a video taking a look at Samsung phones and their swollen batteries even on devices just two years old like the foldable Galaxy Z Fold2. This seemed to be the case for him and other content creators regardless of the temperature of the place and how the devices are stored.

Because of this, we decided to take a look at swollen batteries, what causes them, and what you can do with them.

Swollen batteries - Mrwhosetheboss - Galaxy Z Fold2
Galaxy Z Fold2

Before we get into it, keep in mind that batteries, may it be the ones inside your phone or your laptop, are something that is consumable. No matter how much care you give them, they will need to be replaced at some time.

Some of us have experienced battery issues with one of our devices for sure. One of the most common issues and also quite dangerous are swollen batteries.

What Causes a Swollen Battery?

Batteries that have Lithium-ion inside them use a chemical reaction to generate power. As the battery ages, the reaction degrades and thus creates gas inside the battery case in a process called “outgassing” which then leads to the battery being swollen after some time.

Swollen batteries - ifixit

Moreover, the particulates caught between the layers in the battery casing puncture the membranes that separate the said layers. This puncture introduces the moisture in the air that reacts with the cell causing it to swell.

On the YouTube channel Mrwhosetheboss, the YouTuber shared that Samsung phones seem to have this problem on almost all of their smartphone models. He showed a few Samsung phones in his collection that have expanded showing the swollen batteries and opened them up to show us what happened.

Watch the video here.

So what should we do or what can we do if we encounter this problem? Let us give you a few safety tips and some ideas on how you can safely handle a compromised battery.

WARNING: Before proceeding to the next part of the article, we would like to remind you that dealing with swollen or compromised batteries is a fire hazard and is very dangerous to handle. If you are not confident in handling such material we advise you to seek professional help instead.

How to Deal with a Swollen Battery?

Dealing with this problem starts by identifying what is happening first. So first up, inspect your device and look for signs like cracks or bending around the device where the battery sits. This is easier to spot on phones.

Then next is the smell test. If you notice a foul-smelling odor coming from your phone then you know something is wrong. You may notice a metallic chemical smell which could be the battery’s gas leaking out. However, for safety reasons don’t directly smell the battery with your nose but rather try to fan it with your hands towards your nose instead. 

After checking your device externally you can now go ahead and check the battery itself. Remember, only do this if your phone can easily be opened without disturbing the battery. You will see the battery puff up or has a loose wrapping or wrinkly on the outside then which is a clear sign of a swollen battery.

How to Remove or Safely Dispose of Swollen Batteries?

Swollen batteries - Mrwhosetheboss - fireproof bag
fire-proof pouch
  • Do not charge your device if you are sure it has a swollen battery – this may cause a fire. What you should do is let the battery drain to reduce this risk.
  • Protect yourself – make sure that the device is away from other fire hazards and make sure you are in a well-ventilated room. Wear gloves/goggles to ensure safety. Use a pair of long tongs to handle the battery, do not touch it.
  • Do not use water – water is not the best option if a fire starts in this case. Make sure you have a bag of dirt or sand beside you when this happens.
  • Do not throw it in the trash can immediately – YouTuber Mrwhosetheboss placed the phones with swollen batteries inside fire-proof pouches before he disposed of them. So you can follow that method and make sure to deliver it to a proper e-waste processing facility near you.

As a final note, proper care can prolong your battery’s life span. Simple things like not letting your battery be charged 100% all the time and not completely draining it will extend its life. You should also avoid using low-quality charging cables and adaptors.

Sources 1, 2

Started his freelancing adventure in 2018 and began doing freelance Audio Engineering work and then started freelance writing a few years later.

Currently he writes for Gadget Pilipinas and formerly wrote for Grit.PH.

He is also a musician, foody, gamer, and PC enthusiast.

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