I have a device I have never used before. Unfortunately I found out that one of the device's 3 LR44 cells was leaking white potassium carbonate. See my sketchy illustration below.

I have only 2 new cells to replace the three. Even though I understand that it is best to combine cells that have common history, I started to wonder that, in general, does the leaking cell destroy or at least greatly degrade the others in the same series? If not, then the two with no leak would be fine and I could just replace the leaked one. If yes, then is it best for me to go shopping for more cells?

Three LR44 cells in a series

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    A "cell" is a single energy storage unit. A "battery" is a set of them fitted together to achieve greater voltage or capacity. In common English, the two have become interchangeable, but for technical discussions it's worth clarifying. – isherwood Jan 15 '16 at 22:10
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    If you can measure the cell voltages if they are close to a new one they would work. However the life will not be as long as the 2 cells will fail before the new one. They should have 1.5V each when in circuit and a current draw you will see the voltage on the older ones drop below the new one. – Ed Beal Jan 15 '16 at 22:23

You're fine replacing just the bad cell. Clean everything & even sand or file any of the device's contacts that look discolored. If you have another device where the LR44's can go now or in the future write "spare" on them & replace all 3 cells. On the flip side, write the date on just the replacement cell so you don't toss that when the other 2 give out.

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