Sunday, November 28, 2010

Electrical Mayhem

Friday night as Beverly was cooking coconut pies for a family get together on Saturday, she noticed the light in the refrigerator was not coming on. Outside it was dark, cold and misty. Not a good time to go poking around searching for electrical problems.

Using an extension cord I was able to get power to the refrigerator from an outlet I installed next to the breaker box last year. This solution would see us through the night.

Saturday morning I was able to check all the breakers for power and all of them were showing as good. This to me meant that there has to be a short somewhere in the line that powers the refrigerator. With my volt tester I began to check for outlets that did not have power. Of course the refrigerator was the first that I checked, there were six outlets on one side of the RV that had no power. These outlets seemed to be connected one to the other, but then the mayhem of it all.

One lonely outlet with a ground fault on the opposite side of the RV above the vanity in the bathroom. The safety had been tripped. When I tried to reset the ground fault switch it would not hold. Ok, this means I need to install a new GF outlet.

To avoid the holiday shopping madness I chose to stop at a hardware store on the way to the family get together and install the new GF outlet Saturday evening when we return. Wouldn’t you know it, the hardware store was closed. Sign said “Gone shopping”. Short on time I decide to wait until Sunday morning to purchase the GF outlet.

It was getting late, close to bed time so I decided to try and reset the GF outlet one more time. The switch held and I again had power to all the electrical outlets that were dead. I still intend on installing a new GF outlet in the bathroom, one that has both plug-ins  ground faulted. I also intend on changing the way the GF is wired in so next time only the bathroom power will shut down in the event the GF trips.

When the new GF outlet installation is complete I will post images of what I did and how I did it.


Wil said...

Howdy Jim. Just got around to reading this entry. You've probably already changed the wiring to the GFCI, but I thought I might comment, just in case you are a procrastinator. Those GFCI's are intended to protect from stray electrical currents in damp or wet locations. That includes the "basement" of your MH, as well as all outlets within a 6' radius of sinks, tubs, showers, washers, ice makers, dishwashers (unless these devices are protected with a simplex outlet) and exterior outlets. Do any of those other 5 fit that description, besides the refrigerator outlet? It is considered a damp location due to (a) the louvered vent which admits moisture from outside and (b) poses the possibility of electrocution to ground through myriad potential fault paths while you or a technician become the best way to earth for the current to flow.

I just want you and your family to have the safest experience possible. By all means, eliminate those outlets and switches on the circuit that control overhead lights and wall outlets on the interior of the unit not subject to moisture, but otherwise, best leave things as they are. And keep a spare GFCI of the type used in your unit on hand as when they fail, they generally have to be replaced. There usually isn't a middle ground.

Good luck.

James & Beverly said...

Thanks for your input Will. I took into consideration all the outlets that are within reach of moisture. I elected to install GFCI outlets at each location rather than rely on a single GFCI outlet to control all of the outlets. The $17 for each of the 4 locations does not out weight the safety factor I desire. Photos have not been placed as my camera was in need of batteries at the time I installed the GFCI outlets.

Anonymous said...

Hi-all your info very int and helpful...dreaming of a Rialta for my dogs and me, but now realize a single wise woman just not going to be able to cope re issues keep cropping up. You are very clever and industrious.
I will deep dreaming always.
Happy trails.