HELP! TT not grounded or is there a short? - Page 2 - Fiberglass RV


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Old 10-07-2007, 09:03 AM   #15
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I like the easy simple tests first so unplug the trailer from the original GFI outlet and just try disconnecting the wires for the A/C up at the roof(tape the wires for safety) and plug in the trailer and see if it trips the circuit ( i know you flipped the breakers off but you never know if it's faulty)....hopefully that will do it then you would just reverse the wires at the A/C.....(for some reason i think this will be the problem area because you removed the unit and may have a faulty breaker)
If not and all circuits are flipped off then my next area of interest would be the external plug from there to the converter for any physical damage.
Sure hope one of us here figures it out for you so you can go on your trip.
Joe
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Old 10-07-2007, 12:02 PM   #16
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If I read you post correctly you have plugged your trailer into 2 differant outlets at your home, one of which is a Ground Fault interupter outlet. You appareantly do not have a problem when you plug into the non GFI outlet.
Could it be you are OVERLOADING the GFI circuit that your trailer is plugged into?
As Fiberglass is non conductive you would have had to penetrate a hot wire and or a neutral or ground wire, both of which would immediately blow your circuit breakers or fuses.
I have remodeled 4 differant makes of Fiberglass trailers and have never seen wiring at the area of the belly band.

You referred to hot wires, Plural. There is only one hot wire. The other wire that you possibly are assuming is a hot wire is the neutral, white, wire which is only hot when a circuit is completed.

My advice and thoughts are free so take them for what they are worth. Electrical problems are probably the most difficult to correct, so good luck.
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Old 10-07-2007, 03:01 PM   #17
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Well, I think we have only succeeded in making ourselves more confused.

Upon one forum member's suggestion, we plugged the trailer into a NON-GFI, but correctly wired grounded outlet (we verified it with a circuit tester) that is also an isolated circuit and everything in the TT worked fine: the AC turned on, the two 3 prong outlets in the trailer worked, the lights and fans all worked just fine. And the breaker for that circuit did not trip off. We also plugged the circuit tester into the trailer's three prong outlets while the trailer was plugged in to the NON-GFI grounded outlet and the tester showed no problems.

However, if I understand some of the forum postings correctly, this doesn't mean that we don't have a short, does it? Because the 3 prong outlet we plugged in to this time is not a GFI, it is normal that it wouldn't trip even if there were a problem, right?

We wondered whether or not it would tell us something to disconnect the wires that run from the trailer to the positive and negative posts on the trailer battery and use the multimeter to try to test whether or not there was resistance on the wires coming from the trailer? Would that tell us if there is in fact a short in the trailer wiring, and from there we'd know that we do need to test the individual circuits?

But we are also still confused on how to use the voltometer to test the circuits that go in to the travel trailer breaker and fuse box to determine whether or not any of them are showing resistance. There are big plugs going in to the back of the breaker box. I wish I could post a photo.

One of us thinks that we still need to confirm that there is no problem with the trailer wiring. The other feels that since everything is working on the NON-GFI grounded outlet, there is nothing to worry about.
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Old 10-07-2007, 03:06 PM   #18
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Be Careful!
If you hit a hot wire with one of the Belly Band screws the metal portion of the whole belly could be hot. If plugged into a non-GFI outlet the voltage could be lethal. If you hit a neutral wire or grounded wire the band should be grounded, not good but probably not unsafe.

Try a different power cord. A long or damp power cord can have a small amount of leakage which if added to a small amount of leakage in the trailer can add up to triping the GFI. GFI's on construction sites are subject to nusance tripping especially in damp weather.

Many motorized appliances (ie: an AC unit) can cause a GFI to trip on startup. It's normal, GFI's are not required for refigerators and freezers in houses.

Tracking down nusance tripping can cause electricins to get grey hair, if they have any left, I know.

Good Luck
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Old 10-07-2007, 03:58 PM   #19
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You are really at the point that you should pay someone to take a look.
A trained electrician could perform some basic tests and isolate the circuit that is tripping the GFI.
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Old 10-07-2007, 08:11 PM   #20
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try a different gfci in another location, or change the existing one,sometimes they are simply too sensitive for trailers. The ones I plug my car into in the winter are constantly tripping for no reason
If testing inside the trailers shows the plugs as good, I don't think you have a problem.
If you had a short it would still trip the main breaker in the house.
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Old 10-08-2007, 09:43 AM   #21
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Thanks, everyone,

We finally located another GFI that is correctly wired, so will see if we can get the extension cords to go that far to test again.

Then, if needed, will check the AC wires as suggested.

Then, if all else fails, will remove the bellyband and start unscrewing spots to see if that makes a difference.

We are not adverse to calling in an expert once we have exhausted what remedies we can try ourselves we can do, but haven't heard back yet from either repairman we called last week.
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Old 10-08-2007, 10:18 AM   #22
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One other thing you might look for is an open neutral (white wire). Depending on how the trailer is wired an open neutral could cause a GFI to trip.
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Old 10-08-2007, 10:56 AM   #23
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We have a GFI at home that "Trips" when we plug the cord in of a hot circuit. Such as a lamp that is already turned on.

We simply reset the GFI with the cord already plugged in and the lamp turned on and it no longer trips.

I think it trips because the cord that is being plugged in, all 3 contacts do not make contact at the same time and the GFI thinks something is wrong.
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Old 10-08-2007, 01:14 PM   #24
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WHAT THE...?

Maybe I won't have to touch the bellyband and any of the screws... maybe it is the AC instead?

I managed to plug the trailer in to a different GFI outlet (that I verified was correctly wired using the circuit tester) and it did NOT trip anything until I put the AC on "COOL" or moved the temperature setting knob. It did fine with the AC on the Low Heat and Low Fan setting, but when I moved the Temperature selection knob on the right or selected "Cool" instead, the GFI tripped within seconds.

But then, I tried plugging the travel trailer in to this same GFI with the AC turned OFF, and the GFI tripped WITHOUT the AC being on.

If anyone has a recommendation for a reliable and reasonably priced Phoenix, AZ area travel trailer electrical/AC service shop or mobile repairman, please let us know... a lot of places around here only work on motorhomes and class A, not trailers. Camping World is not well-rated here and their service work prices are outrageous.

Thanks very much!
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Old 10-08-2007, 05:32 PM   #25
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UPDATE:

Newbieitis strikes again...!

I was finally successful in reaching Dennis of Nelson's RV Repair here in Phoenix (who had been recommended by Ken, the fellow who did a great job on the TT axle replacement). I explained the scenario and according to Dennis:

It is perfectly normal for an underpowered GFI to trip as described. 15 amp household GFIs are not intended to power a travel trailer, so running an AC off of one is definitely not realistic, and even powering fans and smaller fixtures in the TT may overload a 15 amp GFI. Oh.

A GFI in general may trip easily when connected to a travel trailer because the travel trailer has its own internal ground and when the GFI senses this, it thinks there's something wrong (this was a little confusing, because I thought that campground 30 amp outlets all had to be grounded persuant to a regulation change, but perhaps this only comes into play with underpowered GFIs). Oh.

I also read (in the invaluable Trailer Life RV Repair & Maintenance Manual) and Dennis confirmed that using an extension cord rather than plugging directly into an outlet compounds any underamperage issues because the longer the power has to travel, the more "oomph" it loses and most common outdoor extension cords are undersized as it is for their length, so they lose a lot of power. Thus, running two extension cords about 80 feet to reach a 15 amp household GFI cannot be expected to yield successful travel trailer power source results. Oh.

Dennis recommended that, if we need to power the tt while at home, we use a non GFI outlet that has the highest possible amperage (i.e. the one we use for the fridge), but added that ideally, a TT should be plugged in to an appropriately rated 30 amp outlet, since that best matches the TT system needs. [Which would explain why people often have a 30 amp outlet installed at home for their TT]. Oh.

I am breathing a huge (though still tentative) sigh of relief. At the very least, we have now made contact with a repair professional in our area who does service ACs and electrical systems in travel trailers. Thank you, everyone for your input. I guess, if anything, newbies like us do such ignorant things that we provide an ideal opportunity for the more seasoned travel trailer owners to show off what they know. Ow, head hurts.

Val
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Old 10-08-2007, 08:59 PM   #26
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Wow, don't feel bad. I learned a thing or two from your egg-sperience! I never knew that people even had 30 amp outlets installed for their trailers at all. Hopefully that's that, and NO screws to remove and wiring to replace

The a/c-electrical repair guy seems like he's running an honest business and will be a good person to use when and if there are any future electrical or a/c concerns, so there's a bonus out of the whole situation! Don't ya just love finding good people to help out
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Old 10-09-2007, 04:48 AM   #27
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Val,

Glad you were able to get some help with your electrical problems. The dedicated 30 amp outlet is a great idea. We have one connected directly to the house breaker panel with 10 ga wiring. I like to run the air conditioning in the trailer when I am working in there. I also keep an outlet tester in one of the trailer outlets, so I know when I am "plugged in" and that the polarity is correct, good things to know when you hook-up in at a strange RV park.

I think you now know why they say, "If you have an RV, you don't need a hobby!"
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Old 10-09-2007, 09:59 AM   #28
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Thank you, Lainey and Bob and everyone for your gracious responses.


Val & Kayla
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