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Old 03-11-2014, 05:41 PM   #1
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GFCI/electrical problem

In 4 years of full timing we are staying in an RV park that charges for electrical on top of monthly rent (we usually boondock). Went to pay the electric bill and was SHOCKED since we use very little electrical and are set up for boondocking! The manager agreed it seemed very high and sent the maintenance guy over to replace the meter and to take a look.

I was drawing about 12 amps with nothing in the MH turned on.

I had my DW turn off breakers one by one until it when to 0-2 amps. Breaker #3 did it. The breaker is labeled "Bath/External". I turned on the breaker and hit the "test" button on the GCFI next to the bathroom sink. It sparked and the meter went from 9 amps (on the one line) to 0 amps.

The questions are:

1) Could a bad CFCI outlet short and have that symptom?
2) It was suggested that the engine block heater could be stuck on. Is that possible and would it be the "external" part of breaker? Its a Cummins 400 ISL and no switch for a block heater in the cockpit area.
3) Can/should I replace the CFCI outlet with a standard outlet?
4) What's the easiest way to find what all is on that circuit other than plugs that don't work now?

Thanks!
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Old 03-11-2014, 05:51 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kjackson View Post
I was drawing about 12 amps with nothing in the MH turned on.

I had my DW turn off breakers one by one until it when to 0-2 amps. Breaker #3 did it. The breaker is labeled "Bath/External". I turned on the breaker and hit the "test" button on the GCFI next to the bathroom sink. It sparked and the meter went from 9 amps (on the one line) to 0 amps.

The questions are:

1) Could a bad CFCI outlet short and have that symptom?
NOT LIKELY
2) It was suggested that the engine block heater could be stuck on. Is that possible and would it be the "external" part of breaker? Its a Cummins 400 ISL and no switch for a block heater in the cockpit area.
EASILY COULD DRAW THAT SINCE IT MIGHT BE A 600 TO 1000 WATT HEATER.
THE HEATER SHOULD BE PLUGGED IN SOMEWHERE.
3) Can/should I replace the CFCI outlet with a standard outlet?
NO UNLESS YOU WANT YOUR HAIR TO GO CURLEY
4) What's the easiest way to find what all is on that circuit other than plugs that don't work now?
THAT IS THE EASIEST WAY

Thanks!
once you find the plug for the heater you will find the current drain. next put a switch on it.
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Old 03-11-2014, 06:43 PM   #3
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No way the outlet is the problem. It has to be something that heats to draw that much current. That is a lot of power. I too would vote for an engine block heater.

Care to share how large the electric was?
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Old 03-11-2014, 06:45 PM   #4
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I don't think a bad GFI could draw 9 amps without showing overheating or melting! Often the block heater will be just plugged in to an outlet in a compartment near engine. Look for a 120 v power cord coming from the engine and trace it to the outlet, then unplug when you don't want engine pre-heated. I'd replace the GFI with another GFI, they serve a purpose to keep everyone safe.

12 amps, with 'everything off' is a lot of current. (1440 watts @ 120 v) Your converter/charger or inverter, after being plugged in for a while, shouldn't draw much power if batteries are good and at full charge. How about electric water heater element, refrigerator? Those items, with a block heater, could add up to the 1440 watts.
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Old 03-11-2014, 06:51 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by YC1 View Post
No way the outlet is the problem. It has to be something that heats to draw that much current. That is a lot of power. I too would vote for an engine block heater.

Care to share how large the electric was?
The bill came to $157! We have all led lights an LCD TV. A propane heater. I expected a bill of under $50.
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Old 03-11-2014, 06:58 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by BFlinn181 View Post
I don't think a bad GFI could draw 9 amps without showing overheating or melting! Often the block heater will be just plugged in to an outlet in a compartment near engine. Look for a 120 v power cord coming from the engine and trace it to the outlet, then unplug when you don't want engine pre-heated. I'd replace the GFI with another GFI, they serve a purpose to keep everyone safe.

12 amps, with 'everything off' is a lot of current. (1440 watts @ 120 v) Your converter/charger or inverter, after being plugged in for a while, shouldn't draw much power if batteries are good and at full charge. How about electric water heater element, refrigerator? Those items, with a block heater, could add up to the 1440 watts.
I checked the circuit with the frig and water heater. Those circuits were not the problem. I'll search for the engine block heater cord and pull it or put a switch on it. We are snow birders and will rarely be in cold temps.
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Old 03-12-2014, 07:57 AM   #7
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If a GFCI outlet were drawing 9 amps it would be very warm to the touch and likely melt.. If it is PASSING 9 amps.. Well feel the patio outlet if it is warm you have a very odd situation.. Usually if that box fills with water the GFCI goes CLICK and shuts it off). and after that there are a whole bunch of excelent ideas above.

That outlet feeds kitchen, patio any other baths, it may feed your Fridge or some other appliances, it likely feeds any outlets near the dining table.
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Old 03-12-2014, 10:16 AM   #8
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If you were running two AC's a lot it could reach that dollar amount. However, drawing that much current without something heating would not be normal.

Let us know if your block heater is plugged in/turned on.
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Old 03-12-2014, 10:24 AM   #9
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I found a plug that went to a 110 outlet in the electrical bay that went towards the engine. I pulled it out. I'm sure its for the engine block. Going to verify it today when I test the GFCI.
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Old 03-12-2014, 10:30 AM   #10
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I found a plug that went to a 110 outlet in the electrical bay that went towards the engine. I pulled it out. I'm sure its for the engine block. Going to verify it today when I test the GFCI.
I think you solved your own problem!! Enjoy lower bills, but you will have a cold engine.
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Old 03-12-2014, 11:04 AM   #11
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I agree it is probably your engine block heater. Some coaches have switches for that in the bedroom area not on the control panel.

I disagree with your method of determining that everything was off. I am not there so I do not know how you determined everything was off. It appears you had your wife turn the breakers off until you got a lower reading. I think a more accurate way would have been to turn all the breakers off and make sure you had 0 amps. Then turn them on one at a time looking at the individual readings.

Please let us know if that fixes the problem. If not there might be some other avenues we can recommend
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Old 03-12-2014, 11:49 AM   #12
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I agree it is probably your engine block heater. Some coaches have switches for that in the bedroom area not on the control panel.

I disagree with your method of determining that everything was off. I am not there so I do not know how you determined everything was off. It appears you had your wife turn the breakers off until you got a lower reading. I think a more accurate way would have been to turn all the breakers off and make sure you had 0 amps. Then turn them on one at a time looking at the individual readings.

Please let us know if that fixes the problem. If not there might be some other avenues we can recommend
There are many ways to skin a cat. I don't see that your method shows any advantage over the OP's strategy. He arrived at the fact the big drain was coming from '#3 Bath/external' and the test button on the GFI caused a spark further showing large amps. He solved his problem, isn't that the idea?
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Old 03-12-2014, 02:12 PM   #13
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I found a plug that went to a 110 outlet in the electrical bay that went towards the engine. I pulled it out. I'm sure its for the engine block. Going to verify it today when I test the GFCI.

That recep in the bay is probably on the load side of the GFCI, if it is, that's why the recep arc'ed when you tripped it, it had a load on it.
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Old 03-12-2014, 08:34 PM   #14
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There are many ways to skin a cat. I don't see that your method shows any advantage over the OP's strategy. He arrived at the fact the big drain was coming from '#3 Bath/external' and the test button on the GFI caused a spark further showing large amps. He solved his problem, isn't that the idea?

Yes there are many ways to achieve the same results on many things. The way he did it he was just looking for a large lowering of the readings. By turning off everything he can see if it actually goes to a zero reading. If he has any current draw when all the circuit breakers are all off then he knows he needs to look at everything between the pedestal and the breaker panel to see why he has a current draw. But everyone has their own way of doing something. I am glad he probably found his problem but I wanted to give someone else that is reading this another method that I think is better. I do not know about the OP or anyone elses skills but I have a lot of experience working with very advanced very sophisticated electronics. I have spent a lot of time doing things one way to find later that a little bit different method would achieve the same or better results with less time involved.
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