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Old 01-14-2014, 06:41 PM   #1
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Question Help Getting Shocked From RV Steps ??

We have been set up in our RV site for 6 days and have not moved the RV and all of a sudden this afternoon when our dog came into the rig she got an electrical shock. We didn't know that was the problem until a few hours later it happened to the other dog.

It is an intermittent problem because it took 1/2 hour or so before my husband got shocked. He has reset at the outside pedestal and also inside the RV. It has not tripped any breakers which he finds usual.

We have not had any work done to the RV recently so it isn't a case of somebody fixing something and causing the problem.

Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated!

Our dog is now hiding under the dining table and won't go near the steps.

Thanks everyone for your help in advance!
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Old 01-14-2014, 06:56 PM   #2
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Are the steps electric?
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Old 01-14-2014, 07:01 PM   #3
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We had EXACTLY the same problem...

Our coach tried to kill the dog...

Ours turned out to be a melted wire nut in the inverter. Had been over-utilizing space heaters.
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Old 01-14-2014, 07:04 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Thor 37GT View Post
Are the steps electric?
No steps are not electric!
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Old 01-14-2014, 07:11 PM   #5
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You have a short or bad ground someplace. Doesn't matter if the steps are electric or not. If you touch any metal and the ground you will get a shock that could immobilize or kill the dogs or you. GET IT CHECKED AND FIXED.
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Old 01-14-2014, 07:16 PM   #6
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Very dangerous and can be fatal.

RV Electrical Safety: Part IV – Hot Skin | No~Shock~Zone

Good summary at above link.

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Old 01-14-2014, 07:27 PM   #7
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I was just going to post a link to the No-Shock Zone website.

You could have what's called a "hot skin". Potentially very dangerous. Unplug the RV immediately until you diagnose the cause.

You can buy a non-contact voltage tester like this one: Klein Tools Non-Contact Voltage Tester-NCVT-1SEN at The Home Depot Plug the RV back into the source and use the tester to see if the skin is hot, but do not touch anything.

You could have a defective shore power cord, improperly wired shore power receptacle or something wrong inside your RV.
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Old 01-14-2014, 07:44 PM   #8
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My thoughts are you have a leak to the chassis from the 120Vac hot line(s) or a pedestal problem.

This needs to be corrected ASAP because it is dangerous.

Suggest you unplug the electrical cord and check for polarity correctness and other pedestal power issues. If all is good at the pedestal, then check your coach AC wiring to make certain all connections are solid and again each circuit does not have a problem or reversed polarity.

Good luck

PS Did my post while others were giving good responses, the message is the same, Unplug and fix the problem.
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Old 01-14-2014, 07:53 PM   #9
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I would check the few moving parts of an RV when on site. Check all wiring that moves with the slides to 110v outlets in the slide. Make sure you haven't pinched the shore power cord in the doors or under the leveling jacks. This is potentially lethal so you must unplug until you find the problem. Never touch anything metal on your rig while you are in contact with the ground or you will become " the path of least resistance" with unfortunate results!
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Old 01-15-2014, 12:16 AM   #10
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NUMBER ONE STEP!!!!

CHECK AND REPAIR THE SAFETY GROUND SYSTEM FIRST SECOND AND THIRD STEP...PERIOD!

That is the green and bare wires.

Start at where you are plugged in and every outlet.

If you are at a campground you may have a bad pedistal or cord.

Do not worry about the outlets or inverter as they are secondary.

The safety ground must be fixed first as THAT is why you got shocked.

If it was working a breaker or fuse would have tripped.
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Old 01-15-2014, 08:18 AM   #11
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NUMBER ONE STEP!!!!

CHECK AND REPAIR THE SAFETY GROUND SYSTEM FIRST SECOND AND THIRD STEP...PERIOD!

That is the green and bare wires.

Start at where you are plugged in and every outlet.

If you are at a campground you may have a bad pedistal or cord.

Do not worry about the outlets or inverter as they are secondary.

The safety ground must be fixed first as THAT is why you got shocked.

If it was working a breaker or fuse would have tripped.
I'm Mike Sokol, from NoShockZone.org. The above advice is correct. If a proper low-resistance safety ground is in place on your RV, then it's impossible for any voltage to develop on your RV's body or steps. If you do have any kind of short or electrical leakage from an appliance or inverter, the safety ground will either drain it away or trip the circuit breaker, depending on if it's a low-current or high-current leakage. And yes, a standard NCVT (Non Contact Voltage Tester) is the best way for a consumer to troubleshoot this condition. Also, any hot-skin voltage is potentially deadly, so disconnect from shore power until you find the cause, which is typically a broken ground pin on a dog-bone or pigtail adapter.

There's also the possibility of something I call a reflected hot-skin condition which can occur when a campground's safety ground fails going back to the service panel. If that occurs, any RV with a hot-to-ground short on a campground loop will hot-skin electrify other RV's on that same loop. That's a campground problem that can hot-skin electrify ANY RV, even one with a surge/voltage protector. Pretty rare, but I've seen it several times in the last year.

Here's an article I just published in RV Education 101 about hot-skin causes and how to test for them: RV 101 - RV University December 2013 - RV Consumer magazine published by RV Education 101 - RV UNIVERSITY
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Old 01-15-2014, 09:19 AM   #12
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Thank you to everyone! Last night we turned breaker off and unplugged and then plugged back in and no more problem.

Now RV Park Electrician is here working on the issue. Hopefully it is the ground wire or a pedestal problem that he can fix. Last year when we were here they had to put in a new breaker at this site. Maybe it is time to pick a different site in this park . I wanted to do that when we pulled in here but no there is a nice palm tree at this site....in 4 days palm tree was trimmed back to nothing and now this.......

Anyway, thanks all.....if I get info that it was something different from the electrician I will pass it along.

There are reasons that parks say to not drive across sites when they are not pull thru! Lots of that has gone on the last few days so I am guessing that has created the problem.

Dogs still afraid of steps
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Old 01-15-2014, 10:57 AM   #13
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Mike Sokal

I enjoyed reading your excellent article. You hit the nail on the head re leakage and grounding. Great writeup and illustrations in the magazine. I have two NCVT units, carry one in my RV all the time so I won't be entering the contest, but I think that is a MUST/SHOULD read for even those with savvy in the subject areas.

To the OP - you said the problem went away with resetting the CB and an electrician is investigating. Hummm - this does not seem that resetting the breaker would correct this, but indeed unplugging and putting the plug back in may have created a better ground the second time it was plugged in. A loose receptical on the pedistal, corroded, loose pins terminal points etc could cause a live chassis scenario as you experienced.

If the electrician comes back with "no fault found", well I would look further and ensure all connections in my coach were OK, including the power cord connections and I would check for possible leaked voltage areas. As Mike said in his excellent article, leaked voltage could be an aggregate of compliant leakages, or something like a water heater element that corroded etc.

IMHO, It is just a good idea to do perodic inspections that includes checking all connections - everywhere you can get access to. As a very long time aeronautical engineer, who lived with and directed strict inspection procedures applied in that industry, I carry out similar inspections on my RV.

Good luck and I look forward to seeing what the electician says.

Again thanks Mike, good to see info like that written. A lot can be learned from RV101 courses.
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Old 01-15-2014, 11:01 AM   #14
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Originally Posted by TeresaOwen1 View Post
Thank you to everyone! Last night we turned breaker off and unplugged and then plugged back in and no more problem.

Now RV Park Electrician is here working on the issue. Hopefully it is the ground wire or a pedestal problem that he can fix. Last year when we were here they had to put in a new breaker at this site. Maybe it is time to pick a different site in this park . I wanted to do that when we pulled in here but no there is a nice palm tree at this site....in 4 days palm tree was trimmed back to nothing and now this.......

Anyway, thanks all.....if I get info that it was something different from the electrician I will pass it along.

There are reasons that parks say to not drive across sites when they are not pull thru! Lots of that has gone on the last few days so I am guessing that has created the problem.

Dogs still afraid of steps
Please get some sort of NCVT (Non Contact Voltage Tester) such as the Klein NCVT-1 (less than $20) to confirm there's no longer hot-skin voltage on your RV. Do not use your own body for this test. If, as you note, you're not getting a hot-skin voltage after plugging back into shore power, then it's possible there's a loose/broken safety ground connection in the pedestal or your own shore power plug or extension cord. It's also possible that the dirt is now dry and you're just not feeling the shock. However, the hot-skin voltage could still be there and may electrocute (kill) the next person to touch your RV if it rains. Please contact me directly at mike@noshockzone.org if your campground electrician or you have any questions about how to test the pedestal for this.
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