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Old 04-19-2021, 07:43 PM   #1
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Ground Fault Follies

Last week we took our 5.0TA out of the garage where we store it for a spring cleaning, because we had put it away dirty after our last trip. We washed it and then put it back in the garage, plugging it back in as usual. Within about 10 minutes, the lights in the garage went out. I quickly determined that the Ground Fault Circuit Interrupt outlet in the garage had tripped. I reset it and about 10 minutes later it tripped again. Even though the GFCI outlet was less than 3 years old, I assumed that it must have failed, because I couldnít imagine how the trailer could cause the problem. To confirm this, I plugged the trailer into a different GFCI outlet on my house. About 10 minutes later, that one tripped.

My next theory was that water had gotten somewhere it shouldnít when we washed the trailer, and I let it dry over night. Next day the results were the same. By flipping circuit breakers, I determined that the problem only happened when the converter circuit breaker was on. I concluded that something had failed in the converter.

This was not all bad. It just so happens that last fall, based on discussion on this forum, I had purchased a Wildkat PD4655 converter replacement, but hadnít gotten around to installing it. Now seemed like the right time.

I replaced the original WFCO converter with the Wildkat, sure that this would solve the problem. It did not.

But while replacing the converter, I noticed that there was another wire on the converter circuit breaker. I could not trace the wire through the ratís nest under the bench, but finally decided that it went to an outlet behind the refrigerator that the refrigerator plugs into.

Again based on wisdom from this forum, I decided that the refrigerator deserved its own circuit breaker. I added a 15A circuit breaker and put the refrigerator on it. The problem now happens only when the refrigerator circuit breaker is on. It doesnít matter whether the refrigerator is plugged in to its outlet or not. The problem remains that the GFCI outlet trips about 5 minutes after the EMS allows AC into the trailer.

I conclude that I must have developed a high-impedance leak to ground somewhere between the power panel and the refrigerator outlet. I have no clue how thatís related to washing the trailer.

Iím afraid that my next move is to run a new wire. Any other ideas on the diagnosis, or the next step? Has anyone else had a similar problem?
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Old 04-19-2021, 08:26 PM   #2
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The most likely culprit is the outlet for the fridge plug. Turn off the fridge breaker, pull the outlet, and replace it with a 15 Amp weather and tamper resistant outlet.

https://www.homedepot.com/p/Leviton-...-T0W/202078774

The outlet for the fridge is exposed to outside moisture and can create a ground fault if it gets wet. The outlet Escape installs is a common type that is rated for indoor use only - not what you want for a fridge compartment.
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Old 04-20-2021, 07:48 AM   #3
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Tom,

You were exactly right. I managed to open the outlet and there was moisture inside. Now, with the outlet opened the GFCI does not trip.

Replacing the outlet will not be simple. It is just screwed into the wall with no electrical box, and there's only about 3 inches of wire coming out of the wall with no slack. And now with the refrigerator on its own circuit I can run it on propane if I have to and still charge my batteries. But, its clearly not perfect yet, so I'll see what I can do.

Thanks for your help.
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Old 04-20-2021, 08:10 AM   #4
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Your post had me scrambling for a picture of the frig outlet in my trailer. Quite amazing - can't see how any moisture could get to my fridge outlet.
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Old 04-20-2021, 10:00 AM   #5
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Your installation looks much better.

Mine is right next to the outside, and has no box.
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Old 04-20-2021, 10:05 AM   #6
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And the picture. This is the outlet with the back removed.
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Old 04-20-2021, 12:05 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gmchamplin View Post
And the picture. This is the outlet with the back removed.
I would replace the "outlet" you have with a standard box and outlet.

Here's a waterproof box that has mounting ears for an easy installation in the fridge compartment.
https://www.lowes.com/pd/CARLON-1-Ga...Box/1000975662

Replacing the outlet you have with the Carlon box and the outlet below will solve the moisture problem such that you never have to deal with this again.

https://www.homedepot.com/p/Leviton-...-T0W/202078774
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Old 04-20-2021, 12:44 PM   #8
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Makes you wonder what's going on on the factory floor out there.
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Old 04-20-2021, 02:03 PM   #9
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Weather resistant or not, I dislike those SCDs and wish Escape didn't use them. Give me a proper box. It's not nitpicking either. Had Escape used the right application for the outlet, the problem would not have happened.
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Old 04-20-2021, 05:15 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gmchamplin View Post
Replacing the outlet will not be simple. It is just screwed into the wall with no electrical box, and there's only about 3 inches of wire coming out of the wall with no slack.
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Originally Posted by gmchamplin View Post
And the picture. This is the outlet with the back removed.
Ah, the infamous Self-Contained Device.

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Weather resistant or not, I dislike those SCDs and wish Escape didn't use them. Give me a proper box. It's not nitpicking either. Had Escape used the right application for the outlet, the problem would not have happened.
I completely agree. I understand using them inside (although they're still undesirable), but not using them in this location. On the other hand, essentially every RV manufacturer uses conventional receptacles in refrigerator cabinets, and they should all be in outdoor boxes with while-in-use covers.
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Old 04-21-2021, 09:10 AM   #11
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I decided that I really didn't need a wall-mounted outlet - just a place to plug in the refrigerator.
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Old 04-21-2021, 10:21 AM   #12
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I decided that I really didn't need a wall-mounted outlet - just a place to plug in the refrigerator.
With the limited wire available I was thinking that what you did would work as well.
However I would use a conduit clap around the plug body and screw it to the wall. This will keep it from wagging around on ruff roads and possibly stressing the solid core wire.
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Old 04-21-2021, 10:51 AM   #13
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I have this problem, too. When getting ready for a trip I would pull the trailer home from the storage lot, give it a good wash, and then plug it in to cool the fridge. Frustratingly, when the onboard EMS completed its test and clicked over to allow current to flow to the trailer the GFIC outlet at the house would immediately trip (no 10 minute delay for me). I suspected moisture was getting in somewhere but had not yet figured out where. My solution has been to delete the trailer wash from my trip preparation list and that has been working, though I don't like starting a trip with a dirty trailer. Problem solved, but not really.

Anyway, thank you all for identifying the likely culprit. I am pretty sure my fridge power outlet is mounted on the left wall of the compartment (though it could be on the floor). I'll examine it when I next have it home and will replace the existing outlet and box with one suited for outdoor use.

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Old 04-21-2021, 02:27 PM   #14
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However I would use a conduit clap around the plug body and screw it to the wall. This will keep it from wagging around on ruff roads and possibly stressing the solid core wire.
Thanks for the great suggestion. I took it.
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Old 04-21-2021, 02:27 PM   #15
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With the limited wire available I was thinking that what you did would work as well.
However I would use a conduit clap around the plug body and screw it to the wall. This will keep it from wagging around on ruff roads and possibly stressing the solid core wire.
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Thanks for the great suggestion. I took it.
Yes! Please secure the connector if that is what is being used as a device box.
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Old 04-21-2021, 03:16 PM   #16
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I suspected moisture was getting in somewhere but had not yet figured out where. My solution has been to delete the trailer wash from my trip preparation list and that has been working, though I don't like starting a trip with a dirty trailer. Problem solved, but not really.
I agree with "not really". If a wash is causing problems then it is highly likely that a hard, driving rain during your trip could as well. Good luck with finding the culprit and putting a solution in place that works without compromises.
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Old 04-21-2021, 04:31 PM   #17
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I agree with "not really". If a wash is causing problems then it is highly likely that a hard, driving rain during your trip could as well. Good luck with finding the culprit and putting a solution in place that works without compromises.
Agreed. Thanks to this thread I now have a place to start and can work from there. Perhaps before replacing the electrical outlet I'll temporarily seal it off with some plastic and spray a bit of water around the area (not inside the compartment but outside as if I were washing it) and see if I can replicate the problem. And I truly hope that I can because I don't know what else to check. The trailer is sealed fairly well.

I am open to suggestions on where to look next.

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