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MES 40, GFCI tripping tests

post #1 of 6
Thread Starter 

I got one of the first MES 40's last November. It started popping the GFCI after a few months of use. It only tripped when I would first turn it on (after a few weeks of indoor storage from the previous session) and was a few minutes into the intitial heat cycle, and usually only after it had started to warm up . I would reset the GFCI, and then repeat this a 3 or 4 more times. Eventually the GFCI would stay up and the MES would be fine, running for the whole smoke time plus some cleanup heating cycles afterwards.

 

I didn't think it was the GFCI since I tested it with a 1800W hairdryer.I suspected that AC feeding the heating element was somehow making it to the case/ground. I measured voltage and ohmage to the case, and didn't see anything suspicious, so I didn't think whatever was tripping the GFCI was a hard short. Since the problem seemed to be heat related I thought it might be oil/moisture creating a conductive path w/rsp to the heating element.

 

So after months of this temporary startup-failure, it seemed to fail permanently over the weekend, which I took as an opprotunity to find the problem. I removed the rear panel covering the heating element wiring.  Underneath a rubber boot, there are ceramic feedthrus of the heating element where the AC feed is wired; I think this is what isolates the AC from the MES case. I swabbed the ceramic area with denatured alchohol, because a conductive path here could  trip the GFCI. However, the ceramic areas looked perfectly clean, and my cleaning them didn't fix the problem.

 

I then took off the entire heatshield/ash pan structure so that the heating element was exposed. Where the heating element entires the cabinet is some sort of rubber gasket. It allows the heating element to flex, but perhaps it also provides some sort of electrical isolation; I don't really know its purpose.

 

I could see moisture/oil around the gasketed area against the wall of the cabinet. I cleaned around and behind the gasket with more alcohol. I could have done a better job, and gotten a better idea of how the heating element and the gasket relate, but that would have meant disconnecting the AC feed wires, and I'm not sure if these can be just resoldered or have to be welded to the ceramic feedthrus.

 

Anyway, this solved the problem (for now). I did my brisket, then wiped the cabinet down with more alcohol, let it sit for a day, and fired it up again 24hrs later, still works. I've always try to degrease the cabinet after a smoke, and I had been using both alcohol and diluted vinegar from a spray bottle. I'm thinking that the vinegar/water spray may have forced some grease down into that mysterious gasketted area, causing the leakage path that was somehow activated by heat. I'm hoping that if I stick to alcohol and try to keep stuff from dripping down there the problem will go away.

 

Mike

post #2 of 6

My MES 30 did the same thing. Tripped the GFI. I had an electrician here (had kitchen remodeled) and he tested everything and traced the problem to the smoker itself :o(   I did the same as you and found heavy corrosion around the heating element (it was covered when not in use.  I called Master Built and they offered no help. They said I was out of warranty.  I stated my case to no avail.  Learned that lesson. 

 

I just purchased a Smokin It Model 2 and it should be here Friday. Excited again about the prospect of owning a smoker.  Hope yours works. If it fails again I would bail on it......

 

PadronMan

post #3 of 6
Spraying vinegar my be the cause of your corrosion problem on the connections.. You spray acid in the smoker and are surprised that you have corrosion?
post #4 of 6
Quote:
Originally Posted by chiefwej View Post

Spraying vinegar my be the cause of your corrosion problem on the connections.. You spray acid in the smoker and are surprised that you have corrosion?

Ummmm I don't see where he sprayed vinegar anywhere inside the unit he describes.  He used denatured (rubbing) alcohol which would evaporate immediately.   The issue he describes is one of well know proportions as it happened to many with the same brand smoker.  Has nothing to do with how he cleaned his smoker.

post #5 of 6
Quote:
Originally Posted by PadronMan View Post

Ummmm I don't see where he sprayed vinegar anywhere inside the unit he describes.  He used denatured (rubbing) alcohol which would evaporate immediately.   The issue he describes is one of well know proportions as it happened to many with the same brand smoker.  Has nothing to do with how he cleaned his smoker.

Did you even read his post? The last paragraph, which includes:

"I've always try to degrease the cabinet after a smoke, and I had been using both alcohol and diluted vinegar from a spray bottle. I'm thinking that the vinegar/water spray may have forced some grease down into that mysterious gasketted area, causing the leakage path that was somehow activated by heat."
post #6 of 6

Sorry missed that, BUT I assure you that him spraying vinegar in and wiping it out did NOT cause these issues.  I had the same issues and NEVER sprayed vinegar into the unit. There are deeper issues involved than a simple cleaning solution. Read the MANY threads in this very area of the forum and you will see this is not an uncommon problem with this particular manufacturer.

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