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MES tripping GFCI

post #1 of 19
Thread Starter 

I am taking the advice of Bearcarver and starting a new thread with my problem.  I am reposting my 2 postings here so hopefully someone out there can help me out.

 

POST #1
This is my first effort at amy posting anywgere so please bear with me.   I have a MES 40" that I have had for about 18 months that has stopped working.  However I do not seem to be having the same wiring problem that has been described and resolved so wonderfully here.   My MES powers up fine and the electronic control works.  I can program in the target temp and the time just fine but as soon as it tries to turn on the heating element it trips the GFCI.  I have tried a different outlet and that one triped also.   I have removed the back and I cannot see any problems with any of the wiring,   Any suggestions????


POST #2
Unfortunately there is no access panel so I drilled out the umpteen hundred rivits.  There is no visible evidence of any wiring problem.  None of the wires are scorched or turning brown.  All the connections are tight and clean.  Wiring does not seem to be the problem which leads me to think that it is an electronic problem.  I am fairly good at fixing electrical wiring problems but I am at a complete loss when it comes to "electronics".  There is a "box" mounted in the bottom panel that I looked in and there is no indication of a problem there.  I contacted MES and since it is a discontinumed model all they could do is offer me a discount on their new model.  I'ld love the new one but there is still too much life in this one if I can bring it back from the dead to be shelling out that kind of money yet.  Anybody know anything about the controler box in the bottom?

 

Thanks for any ideas.

post #2 of 19

#1

Try plugging it in and using it on a normal (non-GFCI) outlet. The sump pump in our basement will not operate on a GFCI outlet, it trips it every time; so we keep the sump pump plugged in to a normal outlet.

 

#2

After 5 years my 30" MES all of sudden started powering itself down within seconds of it trying to power up the burner. I removed the back panel and all the wiring appeared fine, Then I opened up the box that house the 2 polarity connections and the ground connection, these appeared relatively clean but I disconnected each of them anyways and the ground connection had quite a bit of creosote build up which I cleaned up. Reconnected everything and powered it up and it was working normal again. After that I put the back panel back on and so far it has been working fine.

 

If you have the same issue as I had with problem #2, it may explain problem #1 with your GFCI..... to test plug your MES into a normal outlet too see if the burner powers the MES down.

post #3 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by MossyMO View Post

#1

Try plugging it in and using it on a normal (non-GFCI) outlet. The sump pump in our basement will not operate on a GFCI outlet, it trips it every time; so we keep the sump pump plugged in to a normal outlet.

 



It may not be possible for him to reach a non GFI circuit without a long extension cord -- which is not recommended.  My MES is on my deck and the plugs out there are GFI.   Next is my kitchen and all of the circuits there are GFI (which is appartently now code -- although it did not used to be).   I'd need a 50 foot cord to reach a circuit that is not GFI.

 

Your suggestion about cleaning the contacts sounds worth a try.

post #4 of 19


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by dale5351 View Post
It may not be possible for him to reach a non GFI circuit without a long extension cord -- which is not recommended.  My MES is on my deck and the plugs out there are GFI.   Next is my kitchen and all of the circuits there are GFI (which is appartently now code -- although it did not used to be).   I'd need a 50 foot cord to reach a circuit that is not GFI.


dale5351

Even if it were to be plugged in to a normal outlet in a dining room, living room, ect. without an extension cord too test the MES to see if the the burner turning on, powers the unit off. This is just to test, I was not suggesting buckman52 smoke two 6 pound butts in his living room.

post #5 of 19

what else do you have plugged into the circuit that it is on?  circuit could be overloaded....try powering it up on a completely different circuit, i.e. one that works when the breaker for the gfi in in off position, and see what happens.

post #6 of 19

MossyMo

 

Perhaps he has a non-GFI circuit in his garage?

 

The visualization of smoking in the living room appeared to me after I wrote that -- but I didn't get back to edit before you posted it.

 

I've been through a house fire (30 years ago) and can remember the difficulty of getting that smoke smell out of the house. 

post #7 of 19

If you are absolutly certian that the GFCI outlet is OK, the outlets do go bad, I would probably start with a good ohm meter to find what part of the circuit is leaking current to ground. Or try isolating parts of the circuit starting with the heaters until you find the part of the circut that is tripping the GFCI. Basicly GFCI circuits do two things they look for as much current coming back to the return or white wire as left the hot or black wire and they look for current on the saftey ground or geen wire. If they don't see as much current on the white wire or return of if they seen any on the saftey ground or the green wire they will trip. Like someone else mentioned if you have cresosote build up or moisture or something shorting current to the chassis, then that could be your problem. Then too it could be a component that went bad. First of all, find the part of the circuit that contains the problem by isolation then fix or replace what's wrong.   

post #8 of 19

OMG the things my wife would say when she saw the smoker in the living room. LOL

 

I am no electrician so take this for what its worth.

The last several work trucks I have been given to drive at work have had block heaters. All of these trucks have had block heaters and all would trip a GFI. Dont know why but they do. The truck I drive now must have an actual problem since if my feet are wet and I touch the metal while its plugged in, it will knock ya for a loop.

 

I have heard tho, that there is alot of GFI troubles with heating elements. I wish I had a solid answer for ya.

post #9 of 19
Thread Starter 

Thanks for all the help.  I did (as suggested) plug it into another non gfci protected outlet and it did not trip the circuit.  However after 20 minutes it had not generated any heat either.  I'll try to play with it later and see if I can find a bad connection.  I wouldn't have any idea how to use an ohm meter.

post #10 of 19

sounds like you have a short in your smoker somewhere....if it works on a normal outlet but doesnt heat up and throws the gfi outlet, you problem is at the smoker.

post #11 of 19

Then find someone who does and let them mess with it. If you're not comfortalbe with mechanics you should not take your car engine apart either. The same thing applies here. However the little bit of electrical here is a lot less complex than taking a car engine apart and putting it back together.  

post #12 of 19

It sounds like the relay is bad.  You said the controller looked like it was working, except when it tried to switch on the element.  The controller is on the low voltage side of a relay, and the relay has a coil in it that when the controller triggers for heat current is sent to the relay and the coil engages the high voltage side and allows 120v to flow through to the heat elements.

 

Below is a rough schematic provided by   sparksnsaaben in this thread

 

As you can see there are only 4 items on the high voltage side of the circuit,  transformer which provides low voltage, the element, thermal cut off which is just a switch, and the relay.  Again since the low voltage controller appears to work, thus the transformer appears good, that leaves the element which might have a piece of the connector touching the metal case and thus a short when controller triggers the element.  Next the thermal cut off, really not likely, you can pull off the leads and connect them directly to see if this is the problem.  Last is the relay.

Check that element closely where it goes through the case.

 

1000x500px-LL-f73f9eed_schematic.jpg

 

Hope this helps,,   good luck...

post #13 of 19
Thread Starter 

Thanks for the schematic.  At least now I have some idea of what is going on.

post #14 of 19

Could be a bad element.  We see this exact problem in spa heater elements all the time.

post #15 of 19

It shouldn't be causing the GFCI problem but for the no heat problem those thermal cutout switches are well known hi failure items.

The ohm meter should indicate a short circuti across it if it's good. If it reads open, or high resistance, it's bad.

The GFCI problem is probably going to be some sort of contamination leaking current to ground or a bad heating element that has perhaps burned open then the heating wire shorted to chassis ground.

post #16 of 19

I have a similar situation, my electrical heating element works if its disconnected from its place inside the smoker, but when its inside installed normal trips the GFI.

Thanks

post #17 of 19

Plug an plain old iron or electric skillet into the outlet you use and crank up the heat.  If the GFCI trips, check its wiring and replace the outlet. If not, then your smoker is the problem.  From a pure safety aspect, I would spend the money and get a new smoker. Money can be replaced with another week of work. Electrocution is sort of permanent. 

post #18 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dorel View Post

I have a similar situation, my electrical heating element works if its disconnected from its place inside the smoker, but when its inside installed normal trips the GFI.
Thanks


Bypass the electrical circuitry in the smoker and wire in a dimmer switch.... You will have to use an external therm to monitor the temps... I have a dimmer on mine and the temp control is far superior.... I can regulate the heat output.... like a gas burner regulation... OR, wire in a PID ..... OR wire in a temp controller to the element....

Find one that fits your needs and budget....

http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=sr_nr_n_0?fst=as%3Aoff&rh=n%3A228013%2Ck%3Atemp+controller&keywords=temp+controller&ie=UTF8&qid=1417368410&rnid=2941120011
post #19 of 19
I agree with thunder. It sounds to me you have a bad heating element. It is either shorted internally or leaking internally to the outside casing wich is grounded. GFI are not made to trip on overload, only on leakage to ground.
Try this.
Disconnect the one wire feeding the element (should be black or colored, as opposed to white) and see what happens. It it functions normally ( with no heat of course), it's likely to be the element is shorted and should be replaced...
This is from a retired electrical contractor.
ABC....always be careful😉
Edited by Leefra - 12/1/14 at 5:27am
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