Problems with MES

Discussion in 'Electric Smokers' started by cruiser rod, Jan 29, 2016.

  1. cruiser rod

    cruiser rod Smoke Blower

    I have a one year old 30" MES. The one with the Stainless windowed front door and the inside light with a meat probe. I probably have about 50 hours smoking on it. I used it recently without a problem when it was in the mid 50's outside. A few days later I went to use it the temps were in the low 30's, so I brought the unit inside to warm up and then took it back outside. When I pluged it in it tripped the GFI outlet. I took it to another GFI outlet and it tripped that one too. I brought it back inside and plugged it into a regular outlet and it was fine. I ended up running an extension cord to it outside to do my smoke. I later called Masterbuilt and described the probe and they told me the the Element was going bad, that's why the GFI was tripping. They also said that 50 hours is about the lifespan for the Element. Has anyone else had an experience like this and is the information from Masterbuilt accurate?
  2. eatlarge

    eatlarge Fire Starter

    I sure hope I get more than 50 hours out of mine!!!! Sounds fishy to me.
  3. smokinal

    smokinal Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator OTBS Member ★ Lifetime Premier ★

    I have way more than 50 hours on mine without any problems. I'm sure there are guys on here with hundreds of hours on theirs with no problems. But in any case I'm sure MB will send you a new one.

  4. chef jimmyj

    chef jimmyj Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member

    When you took the unit in to warm, condensation formed on the coil and connections. This causes low resistance where the coil passes through the wall and a short that trips the GFI develops. This can happen after a day or two of rain and humid days. The fix is fire it up using non-GFI, the coil dries and all is well. Masterbuilt saying the coil going bad has happened as well. Moisture getting inside older coils can cause the same issue and more frequently. 

    50 hour life span? I have a 5 year old and 4 year old MES 40 that has a heck of a lot more hours than 50 on them. Both with original coils. I don't use GFI on either because of moisture tripping. Pretty common issue...JJ
    cruiser rod likes this.
  5. hank2000

    hank2000 Smoking Fanatic

    I have a 30" mes that's several years old that has way more hours then that same element that came in it. I also have a 40" mes that's less then a year old just had to replace the element Used it 6 or 7 times before it went out so u can get a bad one from time to time but really not that often
  6. cruiser rod

    cruiser rod Smoke Blower

    I'm leaning towards what Chef JimmyJ  said. I have an electrical background and what he said makes a lot of sense. Considering I didn't have a problem when I used a regular outlet. I had planned to smoke 30 pound of kielbasa with my venison after I smoked some backstraps but was worried the smoker would quit on me and I would be left with a lot of un-smoked kielbasa. 
  7. cruiser rod

    cruiser rod Smoke Blower

    So after I warm up my smoker inside I'll bring it outside and I will run it for a short time to get it up to temp and smoke. Then I can switch it to the GFI rather than have an extension cord running from the inside of my house. A bit of an inconvenience but doable.
  8. dr k

    dr k Master of the Pit

    A month ago I called MB about the Gen 1 water pan fitting in the Gen 2 to get rid of the slanting tray and baby water pan that hangs off of it to the left.  I have a Gen 1 and was doing this to comment on other posts with people having a Gen 2.  The poor CSR I was speaking with went totally silent as If I asked her to explain Einstein's Theory of Relativity.  When she came to after I said, "Hello, are you still there?"  She mentioned that she didn't know and I could buy a Gen 1 water pan for $14.00.  When I was about to hang up she said they have minimal training and have demos they can go look at.  I figured asking her to go look at the demos was too much to ask since she didn't offer so I just figured there was no reason to continue the conversation.  The best solution was from Bear when he said just put an aluminum pan on the bottom rack. 

    All that being said, if they told me that 50 hours was the life of the heating element, they're telling me that using the smoker eight hours a day for six days in a row would only give me two hours left on the element before I needed to spend more money on a one week old smoker!?  MB has a good reputaion on honoring out dated warranties but needs to train their CSR's.

  9. cruiser rod

    cruiser rod Smoke Blower

    You are probably right about their CSRs.
  10. chef jimmyj

    chef jimmyj Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member

    If it's a moisture issue, the GFI won't trip since the coil and interior is dry. I had this same experience a couple of times. If another issue is the problem then a Multi-meter will be helpful in tracking the source...JJ
    Last edited: Jan 29, 2016
  11. walta

    walta Smoke Blower

    Please the understand the circuit tripped because not all of the electric leaving the GFIC is returning in the correct wire. The GFIC tripped because possibility of electrocution is present.

    Be aware using the non GFIC outlet could be dangerous if that outlet is not properly grounded or the ground wire in the extension cord is damaged.

    To me it seems clear the number of failures is too high. Masterbuilt needs to redesign this smoker.

    I for one have filed a complaint with the Consumer Product Safety Commission.  If Masterbuilt were going to change on its own it would have done so by now.

    If you have had a similar failure consider filing a complaint.

    Not everyone has GFCI outlet that will detect bring this problem to your attention. It is only a matter of time before a MES a failed is operated without a GFCI and no ground and somebody get hurt.

    I think if you were to look inside the smoker you may find something like this is getting started.

  12. Rod I have had the GFCI trip on occasions for over a year. I checked the smoker on 2 different GFCI's on different circuits and it tripped both. The last time it did this I used a hair dryer to heat up the element. After 5-10 minn I tried it on one of the GFCI's and it held. Also when I used the hair dryer it was on one of the GFCI's that had tripped. I store my smoker outside under a cover.  On Sunday I will find out if it doe's it again. I will have the hair dryer handy rather than drag a cord into the living room.  Jted
  13. Walta , You are a sharp guy. I know you know the very small amount of current not coming back to the GFCI will make it trip (4 to 6 thousands of a amp). True it is a possibility that a event of biblical proportion may occur. It is not very likely. If a owner user is that afraid of the GFCI tripping he or she should not have a 150.00 smoker. You are asking a lot out of Master built. Don't get me wrong I am not condoning  Master built's poor selection of wiring connectors. It is not the wire but the connector that fails in most cases. Mine  trips the GFCI's even with new High temp connectors. 

    I personally feel the Chef has it figured out. Master built did not build the smoker to be stored in the elements. I don't think for 150.00 you can expect that. If one has one of these units and they are afraid of it they can always store it inside a building.  Just my opinions.  Jted
  14. cruiser rod

    cruiser rod Smoke Blower

    A GFCI (breaker or otherwise) trips at 4 to 6 ma (milliamps), or 0.004 to 0.006 A (not 0.2A!!!). This is because it doesn't take much more current than this to kill you. I'm guessing the moisture is what's changing how many amps the unit is drawing and the GFCI is doing it's job.
  15. dr k

    dr k Master of the Pit


    I went under the major-mes-fail thread and asked the thread starter if all is good with the new element MB sent him.  Since there was no feed back on the fix.

    I have had my MES 40 Gen 1 since last May.  For preventative maintenance purposes since I have no problems should I (while the smoker is unplugged) take the screws out of the back heating element cover and break the water resistant high heat sealant to inspect the flag/spade joints for corrosion and looseness from heating and cooling cycles.  I figure if necessary I can wire brush off any corrosion till shiny and apply battery terminal anti corrosion dielectric grease to preserve the joints from oxidation.  I'd like to see if it's worth while to see how long the joints last before upgrading them to 12 gauge wire with high heat flag terminals.  I guess breaking the seal to apply dielectric grease maybe better than waiting.  I have done my research on dielectric and conductive greases and the anti corrosion properties are about the same.  Being outside in damp humid environments the MES seems like dielectric would be the best of the two since conductive grease can cause a short if not careful and the joints should be insulated from humidity/condensation.  Kinda like using dielectric grease on pin connectors for boat trailers.  Plus I have the dielectric.      

  16. walta

    walta Smoke Blower

    Dr K

    I say you should do the inspection if you have a problem give Master Built a chance to make it right they have replaced many out of warranty units for no charge.

    If not I have repaired a few with this procedure.

    1 Remove the element cover.

    2 Remove damaged element from smoker.  

    3 Carefully file any corrosion off the elements terminal.

    4 Install the element sealing it to the cabinet with high temp silicone sealant.

    5 Attach the wires to the element with standard uninsulated ¼ inch connectors.

    6 Put heat shrink tubing over the wires.

    7 Solder the wires to the connecters.

    8 Solder the connectors to the elements terminals.

    9 Shrink the tubing over the connectors.

     10 Wait 24 hours for the sealant to dry.

    11 Test the smoker.

    12 If it works reinstall the cover with sealant and rivets.    

    13 Run the smoker at max temp for 3 hours to off gas any fumes from the sealant.

    The way I see it the connection fails because smoke is getting into the electrical box and corroding the terminals. If any smoke gets past the sealant it cannot get thru the solder to corrode the terminals.

    cruiser rod likes this.
  17. walta

    walta Smoke Blower


    What I am saying, MB sold a lot smokers, maybe 5 million. Many of them fail. Of the purchasers I personally know we are at 100% failure. I know it is a small unrepresentative sample. Let’s say 10% fail with leakage current. That is 500000 dangerous smokers. Let’s say 50% do not use a GFIC outlet and are unaware of the problem. Of the 50% that know they have a problem let’s say 50% throw out the smoker and the rest start use a non GFIC outlet. That leaves us with 375000 dangerous smokers in use. Let’s say 90% of the people use a properly grounded outlet and extension cord. That means there are 37500 very dangerous smokers in use. Let’s say .1% of people touch the dangerous smokers while grounded well enough to get shocked. Now we have 37.5 people who got shocked. Just for fun let’s say 33% die (it is likely less than 33% but all the numbers are made up) so we end up with one dead person. That persons family may or may not sue, they may or may not win. So it turns out it is cheaper to let a faceless nameless person die than spend the 200 million fixing smokers.

    It only becomes a problem once the dead person has a face and a name. If the unlucky one turns out to be your granddaughter who jumps out of the pool and touches the smoker, could you still say to your daughter “I did not think an event of biblical proportion would occur in my home”? Will you be able to show up for family events? Could you live with yourself?

    I say if enough bad smokers get sold it will happen to someone some were some day.

    Last edited: Jan 31, 2016
  18. dr k

    dr k Master of the Pit

    Since I have no problems with this eight month old smoker and this is just a preventative maintenance check, I'm thinking the terminals should be ok.  At this point I want to insulate the connections from air/water/smoke which the dielectric grease is designed to do in the minimalistic way.  This dielectric battery terminal anti corrosion paste is decades old and has yet to fail from the caustic battery gases it's exposed to.  This is going to be an annual/biannual  inspection, spending a minute to unscrew the back heating element cover to took at the connections.  This smoker came dented in the back in a couple corners so I had to cut the power cord flush take pics with a serial number plate and MB sent me a new smoker.  They didn't say I couldn't tuck six inches of cord into the smoker before cutting it flush with the back of the smoker.  So I pulled out the cord and soldered the power supply cord back on after my new one arrived which has been assembled and seasoned for six hours and is being stored till this one fails.  This one runs great.  So according to MB my current operating smoker no longer exists so no warranty claim will ever be made on it.  It'll be spare parts and a cold smoker product chamber when it does.


    cruiser rod likes this.
  19. hank2000

    hank2000 Smoking Fanatic

    I have one that they replaced Well like u I used it till the element went out. I called them and they sold me a replacement element did not ask for the ss no. Just the modal number.
  20. dr k

    dr k Master of the Pit

    Did you get a decent number of years out of the original element?


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