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HELP! MB 40 Not Working

maloff28

Smoke Blower
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Joined Mar 21, 2011
I woke up good and early to start some pork shoulder to have for the long weekend.  I have a MB 40 that i bought from Sams about a year and a half ago.

Every time i turn it on, it trips the GFI switch.  I tried plugging direct into the plug, switching extension cords, switching outlets, and turning off other electrics on the same circuit.

Has this happened to anyone else???  Not sure what I am going to do with 15 lbs of rubbed pork shoulder if I cant get my smoker going.
 

maloff28

Smoke Blower
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Joined Mar 21, 2011
Ran two extension cords (which i know you are not supposed to do) and tried an outlet inside and it seems to be working.  Doesn't make me feel very confident, but at least i am on my way for now.
 
 

timetosmoke

Fire Starter
62
11
Joined May 10, 2012
GFI circuits are very sensitive and I would suspect not suggested for a smoker that has an element that turns on and off. Still, if you never had an issue before using this outlet, then either your MES is having issues or your circuit breaker is having issue. Does anything else trip the GFI circuit, like a hair dryer?
 
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keithd

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Joined May 15, 2012
Also, please get a digital volt meter if you don't have one already.

Test the resistance between hot to ground and neutral to ground on the MES plug. If you get anything other than infinite resistance/open circuit, then it's possible the smoker body is energized when plugged in and trips the GFCI breaker.

Not likely, I know, but if something trips a GFCI breaker, I'd find out why before using it again. If the GFCI trips with a hair dryer, then maybe the breaker is faulty.
 
 

maloff28

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Joined Mar 21, 2011
Thank you for all the good thoughts.  I am able to use other devices on other outlets that are on the circuit, but I will test that outlet directly with the hair dryer.  I do not have a digital volt meter, but will look into getting one!  An excuse to buy a new toy!!  Yea!
 
 

deltadude

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Also, please get a digital volt meter if you don't have one already.

Test the resistance between hot to ground and neutral to ground on the MES plug. If you get anything other than infinite resistance/open circuit, then it's possible the smoker body is energized when plugged in and trips the GFCI breaker.

Not likely, I know, but if something trips a GFCI breaker, I'd find out why before using it again. If the GFCI trips with a hair dryer, then maybe the breaker is faulty.
 
If you follow this advice without shutting off the power first you will ruin that new meter, especially if it doesn't have an internal fuse.

If you are not familiar with using a meter, the below circuit checker is inexpensive and very easy to use and understand, also SAFE!

 

keithd

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Joined May 15, 2012
How would you fry the meter when testing the plug on the MES itself? I did not say to test the wall socket. The meter will be fine.

That checker will not tell you if the MES has an internal short.
 
 

rabbithutch

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Glad to hear that you got the MES to heat, but I think that you have a problem either with the MES or the GFCI. I've had problems with GFCIs at several homes I've lived in. Some of them can be finicky. Is yours in the breaker box or installed at an outlet? I think that the NEC requires GFCI protection on outside, garage, bathroom and kitchen circuits (and probably other locations as well). The quality of the devices is NOT controlled by the NEC and seeing UL or other such on one doesn't mean a lot either, IMO.

Do you have a friend who is a sparky? Get him to check out your circuits. If not, pay an electrician to check things out. You don't want to wake up in the middle of the night hearing smoke alarms - or worse. It's pretty cheap insurance.
 

hkeiner

Meat Mopper
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Joined Oct 31, 2010
Maloff28,

The below is great advice, as what is needed is more information and less speculation. Get back with the results of the below test and you will likely get more good advice on what to do next, if anything.

Originally Posted by keithd  
Test the resistance between hot to ground and neutral to ground on the MES plug. If you get anything other than infinite resistance/open circuit, then it's possible the smoker body is energized when plugged in and trips the GFCI breaker.
 
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deltadude

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How would you fry the meter when testing the plug on the MES itself? I did not say to test the wall socket. The meter will be fine.

That checker will not tell you if the MES has an internal short.
 
You are right it does say plug not outlet.  I miss read the post, and always go on alert when I see someone telling someone else to test resistance on an electrical circuit, many people do not understand the power has to be disconnected to do that test.

So I'm bad, and sorry for creating a misunderstanding. 

However the circuit tester is valid if he has a bad GFCI or outlet, although it won't troubleshoot the exact problem it clearly identifies if a problem exists.
 
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maloff28

Smoke Blower
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Joined Mar 21, 2011
The GFCI is on the outlet not the breaker.  I will have to pick up one or both of those gadgets to check things out further.  I was able to run the smoker all day on an outlet on another circuit, but, I had to string two extension cords together to get to that other outlet and I know that is a no-no.

All the points above are well taken.  I Need more information on where the problem is.
 

keithd

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Joined May 15, 2012
@ deltadude -

No problem. *sigh* One of the things I hate about the internet - if we were face-to-face we'd probably be having a good ol' time helping another enthusiast. On the web, misunderstanding and misunderstood intentions run high.

I just have to keep repeating - "SMF is a nice place. SMF is a nice place..."


@ maloff28 -

Well, it seems like the GFCI's an issue. Did you verify there's no GFCI breaker at the panel? I ask because sometimes things aren't always wired right or in ways you'd expect, even by experts. Also, did you try a hair dryer on that outlet? I'm almost 100% sure it's somewhere between the breaker panel and the outlet (more likely the outlet) if the smoker worked elsewhere with TWO extension cords between. Extension cords only exacerbate shorting or overloading problems.

If it were me, and (disclaimer) I do things that run a high risk of getting me killed if I do it wrong, I'd wire a GFCI socket that works into that socket's wiring - process of elimination. If that cures it, then you would need to buy a new one.

If you don't want to go that route, then do get the socket tester mentioned above. Worth it to have around to test friend's houses, etc. if need be. Worst case you hire a licensed, qualified electrician to get the job done correctly and sleep well at night knowing you did the right thing even if your wallet's a little lighter.
 

maloff28

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Joined Mar 21, 2011
I bought the circuit checker and believe it or not the outlet tested fine.  I did not buy the volt meter as I was not sure what kind to buy, plus I was not sure I wanted to make that investment, not knowing how expensive it would be.

I also bought a 12 gauge extension cord.  I have not tried to heat the unit with the new extension cord yet.

If anyone has a recommendation for a volt meter that won't break the bank, I am open to that too.  I will try this week heat the unit with the new cord and see what happens.  
 

pops6927

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http://www.radioshack.com/product/index.jsp?productId=2103176&retainProdsInSession=1

This is a decent multimeter, digital, auto-ranging, up to 10 amp, 600V ac/dc, basic model for all general testing at a decent price w/replaceable probes and won't break too many banks.  Auto-ranging is very important.  If you set it to the wrong range it can blow the fuse and/or blow the meter; auto-range eliminates that.

It's in stock in most all RadioShack's in the Orlando, Fla. area.
 
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hkeiner

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Joined Oct 31, 2010
This is a decent multimeter, digital, auto-ranging, up to 10 amp, 600V ac/dc, basic model for all general testing at a decent price w/replaceable probes and won't break too many banks. Auto-ranging is very important. If you set it to the wrong range it can blow the fuse and/or blow the meter; auto-range eliminates that.

It's in stock in most all RadioShack's in the Orlando, Fla. area.
Malof28,

I think you definately should get a multimeter and do the tests on the MES as previously recommended. In my opinon you should do these test before doing much else to troubleshoot. The Radio Shack multimeter recommeded above is a very nice one for $36 . If you want to go cheaper, however, you can find a much inferior but still usable multimeter for under $5 (shipping included) on eBay. Just saying...
 
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rabbithutch

Master of the Pit
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I don't know anything about this particular multi-meter except what I read on the web page, but it is auto-ranging and it's under $20 and free shipping with Amazon Prime.



amazon" style="max-width:120px">
 

deltadude

Master of the Pit
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Joined Jun 3, 2008
hmmm,

The Smoker works fine using ext cords on another circuit, which usually means it is on another breaker.  You can test that easily enough.

The circuit tester verified that the wiring is ok to the GFCI outlet.

It either is a bad GFCI outlet or a bad breaker.

Simple test....

If you have an extra outlet or go buy one rated to 20A at Home Depot / Lowes usually $5 or less, replace the GFCI outlet with the test outlet, if it works you know it was the GFCI outlet.  If the breaker still pops, it is most likely the breaker.

If you still have problems, then it is beyond your knowledge and experience and you should seek pro help.
 

sigmo

Smoking Fanatic
★ Lifetime Premier ★
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Joined Jun 4, 2012
Well, if the circuit that maloff28 ran the smoker from is NOT on a GFCI, then we still have not determined whether or not the smoker has a fault.

It is possible (likely?) that the smoker is showing some leakage current from hot to ground, and that trips a GFCI.  But he can bypass the GFCI receptacle by running a long cord to an outlet that is not protected by a GFCI, and everything runs fine.  The problem would then be that there's still a fault which the GFCI was protecting him against, but which the non-GFCI outlets are not protecting him from.

I'd still make the ohm-meter tests described by KeithD above.  But you can have a leakage path that requires higher voltage to break it down, too, and that wouldn't show up with an ohm-meter's low testing voltage.  You'd need a "megger" to ring that out.

So I'd do the test of the GFCI with a hair dryer and if it works fine with other things plugged in, (and we know it tests as being wired correctly with the test plug thing), then I'd be suspicious that there is a fault in the smoker.

It would be so easy for some moisture to get where it shouldn't be, and maybe some smoke residue, and create a relatively high-resistance leakage path inside one of these smokers that it would surprise me if quite a few of them didn't/haven't ended up with leakage faults.  As was pointed out, GFCIs can be very sensitive.  That's a good thing in many ways.  But the amount of leakage required to trip the GFCI can easily be so low that it won't keep the appliance from appearing to operate perfectly.  If the leakage path "burns" over time, it could get worse and worse and eventually cause a fire in the smoker or create a hazard.  The frames/cases of the smokers are grounded.  So ideally, there would still be no shock hazard because the leakage is going to ground via the grounding conductor.  But you really don't want to allow that kind of thing to just go on and on.

You could get a new GFCI protected outlet strip or power cord and plug that into the same outlet (requiring the extension cord(s) you've been using "successfully") with the smoker and see if THAT GFCI trips.  If it doesn't, then you may have a "too sensitive" GFCI and just need to replace it.  But if that new GFCI cord trips, then it seems pretty likely that the smoker does have a leakage fault.  At that point, you'd want to have it serviced by a competent repair person to have the leakage path found and corrected IMO.
The GFCI is on the outlet not the breaker.  I will have to pick up one or both of those gadgets to check things out further.  I was able to run the smoker all day on an outlet on another circuit, but, I had to string two extension cords together to get to that other outlet and I know that is a no-no.

All the points above are well taken.  I Need more information on where the problem is.
The main no-no here is not that you've used the extra extension cords (although that's not good), but more that you've bypassed the GFCI, which is (presumably) there to protect outdoor outlets where shocks are more likely to be an issue due to people standing in water, on bare ground, etc.  I'm assuming that the outlet you plugged the extension cords into is NOT protected by a GFCI.  If it is, forget everything I've been saying! 

I bought the circuit checker and believe it or not the outlet tested fine.  I did not buy the volt meter as I was not sure what kind to buy, plus I was not sure I wanted to make that investment, not knowing how expensive it would be.

I also bought a 12 gauge extension cord.  I have not tried to heat the unit with the new extension cord yet.

If anyone has a recommendation for a volt meter that won't break the bank, I am open to that too.  I will try this week heat the unit with the new cord and see what happens.  
Even if the GFCI was bad, the circuit wiring may well pass the tests that the test plug provides.

I really like the Fluke digital volt meters.  They're a bit more than many of the inexpensive ones, but you will probably never need to buy another one in your life.  I've got one I purchased in about 1978.  It's still vastly superior to just about any other meter I happen to pick up to use.  I often end up setting the cheapie meter down and trekking back to my office or wherever I left my tools so that I can use "my" meter because I trust it and am more comfortable with it and confident of the readings I get.

And on that subject:  I've forgotten, and had it set to ohms many many times and stuck the prongs into an outlet or connected it inside something to test for 120VAC, and it's never protested in the slightest.  That's one difference between a higher quality meter and a cheapie.  With some meters, that would have been the end of the meter and potentially dangerous, to boot.  But with the old Fluke, it just gives me a strange reading on the meter and then I smack my forehead and am once again grateful that it can stand up to my stupidity.  I've even seen them plugged into 120 when set up for reading current.  That just blows an internal fuse.

With a cheaper meter, that often results in a pretty spectacular display of pyrotechnics.

The other thing that annoys me pretty much every time I try a different meter is the speed of getting a reading.  That seems like a trivial thing, but when you do a lot of this work, it's really aggravating how slow some of the meters out there are.  It's just a lot of little ergonomic things that add up.  I'm sure people are passionate about other tools we use, and have favorites and subtle reasons why others just don't feel right to us. That's the way it is with these meters.  The Flukes, even my old 1978 model, just work better, faster, safer, and just "handle" better.

Looking on Amazon, for prime-eligible Fluke meters, they've got this one:

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There's also this one with a temperature function:

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Not cheap, but if you're in the mood for a tool that will probably last a lifetime...
 

mattj2006

Newbie
12
10
Joined Jun 7, 2012
Wow did they get carried away with the selections on that meter.  Put your red lead in the furthest right port and your black lead in the COM port.  NOw turn the dial to the 12 o'clock position.(To ensure there is no confusion unplug the MES)  Take the plug and test between on of the spades and the ground lug.  Now test between the other spade and ground lug.  Try to make sure that you are not making contact with your skin and any metal, YOU WILL NOT GET SHOCKED but it may throw off the reading.  Note the readings you get.  You may try taking a reading higher up on the scale as well(a few more clicks clockwise on the dial if you get O.L.
 
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