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Old 05-26-2016, 05:10 PM   #11
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However, as I've demonstrated many times, a bad heating element can't shock you unless you also have a failure in the ground-bond connection. This high-resistance failed connection can be anywhere between the frame of the RV and the incoming power panel's Ground-Bond bus. Typically it's in a cheap dog-bone adapter, but can also be in the campground pedestal itself. And a separate ground rod won't help "ground" an RV since it's impedance is typically between 25 to 100 ohms. A proper EGC bond (safety ground) has to be under 1 ohm impedance to be code compliant. A 100 ohm ground rod connection will only draw around 1 ampere even with a direct short to the RV chassis, and that's not enough to trip a 20 or 30 amp circuit breaker.
I'm only going by what the mobile RV tech said. We were at a permanent site at the time. The power panel and the cord were both checked. Never had the problem prior and never had the problem after it was replaced.
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Old 05-26-2016, 06:54 PM   #12
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Just sounds like you got a 115 volt tingle from your water heater electric element on/off switch because of the wetness. That switch is not highly insulated from its mounting position and it's not a very well made switch. JMO.
Well it should be insulated!
I will be checking all electrical FIRST from now on! I realize it's one more step in the setup to do list, but the most important one! Just glad I got a "wake up call" and not a " life altering lesson"
Thanks again to those a lot smarter than me
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Old 05-26-2016, 07:06 PM   #13
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I had the same problem. Turns out my extension cord had a bad ground.

Found the problem using one of these... (Everyone should have one)

Klein Tools Receptacle Tester | Sweetwater.com

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Old 05-26-2016, 07:18 PM   #14
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My HWH is under the sink in my bathroom. I installed a pilot light switch in the bathroom that turns the outlet that the HWH is plugged into on and off. Lets me turn it on at the HWH at beginning of season. After that, I just use the inside switch.

I had to put in a larger electrical box for the outlet so I could put a real receptacle in it, instead of the cheap "RV receptacle" they used. Here's some pics and a wiring diagram with the switch PN.

(In the bottom pic, the light is not really on - the flash made it look that way. Switch up is ON, down is OFF.)
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Old 05-26-2016, 08:23 PM   #15
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I'm only going by what the mobile RV tech said. We were at a permanent site at the time. The power panel and the cord were both checked. Never had the problem prior and never had the problem after it was replaced.
Sadly, many RV technicians really don't understand grounding issues. I've offered to develop technician training to all the major manufacturers, but they're not interested. I do what I can on dozens of these forums, but I'm constantly answering the same questions over and over again.

So if someone tells you that an RV heater element caused a shock condition, they don't understand how RV grounding works. And if they tell you that reversed polarity (swapped hot and neutral) cause a hot skin shock, then they REALLY don't understand.
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Old 05-27-2016, 01:10 PM   #16
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Your electric element is shorted. Happens if you turn it on when empty. Problem will be resolved after the element is replaced. Replacements available at any home store such as Home Depot.
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Old 05-27-2016, 01:39 PM   #17
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Your electric element is shorted. Happens if you turn it on when empty. Problem will be resolved after the element is replaced. Replacements available at any home store such as Home Depot.
As I stated in previous post the element is still working. If it was shorted out would it not quit working
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Old 05-27-2016, 02:37 PM   #18
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As I stated in previous post the element is still working. If it was shorted out would it not quit working
It's not shorted. If it was shorted then it would trip the circuit breaker. I believe there's was some water buildup around the switch which provided a current path through you to the wet ground you were standing on.

On a side note, most of the time a HW heater element with fail due to corrosion which allows water to contact the ni-chrome element. Then there will be around 1 amp of ground fault leakage current. There's a pretty simple current test can could be performed on RV's using a clamp meter, but no one to my knowledge has documented or performed this test. It's just something in my bag-of-tricks for troubleshooting electrical systems.

If you do turn on the electricity without any water, then the element can melt-down internally. Most of the time it should open-up, but there's a possibility it could short to the outer tube. But that won't be a hard short between two electric wires. In any case, if you have a properly ground-bonded RV, it can't possibly cause a hot-skin voltage condition.
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Old 05-27-2016, 04:34 PM   #19
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It's not shorted. If it was shorted then it would trip the circuit breaker. I believe there's was some water buildup around the switch which provided a current path through you to the wet ground you were standing on.

On a side note, most of the time a HW heater element with fail due to corrosion which allows water to contact the ni-chrome element. Then there will be around 1 amp of ground fault leakage current. There's a pretty simple current test can could be performed on RV's using a clamp meter, but no one to my knowledge has documented or performed this test. It's just something in my bag-of-tricks for troubleshooting electrical systems.

If you do turn on the electricity without any water, then the element can melt-down internally. Most of the time it should open-up, but there's a possibility it could short to the outer tube. But that won't be a hard short between two electric wires. In any case, if you have a properly ground-bonded RV, it can't possibly cause a hot-skin voltage condition.
I agree and will wait and/or remove the excess water after bleeding the water heater and before turning on the element switch. I will be testing all electrical hook ups (following your video,articles) from now on. Thanks again!
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Old 05-27-2016, 10:27 PM   #20
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I learned from Mr.Sokol early on about being smart with electricity. I use a tester on the skin before anyone touches anything. My neighbors think I'm an idiot but you can't go back and check it after it has zapped you.
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