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Old 05-23-2018, 07:36 PM   #1
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Spent 3 days trying to figure out why my camper was shocking me

My camper has been shocking me when you touch any of the window or door frames when you are standing outside. It only seemed to do it at home, but I wasn't 100% sure I'd noticed it when camping either since it only started happening this year.

Spent 2 days going through all the wiring in the camper, checking and verifying everything was right. I even added a new ground wire from the ground bus on the power panel to the frame, and then from the frame to the aluminum skin, just trying to rule out maybe a bad ground. That still didn't fix it.

I verified my 30amp hookup on the back of my garage was wired right. Then checked my garage subpanel. It was all right too.

Then I got the crap shocked out of me by the neutral wire when the breaker was off to my 30amp plug when I was putting it back together. Thats when I realized it had to be something with the house.

Dug deeper, and went and bought a circuit tester at the hardware store.

It ended up being a completely separate circuit. We added 2 20 amp circuits for my home office onto my garage subpanel since the main panel was full of breakers already. I'd previously been using and old knob and tube circuit for my home PC which wasn't ideal.

I plugged the circuit tester in, in the garage and noticed when I turned off the breaker that fed that circuit it would switch from correct to the ground/hot being swapped. WTF.

Turns out, one of the circuits that were added is somehow backfeeding onto the neutral line. Its a very simple circuit, it goes to a single light in my master closet and then a 20 amp plug in my office.

I called the handyman who helped me add it. He said he's seen plugs be bad before and short out. He's coming over tomorrow to look into it, since at this point I feel I'm in a little over my head. But, with that 20 amp circuit turned off, my camper no longer shocks me, so thats definitely it. The crazy thing was, its not the same circuit as my camper!

I THINK what might be happening is the the light in the closet that its powering is a fluorescent. I think the transformer in it might be bad and backfeeding high voltage onto neutral. Because it doesn't feel like a mains 120 volt shock, its more prickly and doesn't hurt as much to touch it. Which makes me think very high voltage, low amperage.

Anyways, just a cautionary tale, it may not be your camper or even the circuit that its on thats causing the problem! It was a totally unrelated circuit that I had inspected and everything. Blows my mind.
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Old 05-23-2018, 07:44 PM   #2
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I had a call on a bedroom light switch that turned off the 240 volt a/c unit, roof squirrels had chewed the insulation creating a feedback loop. Got to take it like baby steps - small and one at a time.
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Old 05-23-2018, 07:48 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lugoismad View Post
My camper has been shocking me when you touch any of the window or door frames when you are standing outside. It only seemed to do it at home, but I wasn't 100% sure I'd noticed it when camping either since it only started happening this year.

Spent 2 days going through all the wiring in the camper, checking and verifying everything was right. I even added a new ground wire from the ground bus on the power panel to the frame, and then from the frame to the aluminum skin, just trying to rule out maybe a bad ground. That still didn't fix it.

I verified my 30amp hookup on the back of my garage was wired right. Then checked my garage subpanel. It was all right too.

Then I got the crap shocked out of me by the neutral wire when the breaker was off to my 30amp plug when I was putting it back together. Thats when I realized it had to be something with the house.

Dug deeper, and went and bought a circuit tester at the hardware store.

It ended up being a completely separate circuit. We added 2 20 amp circuits for my home office onto my garage subpanel since the main panel was full of breakers already. I'd previously been using and old knob and tube circuit for my home PC which wasn't ideal.

I plugged the circuit tester in, in the garage and noticed when I turned off the breaker that fed that circuit it would switch from correct to the ground/hot being swapped. WTF.

Turns out, one of the circuits that were added is somehow backfeeding onto the neutral line. Its a very simple circuit, it goes to a single light in my master closet and then a 20 amp plug in my office.

I called the handyman who helped me add it. He said he's seen plugs be bad before and short out. He's coming over tomorrow to look into it, since at this point I feel I'm in a little over my head. But, with that 20 amp circuit turned off, my camper no longer shocks me, so thats definitely it. The crazy thing was, its not the same circuit as my camper!

I THINK what might be happening is the the light in the closet that its powering is a fluorescent. I think the transformer in it might be bad and backfeeding high voltage onto neutral. Because it doesn't feel like a mains 120 volt shock, its more prickly and doesn't hurt as much to touch it. Which makes me think very high voltage, low amperage.

Anyways, just a cautionary tale, it may not be your camper or even the circuit that its on thats causing the problem! It was a totally unrelated circuit that I had inspected and everything. Blows my mind.
Are you 100% sure your 30 amp plug is wired 120 volt? Do you have the hot and neutral connected to the proper Blades?
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Old 05-23-2018, 07:48 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by myxkp View Post
I had a call on a bedroom light switch that turned off the 240 volt a/c unit, roof squirrels had chewed the insulation creating a feedback loop. Got to take it like baby steps - small and one at a time.
I'm just so glad it didn't fry anything. Especially since its sending voltage down neutral, I can't believe it didn't fry something that was on the other 120 volt leg that would be out of phase with it.
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Old 05-23-2018, 07:50 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by cavie View Post
Are you 100% sure your 30 amp plug is wired 120 volt? Do you have the hot and neutral connected to the proper Blades?
Yes, I am absolutely 100% sure. I had my handyman check it, I've checked it a half dozen times, I've even had my wife come out and sanity check it for me. I am absolutely 100% sure. Plus, the problem goes away when I turn my office circuit off, that I spoke about.
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Old 05-23-2018, 07:53 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by cavie View Post
Are you 100% sure your 30 amp plug is wired 120 volt? Do you have the hot and neutral connected to the proper Blades?
I even asked my handyman (He's been doing this a long time, he does electrical work for the county including all of our fair ground buildings) about it. He said he did one time come across a 30 amp plug that had the hot and neutral markings backwards.

I figured it couldn't hurt to check, so I even took it back out and wired it backwards. Problem still happened, since the circuit that was backfeeding neutral was also backfeeding ground since they are tied together in the main panel. And, when I did that all of the GFCI outlets in the camper tripped and wouldn't un-trip. Obviously I swapped it right back. At that point I was willing to try anything. I was starting to think maybe the 30amp plug on the side of the camper was somehow wired backwards.
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Old 05-23-2018, 08:01 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lugoismad View Post
I even asked my handyman (He's been doing this a long time, he does electrical work for the county including all of our fair ground buildings) about it. He said he did one time come across a 30 amp plug that had the hot and neutral markings backwards.

I figured it couldn't hurt to check, so I even took it back out and wired it backwards. Problem still happened, since the circuit that was backfeeding neutral was also backfeeding ground since they are tied together in the main panel. And, when I did that all of the GFCI outlets in the camper tripped and wouldn't un-trip. Obviously I swapped it right back. At that point I was willing to try anything. I was starting to think maybe the 30amp plug on the side of the camper was somehow wired backwards.
Had something similar in last house - plugged in something outside in the 110 outlet - wouldn't turn on.

Got out multimeter and checked the voltage at the outlet - got 220 - WTH?

Checked breaker - on and good.

Started tracing the feed to the outside circuit and it ran through downstairs powder room.

Here is where the fun started...

Turns out they ran two circuits and junctioned through the powder room - with the movement of the switch etc. over time the common came out of the outlet - leaving two hot sides only giving 220 to everything downstream.

Glad i didn't blow anything up plugging in outside.

Circuit testers / multimeters / EMS always come in handy.

Isn't electricity fun
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Old 05-23-2018, 08:04 PM   #8
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You might want to pick up one of the portable surge protector/electrical power management systems.

https://www.amazon.com/Progressive-I...paddicttext-20

It checks for reverse polarity, open ground, and lots of other conditions. It won't let electricity through if there is a problem. We use it with an 120 to 30 amp outlet adapter when hooked up to household current.
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Old 05-23-2018, 08:04 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gumpster808 View Post
Had something similar in last house - plugged in something outside in the 110 outlet - wouldn't turn on.

Got out multimeter and checked the voltage at the outlet - got 220 - WTH?

Checked breaker - on and good.

Started tracing the feed to the outside circuit and it ran through downstairs powder room.

Here is where the fun started...

Turns out they ran two circuits and junctioned through the powder room - with the movement of the switch etc. over time the common came out of the outlet - leaving two hot sides only giving 220 to everything downstream.

Glad i didn't blow anything up plugging in outside.

Circuit testers / multimeters / EMS always come in handy.

Isn't electricity fun
LOL, for sure.

Whats crazy is, I was reading 120 volts between hot and neutral on the 30 amp plug.
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Old 05-23-2018, 08:23 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Reverse_snowbird View Post
You might want to pick up one of the portable surge protector/electrical power management systems.

https://www.amazon.com/Progressive-I...paddicttext-20

It checks for reverse polarity, open ground, and lots of other conditions. It won't let electricity through if there is a problem. We use it with an 120 to 30 amp outlet adapter when hooked up to household current.
I would recommend the Progressive as well. Got the portable and last year saved us - was hooking up electrical items outside under the awning - plugged in and wife said "what happened to the power".

Looked at the code on the EMS - turns out the power strip i was using to plug items in outside as needed had a bad ground. Fed all the way back from the camper side to the EMS that was plugged in directly to the power pole and tripped it off instantly.

So not only issues with campground power handled - also handles things on camper side as well.

Well worth the investment.
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