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Old 07-08-2013, 08:29 PM   #1
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Tripping the gfci when plugging in.

Hi all. Im new to the Forum and I have an electrical question. I have a 2009 Forest River Surveyor sv303. During the summer we leave our trailer parked at some friends property and use it on the weekends. This is our 3 rd summer of leaving it there. This year when I plugged it in to the same gfci outlet on the HOUSE that i plug it into every year, it trips the gfci. Im sure I should ideally be plugging into a dedicated 30 amp supply, but this set up has worked fine for the last two years, so Im wondering why it is tripping the gfci this year, when it never did in the past. If i go into the TRAILER and turn off the breaker marked "Inverter", then it does not trip the gfci at the house. This happens even when I have everything in the trailer that I can find a switch to turned off. It also happens whether I have the battery disconnected or connected.
When I plug into the portable generator, it all seems to work fine, and it all worked fine last week when out at a campground and plugged into a dedicated 30 amp supply. If it had always done this in the past, i would just assume the outlet on the HOUSE isn't appropriate for the application, (which is probably the case), but my question is really more about why it worked fine the last two years, and its not working now? Is there a new short or a draw somewhere in the trailer that is causing a problem? The only change I can think of is that I added a sub woofer and amp to the stereo system, but even when I disconnect this, the issue is the same. I am all for digging in and trying to find the issue, but just not sure where to start, or how to confirm wether there is a problem in the trailer at all. If it works when plugged in to the generator or camping site supply, should I assume the issue is on the supply side (at the house)? Or should I take the trailer in to have it checked out for a short?

I appreciate any trouble shooting advice!
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Old 07-08-2013, 08:34 PM   #2
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GFIs can get weak and trip with the slightest draw.
It may be as simple as that.
And I don't think a GFI is the ideal outlet to be supplying your camper, as you pointed out.
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Old 07-08-2013, 08:36 PM   #3
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When the hot water heater element was burnt out on mine the GFI was tripping. Took me a bit to figure it out but after some investigation by opening breakers that was the issue. It was about a $15 fix.
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Old 07-08-2013, 09:05 PM   #4
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Thanks so much for the quick replies! Both of those suggestions are great. I just realized last month that mine hade an electric H2O heating element. I always thought it was only gas. I'll check that first and go to the possible GFI replacement next. We rarely use the power for the AC, or anything else much for that matter. It is pretty much just for recharging the battery and keeping the lights going.

On a side note, why is the H2O switch backwards from every other switch in the universe? Down is ON and up is OFF? Who came up with that? What happened to keeping it simple? I may have left it in the on position without water in the tank, which may be the source of the draw.

I'll post an update if I get it solved. It will be a few days before we go back out to it.

THANKS AGAIN!
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Old 07-08-2013, 09:09 PM   #5
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[QUOTE=Pinecone;416892].

On a side note, why is the H2O switch backwards from every other switch in the universe? Down is ON and up is OFF? Who came up with that? What happened to keeping it simple? I may have left it in the on position without water in the tank, which may be the source of the draw.

QUOTE]

That has always baffled me as well, and I have to triple-check every time to make sure I shut it off whenever I drain the tank.
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Old 07-10-2013, 01:33 AM   #6
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Wfmdfm - thanks for the tip! I pulled out the electric H2O heat element and it looked pretty bad and had a hole in it. I putva new one in and all is well!
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Old 07-10-2013, 01:38 AM   #7
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Thank you both for your help!! That process could have taken a lot longer and been much more frustrating without you guys sharing your knowledge and experience. Now i can look forward to a weekend of relaxing instead of troubleshooting. Cheers!
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Old 07-10-2013, 07:18 AM   #8
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Pretty easy to fix the switch problem, just pull them out and turn 180į and re-install.
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Old 07-14-2013, 10:36 AM   #9
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1) You should not be plugging you RV into a GFCI protected outlet. There are so many electrical loads within the RV that have even the slightest "leak" and these will trip a GFCI outlet. Also I hope you are not plugging your RV into an outlet that is "HOT". This is not good for the converter mainly because when you start to plug the male end of the shore power cord in you just might/most likely will not get a sold connection at first. What I am saying is that it is common to get the initial connection, back off the connection just a tad which will break the connection and you will not notice this, then get the final good connection. The problem: With this very short, less than a second, your converter will notice this interruption of power and will possibly/probably will trip one or more breakers withing the converter circuit. I always make sure that the power source is "OFF", at the breaker/disconnect, then plug the cord in, then introduce power via the breaker/disconnect to the power cord. As far as the switch for the water heater being backwards: "OldCoot" has a great answer. OR: IF your switch is labeled "ON/OFF" and "ON" is actually "OFF" and vice-versa you will probably need change the position of the wiring on the back-side of the switch.
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Old 07-15-2013, 11:34 AM   #10
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The "upside down" switch installation was probably designed by a Brit. All switches in British houses, cars, etc., are "down for on". Same in a lot of European countries too.

In the early days of the 737, Lufthansa insisted on all toggle switches on instrument panels to be aligned "down for on". On the 757, 767 and later models, Boeing went to push-buttons. Air Florida decided to by a couple of 737's from Lufthansa, not realising the switches were all inverted. It would have cost a significant amount of money to get all the instrument panels reworked (over $300,000) so they cancelled the deal.
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