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Old 06-28-2015, 10:03 PM   #1
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Electrified???

I replaced the valve on my black water flush out system today and noticed that when I touched any metal part of the frame of my trailer, I could feel an electrical current running through it! Not enough to really shock me, but certainly enough to cause some discomfort. It doesn't matter where on the frame I touch either, it feels the same. What is going on?

I have a 2010 Rockwood Roo 23 RS.
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Old 06-28-2015, 10:07 PM   #2
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Reverse polarity. If your plugged into shore power, your outlet needs to be rewired. If you're on battery then go flip flop the battery cables.
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Old 06-28-2015, 10:09 PM   #3
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If you're plugged in and you've recently done any work on your converter, the reverse polarity could be coming from a wiring mix-up from there too... if not at the outlet.
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Old 06-28-2015, 10:10 PM   #4
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Take a volt meter and ground one lead to a water pipe or some steel rod in the ground then touch the other lead to a bare spot on the frame.

What is the voltage and the amperage?
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Old 06-28-2015, 10:18 PM   #5
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This could be leakage current, a poor ground in the electrical service or a jumper is missing around a water meter or in some cases a gas meter. There could also be corrosion in the electrical service or a bad ground rod at the service entrance.
An electrician should be called to check this.

I highly doubt it is 12 volts from the battery, be careful flipping the cables as this could cause larger issues with damaged equipment.

When you touch the trailer and earth you are forming the safety ground with your body.
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Old 06-28-2015, 11:26 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by Yarome View Post
If you're plugged in and you've recently done any work on your converter, the reverse polarity could be coming from a wiring mix-up from there too... if not at the outlet.
I haven't done any electrical work at all since I've had the trailer. I did put the battery in backwards once years ago, and it immediately blew the fuse so I corrected it.
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Old 06-28-2015, 11:27 PM   #7
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Take a volt meter and ground one lead to a water pipe or some steel rod in the ground then touch the other lead to a bare spot on the frame.

What is the voltage and the amperage?
I will have to do this when I get home and have my volt meter.
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Old 06-29-2015, 05:44 AM   #8
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It's possible you were plugged into a faulty/miswired outlet at the campground.

I'll send a message to Mike Sokol on your behalf, who is our go-to person on RV hot skin condition that you're referring to. He is a member here, and also has many informative videos and such on this. You won't meet a better person trying to save everyone's live's.

Here is a link to his website and things to consider to see if it applies to your situation:

RV Electrical Safety: Part IV ‚€“ Hot Skin | No~Shock~Zone
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Old 06-29-2015, 06:20 AM   #9
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I had this problem last year and it took a month of troubleshooting to find it.

At some unknown time the ground wire (bare copper) had come out of the shore power socket on the side of the camper. Since it was in the camper, I never noticed it during my shore power checks.

Ordinarily, this would not be an issue BUT I did have to replace a GFCI outlet 2 years ago. When the bare copper ground wire in THAT outlet worked its way out of the wire nut I used and came in contact with the Neutral screw, that caused a VERY dangerous "Hot Skin" condition on the camper.

Luckily I noticed it when working on wheels (kneeling on the grass) and not in wet bare feet coming back from the campground pool!

Mike Sokol helped me directly to track down the double failure that caused my problem.
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Old 06-29-2015, 07:01 AM   #10
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Mike is the smartest guy I know on the subject and he is more than willing to help you out. Great guy. He will get you headed in the right direction.
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Old 06-29-2015, 07:15 AM   #11
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I have noticed a lot of reverse polarity talk lately. Just curious, how many of you are actual electricians? To tell someone to just flip the wires around without trouble shooting and knowing the actual cause could possible cause some issues.
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Old 06-29-2015, 07:18 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wmtire View Post
It's possible you were plugged into a faulty/miswired outlet at the campground.

I'll send a message to Mike Sokol on your behalf, who is our go-to person on RV hot skin condition that you're referring to. He is a member here, and also has many informative videos and such on this. You won't meet a better person trying to save everyone's live's.

Here is a link to his website and things to consider to see if it applies to your situation:

RV Electrical Safety: Part IV ‚Äď Hot Skin | No~Shock~Zone
Good information
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Old 06-29-2015, 08:45 AM   #13
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Reverse polarity. If your plugged into shore power, your outlet needs to be rewired. If you're on battery then go flip flop the battery cables.
This is Mike Sokol from the no~Shock~Zone and I just received a private message from the forum moderator that I was needed here, sort of like the Batman Signal, I guess....

OK, let's get to the bottom of this quickly, since this is a simple thing. But first, let me detail what is is NOT!!!

It's NOT reversed or flipped battery cables. And you certainly don't want to be swapping battery cables at any time since that really DOES reverse polarity and could easily destroy electronics such as your inverters, televisions, stereo systems, etc... That's because a battery has a positive and a negative pole, so reversing the cables actually reverses the polarity, and electronics are VERY sensitive to polarity reversal and can be destroyed by in in a few milliseconds (a millisecond is 1/1000 of a second).

It's NOT reversed polarity on the AC shore power plug, unless something else is miswired at the same time. That's loosely defined as the Hot and Neutral wires being swapped or "reversed" in the extension cord or outlet. But the White Neutral wire is supposed to be isolated from the frame/skin of your RV according to the NEC and RVIA build codes. If you've accidentally bonded (connected) the Neutral and Chassis Ground together, then it's possible that a Reversed Polarity Outlet could energize the RV chassis/skin, but if the ground wires is intact it should trip the circuit breaker immediately.

It's definitely some sort of compromised EGC (Equipment Grounding Conductor) more commonly called a safety ground, or simply "ground" by most consumers. This "ground" is supposed to drain away any small ground fault currents and trip a circuit breaker for any large ground fault currents.

By definition, a ground fault current is any sort of leakage between the incoming hot wires and the chassis of an appliance or your RV itself. There will ALWAYS be some ground fault current available in ANYTHING plugged into a power outlet, but it's normally very small, typically less than 1 mA (1 milliamp or 1/1000 of an ampere). Most of the time there will be a balancing act between the hot and neutral leakage impedance which the open ground hot-skin voltage biasing to around 1/2 of the line voltage. So if your EGC (ground) wire is compromised without anything else being wrong in your RV, you'll often measure 40 to 80 volts between the RV frame and a screwdriver stuck in the earth. While this sort of low-current ground fault may not be immediately deadly, you still need to take it seriously since it can turn into a high current ground fault in a heartbeat, and there will be nothing to stop it from killing you or a loved one.

OK, now let's consider what can compromise your RV's grounding system. There needs to be a solid connection between the frame/chassis of your RV all the way back to the electrical service panel feeding your home or the campground. So everywhere there's a connection, it's possible for a failure to occur. So that means that it could be caused a broken or loose or corroded connection in your shore power cable, extension cord, dog-bone adapter, pedestal outlet, or even the AC power feeding the pedestal or outlet itself. I've seen loose grounding screws inside of the RV's circuit breaker box cause this, and even a broken ground screw on the back of the RV's shore power jack on the side of vehicle. To be code compliant, this EGC (ground) needs to have less than 1 ohm impedance back to the service panel's G-N-E bonding point.

Also, a ground rod connected to the frame of your RV does NOT "ground" your RV. Lot's of reasons for this, but an earthed ground rod can often measure up to 100 ohms to the earth, so while it might drain away a low-current ground fault, it certainly CAN'T drain away a high-current ground fault. That can be caused by a screw being driven though a wire in the wall, or insulation worn through by rubbing on the frame, or even a failed transformer in your microwave oven. As a side note, jacks on the ground do nothing to "ground" your RV, so don't get me started on that subject.

Finally, there's one really dangerous outlet miswinrg condition I sometimes find in old garages and church outlets. I call it an RPBG (Reverse Polarity Bootleg Ground) and it can't be detected by any standard tests including 3-outlet testers or even metering between H-N, H-G and N-G. You must have an external reference to earth to find it. See my article on it at Failures in Outlet Testing Exposed | Contractor content from Electrical Construction & Maintenance (EC&M) Magazine and my video on how you can use a NCVT (Non Contact Voltage Tester) to easily find a hot-skin condition at So, please take any felt shocks as a sign that something is seriously wrong with your RV's ground system, which could be anywhere from the outlet itself, dog-bone adapter, extension cord, shore power cord, or even the ground bonding point inside your RV itself. I get all the police and inspector reports whenever someone is electrocuted (killed) by an RV or guitar on stage, and most every instance was preceded by someone noticing they were feeling a shock for a few days or even weeks. Modern code requires that RVs and appliances are designed so that you NEVER feel a shock. If you do, then the grounding system has failed. It's as simple as that.

Also, at the risk of self promoting, I think that all of you, especially the ones who are giving out incorrect electrical advice, need to get and read a copy of my book - No~Shock~Zone RV Electrical Safety. This is a must-read before doing any electrical work on your RV, and will certainly give you enough information to discuss electrical problems with a trained technician or licensed electrician.

ATTN MODERATOR - Feel free to delete the book info above if that violates forum self-promotion policy. But I think that everyone who plugs an RV into an electrical outlet needs to understand the basics of electricity for their own safety.

Let's play safe out there...

Mike Sokol
No Shock Zone
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Old 06-29-2015, 09:08 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jmsokol View Post
This is Mike Sokol from the no~Shock~Zone and I just received a private message from the forum moderator that I was needed here, sort of like the Batman Signal, I guess....

ATTN MODERATOR - Feel free to delete the book info above if that violates forum self-promotion policy. But I think that everyone who plugs an RV into an electrical outlet needs to understand the basics of electricity for their own safety.

Let's play safe out there...

Mike Sokol
No Shock Zone
I think we can make an exception here for this Mike. We do agree that this can be a life-threatening situation, and it is in the best interest of our entire membership for everyone to learn as much as they can about this.

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Old 06-29-2015, 10:17 AM   #15
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This is great information.
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Old 06-29-2015, 02:57 PM   #16
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This is great information.
Thanks.... Is my explanation of what causes an RV hot-skin condition clear enough for everybody?
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Old 06-29-2015, 03:02 PM   #17
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DO NOT flip battery cables.

I have seen this situation occur in RVs that have burned out WH elements as a result of turning on WH ( electric ) with an empty WH.
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Old 06-29-2015, 06:31 PM   #18
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This is interesting.

50 Amp Outlet Tester
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Old 06-29-2015, 07:14 PM   #19
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I think some folks need to chill just a bit..

If you read everything there were 2 other areas as well mentioned to possibly troubleshoot with possible solutions if for no other reason than to rule out something hinky at any power source.

Maybe it's wrong of me to assume that any reasonable person would do a little troubleshooting in that area before implementing any kind of fix, and don't necessarily need a step by step guide to do so. If they need additional help with troubleshooting a specific area, they are always welcome to ask for additional information.

Kept in the context that's been implied, I guess I was telling him to go rewire his 110v source, flip the battery cables and the output wiring of his converter.. sight unseen.

I learned something new, Thank you Mike, and won't perpetuate the myth.
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Old 06-29-2015, 07:18 PM   #20
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just curious, how many of you are actual electricians? To tell someone to just flip the wires around without trouble shooting
I never meant to imply he should flip his cables without troubleshooting, but you're right... I'm not a licensed electrician and will refrain from making any additional comments with regard to RV power systems in the future.

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