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Old 10-19-2014, 07:11 PM   #1
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Problems Tripping Breakers

Hey guys. I took the camper out this weekend for some R&R. Upon arriving at the campsite, I did all my usual stuff and got the camper plugged in and set-up. All goes good. I was sitting around the fire and saw all the lights went dim. I knew instantly I had thrown the breaker. I tried to switch the breaker back on but it instantly trips again. And again. And again... I wont bore you with the details, but after a LOT of aggravation, the weekend ends and I bring the camper home (and as a cherry on top, I blew a tire and demolished the side of the camper).

We ran some tests, and came to the conclusion it was a breaker labeled DSI. I googled it and it means Direct Spark Ignition; part of the water heater. Now hold on... your telling me it takes 120v to simply spark the water heater? There is also a fuse labeled water heater. You cant tell me it takes 12V to heat water and 120V to spark propane. Either theres something fishy going on or I need a lesson on water heater basics.

Regardless of what this breaker does, it has a dead short in it and needs fixed (but not right now as the side of the camper needs repaired first). So where is this DSI located?
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Old 10-20-2014, 09:12 AM   #2
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And I will also throw in: since we had no 120V, we ran the water heater and fridge off propane and they both worked wonderfully. So if the DSI actually runs on 120V, then the water heater should not have sparked and ran...
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Old 10-20-2014, 09:16 AM   #3
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If it's hand labelled, maybe just bad writing and should read GFI instead?
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Old 10-20-2014, 09:38 AM   #4
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X2 on Fonzies suggestion.

The DSI is 12 volt, and not 120 volt.

This may help explain the 12 volt DSI, even if you don't have the Suburban brand.

http://www.forestriverforums.com/for...ore-36197.html
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Old 10-20-2014, 09:51 AM   #5
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If you had no 120 volt and running the unit with 12volt the 120 volt breakers will not be used. The dimming lights were most likely from a battery that was being discharged.
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Old 10-20-2014, 09:57 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by El Camino Man View Post
There is also a fuse labeled water heater.
Just to make sure of something, are you saying there is a fuse (12 volt), or actually mean a circuit breaker (120 volt) labeled water heater?

The reason I ask, is if someone mislabled the circuit breaker to the water heater as dsi, which is what circuit you stated has the problem...then you may have burned out an electric heating element.

This is also explained in the previous link I posted above.

Also which breaker was tripping at the campground? Was it the pedestal breaker, your main TT breaker, or a sub-circuit breaker in the tt.?

EDIT: I also took the liberty or changing your thread title a little to more accurately reflect the problem.
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Old 10-20-2014, 09:57 AM   #7
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Hope this may help.

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Old 10-20-2014, 09:56 PM   #8
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Quote:
And I will also throw in: since we had no 120V, we ran the water heater and fridge off propane and they both worked wonderfully. So if the DSI actually runs on 120V, then the water heater should not have sparked and ran...
Because he was not hooked up to 120 volt the 120 system should not have been effected. We are dealing with the 12 volt side of his system. If he did not have 120v the electric side of the water heater could not have been damaged. I still believe his dimming lights was caused by low battery voltage. If the furnace was used during his stay it would drain the battery faster then any other appliance. His breaker not resetting is another problem that should be checked when hooked up to 120v.
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Old 10-22-2014, 06:35 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wmtire View Post
Just to make sure of something, are you saying there is a fuse (12 volt), or actually mean a circuit breaker (120 volt) labeled water heater?

The reason I ask, is if someone mislabled the circuit breaker to the water heater as dsi, which is what circuit you stated has the problem...then you may have burned out an electric heating element.

This is also explained in the previous link I posted above.

Also which breaker was tripping at the campground? Was it the pedestal breaker, your main TT breaker, or a sub-circuit breaker in the tt.?

EDIT: I also took the liberty or changing your thread title a little to more accurately reflect the problem.
There is a breaker labeled DSI and a fuse labeled water heater. At the campground, there is only a single GFCI breaker for the 30 amp plug.

If I remember Ill try to take a pic of the breaker box in the camper
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Old 10-22-2014, 06:43 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by El Camino Man View Post
There is a breaker labeled DSI and a fuse labeled water heater. At the campground, there is only a single GFCI breaker for the 30 amp plug.

If I remember Ill try to take a pic of the breaker box in the camper
Please take a pic when you get a chance as that would help a lot in trying to figure it out.

As I stated, I am wondering if the breaker you are having trouble with now, just got mislabled by a new employee, and was just supposed to be the water heater breaker instead. If so, then it does indeed sound like you are having a problem with a short or something with the electric heating element side.

Also, what circuit breaker was tripping (and wouldn't reset) at the campground? The main one in the campground pedestal, your tt's main, or a sub-circuit in the tt?
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Old 10-22-2014, 02:11 PM   #11
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The campgrounds breaker.

At one point in time, I had ALL the breakers in my camper shut clean off and it was still throwing the campground breaker. I would reset the breaker, and as soon as the prongs touched the plug, itd trip. I know Im all over the place in this thread but I really need to figure this out.

In the near future, I will be taking my camper to the shop to have the insurance work done on it. I may just ask them to find the problem there
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Old 10-22-2014, 03:56 PM   #12
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I know this may be a stretch..... but do you have a friend that will you barrow their RV cord. Have you inspected your shore power cord, real close? This is beginning to sound serious.
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Old 10-22-2014, 04:17 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by El Camino Man View Post
I would reset the breaker, and as soon as the prongs touched the plug, itd trip. I know Im all over the place in this thread but I really need to figure this out.
OK, so If I'm understanding this correct, you were plugging into the campground outlet, with the pedestal breaker already turned on? Is this how you usually hook and unhook the power cord, with the power/breaker in the on position at a campground?

How long did your tt function with it plugged into the campground pedestal before it starting tripping the main breaker on the pedestal?

Was it raining or wet at the campground?

You may have one problem that caused other problems, and we need to troubleshoot it. The more info you provide along with detailed explanations always help. Try not to be brief, even if you are on a smartphone typing.

Were you using any kind of power management system, surge guard, adapter or extension cord at the campground? If so, did you use the exact same things at your house?

Once you got home, you stated the tt worked but not when the dsi labeled breaker was on? Was that the only problem at your house?

I have some initial thoughts, but will wait for your answers before offering things to check.
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Old 10-23-2014, 06:44 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wmtire View Post
OK, so If I'm understanding this correct, you were plugging into the campground outlet, with the pedestal breaker already turned on? Is this how you usually hook and unhook the power cord, with the power/breaker in the on position at a campground?

I tried both ways with the same result. After the breaker tripped, id flip it a couple more times to be sure

How long did your tt function with it plugged into the campground pedestal before it starting tripping the main breaker on the pedestal?

Id say a couple hours

Was it raining or wet at the campground?

It wasn't at the time but it had everyday for like 7 days priorto us getting there

You may have one problem that caused other problems, and we need to troubleshoot it. The more info you provide along with detailed explanations always help. Try not to be brief, even if you are on a smartphone typing.

Ask any and all questions! Ill try my hardest to answer as descriptively as possible

Were you using any kind of power management system, surge guard, adapter or extension cord at the campground? If so, did you use the exact same things at your house?

I just used the RVs cord. Nothing else. When I got home and did all the checking, I used a 30v to 110v adapter so itd plug into the wall

Once you got home, you stated the tt worked but not when the dsi labeled breaker was on? Was that the only problem at your house?

Yes. Everything worked. My father in law had his fancy multi meter out and checked every breaker and the only one causing problems was the DSI

I have some initial thoughts, but will wait for your answers before offering things to check.
And to donanddona, my gpa was camping right beside me and he had a spare cord. We actually completely unhooked my cord from the breaker box and hooked his in. Same result
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Old 10-23-2014, 07:35 AM   #15
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Thanks, one more question about the water heater.

If you have the Suburban brand water heater, and it is has the electric heating element, are you sure you have the black switch (on the face of the heater) for the heating element in the off position (push in on the word "off")?

You stated you tried another power cord, so you have a detachable type. Where the cord attaches to the RV itself, have you noticed anything wrong/burned with the actual twistlock male connectors
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Old 10-23-2014, 04:26 PM   #16
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Everything looked kosher with the cord. My plug looked a little wore so I thought for sure it was the plug. Swapped the entire cord and didn't help.

O boy, out comes my "newbie". I didn't know there was an on/off switch ON the water heater. I just assumed the switch inside the camper ran it... When we were running diagnostics on it, I was told to unplug the heating element to make sure it wasn't the problem. I noticed a switch down there sorta hidden but disregarded it....

If this switch runs the electric portion of the water heater, theres no doubt its burned up (or whatever happens when you "dry fire" it). But then again, I had both wires off the heating element and it didn't stop it from throwing breakers

As a side note, the insurance adjuster came out today. He said theres a small chance it could be totaled (depending on the value of the trailer). He says theres a ton of work involved removing the siding....
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Old 10-23-2014, 04:31 PM   #17
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Quote:
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Everything looked kosher with the cord. My plug looked a little wore so I thought for sure it was the plug. Swapped the entire cord and didn't help.

O boy, out comes my "newbie". I didn't know there was an on/off switch ON the water heater. I just assumed the switch inside the camper ran it... When we were running diagnostics on it, I was told to unplug the heating element to make sure it wasn't the problem. I noticed a switch down there sorta hidden but disregarded it....

If this switch runs the electric portion of the water heater, theres no doubt its burned up (or whatever happens when you "dry fire" it). But then again, I had both wires off the heating element and it didn't stop it from throwing breakers
If you did indeed dry fire it (no water in the heater) then yes, it's most likely burned out. A burned element can sometimes trip breakers, which is explained in the link to the water heater I posted earlier on in this thread in post #4.

However, if you were running the water heater on propane, I would assume you had water in the heater beforehand.

I would still like to see a pic of the breaker panel and the way the breakers are labeled if you can.

It's possible that one problem may have actually caused others. We are trying to narrow down the symptoms, then offer the cures.

I was thinking that you may had just possibly encountered a bad campground outlet (it happens but maybe not since the pedestal only trips when you hooked your trailer to it). Maybe nothing wrong with your RV at that time, but then maybe there was.

However, once you got home, if you had left the electric element on...then if there was no water in the heater and you hooked it up to your house, you fried the element....and thus the incorrectly labeled dsi circuit breaker now tripping. These are just suppositions and we need you to confirm if the electric element was on, and there was no water in the heater.

One thing you can try, if the black switch was left on, is to make sure it is turned off. Now turn on all the breakers in your TT, and see if any house or TT breakers trip again when you hook up.

I need to point out something now that you stated earlier. You should make sure either the campground pedestal breaker, your house breaker, or at least the main tt breaker (if you can't turn the aforementioned) is in the off position before hooking or unhooking power to your tt. If not, you are going to get electrical arcing, which is bad and over time will damage something. Only after you have hooked/unhooked your power cord, should you turn on the main breaker.

PS: Just to make absolute sure, you mentioned the campgrounds 30 amp outlet so I just assumed that's what you have in your RV. Is your trailer a 30 amp one (3 prongs)....... and not a 50 amp (4 prongs) that you used an adapter on?

EDIT: I just read where you edited your post and said you had the electric heating elements two wires removed, and it was still throwing the breaker. If so, then the element shouldn't be the problem...or at least isn't all of it. However, if you had the black switch in the on position at that time (and the circuit breaker on), then you should have had a 120 volt live wire there, probably unhooked and dangling (was this also at the same time you were tripping the dsi labeled breaker).
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Old 10-23-2014, 05:26 PM   #18
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I'm glad your cable is good. Now on to that heating element thingy. Did the video I posted work out for you? Is that the manufacture/model of yours? If not just try web browsing "You Tube.com" and in the search bar enter your information. Hope were helping...
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Old 10-24-2014, 06:33 AM   #19
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Ill do my best guys! I will definitely see the camper tomorrow and will try to remember to take some pics of the panel and check the switch. Iv got my fingers crossed hoping its off...
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