A shocking problem

I went to a call for help the other day on a fifth wheel where the owner shared that none of his GFI outlets worked. About a week or so after the initial failure of the GFI, he bypassed the GFI, and he got a shock touching his front door.

He also reported that his neighbor got shocked in a similar way.  He showed me an area where the RV suffered damage from a tire blow out and suspected maybe faulty or damaged writing above that area. We opened it up and didn’t find anything.

Using an ohm meter I discovered the hot or black wire on the load side of the GFI was sorted to ground. I started checking the outside outlet and found no problems there. Asked about any loose outlets the were currently not working. They said there wasn’t any problems they were aware of. We unplugged the fridge thinking maybe something there had shorted to ground. With nothing plugged in and still showing a short to ground I decided to investigate near the blowout damage area again.

This time I went to the exposed wire junction boxes that connect the wires from the stationary part of the RV to the slide out. The was a bit of discoloration on the outside of the two boxes which having road spray isn’t unusual. The first one I opened was clean and in good shape inside. The next one as I started to unscrew the cover I got a face full of brown liquid!

After that I decided to move off to the side a little and finish removing the cover. Which poured out what seemed like about 6 ounces of this brown liquid. After opening the cover completely and inspecting the wires in it and drying them off I went back to my meter to find that the short to ground had gone away.

Come to find out that about 3 weeks ago the owners had a container of iced tea laying on its side in the bottom of the fridge, they discovered  the next day that the lid wasn’t on tight and it had dripped out onto the floor and disappeared. It was shorly after that they started having the problem with me GFI. But failed to tie the two together never suspecting that the iced tea could have gotten into an electrical box and shorted things out.

The shock hazard came from the owner connecting the line and load side wires together at the GFI and removing the surge suppressor which kept tripping because of the short to ground.

The moral of the story is, never bypass a GFI of it or the circuit breaker attached to it keep tripping off. There is a problem and it needs to be found.

Happy Camping and stay safe!




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