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Old 04-15-2023, 12:14 PM   #1
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Circuti Breakers

We have a 2003 T2754 trailer. All was working as expected until a couple of days ago.
The trailer is plugged into a 20amp T-slot ground fault outlet. The ground fault has started to trip.

I have replaced the 30 amp plug from the trailer, although there did not seem to be anything wrong with the original.
I turned off all the circuit breakers in the panel, and the ground fault did not trip.
I turned on the main circuit breaker and the ground fault did not trip.
Then I turned on each of the circuit breakers one at a time and found that the 3 black circuit breakers for the a/c, general outlets and refrigerator all tripped the GF breaker.
The blue breaker for the microwave/water heater did not trip the breaker.
Any thoughts before I start pulling the panel out?
Thanks,
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Old 04-15-2023, 09:51 PM   #2
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Hi arlene,

You did some excellent troubleshooting.

Quote:
Then I turned on each of the circuit breakers one at a time and found that the 3 black circuit breakers for the a/c, general outlets and refrigerator all tripped the GF breaker.
I believe your note indicated 3 circuit breakers would trip the incoming power GFI. Did you have a typo with the three breakers, or is something else tricking you into three breakers causing the problem?

For your year camper, let's compare some notes. Normally (unless something has changed since it shipped from Sunline), there would be six breakers.

1. The main 30 amp incoming power
2. The roof AC unit is on a separate 20-amp breaker.
3. The General purpose breaker is a 15 amp breaker that feeds the fridge, the power converter, and the wall outlets except for the GFI outlet in the kitchen near the sink.
4. The galley/kitchen GFI outlet near the sink has often had its own 15 amp breaker
5. The microwave has its own 15 amp breaker.
6. The water heater has its own 15 amp breaker.

Does your have more than six breakers? You may have two issues at once, but let's try this, as this can happen, causing your problem.

Here is one possible issue that can trip your incoming power GFI with your tests. The fridge has a 120 VAC electric heating element which can fail from use over time. The heat can break down the insulation inside the two-wire element, and a true short to ground happens on the AC neutral wire. It can also fail on the hot wire.

To test if the problem is due to a failed electric fridge heating element, shut off circuit breakers # 2,3 & 4 above. Leave 1, 5 & 6 on, but do not turn on the water heater. From your first note, your GFI should not trip yet.

Go outside and remove the lower white fridge panel on the side of the camper. Remove the panel and look on the non-gas burner side of the back of the fridge. A standard 120 VAC cord comes from the fridge control black box that plugs into a single outlet receptacle. Pull the fridge plug out of that outside outlet and set it aside.

Go inside and flip on circuit 3, which, if yours is wired as described above, that breaker powers that outside single wall outlet for the fridge.

Does turning on circuit 3 trip the incoming power GFI? If it does not, leave it on, then next, turn on circuit 2, for the roof AC unit. Does Circuit 2 now trip the incoming power GFI? If circuit 2 does not trip the incoming GFI, leave the 2 & 3 circuits on and turn on circuit 4. Does circuit 4 trips the including GFI?

If all the breakers are now on and there are non of them trip the incoming GFI, this then points to your fridge's electric element shorting out to the ground or the hot wire. If you have an ohmmeter, we can help you test the element before taking anything apart. Or, turn off the # 1 main breaker, plug the fridge back in, then turn the main breaker back on. If the incoming power GFI tripped, start with # 3, and flip it off does the incoming GFI fault? Or breaker 4?

Notes: Every now and then, Sunline might put the fridge outside outlet on a different circuit than the general purpose breaker. The floor plan may have driven that change as it is more practical than putting the fridge on circuit 4.

See if this helps any, and please report back.

Thanks

John
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Old 04-16-2023, 08:08 AM   #3
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Continuing research today. In our trailer, there is only one circuit breaker for both the microwave and water heater with the addition of a toggle switch on the backsplash between the stove and the sink to select one or the other.

Interestingly the problem happened after I turned on the fridge. Normally we turn the fridge off for the winter and leave the doors open.
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Old 04-16-2023, 09:24 AM   #4
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Good news and bad news. Pulling the plug on the outside for the fridge solved the GFI problem, but fixing the problem with the fridge may be just as costly.
Does that plug just power the defroster element, or the compressor as well?
Is there a way to disable the defroster element?
Thanks,
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Old 04-16-2023, 10:20 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by arlene View Post
Good news and bad news. Pulling the plug on the outside for the fridge solved the GFI problem, but fixing the problem with the fridge may be just as costly.
Does that plug just power the defroster element, or the compressor as well?
Is there a way to disable the defroster element?
Thanks,
Hi arlene,

When you stated:
Quote:
In our trailer, there is only one circuit breaker for both the microwave and water heater with the addition of a toggle switch on the backsplash between the stove and the sink to select one or the other.
It dawned on me, hmm you are in Canda, and they have CSA standards, and a Sunline built to go into Canda had to comply with the standards. Your electrical setup is a little different and the switch to allow microwave or water heater appears to limit the amount of larger power devices at one time. I recall someone else from Canada having a setup like that here on the forum. Just cannot recall who...

The good news, you found the GFI tripping issue is coming from the fridge's electric heating element.

I'll get back to you later tonight on some pictures etc of what is involved in changing the element.

There is no compressor on your fridge if you are still on the Sunline original. And while there may be a climate control heat strip below the freezer doors, it is powered by 12 VDC.

If you can provide the make, model, and serial number of the fridge, I can see if I can locate the correct part number for the electric heating element.

The original standard Sunline fridge would be a Dometic, RM 2652. They do offer a larger one, but that would be special order when the camper was made. Look inside the fridge cabinet for a sticker for the make, model, and serial number.

I'll be back later

John
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Old 04-16-2023, 12:07 PM   #6
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It is a Dometic RM2652. I have found defrost elements on Amazon ranging in price from 40 to 120.
I removed the cover on the circuit board. The power supply terminals have become quite hot. Can I remove the heater connections and replace the plug to see if there is not a ground fault.

How do insert an image into the post?
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Old 04-16-2023, 05:00 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by arlene View Post

How do insert an image into the post?
There are 3 ways to add pics.

1. Upload pics to a specific post attaching them at the end of the post.

2. Linking them in from a public viewable web photo hosting service you have.

See here for 1 and 2 https://www.sunlineclub.com/forums/f...html#post86041

3. You can upload pics to the forum in your own personal photo album. Then link them to anywhere in the text of a post. See here on how to create an album. https://www.sunlineclub.com/forums/f...html#post87945

If you still get stuck, let us know. Pic's go a long way in helping show things you are working on, and we really like seeing Sunline pics!

Hope this helps

John
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Old 04-16-2023, 09:41 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by arlene View Post
It is a Dometic RM2652. I have found defrost elements on Amazon ranging in price from 40 to 120.
I removed the cover on the circuit board. The power supply terminals have become quite hot. Can I remove the heater connections and replace the plug to see if there is not a ground fault.
Hi arlene,

A few things to try and help, you called the element we are talking about a defrost element. You may have misunderstood how your RV fridge works. There is no defrost cycle or defrost element in your fridge or freezer compartment. Your fridge is what is called an absorption fridge.

The absorption fridge uses heat from an electric heating element or an LP gas flame to heat the liquid inside a cooling coil on the back of your fridge. As the fluid heats, it circulates through the cooling coil removing "heat" from the freezer and fridge compartment. There is no motor compressor or motor-driven pump. By removing heat from inside the fridge, what is left is "cold." I know this sounds strange, but that is how the absorption fridge works. It removes heat. This is the opposite of how a home-style fridge works by pumping in cold.

If you found something on Amazon, heads up on that, as many clones are being sold with lower quality and may not be the correct part for your fridge. If you find something that appears right, post a link, and we can check it.

Your comments on the control board look like it has experienced a lot of heat near the 120 VAC wires; post a picture of what you are seeing. When the heating element went bad, it may have pulled more current and damaged the PC board. It still may work now, but it helps if we can see what you are seeing to help suggest better.

The 120 VAC power supply to the control board only works the boiler heating element. The control system runs on 12-volt DC. The fridge can operate on LP gas with no 120 VAC supply if the controls are still working. Yes, the fridge will run on LP gas and 12 VDC only with no 120 VAC power or the 120 VAC cord plugged in on the back.

You mentioned unhooking heater connections and wanted to replace the plug to check if the ground fault goes away. I'm not sure which plug you are referring to.

See these pictures below. This is what your control board should look like. Does it?




See the 2 black wires connecting to the control board and then run to the left up onto the boiler tube area that goes into the insulation where the round sheet metal shroud is. That is the electric heating element.


Here is a pic of an old one that shorted out on the bottom with a new one at the top of the pic


If you were thinking of replacing the plugs on the ends of the wires, that would not hurt, but I do not believe it will correct the problem. The issue normally happens inside the heating element itself. Over time, the heating coil melts or corrodes the insulation on the heating element, and the wires can touch the metal casing. It can happen on either the hot wire or the AC neutral. That element wire touching the metal casing is what causes the ground fault.

If you have an ohmmeter, you can test the two black wires unhooked from the PC board and test each wire separately to have continuity to the earth ground (the metal coil or green ground wire on the 120 VAC line). A good working element has no connection to its metal casing.

If you can post a few pics of your setup outside, we can also see if the safety recall was done on your fridge. We need to see the whole area as you see it looking in with the outside vent off.

If you can post the serial number of the fridge, I can check on what the heating element would be replaced with and if your fridge falls into the recall.

This post can help show more about how the heating element fits into the system. This is a total fridge restoration and the camper, too, with the fridge out of the camper. On yours, you or an RV tech do not have to remove the fridge from the camper; they can change the element with the fridge still in the camper cabinet. Pending how rusted the element is in the boiler sleeve, the repair person may have to shift the fridge out of the cabinet about 6" to get more working room. Some come out easy; others are not so easy. Looking at these pics may help you sort out if you hire this out or do it yourself.
https://www.sunlineclub.com/forums/f...tml#post154885

I hope this helps

John
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Old 04-17-2023, 05:53 PM   #9
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Breaker panel in Canadian models, and what looks like overheating in the refrigerator circuit board.
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Old 04-19-2023, 09:42 PM   #10
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Hi arlene,

How did you make out?

The 120 VAC line cord with the reddish terminal hoods might not be from heat. It is hard to tell from your pic, but the PC board from the pic does not look affected, or the two electric element leads.

If you pull the reddish leads off and sniff, if they smell like vinyl and are not burnt electrical, they may be discolored from age. If by chance there was heat, heat often leaves tracks or tarnished on the contacts. Look and sniff to tell if the heat was hot in that area.

Let us know if you need more,

John
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Old 04-20-2023, 10:54 AM   #11
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Unplug ice box see if trips.replace out let
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Old 04-20-2023, 11:04 AM   #12
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Run cord too ice too a nother gfi some where see if trips if don't replace out let in camper too it.try it again .buddy had same problem it was out let wires lose in back don't use push holes just smallest little ark it will trip
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Old 05-24-2023, 02:58 PM   #13
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We finally go around to replacing the heating element. It only took about 15 minutes, but I would not like to do it in cold weather, as I am sure the sheet metal enclosure would shred your fingers.

I checked the resistance in the old heater, and it is 46 ohms pin to pin, which equates to 325watts at 120v, but the resistance pin to sheaf was 17 ohms; should have been infinite, meaning that the element touches the sheaf about a third of the way into the element.



I also checked the watt density as it is a measure of reliability. The heated length appears to be about 6 inches and the element is .375 in diameter, giving an area of 7 inches, 325watts/7sqin gives 46 watts/sq in. which is at the very high end as you can see in the graph below.
https://www.chromalox.com/catalog/re...tt-Density.pdf
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Old 05-24-2023, 10:46 PM   #14
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arlene,

Glad you got the fridge up and going again. Good job!

Thanks for reporting back.

John
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