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Old 05-03-2008, 08:53 AM   #1
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Electrical Newbie with circuit breaker that won't reset...help please!

Hi I fulltime in a '97 34ft airstream and I really like to understand what is going on when things go wrong with it. Last night I noticed the fridge had gone to gas and when I checked the breaker for the kitchen it had been tripped. The problem is that the breaker won't reset and all of the outlets in my kitchen and bath are on the same one.

I really don't know anything about elecrtical matters. Can someone tell me what I should do next to help me diagnose/fix the problem?

Any help would be greatly apreciated.

Kerina
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Old 05-03-2008, 09:09 AM   #2
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On further reading of this forum I thought I should add that it has been raining a lot over the last two days and that it had been raining for quite a while when the breaker tripped. Also, I believe that our outdoor recepticle is also on the same breaker. I'll have to double check that though. I'm not sure if this makes any difference.

Thanks again,

Kerina
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Old 05-03-2008, 09:13 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kerina
Hi I fulltime in a '97 34ft airstream and I really like to understand what is going on when things go wrong with it. Last night I noticed the fridge had gone to gas and when I checked the breaker for the kitchen it had been tripped. The problem is that the breaker won't reset and all of the outlets in my kitchen and bath are on the same one.

I really don't know anything about elecrtical matters. Can someone tell me what I should do next to help me diagnose/fix the problem?

Any help would be greatly apreciated.

Kerina
Two things can cause this. Bad breaker, unlikely or something plugged in went wacky.
Unplug the fridge and try to reset the breaker. if it resets then the fridge tripped it. Un plug the stuff in the kitchen and try to reset the breaker. if it resets then it was the toaster/coffee maker etc. plug things back in one at a time. what ever was th last on to plug in when the breaker trips is the culprit.

If the breaker still will not reset turn the main breaker off and try to reset it. it should be labeled. even with out power and it still will not reset it is the breaker. if it resets and trips when power is reapplied without anything plugged in there is a short in the wiring somewhere.
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Old 05-03-2008, 09:13 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kerina
On further reading of this forum I thought I should add that it has been raining a lot over the last two days and that it had been raining for quite a while when the breaker tripped. Also, I believe that our outdoor recepticle is also on the same breaker. I'll have to double check that though. I'm not sure if this makes any difference.

Thanks again,

Kerina
water in the outlet can cause a GFI to trip.
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Old 05-03-2008, 09:16 AM   #5
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Do you mean that when you press the circuit breaker handle further in the "off" position, there is no little click? If the little click is there, and you then turn the breaker handle "on", and it flips to the middle position, then you do have a problem with the connected circuitry, such as that outside outlet. This is pretty dangerous stuff to mess with in the rain.
It being Saturday and all, you might have a problem getting an electrician or a tech out....
be careful.
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Old 05-03-2008, 09:32 AM   #6
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Thanks for the responses. Yes, the breaker does "click" to the off position but then always falls to the middle when I try to click it to on.

Michelle...I had unplugged everything inside last night and turned the fridge to off and tried resetting the breaker and it did not work. I'll try it again with the fridge unplugged today.

I have a question though....if it is a matter of water having gotten into a recepticle can it self correct upon drying or will I definately need to change the recepticle?

Kerina
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Old 05-03-2008, 11:01 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by Kerina
I have a question though....if it is a matter of water having gotten into a recepticle can it self correct upon drying or will I definately need to change the recepticle?

Kerina
Sounds like you have a GFI issu. Most likely in the outside plug. ANY MOISTURE that gets into a GFI will tip it and may not clear once dry. Any SALTS that may have been deposited in the receptial while it was wet may provide a path to ground within the receptial and thus cause it to trip even when dry.

I would unplug the trailer and remove the outside receptial, Separately wire nut or tape each of the wire and then plug in. If the problem has gone you know what it was and can reseal the outside receptial.

Not only look for a leak around the face plate of the receptial but consider moisture that may be coming down inside the wall itself. If possible check the issulation just above the receptical box. Thse recepticals are mounted on a slight downward angle so water leaking in around the face plate would not necessarily get up into the receptical. Wind could offset this.

I question why the refigerator went off. There is no reason for it to be on a GFI. Quite frankly that load should not be on the same circuit that would allow you to plug in a toaster or slow cooker.
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Old 05-03-2008, 12:23 PM   #8
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Thank you Howie. We will try what you suggest as soon as it stops pouring, hopefully tomorrow.

As for why the fridge is on the same breaker as the rest of the kitchen, I don't know. However the label on the breaker box says clearly that the kitchen, fridge, bathroom, and exterior outlets are all on the same circuit and it does seem that none of those outlets are working right now. The microwave however, thankfully, is on a different one, as is the AC.

Kerina
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Old 05-04-2008, 07:08 AM   #9
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Thank you all for your advice and suggestions. Happily, the problem is gone. It's seems that it was just that some moisture got on the main plug.

I learned a lot though from reading all of your responses and will know better what is going on the next time something like this happens.

Kerina
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Old 05-04-2008, 07:27 AM   #10
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I question why the refigerator went off. There is no reason for it to be on a GFI. Quite frankly that load should not be on the same circuit that would allow you to plug in a toaster or slow cooker.
most 90's vintage trailers have the gfi wired to the kitchen and the street side outside outlet.

mine has done the same on damp mornings with the patio lights plugged into the outlet.

kerina,

you can dry the outlet by spraying wd-40 into it.

if the problem continues disassemble it and renew the gaskets on the outlet cover.

john
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Old 05-04-2008, 08:37 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by Kerina
Thank you all for your advice and suggestions. Happily, the problem is gone. It's seems that it was just that some moisture got on the main plug.
Kerina
If when you say MAIN PLUG you are refering to the plug on the end of the shore line this would not effect the GFI. A GFI only looks at current flow on the output side of the circuit braker. I would still consider the outside plug on your trailer as the likely cause.

Yes, you can dry electrical items with WD40, the WD stands for water displacer, but do not spray WD40 on an energized circuit as WD40 will explode or burst into flame.
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Old 05-04-2008, 09:18 AM   #12
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I fear you are quite correct about it not being the main plug. The problem went away for half a day and we thought it was better but it just tripped again this morning. Now I'm really confused. Why would it go away and then come back? The rain stopped last night, and the breaker tripped for the second time this morning.

Kerina
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Old 05-04-2008, 10:00 AM   #13
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The only way to find out what is the problem is to start removing suspected items one by one. Assuming you have not resently plugged in a new item inside the trailer, picture frame of the grandkids or some other electronic gadget, I would start with the outside plug. open it and look for signs of moisture stains. If none remove the plug and tape off the wire so they are clear of each other.

It is hard to imagine how little current, or the path of that current, is to trip a GFI. If something has been wetted and dried the salts left behind can in the presents of moisture be enough to cause a path to ground and trip the braker.

If the outside plug turns out not to be the problem. When home and plugged into the house remove everthing, except the refigerator, from all plugs on the GFI. Just to be sure turn of all the other brakers. Keep and eye on things for a week or so, idealy through some rain. If it trips unplug the refigerator and check again for a week or so. If it doesn't trip plug the ref. back in and check again. If it trips with the ref. plugged in and nothing else the plugged in it may be the mother board on the ref. If it trips while everything is unplugged it may be one of the toher plugs in the trailer.

If that is the case I would start looking for a leak that is getting to one of the plugs. That is going to take a lot of time and water but good luck.
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Old 05-04-2008, 10:18 AM   #14
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Thanks Howie. I was able to reset the breaker again and everything is working at the moment. There was still a lot of condensation this morning so hopefully the problem is clearing up as it dries out. If it continues to trip over the next 24 hrs I will attack the exterior outlet as you suggested. I'll keep posting here if the problem continues as I'm sure I'll have more questions along the way.

Thanks again to all who responded,

Kerina
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