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Old 08-21-2011, 02:49 PM   #1
2 Rivet Member
1992 29' Excella
DFW , Texas
Join Date: Oct 2008
Posts: 23
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Remote Electrical Troubleshooting - Prep

Got a call from a neighbor that was checking on things at our property. The electricity was not working in the AS. The fridge had switched over to propane but I suspect that had probably just run out. The fridge propane starter was clicking and the cabin lights indicated that the batteries were very low. The freezer was cold, but thawing.

This is approximately 8 hours away and I won't be able to troubleshoot until I'm down on property in a couple of weeks. This is in the Ft.Davis, Tx area and is fairly 'remote' from a consumer store support infrastructure.

We walked through a couple of steps over the phone, no converter was running, we did have power to the garage/shop, where the Airstream Lives and the shore power breakers in the shop were on and the power cord was plugged in and seated properly. I have a second AC unit and he was able to power it on, however it is on a dedicated / isolated power system.

The display over the vent hood didn't have the power indicator light on.

When he turned on the 12v lights in the AS, the batteries were almost run down.

He looked at the AC supply breakers in the AS, and the bottom breaker was off. When he tried to turn it on, it immediately flipped indicating a possible short to ground, or maybe a bad breaker.

Fortunately, the freezer had just started to thaw and he removed anything that had the potential of spoiling so we won't have a fridge cleanup to do upon arrival. We replaced the fridge last December, and I don't want that surprise smell again. :-(

Other information. As part of my shutdown procedure when I leave property:
AC/Microwave switch gets switched to Microwave. No lights are left on. Hot water heater is unplugged, no fans are left on. Fridge stays on. We have been on shore power since last September. However it looks like our "never say never" days of not having any electrical problems appear to have ended.

My frustration is that I'm remote and its going to drive me nuts for a couple of weeks.

That said, any thoughts on most plausible failure items, next steps to look at when I get on site, or most likely failure items that I might need to acquire before going down in early Sept? My neighbor may be able to do some very fundamental troubleshooting, but it will be limited and he won't be back for a couple of days. When he does come back out, he will disconnect shore power and try the breaker again, if it stays up, that may eliminate the breaker as the root cause. I need to check my pics to find out if the converter is plugged in or hard wired. If it's plugged in, I'll ask him to unplug it and try the breaker again. Any other ideas or plausible usual suspects are welcomed.

Thanks, in advance.

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Old 08-21-2011, 03:19 PM   #2
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ExcellaFella's Avatar
2004 34' Classic S/O
Austin , Texas
Join Date: Aug 2011
Posts: 13
You need to identify the source of the tripping circuit problem. I would first switch the circuit with a different breaker in the box and see if it still trips. If you have a multimeter the line should be disconnected from the breaker and ohm tested (looks like a horseshoe symbol) connect leads from hot wire disconnected from breaker and power off and the other lead to ground. If you get around 0-8 ohms then you have a dead short. If nothing on the display then it is a bad breaker. At this point you could keep disconnecting things and retry the ohm test until you find the culprit.

If you have access to an amp meter you could check the amp draw to see if there is
a problem with something going bad not a short. If you put the meter on MAX (usually a button) it will tell you the max amps pulled before the circuit tripped.

The converter is definitely a suspect as it runs all the time.

I hope this helps,
Tim h

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Old 08-21-2011, 05:08 PM   #3
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2011 34' Classic
Westchester Cty.NY , / Miami FL
Join Date: Jul 2007
Posts: 3,122
unplug the fridge and plug it into an outlet on a different line. if that pops your fridge has a problem, if it stays on you have cold beverages for finding the problem. what else is on the fridge circuit. on my 94 34 that was the bath, fridge, galley and exterior gfci circuit. you can also try turning off the converter wall swith if you have one.
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