RV News RVBusiness 2021 Top 10 RVs of the Year, plus 56 additional debuts and must-see units → ×

Thread Tools Search this Thread Display Modes
Old 12-24-2003, 04:59 PM   #1
1 Rivet Member
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 8
Electrical shock from skin

When I touch my airstream without shoes on I feel a slit electrical shock. Does anyone know what maybe the problem?
randallmiller is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-24-2003, 05:27 PM   #2
Contributing Member
Pahaska's Avatar
2018 Interstate Grand Tour Ext
Austin (Hays County) , Texas
Join Date: Jun 2002
Posts: 7,054
Images: 4
Very dangerous!

There is continuity somewhere between the hot wire in the AC campground connector and the frame of the trailer. Don't plug the trailer into AC until you find and fix this situation.

Unplug the trailer and turn off all AC breakers. Remove the cover from the AC breaker box and use an ohmmeter to check continuity between the hot wire and the shell of the trailer. Set the ohmmeter on a faiely high range. If there is no continuity with all breakers off, then your connector and cable are OK.

Now, turn on the breakers individually, one by one. When the meter shows continuity, you have found the circuit with the problem. The problem could be in the Univolt, or it could be a wire that is pinched or has chafed somewhere behind the walls.
John W. Irwin
2018 Interstate GT, "Sabre-Dog V"
WBCCI #9632
Pahaska is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-24-2003, 05:30 PM   #3
Rivet Master
Tinsel Loaf's Avatar
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 790
Check your ground connection to the AS. Use a volt meter from the ground pin on the plug to the AS chassie, you should have only a couple of ohms of resistance. If you don't you may have a bad AC plug, coach wire or the internal ground is loose in the AS. Check your netural for a good connection in the AS. It is important that you fix this problem or you could be electrically fried.
Tinsel Loaf is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-24-2003, 06:54 PM   #4
1 Rivet Member
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 8
Electric Shock

Thanks guys for your input. After reading your responces I checked the outlet my AS is plugged into and it appears to be not grounded. Could that be the issue?
randallmiller is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-24-2003, 07:04 PM   #5
Retired Moderator
john hd's Avatar
1992 29' Excella
madison , Wisconsin
Join Date: Aug 2002
Posts: 4,644
Images: 40

is the outlet you are plugging into polarized properly?

if you have adaptor plugs and/or extention cords are they polarized properly as well?

you call them ferrets, i call them weasels.
john hd is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-24-2003, 07:45 PM   #6
4 Rivet Member
Join Date: Nov 2003
Posts: 366
Look inside the 120v panel box.

The white wire (Neutral) must NOT be grounded!!

House wiring however does have the neutral grounded, but that is a big no no for trailers.
Navigator is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-25-2003, 05:14 PM   #7
Rivet Master
Tin Hut's Avatar
2005 28' International CCD
Pagosa Springs , Colorado
Join Date: Aug 2003
Posts: 804
Images: 1

Keep your shoes on.
"would you rather have a mansion full of money or a trailer full of love?"

Tin Hut is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-26-2003, 12:34 PM   #8
Rivet Master
Airstream Dealer
Inland RV Center, In's Avatar
Corona , California
Join Date: Feb 2002
Posts: 16,497
Images: 1
Many years ago Airstream had installed a "polarity indicator".

The easiest way to check your rig is to plug into any outlet in the coach, a polarity indicator.

They are cheap and can be obtained at most hardware stores or Home Depot.

For those that travel and stay at a campground or park, or whatever, it is wise to leave that polarity monitor plugged in at all times. You never know when a hookup could be bad.

Airstreamimg is supposed to be an "experience" but not a shocking one.

Andy Rogozinski
Inland RV Center
Corona, CA
Inland RV Center, In is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-26-2003, 07:52 PM   #9
2 Rivet Member
1989 34' Limited
southern , ontario
Join Date: Dec 2003
Posts: 42
Like it was stated you should have a polarity tester and use it every time you hook up, another test which you should do is test the outside receptical to see if the ground fault is working, this test should be done with a set of electricians 600volt coil testers. The ground fault should trip between 10 to15 milly amps, (30milly amps (0.030ma) at 35volts will stop your heart). Also if there is an incorrect polarity the ground fault interrupt wont trip.

good luck
letsgo is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-27-2003, 02:56 PM   #10
2 Rivet Member
overlander76's Avatar
Join Date: Jul 2003
Posts: 84
Send a message via ICQ to overlander76 Send a message via AIM to overlander76 Send a message via Yahoo to overlander76
This happened to me this summer. When I went to open the door I got a slight buzz. My feet were on a wooden step I had built so it wasn't that bad but had I been barefoot on the ground it would have been a different matter. Mine was easy to figure out, I had just changed the plug end on my power cord. The skin of the trailer was hot, I assume because the power was passing over the nuetral buss in the fuse box. My cord end that I had just replaced had the hot (black) and nuetral (white) wires reversed. I wasn't paying attention when I put the cord together. A meter with one probe on the skin and the other poked in the dirt read 118 volts. I would be interested to see what a meter would read on your unit like this. I would check proper polarity from the source. A inexpensive meter like is being talked aout here is essential. You can even buy them with the GFCI tester built in.

Good luck
overlander76 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-28-2011, 09:17 AM   #11
1 Rivet Member
71safari's Avatar
1971 23' Safari
Waterloo , Ontario
Join Date: Sep 2009
Posts: 11
Images: 16
I'm feeling a bit of a zap when I touch my trailer (actually only feel it when a couple of cuts on my fingers touch it - not when my intact skin touches it). The only thing I re-wired was a pigtail to my tail light --- it works, but my question is - if its wired incorrectly would it be working? and also would the tail light wiring even cause this issue?
Finally found a great deal on an Airstream. Trailer is in good shape, just a few things we need to fix up & want to modify. We plan to make our 'vintage' look like the newer Airstreams.
71safari is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-31-2011, 12:08 PM   #12
4 Rivet Member
Hodum's Avatar
1995 34' Excella
Corinth , Mississippi
Join Date: Dec 2010
Posts: 304
If all repairs are done carefully by an electrician and all parks were wired by an electrician this would not be a problem. According to the national electrical code the breaker box within the trailer is considered a sub-panel. The box that you plug into at the park is usually a sub-panel also, with the main panel being elsewhere feeding several trailer hookups. All sub-panels must have the neutral (white) and the ground (green) kept isolated all of the way back to the main panel. This will help eliminate this problem. Life is precious, don't be shocked out of it.
Hodum is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-14-2011, 02:59 PM   #13
3 Rivet Member
1969 27' Overlander
Albuquerque , New Mexico
Join Date: Sep 2011
Posts: 168
Residential 120/240v systems bond the neutral alongside of the ground buss at the panel. Most older homes are only 2-wire, without the ground.
However, when the 120v circuit is being used, the current flows from the hot, through the appliance, and back on the neutral, therefore, the neutral is potentially "hot", as well. So, you will have a small current on the white wire, which will go directly to ground if you let it (ie: through YOU.)
ALL neutrals are "hot" at one point, even at RV parks.
Connect a ground conductor from the trailer frame to a good ground-rod when parked. If you can't use a ground-rod, then attach a piece of chain to the frame (or your safety chanin), and let it dangle on the ground to dissipate the charge.
Cheap extension cords don't have a ground conductor in them, either.
edglenn is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-14-2011, 03:22 PM   #14
Site Team
, Minnesota
Join Date: Aug 2003
Posts: 7,597
Images: 59
That's a pretty strange theory.
markdoane is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-14-2011, 04:13 PM   #15
3 Rivet Member
Erik Olson's Avatar
1974 29' Ambassador
CONCORD , North Carolina
Join Date: Aug 2011
Posts: 179
Images: 20
Send a message via Skype™ to Erik Olson
I'd add that I found this thread after I was shocked last weekend when touching the door skin and especially at the frame areas (like rear bumper). A constant static electricity feel. Changed my shore power to a known grounded, new construction part of my circa 1932 home (being rewired to code in phases), completely defeating the grounding issue at the trailer. The outlet I'd been using previously had been updated to newer 5-15 outlets, but I suspect no new Romex was run when it was replaced.

In the course of trying to sort this, I rewired my aging 30A shore plug (Marinco, down to Nema 5-15 Edison adapter when at home) after finding that the main service wire was corroded and frayed within the 30A connector. Good thing to keep fresh and tidy anyway!
Erik Olson is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-14-2011, 09:19 PM   #16
3 Rivet Member
1969 27' Overlander
Albuquerque , New Mexico
Join Date: Sep 2011
Posts: 168
Strange, maybe.
Theory, no.
Proven fact, yes.
Ask any electrical engineer, and they'll be glad to give you too much information. I should know, since I'm an Electrical Designer (not an engineer), and work with this stuff all the time, for many, many years.
If you don't believe the concept, connect a good voltmeter to a solid cold water ground (ie: water heater), and touch it to a neutral of an outlet that is running a heavy load (ie: wash machine). Use common sense when you do it. You'll get 120vac to earth ground, even though the neutral and ground are connected at the breaker panel.
The difference in resistance (only 1-2 ohms) will make the voltage choose the path of least resistance.
If you test it for current (Amps) you'll be surprised that most of the current flows directly to ground, not back to the panel. That can be 10-12 amps for a wash machine.
Don't attempt any of this if you don't know what you're doing. Less than an amp can stop the heart.
edglenn is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-14-2011, 09:30 PM   #17
Rivet Master
robert claus's Avatar

2000 19' Bambi
mt. Prospect , Illinois
Join Date: Oct 2006
Posts: 803
Images: 19
Here's the first in a series of videos about checking for a "hot skin" electrical fault on your RV, so you don't get shocked (or worse).
robert claus is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-14-2011, 10:00 PM   #18
2 Rivet Member
1975 31' Sovereign
Opelika , Alabama
Join Date: Aug 2011
Posts: 26
wow, all this good advice. i thought he was just excited to be travelling in an airstream.
bobnmary is offline   Reply With Quote

Currently Active Users Viewing This Thread: 1 (0 members and 1 guests)
Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off

Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Skin & Corrosion Updates offleash Clearcoat, Exterior Paint & Trim 39 10-11-2012 12:01 PM
Sheared shock mounts? Where to get replacements? robwok Shocks 3 05-31-2011 11:40 AM
'67 Caravel Restoration Electrical question vonzellen 1966-68 Caravel 1 01-15-2011 08:25 AM

Featured Campgrounds

Reviews provided by


This website is not affiliated with or endorsed by the Airstream, Inc. or any of its affiliates. Airstream is a registered trademark of Airstream Inc. All rights reserved. Airstream trademark used under license to Social Knowledge LLC.

All times are GMT -6. The time now is 01:10 AM.

Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8 Beta 1
Copyright ©2000 - 2021, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.