Sunday, November 22, 2009

Smoking Electronics - The Rest Of The Story

One cross threaded water connection causes major damage.

As they say down south, 's@#t happens'. Last Thursday evening as we were preparing dinner, our UPS (uninterruptable power supply)that we have our laptops plugged into, beeped a couple of times which usually indicates we lost power. It stopped beeping but I went out to the power pedestal to double check and our surge protector was still showing everything was good. About 15 minutes later, the UPS started beeping again and I went over to it to see what was going on and saw smoke coming out of it. I immediately unplugged it and as I turned around I saw more smoke coming from the cabinet where the DVD player is. I opened the cabinet and smoke was roiling out of the DVD player. I quickly unplugged it and the other equipment plugged into the same outlet. I went to the breaker panel to turn off the circuit breakers for those outlets and more smoke is coming from the converter. At this point I ran outside and turned off the power at the pedestal. The trailer has a 12 vdc system that powers several lights, water pump, furnace fan and a few other essentials so we weren't totally in the dark.

With the smell of burnt electronics hanging in the air, we decided it would be best to head into Laveen and spend the night at my brother's house. So after assuring ourselves that nothing was still burning, we packed up some clothes and neccessary items, told our neighbor and the park office what had happened and left for Laveen.

The next day, after calling around, I was recommended to a local rv repair business and after contacting them I had an appointment for later that day. He showed up around noon. He switched modes of transportation from his truck to a pair of crutches. He had recently broken his foot.

Between the two of us we checked circuit breakers, wiring, appliances, etc. and at that time couldn't find the what had causes all the trouble. Using an outlet tester, a device with 3 lights on it that indicates any problems with the wiring depending on which combination of bulbs light, and a multimeter we checked the power coming into the trailer and going through the breaker panel and out to the different outlets and appliances.

At one point we were seeing 240 vac in the breaker box were there should only have been 120 vac. That would have fried the electronics all right, but where is it coming from?

Using the process of elimination, we started turning breakers off or on in different
combinations and determined the circuit labeled 'water heater' was the culprit. Looking at the water heater, I discovered the wiring was all wet and found that the source of the water was a cross threaded connection on the water heater inlet that is right above the wiring box. It probably hadn't been leaking at first but since we put about 1,800 miles on it in the past two weeks all that vibration and jarring down
the highway must have loosened it enough to let out the occasional drip.

The wires being shorted out were feeding 120 vac back through the ground wire and, without going into more detail on how, adding to the 120 vac already at the breaker panel and giving us the 240 vac. After disconnecting the wiring to the water heater all the voltage readings are back to normal. But in the meantime the TV, DVD, Satellite receiver, UPS, HP printer, converter, refer control circuit board and water heater have all bit the dust all because someone cross threaded the water inlet connection to the water heater.

It wasn't me, this time I'm innocent.

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