MES 30" element problem - shorting out

Discussion in 'Electric Smokers' started by dp2146, Jan 30, 2015.

  1. dp2146

    dp2146 Newbie

    Hi guys and gals,

    I've been cruising this site since I got my smoker about 4 years ago. I've read all the posts I could find on MES problems, wiring upgrades, ect. I haven't found anyone with my exact problem - so here goes my story.

    My smoker tripped the GFI recept the last time I tried to use it. It knocked it off as soon as the element tried to turn on. It's the same setup that I've used for years. When I couldn't get it to work, I borrowed a MES 40" and used it in the exact same outlet - no problems. In troubleshooting I've found that if I remove the element from the smoker and hook it up outside WITHOUT the ground wire connected, the element heats up without tripping the recept. Hooking the ground wire to the bolt through the element plate, it trips just as it did inside the smoker. I let the element power up without the ground and the element got red hot just like it should. So I'm thinking the element is good but somehow its shorting out.

    I'm not strong enough in the electrical department to know where to go from here. Can anyone give me any ideas? Could I take the ground wire that is with the element hot wires to the frame? The element is cooling at the moment but my next thought was to put it back in the smoker and see what it does without the ground attached.

    Thanks in advance for your help!
  2. green1320

    green1320 Fire Starter


    I have also been having problems with a heating element in a MES 30 gen 1. The element is getting so hot that it actually produces a flame. I have been told from electrical people that have looked at my unit it is due to circuit boards controlling the element giving it the wrong amount of power. Not sure what you should do but some of these units are def a safety issue and Masterbuilt needs to address this issue.  They are not real good once you address a safety concern of getting back to you. I spoke to the second supervisor yesterday and after conflicting information I ask her to send me an email in what she was telling me and I received nothing.
  3. a g k

    a g k Fire Starter


      I don't have a Masterbuilt, but have a Bradley that tripped the GFI after it got hot. Got by finishing that smoke when I used a 3 to 2 wire adapter. Don't recommend you use this as a long term fix though. On mine I found that there was just enough grease buildup on the mounting bracket to ground to cause the imbalance. The GFI will trip

     with a current on the ground lug of  5milli amps (.005 amps) or more. I cleaned mine up & problem solved.

      Hope you find your problem.

  4. I was assembling this morning for a smoke and noticed a little stray voltage when I put the grates in.  Nothing that wasn't tolerable but certainly enough that I would not want to stand there with my hand on it.  I also noticed that my digital display is a little funky.  Some of the "bars" are not illuminating.  It's heating up fine and the display I can work with at this point.  I'll tear it down tomorrow and let y'all know what I find.
  5. AKG, may very well be on to your problem. On my 20070910 30" MES the ground attaches from the element mounting plate and runs over to the right hand side of the smoker and attaches to the frame there with a mounting lug. You might do some continuity tests to see if any thing else is grounded after taking the ground wire loose.  Jted
  6. a g k

    a g k Fire Starter

    jted,  My problem was fixed when I cleaned the grease buildup around the mounting bracket, & I did check for other current leaks with only element disconnected. None found & has worked fine since. Those GFI units are a good thing for user safety but can be frustrating when they detect a problem.

  7. I am glad you smoker is ready for action. Yes, GFI's can be troublesome.  Jted
  8. foamheart

    foamheart Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Have you called Masterbuilt's tech service dept? That should be your very first step as they should know they problem and how easiest to solve it. Their support network, which we are just owners, is in my opinion totally awesome!

    Tech support 800 489 1581

    Have your Model Number and Serial Number before you call. ( Its on a plate on the back of your unit.)
    Last edited: Feb 2, 2015
  9. dp2146

    dp2146 Newbie

    Thanks for all of the help and advice!

    I did some more reading about how elements work and found that shorting out is a normal failure. The insulation on the inside burns through and allows the electricity to jump to the outside casing - the part you see glow when heating. On further testing I discovered that if I grounded the element bracket, it would trip the GFI even outside of the smoker. I called Masterbuilt and asked to order a replacement element. The lady asked me to give her some more info on my problem. After explaining my problem and my testing, she agreed that it sounded like a shorted out element. $28 including shipping and I am back in business! I put it all back together yesterday and used my AMNPS for the first time. The smoker worked perfectly with the new element and the AMNPS is awesome! I smoked ribs and pork loin and have plans to put it to the big test this week on a few B.Butts.

    Thanks again for all the help!
  10. Been awhile I know.  I ended up replacing the controller.  This is the one with the controller on the top front.  Everything seems okay now.  Put a meter on it.  All zeros.  Had my son touch the handle and the grates!!  No zippy zappy.

    Things may change when it heats up.  I don't know.  I read other threads with regards to the elements shorting on the smoker body.  I don't see where I can replace the elements.  The connectors look to be spot welded.
  11. foamheart

    foamheart Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    LOL...... No flys on you......LOL
  12. I'm getting too old for using the finger as a voltmeter.  Back in the day I would have but that s*&t hurts these days.  I suppose it did back then but I was too dumb to realize it!  Besides, the kid willingly accepted the mission.  Mom?  Not so happy.

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