MES 30 GFCI throws - What now?

Discussion in 'Electric Smokers' started by bdawg, Sep 6, 2015.

  1. bdawg

    bdawg Smoke Blower

    So I've had a digital MES 30 (no window) for about 2 1/2 years and have been generally happy with it.  Probably my biggest complaint is that I never could get a really nice crispy chicken skin, but oh well.

    However, now it has developed the common problem where it throws the GFCI breaker any time I start it up.  I don't like the idea plugging it into another outlet.

    1) has anyone figured out what causes this?  Is there a simple fix or is the thing now an electric shock machine lying in wait?

    2) If the answer to 1 is either too costly (ie, not worth it) or too complicated, then I'm looking for some advice on where to go next. 

    I have probably used my smoker about once a month on average since I bought it.  Sometimes I'll get into a streak and make many things in short order, other times it will sit for a couple months or more.  Living here near Seattle, the weather is often uncooperative.

    Anyways, I'm open to moving away from electric, but I'm not sure if there are any non-electric smokers that are as easy to control without a massive cash outlay.  I really like the idea of something that keeps temperature steady and on target without a lot of intervention, like the MES gave me.  However, if there are other smokers out there that are easy to control also, I'd be interested in checking them out.

    Any thoughts and/or recommendations would be most appreciated.

  2. walta

    walta Smoke Blower

    It takes very little to set off a GFIC, a damp connection can trip the GFIC. Heating up the smoker may dry it so it will work again with the GFIC. Try setting the smoker to 250° for 2 hours and then try the GFCI again.

     If you are sure the smoker is properly grounded. There is no danger from shock.

     To check for ground, first check that the ground pins of the smokers cord and the extension are present and in good condition, and then test the outlets ground with a tester like the one in this link. Do not use the smoker if you do not get light pattern labeled as “correct” on the tester. Test again at the end of the extension.

  3. dr k

    dr k Master of the Pit

    The black or red King Griller Kamado Kooker by Char-Griller at Menards or Lowe's was $229 over the weekend.  I have it as my avatar.  I've been using it for years before the 40"  MES Gen 1 I got in May.  I've been using the MES mostly to get the learning curve down before the fall/winter.  I recommend the Akorn/egg shape for even cooking and it's insulated like the MES.  Below the grate are built in holders for the indirect heating fire stone Char-Griller sells like the BGE platter setter.  Instead, I bought a round 17" coal grate for a 22.5 weber grill for $11 that rests perfectly a few inches below the cooking grate that I put a pizza stone on and then a foil pan for drippings.  The BGE is way too expensive.  I'll buy 4+ Kamado Kookers before a BGE plus it's the size of the extra-large BGE .  The Kamado Kooker is easy to move and doesn't need a spring opening system due to the heavy lid.  Kamado Kookers are doulble walled wood stove insulated and enamel painted steel on the lid and has a third wall in the fire box.  They have a removable large ash pan with a wood stove seal like the lid for an air tight seal.  Lots of people use lump coal in kamados due to the low ash it produces but the large ash pan lets you cook for 100+ hours with anything and not have to add that fast burning lump coal.  If I light 8-10 Kingsford blue bag briquettes then surround them with 20 unlit ones, that will last 24+ hours at 235*F.  I hate it when the little pieces of lump coal fall between the grate wires and can't be lit.  I've seen the Kingsford white bag lump briquettes.  But IMO everything works just like a grill because it is one as well as a smoker, oven and 700+F pizza oven.

  4. BDawg,  In see you live in Washington state. I don't know how you store your smoker. I can say that I store mine covered and outdoors. It is very humid in Virginia this time of year. I have the same GFCI troubles that you have. If you are storing the smoker inside away from 65+ humidity I don't know what will help. By keeping the RH low, below 65 it will help your situation.  As far as your smoker electrocuting you . you are probably safe. I wrote this in response to a similar post. It is about GFCI's and electricity.

    Good common sense should always prevail. Any damage to the cord should be repaired prior to use.

    Saying this is like having a warning label on a gun barrel or on a pack of cigarettes.

     A GFCI is very sensitive It will trip with the smallest amount of UN balanced circuit. It trips at 0.04 to 0.06 milliamps.

    All it does is compare the amount of energy going out against what comes back.

    Just to get a feel for what low levels it trips at you may feel 1ma (a tingle)  at 4-6 the GfCI trips and at 10 ma you can still let go but at 15 ma you hang on and it goes on from there. Most of us will survive a encounter of 30ma. From there up amperage causes damage .Remember that electricity is harder on children than adults.

    I won't bore you all any more.

    I will say that in my 3rd year of apprenticeship school we had a slow night and the instructor showed us graphic safety films. I will never forget the reaction of some of the students. Basically it was Why did you not show this 2 years ago? The next night there were 3 or 4 empty seats.

    Plug it into a non GFCI receptacle Let it run for a couple of hours like Walta suggested and it will dry out the element. If it trips your panel breaker you have a short and the hot wire is touching the smoker box. If you don't want to do this your choices are limited.

    In my opinion there are no other choices., except store it in a garage, house or shed away from the weather changes.

    This is a common problem and the only way to rectify it is to eliminate the humidity.     Jted
  5. bdawg

    bdawg Smoke Blower

    Thanks for the replies.

    I have a canvas cover for it and store it outside year round.  Probably a bad idea now that I know how finicky these are.

    If I use it when its raining, I always set up the big table umbrella so it doesn't get wet.  I did see though that there was some moisture/humidity on top one time before I started using it.  That was about when the problems started.

    I'll try to dry it out some more, but I doubt if that will fix it.  I've smoked a few times with it plugged into a non-gfci outlet, so any moisture should have been evaporated off by now.

    I'm going to explore some options as far as getting another smoker. Whatever happens, I'll be sure to run my options by the folks here first.

  6. walta

    walta Smoke Blower

    To me it seems clear the number of failures is too high. Masterbuilt needs to redesign this smoker.

    I for one have filed a complaint with the Consumer Product Safety Commission.  I did so with mixed emotions I fear the redesigned product will come with a higher price tag. If Masterbuilt were going to change on its own it would have done so by now.

    If you have had a similar failure consider filing a complaint.

    Not everyone has GFCI outlet that will detect bring this problem to your attention. It is only a matter of time before a MES a failed is operated without a GFCI and no ground and somebody get hurt.

    I think if you were to look inside the smoker you will likely find something like this is getting started.

  7. Walta, I tend to agree with you on some things. The use of low temp connectors is a bad choice. That is one I hope the manufacture made not Masterbuilt. We have to remember that Masterbuilt does not manufacture the units. Another thing to remember is that the 20070910 is a very economical smoker. With that in mind some things will be on the cheap side. To buy a better smoker it costs over 300.00 dollars. basically double. You can buy a real well made foreign smoker for 400.00 dollars (SI) or a real nice American made smoker for 3 or 4 times the Masterbuilt. After all in was your choice to buy a entry level Chinese built smoker. But when it comes down to it the service is Great and the most note able problem is a easy fix. It's to bad they don't hold up better the connectors that is.

    There is a way to not have the element soak up moisture other than storing it inside.  Don't smoke in the rain and you can also close it up tight enough to not have any air flow to the box. There is only one problem with that and it is Mold. 

    I am not a fan of big government getting involved in my business so I fixed mine. 

    Those are just my feelings and others can and will have there own.  Jted
  8. bdawg

    bdawg Smoke Blower


    Thanks for the Home Depot link, too.  I ordered one and it should be in for pickup by tomorrow or Monday.
  9. walta

    walta Smoke Blower

    If the tester I linked to is not a stock item at the hardware store of your choice print the page and show it to the person working the electrical department 99% of stores will have an equivalent tester on the shelf for about the same price.


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