MES popping ground fault outlet

Discussion in 'Electric Smokers' started by martok, Sep 9, 2013.

  1. Ah, may be a bad heating element. Again back to the old hot tub days, we had electric heating elements in those that would go bad over time. They would go one of two ways: they would either blow apart and fail completely, or they would get small cracks or fissures in them that would open up when they got hot that would cause them to trip the GFCI.

    Maybe the same is happening here. If it doesn't trip as soon as it powers up and only does after the element heats up it's possible you have a bad heating element.

    Just a guess from an armchair quarterback...
  2. Good morning Smokers!  Here we are back at the think tank.  Swede, the element looks brand new when I had it out of the smoker yesterday and can't see anything out of the ordinary.  Looking up parts, an element is available for the 20070910 which is the improved model of the 0106.  I understand that the 0910 is 800 watts while the 0106 is 650 watts.  I wonder if the 0910 element could be used in mine?  Anyone tried this?  Wonder if it would work with the 0106 power board (the one on the bottom)?  I know the controller is the same.  Buying an element and controller would be over half the cost of the new 0910 smoker.  That's why I'm leaning towards the new unit.

    Well, off to the Dr.'s office for more fun and enjoyment.  Back later.

  3. Hey there Martok, the best piece of equipment you can buy to diagnose this problem, is Multimeter.  These are the devices that can detect most any voltage draw, and continuity.  They are a very handy device to have around the house.  I own two of these; one is analog and the other, digital.  Once the GFI trips, I would check the end of the cord, see if there were any shorts.  Then got to the smoker and check everything there.

    [​IMG]                    [​IMG]                   [​IMG]
  4. Well as an electrician in may other life, before I retired, I can tell you that it takes very little to trip a GFCI. It trips because it sees more going in on the hot side than it sees coming out on the neutral. With your description it sounds like you have something kicking in late, but that is only from looking over your shoulder.

    On my smoker I get the green light and then after I set the temp and time there is a slight pause before the red light shows heating has started.. You might use this to get a hint. I would watch these lights very close and see if the red light coming on trips the GFCI. You might have to extension cord it to a non GFCI and time the delay to know when it comes on. Just to be safe I would only touch the buttons when starting it and unplug it before you doing anything else, even though the leak could be very small.
  5. bearcarver

    bearcarver Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Only thing I ever had that was similar was a big old portable Porter Cable Belt Sander.
    Every time I used it I got shocked real good. I had my left hand on the front knob & my right hand on the back handle & trigger. Every time my left hand brushed against the metal next to the front knob, was when I get nailed.
    I got tired of this & took it apart. I found that the last guy to put it back together pinched one of the wires between the two casing halves, charging up the whole outer shell. I just taped the wire up good & closed it up without pinching it.

    It was still working good when I left there to start my own Cabinet Shop.

  6. okieleo

    okieleo Fire Starter

    I dont know your exact situation but I know on my electric smoker it was drawing some decent amps (i was thinking 20 or 30 amps ). Might check out your homes circuit board and verify the outlet youre trying to run off has the amperage to run. I had to move my smoker from the backyard where my grill is to the garage area where I have the ability to run something with higher amps. I was popping my GFI in the backyard everytime I ran it so after 3 or 4 attempts I moved it to the garage area and havent had a problem since. I of course pull it outside my garage when in use and use a short heavy gauge extension cord. Hope this helps and good luck.
    Last edited: Sep 12, 2013
  7. bearcarver

    bearcarver Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Holy Moly!!!!

    If my MES was drawing 20 to 30 amps, I couldn't use it at my house.

  8. okieleo

    okieleo Fire Starter

    I might be off on my numbers but I know it was pretty high.
  9. Thanks again for the input everyone.  The outlet I am using is the same one I have used for my smoker for the last 6 years or so.  No changes to anything.

    I decided to get drastic so I ran my AC directly to the element bypassing everything.  Heats for a bit longer than before and then pops the GFCI.  I either have a bad element or the power cord?  I think I am going to order the 20070910 element, wire it direct, and controll the temp using my PID I built to controll my lead melter that I use for casting bullets.  Very low cost fix and way more precise than the stock setup.  I have a remote wireless temp probe for the meat temp so pretty well covered.

    Any commments or thoughts on this plan? 


    Last edited: Sep 12, 2013
  10. bearcarver

    bearcarver Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    If that's what you do, I'd like to make one suggestion:

    If you have a choice where to mount your PID sensor, I would mount it dead center (left to right) on the back wall, and about 2" below the second rack.

    One of the reasons the MES digital read-out is so far from our Maverick readings is due to the place they put the MES sensor (as in nowhere near the meat).

  11. Hey, thanks Bear!  That was going to be my next question if I go ahead with this.  I think I will pick up the thermocouple that Auberins has for smokers that mounts thru the wall and is insulated from the sheet metal temperature and the location you suggest makes perfect sense to me.  Although I would think that the temp might get a fair bit hotter at the top of the smoker, no?  I agree with the positioning of the factory sensor, just plain wrong place for it.

    I ordered the heating element from Appliance Factory Parts about an hour ago.  Apparently, their parts ship directly from Masterbuilt.  Hope it is in stock.

    More to come later.

    Take care, all.

  12. bearcarver

    bearcarver Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    I thought that too, but believe it or not, I usually only use the top 2 racks, and the same stuff on #2 is done quicker than #1. Very strange!!

    I always put the thinner pieces on the top, because of that.

  13. That is strange, no logical answer I can think of!  Good tip to know, Thanks!

  14. FYI. GFCI's aren't amperage sensitive. If any current follows the equipment ground and not the neutral they trip immediately. Elements are simple resistance heaters and no different then your lead pot in principle. You do want to be careful though, because while I don't know the differences, I suspect the lead pot element is capable of handling more heat than your smoker. That might be a problem for you, not knowing the limits.

    If you have access to a meter you could set the smoker up with element disconnected and turn on the temperature and then check the voltage output on heating.
    Last edited: Sep 13, 2013
  15. Hey martok, how did you make out?  Are you up and running?
  16. Hey Swede, still waiting on my new heating element I ordered.  Got my probe for my PID and waiting to install it along with the new element.  I looked that old element over with a microscope (not really) and I'll be darned if I can see any cracks or anything out of the ordinary.  Hope the new element does the trick as I have a pork belly waiting to become thick sliced, sugar cured bacon!  Along with the new MES side smoker, which works fantastic, I should be all set.  Now all I need is to win the lottery so I can afford to buy meat and goodies to smoke!!!

    Stay tuned, if you hear a loud scream coming from the direction of Minnesota it's me if the GFCI still trips!

    How's things going on everybody elses smokes?  Hope you are all doing well.


  17. Well, my new heating element showed up today.  Installed the temperature probe, the element, and all is good!  Hooked up the PID, set the temp to 225 and turned her on.  Climbed up to 225 and held between 225 and 229 degrees.  This setup works fantastic!

    So the bottom line was that the element was the culprit and the good part is that the new 800 watt element is a bolt in for the old 650 watt.  The smoker heats up much faster than the smaller element and I am impressed with it.  If this new element is compatible with the electronics in the Gen 1 MES 30 as built, I don't know, but it would be a great upgrade/replacement for all the older smokers out there.

    So now I need to mount the side smoker and get a test smoke going on some jerky just to test how it acts.  It sure looks like a winner setup now!

    Thanks very much for all the help along the way everyone!  Hope to contribute as much in return.

    More later.

  18. That's great, glad to hear that you got her running! Make sure to post pictures of the jerky.
  19. bearcarver

    bearcarver Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    X 2

  20. Hey Bear, just wanted to let you know that I did mount the temp probe below the second shelf where you suggested.  I am really liking this accurate temp control for a change, no more giant temp swings like before!  Now I hope my cooking is as good (or better) than before. 

    My total cost, not including PID which i already had, was around $80 for the element and the probe.


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