MES popping ground fault outlet

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

  1. Hi all.  New guy here.  Just found this site and it is an absolute wealth of information!  Thanks to everyone for their contributions!

    Just fired up my old 20070106 and after a minute or so, it pops the ground fault adapter.  Thought it might be a weak adapter so I tried another circuit and got the same results.  Don't quite understand what is happening.  If it were a solid short in the smoker the adapter should trip immediately, not after a minute or two.  Anyone else had this happen or know what the issue may be? 

    Thanks in advance for any input.  Doesn't sound like Masterbuilt CS would be much help from reading other posts here, but probably will call them anyway.
  2. Hi-

    Sounds like moisture- Has the MES been sitting outside?  Check the element & make sure it is dry, if there is any moisture in the insulation around it's connections, that could do it. Put a lite bulb inside & close the vents for a couple hours, that should dry out any inside.

    Good Luck!!

  3. Hi Mark, thanks for the reply!  The MES has been kept inside my garage since new and never been in any rain.  I think I will pop the back off and check out the insulation and see what it is like.  Will let everyone know what I find.

    Thanks again!

  4. bearcarver

    bearcarver Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Are you using an extension cord??

  5. Hi Bear, nope.  I won't use extensions on the smoker.  Been bit by that problem with other high current devices, but thanks for the tip.  And thanks for your service in 'Nam.  Former Army myself in the sixties but stateside.

  6. bearcarver

    bearcarver Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    And thank you too, Tom!!

  7. Well folks, I drilled out all the pop rivets holding the back cover on and found that everything is pretty well covered with spray foam insulation.  Can't really see anything obvious.  No moisture at all.

    I wonder if the controller could be causing this?  Anyone heard of this before?  My cousin has this model also and I could plug his controller into my smoker and see if that works, but I hate to toast his controller in the meantime!  At $66 or so, it isn't a cheap test as most electronics are not returnable.  If I hadn't just picked up the Masterbuilt cold smoke sideunit I might look for another brand smoker but after reading the reviews on the new Masterbuilts I'm not ready to run right out and buy one!  May just buy the same one I have for the $177 on Amazon and cut my losses.  At least I might have spare parts!

    Ideas, opinions anyone?

    Thanks all,

  8. ted campbell

    ted campbell Newbie

    I had a situation like this on my MES.  I ended up having to get a new control unit on the top of the smoker.  Some moisture had ended up in it and was basicaly creating a short.  There are other posts on this site about the issue.
  9. Martok

    I used to be in the spa / hot tub business, and GFCI's were a constant issue.  We always had to use them, either directly in the application or in nearby fixtures.  And if they were in the application we were always close to their capacity, were they seem more likely to fault.  I have a couple of suggestions.  If any of these sound like they're out of your comfort zone I would strongly recommend getting an electrician in to help you out:

    1) Make sure you do not have any loads downstream of the GFCI (wired through the back).

    2) Make sure you have a good ground in the receptacle.  A pigtail to the box isn't good enough, make sure it's solid back to the source.

    3) Check your wiring upstream of the GFCI.  If it comes directly from the circuit panel check your connections in the panel, they must be tight and secure, nothing loose or crimped.  If there is anything else on the same circuit check those.  I know it sounds daunting, but a loose connection upstream can give you headaches, too.

    4) See if a different load will cause it to fault.  Try a heat gun, toaster, something else with about the same current draw.  I know you replaced it, but we used to see these run bad in batches.  Maybe QC is better now, but 15-20 years ago the receptacle type GFCIs were notorious for false faults.

    Only after I did all of that would I consider working on the appliance itself.  I feel your pain, these things can be tough.  Good luck!
  10. Hey Ted, I had the controller off and looked it over, no moisture was evident.  Did you actually see the moisture on/in yours?

    Swede, I had just fired up mu MES side smoker unit and ran it for about 45 minutes in the same outlet.  Granted, the power draw is less than the smoker itself, but I would think that it would have been enough to trip the GFCI.  I think I will get my double hot plate and try that out and see what that does.  My garage is detatched from the house and has it's own circuit so I don't think the circuit is the issue, been wrong before!

    Thanks all!

  11. My hotplate with a 1000 watt and an 800 watt burner (both on at the same time)  didn't trip the GFCI.  Thinking I have to look deeper into the wiring and the element.  I haven't dug any of the insulation out of the way around the connection covers on the smoker backside and was wondering how the covers come off.  Are they pop off or ?  I did find and read the rewiring post and that sounds like to way it SHOULD have been built in the first place!  Kudo's to the author of that post!

    Thanks again all!

  12. If you're running similar units and / or similar loads and don't have a problem with it faulting then you're back to a problem with the unit.  Sorry about the detour, but I've had so many problems with GFCIs false faulting that I always check those first.  Can't help you with your MES, but it sounds like you have a plan.

    Good luck!
  13. A GFCI only trips based on the amount of current travelling thru the ground wire, measured in mA, not amps.  Running a larger load as a test doesn't prove anything except that it sounds as though the GFCI isn't ghost tripping on any load it sees.  If you were closer to me I would offer to bring over some equipment we have at work to measure the current on the ground wire.  If the MES is the only thing that trips that GFCI, there is something wrong.  Hopefully it is moisture you can get rid of.  If it isn't moisture, you might be stuck with a bad MES.  I wouldn't recommend moving it to a non-GFCI receptacle because it sounds like there is current on the ground wire.
  14. Well Swede, Ryan, and everyone else, after getting the cover off the back side of the heat element and the connectors are like brand new with no corrosion or anything, I have decided to cut my losses.  I'm not going to start throwing parts at this thing.  I think I am going to pickup a 20070910 thru the site on Amazon.  At $177 that's about max on what I don't have for a budget (tough to live on social insecurity after losing my butt a few years back in the market screw job) and the new models seem to have their own issues.  I can still use my new side smoker, get free shipping, I have all my separate wireless temp probes, so it's all good.

    I think I will remove the element if anyone might be looking for one as they are apparently no longer available.  If anyone might need anything drop me a PM and I can pull the parts for you.

    Keep on smokin' and I'll be around from now on.  Will report on what I get and how it works.

    Take care everyone!

  15. mikea30

    mikea30 Newbie

    Before you buy a new unit and since you already have the back off, check the connections to the heating element. There should be a metal box toward the bottom of the unit in back where the electrical connections meet the heating element. Check these connections. Get to the point where you can pull the spade connector off the heating element lead. I have the newer MES smoker and they put an access panel in the back where these connections are. I had a similar GFI problem. I opened the access panel and looked at the connections and everything looked good. The problem is the connections has shrink tubing covering them. I carefully cut away the shrink tubing and one connection's plastic covering was black. I removed the plastic and cleaned the connections with sand paper, reconnected the wires and ran the unit for 10 hours afterwards.

    Check those connections thoroughly. They are notorious for going bad.
  16. Been there, done that, Mike.  My MES is an older one from 2004 and their isn't any shrink tubing or anything.  Just wiring crimped to the spade connedtors and they look brand new, not even discolored.  The spades were a bit loose so I took them off and crimped them a bit with a pliers and they are nice and tight now.  Made no difference and still tripped the GFCI.  Also removed and checked the ground wires at the element and at the main ground spot near the power cord.
  17. bearcarver

    bearcarver Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Don't you have any buddies who have electrical testing equipment??

    Could be something simple.

    Hate to see you have to get another one!!

    Unless yours is on it's last leg in other ways, being from 2004.

  18. eman

    eman Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator OTBS Member

    The MES doesn't need to be used on a GFCI circuit.  Try it on a regular 110v  outlet. If its a short it should trip there too. Usually if it's a problem w/ the element / wires it will quit heating. timer will still work but element doesn't heat
  19. mikea30

    mikea30 Newbie

    I agree. You can remove the spades and connect them to a multimeter. Set the unit to call for heat. When the unit calls for heat, there should be 120v (AC) across the electrical connections. If there is 120v across the electrical connections, it sounds like the heating element is bad. If there isn't, then it could be something more complicated. It seemed there were more than a few heating element mods in the forums. You may be able to do this cheaply. Unless of course you want to get a new smoker. I'm always for getting a new toy.
  20. Hi Guys, the element is heating up before the circuit trips, so it is getting power.  Have to leave the forum now, be back tomorrow.

    As always, thanks so much for your assistance!


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