Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Electrical and Cluelessness

Now, this isn't a bad thing with electrical where say I shocked myself, nothing at all like that.  However, I did have some cluelessness in this case and didn't check obvious when I should have.

One of my electrical outlets stopped working.  It's right by the sink and is a GFCI outlet (Ground Fault Circuit Interruptor).  This prevents inadvertent shocks and shorting if an electrical appliance got wet, among other things.  On these outlets there's a Test and Reset button, and neither of these were responsive.  I "naturally" "assumed" that it is went bad because this RV is 20 years old so went ahead and got a new one to replace it.  At this stage nothing else odd or weird was happening.

The first step in process was removing outlet from the wall.  This is a multi-step process and was fairly simple as have done it before, quite a few times.  Had to remove the faceplate (two small screws), and then remove outlet itself.  The outlet, in this case, had two longer drywall screws, the black coarse threaded kind.  Which was odd but it's probably due to nature of RV's.

Removal process
Here can see how I am partially through the process of removing the outlet, after getting a new one.  Around middle of the photo can see a small slice of black electrical tape.  I have removed wire from the screw and then covered with electrical tape to help prevent any nasty surprises, shocks, sparks, or flashes of light.  Those would not be a good way to end the day.

Working, working..
The process was fairly simple, and there wasn't a lot of space to work in.  The main thing to be aware of with replacing outlets is always be wary of where the live wires are (typically black and/or red).  These are what could ruin your day and hence why am little cautious, but not overly so.

There were five wires attached, two for "main" power, coming from the RV power supply.  Then two more were for something which had power supplied from this outlet, and thus protected by the GFCI, and then a ground wire.  It is also important to keep track of which wires go where.  These outlets are typically always the same in where the wires connect (load and line), but there are small fluctuations here and there.

Installing new one
Pulled new outlet out of the box and just did the same steps, in reverse, from when took out the old one.  This new one has a night light and also a little led to indicate if it's tripped or not.

Black drywall screws
As mentioned above, the main thing to be wary of is putting wires in the right places.  Thankfully that happened for me and it all worked out well.

In this picture, to the right, can be seen the black drywall screws which hold the outlet in place.  Think they used these as the ones supplied were too short (tried those myself).

Blurry but done!

Now, to the point of me being clueless..

After all this work the electrical outlet still didn't work.  Was scratching head trying to figure it out but to no avail..  Then a light sparked someplace and went to hunt down the circuit breakers.   They're right under the fridge, where the power supply is, and sure enough, one of them was tripped.

Now, something else happened after flipped the circuit breaker..  Heard buzzing again.  This confused me as it's been awfully quiet (not complaining) by the refrigerator.  It turns out that the buzzing is from the battery charger, so it seems like the part that charges the battery is fed from the GFCI outlet by the sink.  Makes sense now that I know about it.

To verify, manually tripped the outlet and checked the "house battery" voltage, and sure enough, it was very very low.  Now it explains why the lights were dimming and the exhaust fans weren't operating at full speed..  OOOPS.

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