My Fridge is Tripping

Submitted: Wednesday, Apr 15, 2009 at 22:48
ThreadID: 67882 Views:5022 Replies:8 FollowUps:24
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Evening all, went away this easter had a ball, except when we arrived and plugged in the fridge it tripped the board at the caravan park (only to our site, not the whole park). The safety switch in the van didn't trigger though. It was fine last time we travelled.....
Switched it over to gas and it worked fine, a bit smelly though with the annexe up as the vents are on the door side of the van. Have used the fridge on gas before without the annexe and there wasn't any smell.
Any ideas what it could be or is it just one of those things that happen and its time to get a new one???

It is an electrolux RM2310 in an 1993 van
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Reply By: Member - Paul C (WA) - Thursday, Apr 16, 2009 at 00:11

Thursday, Apr 16, 2009 at 00:11
One possibility - The circuit at the Park was close to full capacity and starting the fridge was enough to trip it.

Try the fridge at home, or anywhere else, before going any further.

Cheers
Paul
AnswerID: 359766

Reply By: Sand Man (SA) - Thursday, Apr 16, 2009 at 07:18

Thursday, Apr 16, 2009 at 07:18
As only the individual circuit for your site tripped, my guess is you have a short in your 240 volt van wiring somewhere.

As this is on the 240 volt circuit, you need to have this checked by a qualified electrician ASAP.
Bill


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AnswerID: 359773

Follow Up By: Best Off Road - Thursday, Apr 16, 2009 at 07:33

Thursday, Apr 16, 2009 at 07:33
Spot on.

The fact that the breaker in the van didn't trip is potentially disastrous.

Expert assessment is essential.

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Follow Up By: Member No 1- Thursday, Apr 16, 2009 at 14:12

Thursday, Apr 16, 2009 at 14:12
he said the van safety switch didnt which is not unusual as a safety switch is NOT a circuit breaker.
i would expect the park had a circuit breaker
and therefore appears to have a problem...a short to earth and probably the heater?
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Follow Up By: Member No 1- Thursday, Apr 16, 2009 at 14:14

Thursday, Apr 16, 2009 at 14:14
a short to earth and probably the heater? ....in the fridge if the van electrics was ok after resetting the parks breaker....
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Follow Up By: Member No 1- Thursday, Apr 16, 2009 at 14:15

Thursday, Apr 16, 2009 at 14:15
ah ah see below
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Follow Up By: GerryP - Friday, Apr 17, 2009 at 22:30

Friday, Apr 17, 2009 at 22:30
Hi No 1,

As you correctly point out, "a safety switch is NOT a circuit breaker". A safety switch trips on an imbalance between the active and neutral, indicating a leak to earth.

Therefore, if the park breaker tripped and not the safety switch, then the heater may have shorted out (but not to earth), or the safety switch is faulty.

I think my reasoning is correct...

Or, as someone else has suggested, check the fridge at home in case the park circuit breaker was faulty and tripping prematurely.

Cheers
Gerry
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Follow Up By: Member No 1- Saturday, Apr 18, 2009 at 09:43

Saturday, Apr 18, 2009 at 09:43
Gerry
the heater may/could have a short to earth....not just necessarily shorted out...A short to earth may and would cause large current flows and hence trip the breaker

in simple terms, a safety switch monitors the current flow between active and neutral....if they are different it assumes that the current difference must be leaking to earth .......ie if you touch a faulty live appliance (which is somehow not earthed) the electricity could flow via you to earth taking away some of the current from the neutral wire.
The RCD then trips.

Remember, If a person is caught between live active and neutral a safety switch will not protect you...

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Follow Up By: Member - Allan B (QLD) - Saturday, Apr 18, 2009 at 10:39

Saturday, Apr 18, 2009 at 10:39
Some confusion in terms seems to be arising here. Let me offer some clarification:

1. Any device which automatically controls or interrupts the current path is a referred to as Circuit Breaker. A Residual Current Device (RCD) is one of a group defined as an "Earth Leakage Circuit Breaker".
2. What is being referred to here by some as a "Circuit Breaker" is actually a "Overload Circuit Breaker" (OCB) which reacts to excessive current flow or short circuit.
3. There are other types of circuit breakers also but I won't cloud the issue with them.
4. An RCD and an OCB can be combined in the one enclosure and is then usually referred to a a "Combination Circuit Breaker". This is what is most usually being installed these days. If it trips it may not be readily apparent whether the trip was caused by either earth leakage or over-current until further investigated.
5. A manually operated switch is not classed as a circuit breaker. It is a "switch" or an "isolator".

So when we are referring to "the circuit breaker" we really need to say RCD or OCB to be clear about it.

In the original posting, Bekali said "it tripped the board at the caravan park". She did not say "circuit breaker". It could have been either an RCD or an OCB. The expression of "circuit breaker crept in later and seems to have confused things a bit. Later expression from Bekali made it clear that it was the Park RCD which tripped.

As Gerry points out, an RCD does not protect you from electric shock if you get your body between active and neutral, only if between active and earth. However most instances of electric shock are from active to earth. You will only get between the active and neutral if you are poking around inside the wiring or appliance where you should not be. It is alright for electricians to do this... they are expendable. LOL.

Cheers
Allan
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Allan

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Follow Up By: Best Off Road - Saturday, Apr 18, 2009 at 10:48

Saturday, Apr 18, 2009 at 10:48
All fascinating information, but, I reiterate my original advice, get it looked at by a suitably qualified sparky.

240 kills.

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Reply By: Member - Fred G NSW - Thursday, Apr 16, 2009 at 09:22

Thursday, Apr 16, 2009 at 09:22
Same fridge as I have in my Jayco, Bekali. Should also have 12v on that. I never ever use mine on gas.
Looks like a problem with the van wiring mate. I'd be doing what Paul suggested first, and also may connect plug somethine else into the fridge socket via a power board with a circuit breaker on it and see what happens. It's a worry that the van breaker didn't trip out.
In any case, Id be talking to an electrician and having the van circuit tested as Sand Man and Jim advised.
Interested in hearing any results.

Fred.
AnswerID: 359784

Reply By: Member - Allan B (QLD) - Thursday, Apr 16, 2009 at 09:48

Thursday, Apr 16, 2009 at 09:48
After you disconnected the fridge did you reset the park breaker and use other van power such as lights successfully? If so the fault is in your fridge.

If the park safety switch (RCD) breaker continued to trip with your van connected but the fridge disconnected then the fault is in your van wiring or your extension cable. This needs attention from a qualified electrician before using again as it could be lethal.

Note that it only takes a little moisture in the plug or socket of the extension cable to trip a safety switch. Dry them out with a hair dryer and plug it in at home to test.(assuming that your home has a safety switch)

Cheers
Allan

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Allan

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Follow Up By: Bekali - Thursday, Apr 16, 2009 at 11:01

Thursday, Apr 16, 2009 at 11:01
Once reset, everything else on the van worked fine. T.V, microwave, lights, hot water even one of those blow heaters that use a lot of power.
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Reply By: Bekali - Thursday, Apr 16, 2009 at 11:42

Thursday, Apr 16, 2009 at 11:42
Once the breaker was reset, everything else on the van worked fine. T.V, microwave, lights, hot water even one of those blow heaters that use a lot of power.

I would probably rule out park capacity as it was fairly quite when we arrived.

As for 12v, the fridge does run on this and our old car had the 12v running from car to van however with the new car we thought we would do the anderson plug set up but haven't quite got that far yet and there is not a battery in the van as yet either.

The fridge runs extremely well on gas (as we dont always use electricity for the fridge) however this time with the annexe up it seemed as if the burnt fumes were going back into the van and was very smelly, in the end I switched the whole lot off.

I will plug the van in at home and see what happens, I will also try that particular socket, now that I think about it, it is located under the sink and possibly getting water in it. Failing this, anyone know of any fridge repairers in Vic Northern Suburbs area?

Thanks everyone, will let you know of outcome...
AnswerID: 359797

Follow Up By: hazo - Thursday, Apr 16, 2009 at 13:55

Thursday, Apr 16, 2009 at 13:55
As a side issue, bear in mind that as well as being smelly (as you put it) that whilst on gas the combustion process could produces carbon monoxide! which could build up considerably in an enclosed annexe.
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Follow Up By: Bekali - Thursday, Apr 16, 2009 at 17:19

Thursday, Apr 16, 2009 at 17:19
Yeah thats why I figured best turn it all off. We had an esky and other people we were travelling with had thier fridges so everything was cool (cool ha ha)
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Follow Up By: Bekali - Thursday, Apr 16, 2009 at 17:39

Thursday, Apr 16, 2009 at 17:39
Note to self.....'Don't use the fridge on gas when the annexe is up'.
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Reply By: Member - Allan B (QLD) - Thursday, Apr 16, 2009 at 16:37

Thursday, Apr 16, 2009 at 16:37
There are a lot of "short circuits" and red herrings being thrown around here. Hands up all the qualified electricians posting. No-one??

Caravan parks are required to have a "Safety Switch" properly known as a Residual Current Device (RCD) protecting each individual General Purpose Outlet (GPO). These are designed to trip if the current imbalance is greater than 30mA. (An imbalance is due to current returning via an earth path)

It does not need to be a SHORT circuit, merely 30mA or more. There will also be protection against over-current or a "short circuit" by means of an Over-Current Circuit Breaker (OCB) and this is usually combined in the same device as the RCD and called a "Combination Circuit Breaker".

Where there are two (or more) RCDs in series as in the park pylon and the van and current imbalance more than 30mA occurs then the more sensitive RCD will trip before the other and thus the second RCD will not trip. Highly unlikely that both RCDs will trip, but possible.
So the van RCD not tripping is not an indication of anything dire.

As has been said, it is most likely earth leakage within the heater of the fridge and probably no more than a little water condensation on the heater circuit. With some good ventilation possibly assisted by a fan-heater it will probably be cured.

The certain way to test is to power the fridge directly from your RCD-protected house supply using an extension cord direct to the fridge without going through the van wiring. However it is also possible that the Park RCD was tripping at less than 30mA and your fridge leakage was enough to trip it but does not trip your house RCD.

If you continue to have problems you will need the services of an electrician. It's not rocket science but it can be tricky.

Cheers,
Allan
Qualified Electrician
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Allan

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AnswerID: 359828

Follow Up By: Bekali - Thursday, Apr 16, 2009 at 17:29

Thursday, Apr 16, 2009 at 17:29
Okay, heres what happend........

Checked the power point that the fridge uses....ALL OK

Plugged the fridge directly into the house via an extension lead and the house safety switch has tripped. I actually had to turn the main power to the house off to reset the safety switch. I don't ever remember having to do that before.

Next step is to remove the fridge and check for condensation, will this be something I will be able see without pulling the fridge apart?

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Follow Up By: Member - Allan B (QLD) - Thursday, Apr 16, 2009 at 17:59

Thursday, Apr 16, 2009 at 17:59
I am unsure of just what you mean by .... "Checked the power point that the fridge uses....ALL OK" but it doesn't really matter.

Anyway, there you have it...... certain that it is the fridge that is faulty.

You may see some condensation within the fridge workings but maybe not, even if there is some within the electrics. Of course it may be more than just condensation. There may be faulty electrical insulation, but as you said that there was some sink leakage it is a reasonable possibility of condensation or even actual water causing electrical leakage.

Pull the fridge out, have a good look for signs of water ingress, dry it thoroughly over several days maybe by leaving it in direct sunshine away from rain, and try again. You could also try some water repellant such as RP7. If it still trips get an electrician to inspect it or take it to an appropriate fridge repair shop.

Allan
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Allan

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Follow Up By: Member - Paul C (WA) - Thursday, Apr 16, 2009 at 18:18

Thursday, Apr 16, 2009 at 18:18
Allan

My hand is certainly up.
Never mentioned anything about "short circuits".
Simply posted one scenario and a simple check at home before rushing into anything.
Imbalances are not due to current returning via earth path. An ampilfier is generally used to detect imbalance between active and neutral which then uses the earth wire to trip the cb.

Paul
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Follow Up By: Bekali - Thursday, Apr 16, 2009 at 18:37

Thursday, Apr 16, 2009 at 18:37
I am unsure of just what you mean by .... "Checked the power point that the fridge uses....ALL OK" but it doesn't really matter.

By this I mean I plugged something else into the socket other than the fridge to eliminate the socket as beng a problem.

There hasn't actually been any sink leakage that I know of, its just that the fridge and socket is below the sink and had there been any water leaking it would have gone in there. I had a good look in the cupboard where the socket is and around everywhere I can see (apart from the fridge cavity itself) and there are no signs of water.

I shall get hubby to give me a hand removing the fridge over the weekend and see what I find.......

I just had a thought.....hubby washed the van not so long ago and comented about the vents behind the fridge, stove etc... and how he should be careful not to get water in there, I wonder if he did spray the hose directly into the vents, this may have led to the cause of this problem......I wonder!!.....
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Follow Up By: Sand Man (SA) - Thursday, Apr 16, 2009 at 19:42

Thursday, Apr 16, 2009 at 19:42
Alan,

Yeah, I'm a qualified Electrician. Just not a currently practicing one.

Your advice isn't much help to a person that doesn't have "qualified experience".

Rather than guess what the problem may, or may not be, my advice was to take it to someone who can analyse the problem and fix it.

As you are a sparkie yourself you would no doubt agree that 240 volts bites very hard indeed.




Bill


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Follow Up By: Member - Allan B (QLD) - Thursday, Apr 16, 2009 at 20:14

Thursday, Apr 16, 2009 at 20:14
Hi SandMan
Some others were making wild guesses as to the cause of the problem....not me.

I asked a couple of questions and advised a simple and safe check which Bekali was easily able to do and it confirmed that the problem is in the fridge and not in the van. It clearly was of help and now she is able to seek the appropriate service if she wishes as I advised. I am not suggesting that she or anyone else not qualified starts pulling apart electrical appliances or installations.

Bekali said in the initial post that the problem occurred when she plugged-in the fridge.
Your "my guess is you have a short in your 240 volt van wiring somewhere" was a pretty obvious observation.

Yes, the 240V has bitten me more than a few times and I certainly would not recommend anyone to poke about where it lives.

HooRoo from another old sparkie (and an expatriate Crow Eater)
Allan
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Allan

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Follow Up By: Member No 1- Saturday, Apr 18, 2009 at 09:53

Saturday, Apr 18, 2009 at 09:53
Alan, am I correct, that its not unusual for some types of heaters to have leakage and therefore would/could trip RCD....same as compressor in a standard domestic fridge or freezer or air-conditioning unit
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Follow Up By: Member - Allan B (QLD) - Saturday, Apr 18, 2009 at 11:06

Saturday, Apr 18, 2009 at 11:06
No 1, Well yes, it is unusual for heaters etc to have leakage and so trip an RCD, but it is the "unusual" that we are concerned about.
If everything is going OK we are not interested in it.

I'm not really sure about what you are asking but yes, earth leakage can occur in any electrical appliance but some are more prone than others. Metal sheathed heating elements as in hot water services for example or any appliance in a damp or steamy environment is more likely to experience earth leakage.

RCDs are not normally incorporated in circuits of fixed (not portable) equipment where some minor earth leakage can be expected so as to avoid nuisance tripping. Because they are not connected via plug & sockets or flexible cords it is considered that any earth leakage will be accommodated by the installed earthing conductor and the Overload Circuit Breaker.

PS. See my other follow-up re the definitions of "Circuit Breakers"

Cheers, Allan


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Allan

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Reply By: Member - Allan B (QLD) - Thursday, Apr 16, 2009 at 19:45

Thursday, Apr 16, 2009 at 19:45
Paul

You're right mate .... you did not mention a short circuit.
And you offered some good advice.

But are you telling me that you are an electrician?
If so you were snoozing during the session on RCDs and earth leakage.

An RCD consists of a small toroidal core upon which there are three windings. One winding is in the active conductor, one in the neutral conductor, and the third is connected to a small solenoid arranged to trip the contacts in the load circuit. There is NO amplifier and the earth wire has no connection to the RCD.

The device works on the principle of "What goes in should also come out". That is, all the current in the active conductor must also return via the neutral conductor. If not all of the active current is returning via the neutral then it must be using another path and the only other return path is via earth to an MEN neutral link, possibly through someone's body. The earth return need not be the circuit's earth wire... it may be the building structure, the soil or any conductive material in contact with the greater earth system.

The currents flowing in the active and neutral toroidal windings produce magnetic fields which cancel when equal but if unequal produce a "residual" magnetic field which induces a voltage in the third winding and being connected to the solenoid, acts to trip the breaker.

The quickest drawing and explanation I found was on Wikipedia:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Residual-current_device

Allan
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Allan

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AnswerID: 359854

Follow Up By: oldtrack123 - Thursday, Apr 16, 2009 at 21:35

Thursday, Apr 16, 2009 at 21:35
Hi
GEES ,I'm glad I read a bit further before I replied to Paul on similar lines to Alan.
Lots of misunderstandings of things electrical seem to be showing up again on many forums. SOME cotradict very basic knowledge.
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Reply By: Bekali - Thursday, Apr 16, 2009 at 20:29

Thursday, Apr 16, 2009 at 20:29
Don't worry fellas,
i'm certainly not about to start tinkering in something I know zero about.

It's been a process of elimination, and I like to research a problem and first of all find out if I can fix it myself (which I have been known to do) and if not then I can take it to someone who is qualified with the knowledge I have obtained, and then as a female I am less likely to get ripped off (I hope) because I would at least sound like I know what I am talking about.

I will take the fridge out and see if there are any obvious signs of anything we have disscussed and from there if need be I will take it to someone who knows. I certainly do not want to fry myself....

Thankyou all for your input and I shall let you know what the outcome is.....
AnswerID: 359868

Follow Up By: Member - Allan B (QLD) - Thursday, Apr 16, 2009 at 20:37

Thursday, Apr 16, 2009 at 20:37
Aww Bekali .... you've chucked a bucket of cold water on us. We had the sleeves rolled up and all.
Cheers and goodluck
Allan
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Follow Up By: oldtrack123 - Thursday, Apr 16, 2009 at 21:40

Thursday, Apr 16, 2009 at 21:40
HI Bekali
Your mention of hosing may be the problem. Have you tried running it for a few days on gas since the problem . That just may generate enough heat to dry it out without pulling it out
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FollowupID: 627836

Follow Up By: oldtrack123 - Thursday, Apr 16, 2009 at 21:45

Thursday, Apr 16, 2009 at 21:45
Hi
Should have reread post, HAVE used on gas& still trips ,you have a problem in the 240v side do not attemt repairs. take to qualified repairer
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