Good Sam Club Open Roads Forum: RV Hot Skin (Exterior electrification)
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 > RV Hot Skin (Exterior electrification)

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sgtsteve

Camp Hill, PA

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Posted: 07/20/21 08:39pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

This past weekend my wife was electrocuted when she stepped onto the trailer steps and grabbed the handrail while in bare feet. She was subsequently thrown from the rig and landed in the grass. She sustained a broken L. Foot and an injured R. Hand in the fall. The trailer was plugged into an outlet on my garage. So how did this happen? It seems we have been doing something wrong for many years. I plug the RV power cord into an exterior household extension cord which I then plug into an exterior outlet on my garage. In doing some research, I found the topic of "RV Hot Skin" which relates to the electrification of the exterior of the trailer. Apparently, using a household extension cord in combination with the RV power cord is a no no. I have been told that action can actually cause a reverse polarity which becomes a hazard. Using a voltage checker revealed that parts of my trailer's exterior was registering 9 to 16 volts. However, no circuit breakers in the trailer were thrown and there is no "Hot skin" when the trailer is not plugged in. To further test this theory, I am going to go to a local campground and plug into an appropriate power tree and again test the exterior of the trailer.

I'll bet there a lot of folks like me that have been making this same mistake and never knew there was a problem. If my wife had not been in bare feet she probably would have been fine. What makes this more embarrassing is that we have been travel trailer owners for 20 years. We are so very thankful my wife is gonna be ok, but this was definitely a tough lesson to learn.

enblethen

Moses Lake, WA

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Posted: 07/20/21 08:48pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

There could be a broken ground wire or missing ground wire in one of the cords, bad adapter, if used, or in house receptacle.


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BB_TX

McKinney, Texas

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Posted: 07/20/21 08:50pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Sounds like you have a bad green safety ground wire connection.

jdc1

Rescue, Ca

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Posted: 07/20/21 08:56pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Where was the junction of the two cords?My guess is your connection between the two cords was exposed to moisture. Your garage outlet should be a GFCI protected outlet. If it isn't, you should change it asap.

NamMedevac 70

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Posted: 07/20/21 10:42pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

I do not remember using a power cord extension with RV cord but may have. This hazard is always with us. I will not plug into an RV receptacle when standing on wet ground or during rain/moisture around the poll post and I check the outlet receptacle for proper grounding and safe working conditions with an outlet check meter. Same goes for my inverter Generator. Sometimes water from neighboring RV site will seep or flow across the power cord and or post. Some campground power post look in very shabby condition. Hope your wife recovers quickly very soon.

CA Traveler

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Posted: 07/20/21 11:02pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

All of your cords are the standard 3 prong - correct?

You have 2 problems - no 3 problems and they are not related to using household extension cords which many use at home.

1. An open ground. BUY AND USE the common 3 light house hold tester. Buy one that has the GFCI test button. Check the garage plug and if it fails find out what is wrong with the house wiring. Next check the female end of every extension cord going to the RV. For safety reasons I can't recommend you go in the RV for further testing and the reason is obvious from your post.
2. You have a ground fault which is leakage to your open ground.
3. Have an electrician install a GFCI on your garage plug if not the entire circuit. Now repeat 1 above and if the extension cords are again OK (and use the button to check the GFCI) then plug in the RV which will trip the GFCI.

Now read the many hundreds of posts on how to find the ground fault in your RV.

As a friendly suggestion I suggest that you get professional help as your family is extremely lucky your wife wasn't hurt more. Further have the house checked and brought up to current code and have a GFCI on every required circuit like those in the kitchen and bathroom.

* This post was edited 07/20/21 11:27pm by CA Traveler *


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Bob


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Posted: 07/20/21 11:23pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

NamMedevac 70 wrote:

I do not remember using a power cord extension with RV cord but may have. This hazard is always with us. I will not plug into an RV receptacle when standing on wet ground or during rain/moisture around the poll post and I check the outlet receptacle for proper grounding and safe working conditions with an outlet check meter. Same goes for my inverter Generator. Sometimes water from neighboring RV site will seep or flow across the power cord and or post. Some campground power post look in very shabby condition. Hope your wife recovers quickly very soon.
Good advice and many power pedestals are in damp areas due to the water or sewer connections not to mention irrigation water.

Many pedestas are also in a poor maintenance condition.

OP I installed a full power protector in my RV - Progressive Industries HW50C. It checks for 11 different faults and will not connect power or will disconnect for any fault, including yours.

OP I do not recommend you go to a CG to test as you could also have a nasty surprise.

Sjm9911

New Jersey

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Posted: 07/21/21 03:56am Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Reverse polarity is a just the white wires and black wires getting reversed. A newer extention cord should have the plug end that has one prong bigger then the other. This prevents it from beeing pluged in wrong. If it was reversed, i can not see how it would cause hot skin. Unless you shorted something broke a wire somewhere. Be careful, and make sure its fixed. Dont trust that it was just the extension cord. It could very well be something else.


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Scottiemom

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Posted: 07/21/21 06:02am Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

I had this happen to me years ago. I also was in bare feet, having let the dog out. There was dew on the grass and as I grabbed the handle to go back inside and stepped onto the metal step I received the shock. I, however, could not let go because the charge kept my hand curled around the handle. I could not move. I had the presence of mind to lean away from the motorhome and I then fell to the ground. My weight was enough to allow me to disengage from the trailer. We were plugged into the lake cottage, which was built by my great grandfather and was little more than a fishing shack. The cottage itself had no ground and was not wired properly when electricity was added. We put a wood pallet in front of the door of the motorhome and that took care of it. My husband wanted to put a ground in for the cottage, but it was not ours and he was not allowed to do that. I thought as I was being shocked that I would not survive. It was really scary.

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larry cad

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Posted: 07/21/21 06:17am Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Please stop blaming the green wire! It is not the problem. Think about this: half of the stuff you have in your RV, and/or house does not even have a green wire! And yet, it all works ok. If the green wire is so bad an actor, why isn't is required EVERYWHERE????? The answer is that the green wire is not necessary for a safe electrical system. It is not an active component in an electrical system. The green wire is a redundant safety device which can come into play when there is ANOTHER problem. In this case, there is another problem, probably the white and black wires are reversed in the power line from the house because the OP is using a two wire extension cord with no ground pin to insure it is plugged in correctly. Remember the comment about all the equipment in your RV and house that doesn't have a green wire? That means it also doesn't have the ground pin on the plug. Think about this. In the code book, the white wire is referred to as "the GROUNDED conductor". If the white wire is connected properly along the power path, by default, the black wire is also connected properly. If both are connected properly, no shock hazard exists. If a white wire connection gets broken, and IF there is a green wire connected properly, there is not a shock hazard. (Obviously touching the black wire by accident will give you a shock no matter what)


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