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My RV's Battery Froze, Now The Fuses In My RV Keep Blowing

by Anonymous


Hi!

I have a Scamp Travel Trailer with a blown 15 amp fuse. The only 12V accessories in the camper are three lights and a car stereo. When I parked the camper for the winter (in our unheated garage) I plugged it in to keep the battery charged.

Everything went fine for a couple of months, and then I went to check something inside and noticed no lights. The 15 amp automotive fuse on the light circuit at the converter panel was blown. Blew another as soon as I changed it. Checked the battery and found it sitting in 3" of ice in the battery box. Battery itself did not appear frozen when I pulled caps. Got the battery out, took it into the house and let set for three days and charged. Did not appear to need much charge, reinstalled, changed fuse, and "pop".


I have been told that the plates in the battery may have shifted and could cause a short, though the fuse on the battery cable itself has not blown. What should I check next?

ANSWER: Thanks for submitting your question on our Ask An RV Question Page.

OK let's start with the basics, yes the electrolytes in a battery can freeze. When the electrolytes in a battery freeze they expand and can cause a crack in the battery case and the expansion can also damage the battery plate separators and battery plates themselves. The plates can get warped and create a short in the battery.

Just because the electrolyte did not look frozen when you looked into the battery, does not mean the electrolyte was not frozen at some other time. The quickest way to determine whether the battery is causing the problem is to temporarily hook up a known good battery to your Travel Trailer. If the fuse does not blow with the known good battery installed then you know that your battery is bad.

Even if the fuse does blow with the known good battery, you should take your existing battery in and have it tested before putting it back in your trailer.

Leave your RV repair bills to us—Good Sam Extended Service Plan

The fact that you found the battery sitting in 3" of frozen fluid in the battery tray concerns me. If your trailer was sitting in a covered garage, where did the fluid come from? The only logical explanation can be that the fluid came from the battery itself, either from a crack in the case or because your RV's Battery Charger is over-charging and boiling out the battery and that is where the fluid came from.

If the battery turns out to be good then you know that problem is in the 12 volt circuit in your RV. Unless you have experience finding shorts in electrical systems, your best bet is to take the trailer in and have a Certified RV Technician track down and repair the short. Yes, this is going to cost you some money, but in the long run if you start messing around with electrical system, you could cause even more costly damage to the system.

Hope this helps.

Do you have any suggestions or comments on this topic? You can add them to this page by clicking on the "Click Here To Post Comments" link located near the bottom of this page.

Happy RVing

RVing Al

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Comments for My RV's Battery Froze, Now The Fuses In My RV Keep Blowing

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Camper blowing fuse
by: Anonymous

A couple years ago I put my camper to bed for the Winter....everything was working fine...in the Spring I un-winterized it...Plugged in the power cable and as soon as I did..it tripped the ground fault on the carport...

I changed the ground fault to a new one...plugged the camper in and tripped again...What I found was when we lay our camper power cable on the ground and it lays in the rain or wet grass and the hot sun beats down on it...the insulation dry rots just like rv tires...

I decided to replace the power cable on the camper and it solved the problem...I cut the insulation off about mid way on the what looked like good cable and found the white neutral wire had let moisture in and the ground fault on the car port was doing what it was suppose to do...

I decided after what happened to change the power cable every so many years if it looks OK or not..doing it yourself and $50 is inexpensive safety.

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Scamp electrical problem
by: Anonymous

Hey RVing Al,

Thought I'd update you on the electrical problem progress on my Scamp (the one with the frozen battery and possibly bad charger/converter.) After some unsuccessful trouble-shooting with a meter, I decided to unhook the interior light circuit wire from the panel and jump it to the battery-the lights worked!
I decided since the lights worked, the problem had to be in the electric panel. I picked one up from an RV dealer in the next town and replaced mine. Everything is operating normally now, must have fried a thing-a-ma-jig in my converter.
While I was under the seat, I tidied-up the wiring (zip-loom and wire ties) and added a junction box for the 110v romex lines so that it would be easier to service the electric panel in the future. Things get pretty tight in that little 30 amp box.
Still need to replace my battery, thinking about putting it under the front seat now (sealed Optima gel-style) to free up some room on the tongue. Thanks for the advice, all's well that ends well! Happy camping...

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re
by: bill arnold

I always take battery out when winterizing,no use charging when not using rv.if you keep battery in compartment and keep power plugged in just wears out battery,also drill holes in bottom of battery box to keep out rain water.

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Scamp electrical problem
by: Anonymous

Thanks RV Al!

I appreciate your coments/advice, unfortunately I don't know of a reliable, certified RV technician in my area, and I've been burned too many times "yellow pages fishing". I'm pretty handy and this camper is pretty simple, so I guess I'll procede on my own. I spoke to an automotive technician I work with (who is an avid RV'er) and he suggested I hook up the different battery I borrowed and put a 10 amp charger on it to make sure some juice was flowing through the battery. This being done I checked the lights (nothing) and did not hear any sound from the converter/charger that might indicate the noise was from the internal charger doing it's job charging a possibly low battery.
So, still no lights, radio works, no blown fuse and no sound or "overload" light when the shore power is not hooked up. I'm left to conclude I've got a bad power panel (which will run $160 from Scamp) as well as a bad (frozen) battery. What I'm thinking about doing is spending an hour or two changing out the panel and mounting an Optima deep-cycle battery inside next to the panel (under the seat) eliminating about eight feet of wiring and taking about forty pounds off the tongue. While I'm at it, I think I'll mount volt and amp gauges in the camper to moniter future battery activity. If there still turns out to be a short somewhere, I'll wave a white flag and look for help. I'll keep you posted how things shake-out.

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next step
by: Anonymous

Thanks for your comments guys!

Tried a different battery, this time the fuse didn't blow. Still no lights, but the radio comes on. Plugged in the shore power and the red "overload" light on the converter panel lights up and there is a low sort of "buzzing" sound coming from the panel. I'm assuming now that the problem is in the converter panel (possibly between the charger and converter?) Do you think a new converter is in my future?

Thanks!

Comment Frome RVing Al: It is possible that you need a new converter, but you will not know for sure until you have a Certified RV Technician check out the system.

You have done all that I would suggest that a do-it-yourselfer do. I would also suggest that you remove the known good battery from the system as it could get damaged from the problems you are experiencing.

RVing Al

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