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Why is My RV Shocking Me?

by Teresa
(Aurora Illinois USA)



I have just bought a 2004 camper.

I get shocked inside and outside. I have had all new breaker box put in outside at the pole. I notice that the 30 amp plug is all taped up and my receptacles all say hot/neu reversed.

Could that plug be wired in wrong?

Thanks Teresa

ANSWER: Hi Teresa thanks for submitting your question on our Ask An RV Question Page.

The problem you are experiencing is known as "Hot Skin" when you get shocked by touching metal on the inside and outside of your RV. Depending on the cause this condition can cause a dangerous life threatening electrical shock and should be fixed immediately.

These electrical shocks can be caused by a reversed polarity problem in the electric receptacle that your RV is plugged into, a polarity problem in the extension cord you are using to plug in your RV or to a shorted wire somewhere in your RV's electrical system. This problem can also be caused by an improper ground in the receptacle, extension cord or in the RV.

Based on your statement "my receptacles all say hot/neu reversed" I am going to assume that you have already tested your RV's outlets using a Polarity Tester and found out that you have reversed polarity which is the most common cause of "Hot Skin" in RV's.

Now we need to determine which part of the electrical system is causing your problem. You can use your polarity tester to help determine the cause.

First, Unplug your RV from Shore Power and then plug the tester into the receptacle that the RV was plugged into. To do this test you may need a 30 amp male to 15 amp female electric adapter so that you can plug the adapter into the 30 Amp plug. You may find that the tester will indicate that the polarity of the receptacle is reversed. To solve this problem the electrical outlet needs be rewired properly or you will have to plug into a known good receptacle.

If the outlet shows no problems then we know that is not causing the shocks. If you are using an extension cord to plug in your RV we need to check that next. Plug the extension cord into a known good outlet and plug the tester into the extension cord. If it indicates that there is a problem with the extension cord then the extension cord needs to be disposed of.

In your case the fact that the 30 Amp plug on your RV's electric cord is taped up may be an indication of someone trying to fix this problem. No matter what happens you need to have that plug properly repaired as it is exposed to the elements when plugged in at a campground.

If both the receptacle and extension cord show OK then we know that the problem is in the electrical system of the RV itself. The problem could be something as simple as a staple through an electrical wire that is shorting it onto the body or frame of the RV or it could be an issue with the ground on your RV's electrical system. When you get to this point it is advisable to take your RV in and have a Certified RV Technician tackle the diagnosis and repair of this problem.

I hope this helped.

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 Why is My RV Shocking Me?

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Shocking
by: Anonymous

I once repaired a travel trailer that shocked you when you grabbed the entry handle. It turned out to be a screw that pierced an electric wire. So long ago I can't remember how I traced it to the bad screw.

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Surge Guard?
by: WhenInRoam

I've seen the Surge Guards advertised in the Camping World flyers. Wouldn't this help eliminate the shock, if tethered between the RV cord and the extension cord/electric pole, assuming the pole is causing the problem?

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Shocking?
by: Nancy / Florida

You haven't really been shocked yet. Take it to the dealership for repair and when you get the bill - that is when you will be "really shocked"!

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