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Old 11-05-2012, 01:38 PM   #1
mcclenahanb
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Default Trouble Shooting help needed for heatstick

I built 2 heatsticks and have been running into problems. Can anybody help me with some insight? Here is all the info:

30A circuit
wired 2 120v gfci outlets to a L5-30P plug
grounded the outlets to another circuit with extension cord (renting!)
light switches wired to each outlet

1500w (~12.5A) electric heating element
jb weld to chrome pipe and pvc handle
ground tied to chrome pipe

problems:
1. using one at a time, they work but slowly. When both are on, one will trip after 10 minutes or so.
2. I noticed green/black goop and the jb weld coming off the top of the handle.
3. the base of the heating element had yellow residue on it.

Is there a way to fix these issues?

Hypothesis:
I've thought of rewiring the boxes to separate circuits in case it's a amperage problem. I've thought that maybe there could be a leak in the weld, but I coated it pretty well. I've also thought that after thinning the weld with acetone to drip it in, it maybe didn't cure well enough? But I welded the outside too to make sure.

Any help would be awesome. I'm not an electrician (as you can tell), so simple answers will help the most. Thank you!

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Old 11-05-2012, 02:47 PM   #2
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I left the top open on the one I just built so I could flip it over and see if any water came out. Though I do need to seal this now that I confirmed no leaks.

I would say yeah separate circuits unless it is the same stick tripping each time. Is it the breaker tripping or is it the ground fault switch in the outlet?

The yellow residue is normal. I clean my element with a steel scrubbie each time I use it.

The green/black goop? is this liquid? no idea what this is. My jb weld dried on and has not melted since. It has chipped off a few parts, but nothing involving the seal. post a picture?

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Old 11-05-2012, 03:04 PM   #3
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Thanks Grathan.

The gfci is tripping, not the breaker. It's not the same stick tripping each time - it varies.

I'll see if I can get a good pic to post.

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Old 11-05-2012, 03:22 PM   #4
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A couple questions:
What wire size from the panel (30A breaker) to your plug?
What size extension cord (gauge of wire and length of cord), and is this cord only used for ground, or for the 30A hot?
You could easily be "starving" your circuit which can give GFCI's fits as well as your elements. Grounding your 30A circuit through another circuit, though not up to electrical code, should work as long as long as it is a direct route to same panel as hot circuit, not a sub panel.

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Old 11-05-2012, 03:44 PM   #5
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1. The wire from the panel to the plug is 10/3. (which means it has ground! Thanks for asking me to look. Maybe I can get the landlord to let me update the plug to a 4-prong dryer outlet)
2. The extension cord is only used for the ground. It is 16/3. by the way, the wiring for the heatsticks themselves is 12/3.

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Old 11-05-2012, 04:30 PM   #6
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I'm not an electrician, but let's take a look.

Quote:
Originally Posted by mcclenahanb View Post
I built 2 heatsticks. Here is all the info:

30A circuit
wired 2 120v gfci outlets to a L5-30P plug
grounded the outlets to another circuit with extension cord (renting!)
light switches wired to each outlet
Are you saying the 2 circuits of 120v (probably 15a each) together give you the 30amps of 120v? And that these are combined to a single L5-30P plug? And you're sending the ground back to a different 120v circuit? I've never seen a 30a 120v circuit in residential use, but I'm sure stranger things exist.

As mentioned, some kind of a drawing would be really beneficial.

Quote:
Originally Posted by mcclenahanb View Post
1500w (~12.5A) electric heating element
jb weld to chrome pipe and pvc handle
ground tied to chrome pipe
This sounds ok, though I would rather use marine epoxy instead of JB weld if I was potting an element. I personally don't use heat sticks.

Quote:
Originally Posted by mcclenahanb View Post
problems:
1. using one at a time, they work but slowly. When both are on, one will trip after 10 minutes or so.
2. I noticed green/black goop and the jb weld coming off the top of the handle.
3. the base of the heating element had yellow residue on it.

Is there a way to fix these issues?
1. - this makes me think you are overloading a single 15a circuit. I think, but don't know for certain, that the ground must go back to the GFCI circuit in order to detect leakage. I know the neutral must, just not the ground.

2. - has the JB weld hardened? If not, wait for it to do so. Otherwise, is it getting heated up by the wiring? What in the mix is green?

3. - this is probably scale from the water. i.e. mineral build up. Mine is white though...

Do you have a multimeter so you can determine the voltages and connections?

Quote:
Originally Posted by mcclenahanb View Post
Hypothesis:
I've thought of rewiring the boxes to separate circuits in case it's a amperage problem. I've thought that maybe there could be a leak in the weld, but I coated it pretty well. I've also thought that after thinning the weld with acetone to drip it in, it maybe didn't cure well enough? But I welded the outside too to make sure.
If using 2 heat sticks that are 12.5a each, then each should be on it's own GFCI protected circuit.

If something is oozing from one of the heatsticks, I would take it apart and find out what it is. You might have thinned the JBweld too much or something might have melted....
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Old 11-05-2012, 06:15 PM   #7
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Update:
I disassembled a heatstick and found moisture/condensation inside so I am going to dry them both out and re-seal them. We'll see if this helps. I think you may have been right about too much thinning of the jb weld. When I opened it up, I could still smell acetone, and that was 2 weeks ago!

I attached a rough diagram of what I did as far as the 2 gfci outlets. Out of the dryer outlet I pulled one of the 120v hot wires to one outlet and the other hot to the other outlet. both gfcis run their neutral to the single neutral wire of the dryer outlet.

The gfci's are tripping fine, so I'm not sure it would be an issue of the ground being attached to the same circuit, since the evidence of that problem would be the gfci's NOT tripping. Hmm.

wiring-diagram.jpg  
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Old 11-05-2012, 08:26 PM   #8
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Hmmm. I'd be very careful.

acetone vapor + spark = pipe bomb.

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Old 11-05-2012, 08:32 PM   #9
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I dont get it.....if you have access to a 240v outlet when are you going to the trouble of this rigged setup. Why not make a 240V heat stick. A spa panel for gfci protection is not that expensive.

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Old 11-06-2012, 02:46 PM   #10
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OMJ,
I built two heat sticks because, as you know, they are either on or off. So in order to have more control, I decided to give myself the option of having either one or both on at a time. Besides, it wouldn't help my issue to toss these heat sticks, buy a spa panel, install it, and build a new 240v heat stick if I haven't figured out the core issue with these ones. I could end up with similar problems.

Also, I'm renting, so the existing electrical is what I have to go with.

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