Condensation causes electrical problem

Started by Jon, January 12, 2004, 10:58:11 PM

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Had an interesting problem this weekend. It was about 20° out and the B.S. was taking quite a while to come up to the 200° I wanted. I figured I was losing a lot of heat out the top vent, so I closed it to a sliver. This was apparently a bad idea.

Once it had seemingly stabilized at 200, I left it alone for a couple of hours. When I came back, the smoker had cooled down and I saw that the GFCI outlet had tripped, where it was plugged in.

Here's what I'm guessing happened: The combination of very cold outside air and a closed vent allowed condensation (water/grease combo) to form and run down the inside of the smoker. The condensation also ran into the bisquette feeder, as evidenced by the moisture-logged wood chips clogging the feeder. The short was caused by either moisture in the electrics or (more likely) all the wet sawdust jamming it up. Whatever--as soon as I cleaned the feeder out, I could plug it in again without the breaker tripping.

So just a word of warning--I guess the top vent is for moisture as well as smoke.

Chez Bubba


I think you might be right on the cause of the problem and frankly, I'm surprised no more damage occurred. I guess that GFCI outlet did it's job.

I'm in northern Indiana so I'm no stranger to winter smoking and have never had the scenario you describe happen. I think you could avoid it by doing a couple things. First, take the meat out of the fridge 30-45 minutes before you plan to put it in the smoker to let it warm up a bit. Second, preheat your smoker before putting the meat in. Twenty pounds of 42 degree meat in a 20 degree smoker will take a long time to start to get warm.

What puzzles me most is the fact that the moisture "ran down" into the bisquette feeder. Mine sits at a slight downward angle away from the feeder, not upward. Are you sure you have it attached correctly?

Hope this helps,

Ya think if next time I check into a hotel & they ask "Smoking or Non", they would mind?


It's more likely that the moisture ran down the wall to the hole where the bisquette feeder comes through, where it soaked the bisquettes that were waiting in line. They are very absorbent and basically decomposed right there. I guess the moisture wicked back to the feeder.

What's not clear is whether there was really an electrical short or if the feeder was just jammed with wet sawdust. Either way, it worked fine after a cleanout.