Fireplace Wiring Repair

posted in: Techie Posts | 2

A lot of people are scared to death of electricity. Glad I’m not one. Our motorhome has a dozen 115v AC breakers in the main power center, 40 or 50 12 volt fuses in 2 different fuse panels, plus various other relays, switches, controls, etc. And maybe 2000 feet of wire.

And all this stuff has to work right.

We have one of those cute electric fireplaces, on the back wall below the TV. It looks pretty, and it actually has a 1500 watt heater in it, so it can go a long way toward keeping the motorhome warm on a chilly night.

Thrice before, I’ve had to work on it. This time was the worst. I turned it on one evening, and nothing happened. The lights kinda went on for a second, then nothing at all. We ran the furnace that night, and in the morning it was time to get to work and fix it.

“The last time,” it was one of the adjustment knobs IMG_20151206_102425412_HDR(there are knobs for brightness of the “fire” and also a thermostat knob for the heat) So first thing was to pull the unit out of the wall (4 screws in thru the faceplate, pull it off. Take off the retainer and remove the glass. 4 screws out the side into the cabinet, then pull the unit out), and take the top off to check inside. I put my meter on the terminal board where the A/C power comes in, nothing there, zippo, nada, zilch.

The cord for this thing disappears back into the cabinetry. Uh OhI knew from previous experience (one time I had to replace the plug on it’s power cord because it had gotten cooked) that there was a false bottom in the pantry lowest shelf, and under there were the receptacles for the television and the fireplace. 4 screws then pull the shelf bottom out, and there she was.

Ugly! Both the (replaced by me 2 years ago) fireplace plug and the receptacle were burntseriously cooked. Visibly burnt. The manufacturer has used a standard RV outlet, all plastic, Romex with wires sliding into v grooves that cut the insulation to make a connection. 15 amp stuff. Not very secure, but these outlets are standard in RV’s. And this circuit was fused at 20 amps! Not a good thing. I’ve generally been impressed with the quality way monaco gets things done, but not in this case.

PartsSo off to the hardware store goes I. On the list is a real 20 amp plug for the fireplace power cord. The kind where one terminal is twisted so it will only go into a 20 amp receptacle. And of course a good 20 amp receptacle, the kind where one terminal makes a “T”. And a metal box, metal cover, and BX connector to securely connect everything.

Step one in the actual work was to go back to the main panel, flip the “fireplace” breaker to OFF, and then use my meter to ensure there was no power. From there, attach the BX connector to the box, feed the BX cable through, strip the wires, attach the green, white, and black wires to the outlets screw terminals. Make sure you observe the correct polarity. White is neutral, black is hot. It should all be marked, generally the copper screw is the hot side, silver one is neutral. Screw the outlet into the box, attach the cover, and fasten it to the cabinet. Done.
Wiring done

I put the new plug on the fireplace cord, making sure to observe the correct polarity there as well.
wiring plug

Once all the wiring was secured, I flipped the breaker and tested it to make sure everything worked as it should. always best to do this before reassembling the whole works. Yay! It worked great. Reverse the steps to put it all back together. And we’re back to a nice cozy fire!

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2 Responses

  1. Dennis Zurawski

    Good job and a very good catch on the location of the outlet under the panel.

    • Jim Mellema

      Thanks Dennis! It was interesting at first, with what was basically a 2 wire lamp cord disappearing into the cabinetry.

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