Here’s Why Your Electric Smoker Is Shocking You


If you’ve received an electric shock from your smoker, you may be worried or frightened. Now, assuming that you’re reading this – don’t worry, you can get the issue fixed without hurting yourself, as long as you follow our simple guide to the causes of electric shock from a smoker and what to do about them. 

So, here’s why your electric smoker is shocking you, in order of most to least likely, there is an exposed wire on the smoker, you have a build-up of static electricity on you, your smoker is very wet, or your smoker is part of an accidental short circuit.

Fortunately, none of these problems is insurmountable and most are quite cheap and easy to fix too. So, let’s see how to tackle them in more detail.

Possible Causes Of Electric Shock From An Electric Smoker And What To Do About Them

There are four possible causes of an electric shock from your electric smoker – they are exposed wiring, which is by far the most common problem, static shock, water in the smoker (this would be unusual as we will see) and an accidental short circuit created somewhere on the body of the smoker and again this most likely to be related to exposed wiring somewhere. 

Exposed Wiring

Without a doubt, the most likely cause of an electric shock from any electrical device is going to be exposed wiring. Exposed wiring occurs when the insulating material on the wire is removed and the wire is revealed to the outside world.

To see if this might be the source of your problem, you should scan the whole of the smoker and the electric cord that joins the smoker to the wall socket to see if you can spot any problems. There are most likely to be issues where the cords join the device (as the insulation is often worn over time by the device being moved). 

However, it’s entirely possible for the problem to take place anywhere and you need to follow each cable all the way along until you’re sure that it is well insulated.

Then you should use a non-contact voltmeter to determine if there is current running through the wire (this will save you from fixing an exposed grounding wire which doesn’t need insulating as it won’t have any current flowing through it unless there is an overload of electricity). 

What To Do About Exposed Wiring

Before you try and do anything about exposed wiring on any device you should switch the device off and then remove the plug from the wall. The number one priority is your safety. Any chance of receiving an electrical shock places you in danger, so remove the power source before anything else.

Then:

  • Isolate. You want to separate the wire as much as possible from the rest of the device so that you can get a better idea of what caused the exposure. It could be anything from natural wear to a rodent stripping the plastic off. You want to remove the cause of the problem or minimize it before you start to tackle the exposed wire.
  • Electrical tape. The easiest way to fix problems with insulation is to use electrical tape to tape over the exposed areas. It is usually black in color and it’s designed for this very purpose and can be bought in nearly any hardware store. However, it’s not designed to fill very large gaps in the wire. Never use electrical tape if the insulating material between the neutral and positive wires is damaged. 
  • Cut and join the wire. If the damage is large, you may need to cut the wire and rejoin it using wire nuts. 
  • Make sure all connections and supports are tight. You may also want to check that any connections the wire forms are tight and that any cable ties, holders, etc. are fully functioning before you switch the power back on.

Finally, if you are in any doubt whatsoever regarding your ability to fix an exposed wire – don’t do it. Call an electrician. Electricity is a genuine danger to your health and of anyone operating the smoker. It is never worth taking a risk when it comes to home DIY on electrical projects. 

Static Shocks From Your Smoker 

A static shock is a brief and painful electric shock that does not constitute any danger to you while you are using your smoker but which you might prefer to avoid anyway because it’s painful.

Static electricity is generated by the “buildup of electric charge on the surface of objects” and, in this case, the electricity isn’t building up on your smoker, it’s building up on you. 

It happens when you generate a charge that you can’t get rid of (probably because you’re wearing rubber-soled shoes). So, you walk across a carpet which helps build up a charge but you’re not grounded (thanks to the insulation on your shoes) and then you go and touch something (like your smoker) and you complete the circuit and the static discharges from you. Ouch.

What To Do About Static Shocks From Your Smoker

It depends on where, exactly, you’re collecting the charge as to what action to take. If you have carpets in your home, then it can help to switch to leather-soled shoes or to take off your shoes altogether and wander around in socks (though we’d like to point out that when using a smoker, it’s a much better and safer idea to wear shoes).

You may find that it’s a sweater or a chair that triggers this effect though. Then, you may choose to wear a different sweater or to use an anti-static spray on the chair. 

Your final alternative is to carry your keys with you. Then before you touch the smoker yourself, remove your keys from your pocket and touch them to the smoker. They will complete the circuit for you and thus, you won’t feel any pain as the static dissipates. 

Water In The Smoker

We have to confess that we would be absolutely amazed if you managed to get an electrical shock because your smoker was wet.

That’s because in the vast majority of cases, the plug to your smoker will have a fuse and the current drawn through water would simply burn out the fuse and the smoker wouldn’t turn on at all.

We certainly can’t find any records of anyone crisping themselves on a smoker because it was wet but we have to acknowledge that it’s an outside possibility and that somewhere out there, there may be a particularly capricious deity messing around with your fate and your smoker. 

What To Do About Water In The Smoker

It’s a bad idea to switch any electrical appliance, that is noticeably wet, on. If you see that your smoker has gotten wet (and this isn’t a ridiculous idea as many people will use their smoker outdoors as part of a barbecue set up) then your first job is simply to dry the smoker down. 

You may want to pour or bail out any major amounts of excess water before you then use a towel to dry up the majority of what’s left. If there are any stubborn damp spots left at the end, use a hairdryer to get them dry.

Then, stand back a little as you switch it on. If there’s still moisture in the circuits, the most probable result is that the fuse will blow and you’ll be back to square one, however, it’s better to be safe than sorry, right?

Some Form Of Accidental Short Circuit 

Another unlikely, but still possible, reason for getting an electric shock from your smoker is that the smoker has become part of a short circuit caused by an electrical problem from another device

This is also most likely caused by an exposed wire from another gadget touching the metal bodywork of your smoker

What To Do About An Accidental Short Circuit

If you don’t know where the problem is coming from, your first order of business is to switch off the circuit breaker or circuit breakers to the area of your home where the smoker is being operated from. 

Don’t touch the smoker if you don’t know how to isolate the area – just call an electrician.

If you can isolate the area, make a visual inspection and see if you can identify an exposed wire in contact with the smoker and if so, you can remedy it in a similar fashion as to when the exposed wire is on the smoker.

If you can’t find the source of the problem, you should call an electrician. Again, it’s not worth taking any risks with your health or anyone else’s. 

Conclusion

So, here’s why your electric smoker is shocking you, in order of most to least likely, there is an exposed wire on the smoker, you have a buildup of static electricity on you, your smoker is very wet, or your smoker is part of an accidental short circuit.

As you have seen, though, none of these problems is too difficult to overcome and while you might have to call in an electrician if you can’t solve the issue yourself – your smoker will soon be right as rain and you will be safe to use it again. 

William Johnson

Will has loved smoking food in his free time for the last few years. Each major holiday or off-weekend, Will spends days testing and prepping new recipes for perfection.

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