Let’s talk about: On-Site Completion

In our previous post we talked about Alternative Construction (click here to view it). This is a special authorization from HUD to allow manufacturers to construct specific homes that do not meet a certain aspect of the Manufactured Home Construction & Safety Standards (MHCSS or HUD Code). Tankless water heaters, accessible showers, garage ready, or two-story homes exceeding the allowable path of travel to an exit door are a few examples. These homes may not meet the letter of the code, but will perform just as well or even better than the MHCSS.

On-Site Completion (SC) is different as the manufactured home (after all site work is done) will meet all aspects of the MHCSS. However, there are certain elements of construction that cannot be completed in the factory, so they will need to be completed at the installation site. For example, a home designed for a stucco or brick exterior may be shipped to the installation location where the stucco or brick can then be applied. Maybe a home was designed for roof dormers or roof extensions, again, these would be added at the installation site. Tile and glass shower enclosures, and completion or installation of a fireplace are a few other examples. These homes would all comply with the MHCSS, but the work can’t be completed until after it is transported to the site.

Tiled Shower enclosures are often completed under On-Site Completion.


If you are like me, you might be thinking, why isn’t this addressed as a part of installation? Well, one of the big things that occurred when the manufactured housing law was amended in 2000 was that installation work was somehow separated from construction. So, we ended up with two classifications of work: construction (in the factory) and installation or close- up (occurs on site). However, the line that separates construction and installation is often blurry.

Fireplace and hearth extension along marriage line finished at the site, under On-Site Completion.


Even though the federal law was amended almost 18 years ago, the On-Site Completion rule only recently took effect (March 7, 2016), so it is still very new. Through time, many things that are addressed under Alternative Construction may be shifting to On-Site Completion. So keep your eyes open.

Here are the things that installers and retailers should know regarding On-Site Completion (with references to the Manufactured Home Procedural and Enforcement Regulation in the event you want more information than I provide here).

  • The letters “SC” will be included in the serial number of the home. Keep in mind, a manufactured home can have both SC and AC (Alternative Construction) features. 3282.605(a)
  • A Consumer Information Notice must be developed by the manufacturer that explains the process and identifies the work to be completed on site. 3282.603(d)(10)
  • The manufacturer must provide a “Consumer Information Notice” and have it prominently on display in the home (often by the Health Notice in the kitchen). 3282.606(b)

Typical Consumer Notice

  • The retailer (or manufacturer) must provide a copy of the Consumer Information Notice to perspective purchasers before they enter into the sales agreement.  3282.606(c).
  • The manufacturer is required to provide all of the designs to be followed and materials necessary to complete the construction outlined under the On-Site Completion provisions. 3282.608
  • If the manufacturer expects their retailer or installer to perform this work at the job site, the manufacturer is to provide authorization before the work begins. “However, the manufacturer is responsible for the adequacy of all On-Site Completion work regardless of who does the work…” 3282.602(b)
  • Prior to occupancy, the manufacturer must assure that the On-Site Completion work is inspected. This may require inspections by the manufacturer and IPIA (2 separate inspections) or the IPIA can accept the manufacturers inspection (which appears to be the most common approach). 3282.605(c).
  • The homeowner and retailer are to receive a final site inspection report and certification of completion after all inspections have been conducted. 3282.608(m)

I hope that both the professional installer and the retailer understand that this means additional paper work and record keeping.

If you are the professional installer and are expected to perform this work, make certain you have been given the written authority from the manufacturer before you start the work. Maintain this paperwork in your file for the home along with copies of the documentation provided by the manufacturer.

As the retailer, have a record that you provided the Consumer Information Notice to the purchaser before the sale. Have them sign and date the notice, and keep a copy in your home file.

If a retailer or installer is going to accept responsibility for any part of the inspection process, they should assure the authorization to conduct the inspection is received from the manufacturer in writing. Also, keep copies of the construction designs and the “On-Site Inspection Report”.

Finally, always keep in mind that the entire On-Site Completion process is the responsibility of the manufacturer. If you ever are unsure or have questions on the SC process, talk to the manufacturer’s Quality Assurance Manager. He is the one with all the answers!


Let’s talk about: Alternative Construction

Last week during a discussion in an installation training class, it became obvious that too many installers and retailers aren’t being informed about Alternative Construction (AC) and On-Site Completion (SC) and what this means for the manufactured homes that they install and/or sell.

So, lets take a look and see if we can shed some light on these issues, starting with Alternative Construction.

When a manufacturer intends to produce a manufactured home with a construction aspect that does not meet the Manufactured Home Construction & Safety Standards (MHCSS), but will perform at least equal to the MHCSS, they can request HUD allow such construction.

Let me give an example:

Say you want the manufacturer to construct a home for your customer that has tankless water heaters instead of the typical storage type water heater.  Since the MHCSS doesn’t provide for a tankless water heater, the manufacturer needs a special approval from HUD to omit the storage type water heater and replace it with the tankless type. That approval is called a Letter of Alternative Construction (or an AC letter).

Here is another example: your customer needs a shower that is designed for wheelchair access. The MHCSS requires a minimum 2” dam (or threshold) to keep the water from running onto the floor, making it impossible to access the shower with a wheelchair. The manufacturer can request an Alternative Construction authorization from HUD to provide a shower without a 2” dam, designed to facilitate wheelchairs.

Accessible Shower

 In both of these cases, the home will not meet a specific requirement of the Manufactured Home Construction and Safety Standards, however they both will perform equal or better than the actual code requirement.

DAPIA approved floor plan for a home with garage attachment.

 Currently, one of the biggest requests for AC letters is when a manufactured home is designed for the attachment of a site-built garage. There are many issues of code compliance that must be examined when designing a home for garage attachment.  Issues such as the path of egress (exit) from the bedrooms, impact on lighting and ventilation in the area where the garage is attached, additional loads on the structure of the home, and electrical considerations, to name a few. But the omission of the exterior covering (siding) for the application of gypsum to provide the needed fire separation is where you will find the need for the AC letter.  On a side note…the MHCSS still does not address carbon monoxide alarms! If you are selling/installing a home with a garage attachment, talk to the manufacturer about a combination smoke/CO alarm or an added electrical outlet where you can provide this important safety consideration.

Through the years, the most common use for an AC letter has been a home with a hinged roof, usually a 5/12 roof pitch or greater (this never made sense to me, but that is how they handled hinged roofs). Today most manufactured homes with a hinged roof are being constructed under the new On-Site Completion Process, which we will discuss in a our next post.

 Here are a few “take aways” for retailers and installers when it comes to Alternative Construction.

  •  A manufactured home covered by an AC letter is determined to perform equal to or greater than the MHCSS requirements.

Typical notice to consumer of Alternative Construction.

  • Every manufactured home under an AC letter requires a notice to the perspective purchaser. This notice, as well as an appropriate checklist, and other information related to the AC process is provided by the manufacturer.
  • You can identify a manufactured home constructed under a letter of Alternative Construction by the letters “AC” which will be included in the serial number.
  • Often the home will require a special inspection.   
  • Both the retailer and installer should maintain records of compliance with the AC requirements, and a copy of any needed inspection of the completed home.

 Ok…I hope this helps. If you have anything to add, submit a comment.

In our next post we will talk about On-Site Completion.

Our Comments to HUD!

On my February 6, 2018 post I shared information from HUD that they want to hear from the manufactured housing industry regarding the impact of their regulations. As of February 21, there are almost 300 people that have taken the time to share their opinion. I was encouraged to see how many installers weighed in!

Comments are being accepted until February 26, 2018, so there is still time! Click Here to access the previous post with directions on submitting comments.

For your information, below is a copy of my comments to HUD that were submitted this morning:

Docket Number: FR–6075–N–01 – Regulatory Review of Manufactured Housing Regulations

Thank you for the opportunity to comment on current and upcoming manufactured housing regulations. It is extremely important that HUD conduct on-going reviews and analysis on the impact of all regulations. Having made my career in the manufactured housing industry, I provide the following comments:

·         Since the adoption of the Manufactured Housing Improvement Act, manufactured home installers have been the most significantly impacted segment of the manufactured housing industry. However, manufactured home installers have never been represented on the Manufactured Housing Consensus Committee. The vast majority of home installers do not belong to trade groups, and as a result have been excluded from the rule-making process.  I encourage you to seek input from all affected parties, and particularly manufactured home installers as you review installation related regulations.

·         I know that many have commented on broadening HUD’s enforcement of preemption as it relates to manufactured housing. Please keep in mind that to successfully preempt manufactured housing from state and local building codes, the Manufactured Housing Constructions and Safety Standards must be kept current. I encourage you to provide your Office of Manufactured Housing Programs with sufficient staff and resources to effectively and efficiently operate the program and work towards continual updating the construction standards, just as every other construction code is kept current.

·         In regards to HUD providing guidance on frost protected foundations for manufactured housing installation, I agree with most commenters that this issue is better left to state or local building code enforcement. However, regardless of the which governmental agency has authority over the issue of frost protection for manufactured home foundations, I believe that HUD has a role in working with local code enforcers so that they can properly and effectively understand their role in manufactured housing. A HUD sponsored outreach program that provides training to municipal building code officials regarding proper handling of manufactured housing would be a very effective tool in broadening preemption.  Additionally, in a situation similar to installers, local code enforcement has not been properly represented on the Manufactured Housing Consensus Committee.

 I appreciate the opportunity to provide comments regarding overly burdensome regulations and requirements. As you and your staff wade through this and the other comments, I encourage you to keep in mind that there are four equal tenants to the manufactured housing program. Manufactured homes must be safe, high quality, durable and affordable. All four tenants must be preserved to support this program as it moves toward the future.


Mark Conte



Alternative Foundations

This concrete slab on grade is one example of an alternate foundation.

I know that through the years a lot of community owners have hired professional engineers to design foundations for homes installed in their parks. Many times, these foundations are elaborate, well designed, and constructed beyond the minimum requirements of the installation standards.

 In some places, these foundation designs were also reviewed and approved by the state, county or local code official.  With approval from engineers and building code enforcers, what could be the problem???

 Well grab your “Model Manufactured Home Installation Standard” and open to section 3285.2(c)(1). It says that BEFORE an installer provides support or anchorage that are different then the installation instructions, or if the installer encounters site conditions that prevent the use of the installation instructions, the installer MUST:

  •  Try to get DAPIA approved designs or instructions from the manufacturer; or
  •  If the designs are not available, have designs prepared and stamped by a professional engineer (or architect), and submit these designs to the manufacturer for their approval, and approval by the DAPIA!

After a few modifications, this foundation was manufacturer and DAPIA approved!

 Basically, any foundation system that is not addressed in the manufacturer’s installation instructions would be considered an “Alternative Foundation System”. It would need to be approved by the manufacturer and their DAPIA before you can use it to support/stabilize a new manufactured home. Ultimately, the manufacturer needs to agree that any alternate foundation will properly support and stabilize their homes.   

 So, if you are placing new manufactured homes on anything other than a typical concrete block pier with individual footings that extend below the frost line, and a ground anchor tie down system, you have a little paper work to do.

 First off, do you follow an actual design plan for the foundation you are constructing? I know far too many installers follow  the “way we have always done it” plan. If it is a concrete slab or a purchased system from a supplier, or something entirely different, make sure there is a design to be followed and make sure you follow that design.

 Next, check through the manufacturer’s installation manual for the home. Some installation manuals provide the installer supplements that address a wide verity of alternative foundations. For example, certain manufacturers provide DAPIA approved designs on placing their homes on steel crossbeams in masonry crawl spaces and basements, and others have DAPIA approved designs for concrete slabs. Most have DAPIA approvals for alternative anchoring systems. Grab the most current manual from the manufacturer and see if your foundation is addressed. If it is, make sure you read all of the little notes and disclaimers so that you are in full compliance.

 If you can’t find any designs for the alternative foundation you utilize, call the factory’s Quality Assurance Manager and ask him to help. It is possible that the manufacturer already has designs that can help you.  Don’t ask the sales department, service department or supplier about design or code related issues. The Quality Assurance Department is your best bet.

 A word of caution, I have seen foundation products from supply houses that appear to be approved by a DAPIA, but the specific manufacturers approval is needed as well.

 So, before you get too deep into your busy season, take some time and make sure you:

1.       Have a manufacturer and DAPIA approved design that clearly addresses the foundations you construct for new manufactured home installations.

2.       Make sure you read all of the fine print, notes, instructions, and limitations of the designs you are using.

3.       Make sure you follow the designs!

4.       Make sure you have copies of these designs for your records.

5.       Take a few pictures through the process.

Bottom line, make sure you have a design from the manufacturer that has a stamp showing it is DAPIA approved for every foundation type you construct!


HUD wants to hear from YOU!

Last week the U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development announced that they are reviewing existing and planned manufactured housing regulations. This is to better look at the cost of compliance to try and reduce the regulatory burden on anyone impacted by their regulations.

HUD is looking for comments from installers and retailers (and others)  to assist in identifying regulations that may be outmoded, ineffective, or excessively burdensome and should be modified, streamlined, replaced, or repealed.

Comments are due by February 26, 2018 and can be mailed or submitted electronically. All comments must include the following docket number and title:

Docket No. FR-6075-N-01      Regulatory Review of Manufactured Housing Rules                                                 

It is pretty easy to send comments electronically. Just go to www.regulations.gov

In the big blue search box, type in 6075-N-01. From there you can read the notice published by HUD, and when you click on “comment now” you can type in your concerns.

Should you want to mail written comments to HUD, send them to:

Regulations Division, Office of General Counsel     

Department of Housing & Urban Development    

451 7TH Street SW, Room 10276

Washington, DC 20410-0550


Don’t forget to include the docket number and title in your letter.

I strongly suggest that you reference each of your comments to a specific requirement under the federal regulations. For example, if you feel the requirement for the Surety Bond/Insurance (in HUD administered states) is too burdensome, make sure you reference 3286.205(d). If you think the requirements for pier construction are confusing and need simplified, reference 3285.304.

I know many installers object to the requirements for testing water supply lines 3285.603(e), drain lines 3285.604(d), and fuel supply piping 3285.605, especially since the manufacturer performed this testing at the factory. Just include the reference in your comment. You can access the HUD regulations for installation at their website or just CLICK HERE

HUD is also interested in your thoughts on placing homes on foundations in freezing climates. I know that many of you have some strong feelings on this issue.

But regardless of the specific issue, now is your chance to be heard. Keep in mind the deadline is February 26, 2018.


Introducing Manufactured Homes To Their New Owners

Throughout my career, my involvement with manufactured homeowners has been after they lived in their homes for a while. As a result, I have heard more than my share of complaints, questions, misunderstandings, and fake news! This led me to conclude that we could certainly do a better job introducing these new manufactured homeowners to their homes.  So, as a  start, here is my list of the top 10 things we should talk about with our customers:

1.       The importance (and location) of the data plate.

I know they are required to be permanently attached to the home, but we all know that far too many data plates peel off the walls, get painted over, or otherwise disappear from the home. Explain to your customer that the data plate should be preserved. Especially should they ever want to sell the home. If it peels from the wall, it should be saved with other important documents. 

2.       The Importance of the Certification (HUD) Label.

Like the data plate, tell your customer about the importance of preserving the certification label(s). Not only in the event of a future sale, but it will be needed to re-finance or for relocation. 

3.       That tripping one Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI) receptacle can shut off the power to other receptacles in the home. 

A GFCI receptacle can often serve multiple outlets.

Show your customers how GFCI protection is provided in each bathroom, outside receptacle, heat tape receptacle, receptacles serving kitchen counters, and certain locations within 6′ of wet bar sinks. Make sure they know that while some receptacles that don’t have a test button, they are still protected!  Show them how to test the GFCI, and reset them as well! (Search the HUD Code at 24 CFR 3280.806(b) for exact locations)

4.       The importance of the Bottom Board under the floor of the home. 

Notice the slice left by the telephone man!

We all know that installers of cable or satellite television, telephones, etc. always slice holes in the bottom board of the home to run their cables. Not only do we need to warn our homeowners about attacks from these “technicians”, but inform them how the bottom board is critical for keeping conditioned air in the floor cavity where it belongs! Remember, the bottom board is not only intended to prevent critters from getting into the floor, it also serves as the pressure envelope enclosure. Holes in the bottom board mean losing conditioned air into the crawl space, and lead to higher energy costs!

5.       Make sure any future landscaping doesn’t impede water from draining away from the home.

This landscape design led to foundation problems!

Landscape timbers, flower beds, or mulch borders can easily trap water and direct it right into the crawl space! Talk to the homeowner about the importance of allowing water to drain away from the home. Once you have completed your site grading, take pictures for your home file as evidence that you did your job properly!

6.       That smoke alarms are generally equipped with a hush bottom.

This smoke alarm has a separate HUSH button.

Far too many people have told me that they disconnect their smoke alarms because of nuisance alarms caused by smoke from cooking.  We certainly know that this is a dangerous practice, but have we introduced our customers to the alternative solution? Tell folks that pushing and holding the test button (or a separate hush button) will temporarily silence the alarm. This is a much better idea then disabling the alarm!

7.       That a carbon monoxide alarm can be added to their home at a minimal cost.

Typical CO Alarm, simply plugs into a wall outlet.

Just because the Manufactured Housing Construction and Safety Standards (HUD Code) doesn’t require a CO alarm, doesn’t mean you can’t add one. More and more local municipalities are requiring every home with fuel burning appliances, and/or an attached garage, to be equipped with a carbon monoxide alarm.  I think we would be wise to get ahead of this, and provide the same level of protection as required in other residential building codes. I suggest ordering homes with an extra receptacle in the hallway (outside the bedroom areas) just for this purpose. You might just save a life!

8.       That the water temperature at the showers and bath tubs is limited by anti-scald fixtures for their safety.

This is one type of anti-scald fixture.

The general complaint is that the water is not hot enough. Take a few minutes to explain how the anti-scald fixture limits the water temperature to 120°. Remember, Installers are required to check the water temperature at each tub and shower.  Click Here to read an earlier post on this topic.

9.       How they can bring fresh air into the home  (whole house ventilation) without opening the windows or doors.

Switching the FAN to ON often activates the whole house ventilation system.

I have always been a big fan of the whole house ventilation systems designed to introduce fresh air into every manufactured home. When people complain of poor indoor air quality, I would ask if they were familiar with the ventilation system. Most of the time, the answer is no!  Sometimes it is operated by a switch in the thermostat (or automatically whenever the furnace blower runs), sometimes it is a simple exhaust fan in another area (like utility room). Either way, make sure our customers know about this feature. 

10.   That the home is not designed for future additions or modifications.

Keep these structures independent of the home

Remember, typically a manufactured home is not designed to support the added weight of carports, garages, three season rooms, etc. Not to mention how these after-market additions can add to the wind load imposed on the home.

 Hopefully, you are already talking about these items with your customers. If not, consider how the extra few minutes spent educating your customers can bolster their overall satisfaction with their home. I think you will find it will be time well spent!


Make 2018 a Great Year!

As we start a new year, there is no better time for professional installers to start making positive changes to their business. So, between now and the start of Spring, consider the following:


Make sure you not only take a salary, but also earn enough money to grow your retirement account! Regularly deposit money (no matter how small an amount) into an account dedicated for your future! 


More and more manufacturers are coming up with new installation details that can save you money. Pier savers, reduced footing depths, and alternative anchoring methods can save you time, money or both! Work with the manufacturer’s Quality Assurance Manager and see where you can cut costs. 


If you ever attended any of my training courses, you should remember that I encouraged you to get a copy of the HUD Code. Ok, now that you have a copy, start reading it! In case you forgot how to download a copy of the code Click Here! Once you become the expert, you can re-educate the code officials!


At a recent training course, an installer told the group how he has agreements with a lot of former customers that increases his profits and provides a valuable service to homeowners.  He performs an inspection of their home and their foundation every year when things slow down (like this time of year). The inspections cost $100, and if any repairs are needed, he will credit them the $100 towards repair costs. Even simple tasks like changing furnace filters are often a valuable service for our customers.  


There is no better time than now to start thinking about safety. Require eye protection for everyone on the job site. Make sure seat belts are worn in company vehicles. Limit cell phone use. Purchase safety harnesses for working above grade.  Inspect ladders, pump jacks, scaffolds and remove defective equipment from service. Safety toed shoes are a must.  Make sure extension cords are in good condition and provide GFCI protection!


Do you and your crew look professional? Have you considered work uniforms? Job Signs? Are your work vehicles signed with your company name?


More than a federal requirement, good record keeping is good business! Make sure you are taking the time to complete installation checklists for every manufactured home you install. Make sure you have records of every defect you reported. Take pictures!  Be prepared to defend every aspect of the installation in the event of a dispute! If you are a sub contractor, review your current contracts! If they are verbal, get working on written contracts! 


I expect 2018 to be a big year for manufactured housing. Professional Installers are in demand and the need will only increase over time. Let’s start the year off right!  


Major Shake Up at HUD

In my continuing effort to keep manufactured home installers informed, I feel compelled to make you aware of a recent news item out of Washington, D.C. Last week it was learned that Pamela Danner, who served as Manufactured Housing Program Administrator has been reassigned. She has been moved out of the manufactured housing programs into what appears to be a temporary position at HUD. Also, it has been reported that Lois Starkey who served as a Management Analyst in the Manufactured Housing Programs, has left HUD.

If you worked at that level of government for any length of time, you know that this is business as usual. Regardless of our personal opinion of their performance, I think we can agree, that these women genuinely wanted the industry to prosper and did their jobs with integrity and class.

Additionally, there is a rumor on the street that the chief engineer is scheduled to retire in February.

That is three important positions in a program that generally only has about ten staff members. We can take comfort in the fact that Teresa Payne, the current Deputy Administrator, will assume the role of Acting Administrator until a new administrator is named. And the remaining staff at HUD are experienced, talented and capable. However, I am concerned.

It is no secret that there are quite a few unfilled job vacancies at HUD. Should these Manufactured Housing positions go unfilled for any length of time, it can undermine the program at a time when manufactured housing industry is showing strong sales and a bright future. We can only hope that these positions get filled quickly with qualified candidates.

Should I hear more news on this issue, I will be sure to share it with you. If you want to learn a little more about HUD, click here to read an earlier post; Who Are THEY?

In closing, I wish for you a profitable, productive and safe 2018!


Installation Electrical Testing Part 2-Polarity & Operational Testing

In our last post we talked about electrical continuity testing that is required in the manufactured home installation instructions. Let’s finish the discussion on installers responsibilities for electrical testing and talk about the polarity and operational tests.

Typical electrical testing requirements

First the polarity test. In general, this is a visual “check” to assure that you have properly wired items like exterior lights, ceiling fans, and hanging chandeliers. Most of these installations are pretty straightforward; black to black conductors, white to white conductors, bare ground wire to the other bare wires. But some fixtures, like hanging lights or chandeliers don’t use color coded wires. You need to know how to identify different conductors so that you connect it to the proper conductor in the junction box.

Look closely for the ribs running along the length of the cord.

If you look closely at the power supply cord to a lamp or chandelier, you will find there are ribs that run the length of one side of the cord. The conductor that has the ribs is called the “identified conductor” and should be attached to the white (neutral) conductor in the junction box.

This may be easier to see the position of the ribbing

Now, if you don’t think this is a big deal, think again. A light fixture wired with reverse polarity can present a shock hazard. The entire socket that the bulb screws into will be energized and can shock someone should they accidently touch the lightbulb base while changing bulbs or just cleaning the light fixture.

While the instructions only require a visual polarity “check”, to be certain that you have the proper polarity, it is a good idea to check the fixture with an electrical voltage meter.  Remember, the socket should not be hot (or energized)!

 Now to the Operational Tests. In simple terms, we need to assure that all the electrical equipment in the home is properly energized and can work as intended. I highly recommend that every installer have a receptacle tester like this one from Grainger. It will check for polarity, short circuits, and test the Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters (GFCI) all at the same time.

In addition to the tester, you will need light bulbs to fit every size fixture in the home. A helper to perform this test is also a good idea!


Make sure power is supplied to the home and the circuit breakers are on. Start at one end of the home and test both top and bottom of each duplex receptacle. If any receptacles are switched, make sure the switch works.  Install light bulbs and check any ceiling light fixtures, exterior lights, chandelier, etc. by operating the switches. 

In order to check GFCI’s in the home, you need to know where ground fault protection is needed.

1.       Receptacles in bathrooms even if part of a light fixture or cabinet

2.       Receptacles serving kitchen counters, including island bars. GFCI protection is not required for receptacles in dedicated spaces like refrigerator, dishwasher, disposals, etc.  See the requirement at 24 CFR 3280.806(b).

3.       Receptacles serving counters within 6’ of a wet bar sink or similar.

4.       Outdoor receptacles.

5.       The heat tape receptacle.

There can be several slave receptacles like the one seen on the left.

Keep in mind, ground fault protection can be provided from a circuit breaker in the panel box or a single GFCI receptacle which can provide protection for other receptacles, located downstream,  on the same circuit.  For example, one GFCI receptacle in the kitchen might be attached to several other receptacles along the counter. Or the one GFCI device might protect multiple bathrooms.

So, make sure any tester you purchase comes with a GFCI test button. That way you can test the receptacles and the reset button after you trip the device.

Turn on and off the bathroom and kitchen exhaust fans. Some homes have whole house ventilation fans in the laundry area. Check them too!

Next you want to test all the smoke alarms. This test is not as simple as you may think. First you need to remove all the backup batteries from each smoke alarm. Push the test button on every alarm to check 3 separate functions:

1.       Does the alarm sound when the test button is pushed?

2.       Does the alarm send a signal to sound other alarms in the home?

3.       Does the alarm sound when it receives a signal from other alarms in the home?

Typical smoke alarm testing procedures

When you are done testing each smoke alarm, make sure to replace the batteries!

The Model Manufactured Home Installation Standards (24 CFR 3285.702(f)) do not require you test water heaters, electric ranges, electric furnaces, dish washers, clothes washers or dryers, and portable appliances. But a few manufacturers require that you check to make sure electrical power is provided to this equipment or to the receptacles provided for their future installation. So, as always, check the manufacturers installation instructions that came with the home.

 If the tests are successful, document it on your Installation Checklist and keep it in your home file. If you encountered a problem, make sure you report it to the retailer or manufacturer with a record that you reported the issue. Once the problem is corrected, you should retest the affected circuit or related area in the home.  These tests are very important and must not be overlooked. As always, check the installation instructions that came with the home!



Installation Electrical Testing-Part 1 Continuity Testing

Tucked way in the back of every manufactured home installation manual, at the end of the section titled “Prepare Appliances and Equipment” you will find the requirements for electrical testing of the home for continuity, polarity, and operation. So, I thought we should take a closer look at these three requirements so we can better understand how to conduct these important tests. Today we start with Continuity Test. 

Ultimately, you are checking to see that all metal parts in the home that could become energized, are bonded (or connected) to the grounding terminal in the electrical panel box.

 The intent of this test is to find any electrical shorts that could shock the occupant the home. 

Typical continuity tester

To conduct the test, you need a simple “continuity tester” that you can pick up at a building supply store or similar place for under $10 (I bought mine with a 20% off coupon!). Then you need a decent length (50 feet or more) of light gauge wire. I like to use 18 gauge lamp cord. An extra alligator clip might come in handy as well.

Strip about ½” from each end of the insulated wire and attach the alligator clip. Clip the other end of the wire to the alligator clip that comes on the continuity tester. Basically, you want to lengthen the little short cord that came with the tester so you can test the metal parts in a large area.

Once you have added the extra length of wire, you need to test your tester to make sure it works! Just touch the end of the added wire to the probe of the continuity tester. If you made good connections and your battery is fresh, the light in the tester should come on. That would indicate you have a “closed” circuit.

Connect the bonding wire between each chassis.

So, you are almost ready to test. First, turn off the power to the home. You don’t want to get zapped when testing the home. Next, if you are installing a multi-section home, the “Bonding Wire” connecting each chassis (or frame) must be connected.

Metal junction box needed tested for continuity

Gas line bonded to the chassis

Next, attach the end of the wire to the ground terminal (or bus bar) in the panel box. Now touch the probe to the edge of the panel box. The light should come on, indicating the panel box housing is grounded. Continue to touch the probe to any metal part of the home that may become energized while the other end of the wire is still attached to the grounding terminal.  For example, you should check the furnace housing, water heater, chassis, metal heat ducts, any gas piping, any metal siding or roofing, metal light fixtures canopies, metal bath exhaust fans, range hood, waste disposal housing, any metal junction boxes (maybe for a built-in oven or cook top).     

Now, when you are checking these metal parts, make sure you touch the probe to bare metal when possible as sometime the paint can hamper your test.

If your wire is too short and you need to move to another source to ground, you can use the ground terminal from a receptacle or attach to a ground conductor. Once you have completed the test, document it on the Installation Checklist.  

Ok, I hope this helps explain the process, I would normally tell you to refer to the manufacturers installation instructions or the Manufactured Home Construction and Safety Standards, but they lack detail. If you want to see for yourself, go to 24 CFR 3280.810 (b).  

Next time we will talk about polarity testing.