What is Your Manufactured Housing IQ?

Take this short test to see where you stand!

Pick the answer that BEST completes the question.

 

1)      According to the code requirements for new Manufactured Homes, which statement below is true?

  1. Wood burning fireplaces are prohibited in bedrooms.
  2. The heat tape receptacle is GFCI protected.
  3. Tamper proof receptacles are not required.
  4. Carbon monoxide alarms could be required by local code.
  5. All of the above are true.

 

2)      What is a difference between a Manufactured and a Modular Home?

  1. There is little difference, the terms are very interchangeable.
  2. Modular homes are built to a state building code, manufactured homes are built to a federal building code.
  3. Only modular homes may be placed on a permanent foundation.
  4. Only manufactured homes have a permanent chassis.

 

3)      Multiple floor joists under certain end walls or partition walls in a Manufactured Home is one indicator that the wall is a load bearing wall that transfers:

  1. Vertical (snow) loads
  2. Horizontal (wind) loads
  3. Transportation stress (shock) loads
  4. All of the above

 

4)      A Manufactured Home is designed to remain transportable for how long?

  1. 10 years
  2. 1 year
  3. For its intended life.
  4. Until a secondary sale or it is relocated.

 

5)      A Manufactured Home, intended to be installed in Ithaca NY, approximately 75 miles south of the New York State Thruway, would need to be designed for which roof snow load?

  1. South Roof Snow Load
  2. Middle Roof Snow Load
  3. Mid-Atlantic Roof Snow Load
  4. North Roof Snow Load

 

6)      The primary responsibility for a state that partners with HUD as a State Administrative Agency (SAA) is to:

  1. Oversee installation
  2. Handle consumer complaints
  3. Establish a Dispute Resolution Process
  4. All of the above

7)      The maximum load capacity for a single concrete block pier is generally:

  1. 5,000 lbs.
  2. 7,000 lbs.
  3. 8,000 lbs.
  4. 16,000 lbs.

 

8)      What is the typical load on a frame support pier, if the piers are spaced 8’ apart under a 14’ wide home in the south roof load zone?

  1. 5,000 lbs.
  2. 7,000 lbs.
  3. 8,000 lbs.
  4. 16,000 lbs.

 

9)      In Wind Zone 1, end wall frame anchoring is:

  1. Required on all homes.
  2. Required only on single section homes less than 56’ long.
  3. Required in certain circumstances, by some manufacturers, but not all manufacturers.
  4. Not required on any homes.

 

10)   If a consumer reports a problem to the dealer who sold the home after six years of occupancy, the dealer is obligated to do what:

  1. Report the information to the manufacturer.
  2. Nothing, for home is older than 5 years.
  3. Provide the manufacturer’s service department contact information.
  4. Determine the source of the problem, and if it was due to installation, instruct the installer to make the needed repairs

 

11)   Installers are required to keep records of Manufactured Homes that they install:

  1. Forever
  2. For one year
  3. For three years
  4. Installers are not required to keep record

 

Ok, let’s see how you did.  Here are the answers:

 

  1. Wood burning fireplaces are prohibited in bedrooms at §3280.709(g)(iv) of the Manufactured Home Construction and Safety Standards (HUD Code). The exclusion for GFCI protection at the heat tape receptacle was removed with a code change on December 2013, see §3280.806(b). The HUD Code adopts the 2005 National Electric Code (NEC) by reference. Tamper proof receptacles were not required until the 2014 NEC, so they are not required. §3280.801. Since the HUD Code is silent regarding carbon monoxide alarms, they could be required by local code.

The correct answer is 5–All of the above are true.

  1. The first difference between a Manufactured and a Modular Home (in some states called an Industrialized Home) is really the governing body that establishes the building code. Modular Homes are designed and constructed to the state or local building code, while Manufactured Homes are designed and constructed to meet the federal code as established by US Dept. of Housing & Urban Development (HUD). While it is true that there are other differences of both construction code and program requirements, it all starts with the body that oversees the program.

The correct answer is 2. State code vs. Federal Code

  1. Multiple floor joists under certain end walls or partition walls in a Manufactured Home is one indicator that the wall is a shear wall and it transfers horizontal (wind) loads through the floor, to the chassis and down to the anchoring system.  The side walls and marriage walls transfer all vertical (snow loads).

The correct answer is 2. Horizontal wind loads   

  1. A Manufactured Home is designed to remain transportable for its intended life. See §3280.903 of the HUD Code.

The correct answer is 3. For its intended life.

  1. The majority of the country is in the South Roof Snow Load Zone (20 PSF of snow). In the northeast, the Middle Roof Snow Load Zone starts approximately at the New York State Throughway. See the map below which is also found at §3280.305(c)(3) of the HUD Code. Ithaca NY is south of the Middle Roof Load Zone. FYI….there is no Mid-Atlantic Roof Load Zone ( I made it up).

The correct answer is 1. South Roof Snow Load

roof-load-map

  1. The minimum requirement for a state to “partner” with HUD as a State Administrative Agency (SAA) is that they must “Handle Consumer Complaints” (a little more complicated than that, but you get the idea). See 3282.302(b) of the Manufactured Home Procedural and Enforcement Regulations. While many states have elected to take on additional responsibilities such as overseeing installation, etc…they are not required. I know that a lot of state budgets are being pinched and as a result many of these partnerships are in jeopardy. Don’t be surprised to see less state involvement and more HUD take over unless the current situation changes.

The correct answer is 2. Handle consumer complaints.

 

  1. In general, a single concrete block pier (8” x 16”) up to 36” high has an 8,000 lbs. capacity! A few manufactures (Clayton for one) might be slightly more conservative, but in general, 8,000 is acceptable.

The correct answer is 3. 8,000 lbs.

pier-capacity

  1. The average pier load in the south roof load zone, with an 8’ spacing, average 14’ wide home is between 5,000 lbs. and 5,600 lbs. (Chart below is 5,130 lbs.). But keep in mind, some manufacturers may be different (Ritz Craft for example). Double check the instructions for every home.

The correct answer is 1. 5,000 lbs.

pier-load

  1. In Wind Zone 1, end wall frame anchoring is a real mixed bag. Certain manufacturers require them in all cases. Most require them only for very short homes (under 56’ in length). A few (three that I know of) don’t require them at all in Wind Zone 1. (Generally, the “strong arm” anchoring systems are adaptable for end wall anchoring, you should check them out).

The correct answer is 3. Required in certain circumstances, by some manufacturers, but not all manufacturers.

 

  1. If a consumer reports a problem to the dealer who sold the home after 6 years of occupancy, the dealer is obligated to report the information to the manufacturer. Don’t over think it, there is no warranty or time limits on this requirement. All information that may indicate problem is to be forwarded to the manufacturer. Just pass it along! See §3282.256(b) of the Manufactured Home Procedural and Enforcement Regulations for more on this issue.

The correct answer is 1. Report the information to the manufacturer.

 

  1. Installers are required to keep records of Manufactured Homes that they install for a minimum of three years! See § 3286.413(b) of the Manufactured Home Installation Program. I believe that most installers are not in this habit and equally important, don’t know which records to keep! I will have to write on this topic in the very near future. Remember, records are your best defense in any dispute!

The correct answer is C. Three years!

 

So how did you do?

0-2 wrong? You are a manufactured housing master!

3-4 wrong? You are a manufactured home rookie!

5 or more wrong? You need to attend my next training class!!!

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Installer Water Line Testing

It seems like water supply piping in manufactured housing is constantly changing. From polybutylene in the old days, to CPVC, and now PEX. One thing that has also changed is the requirement for water supply line pressure testing as a part of installation.

If you are like me, you question the need to test water piping in the field (especially in single section homes). Didn’t the manufacturer test the piping before the home left the factory?

Regardless of what either of us think, it is now required. My concern would be a small leak (possibly a pin nail or screw) would go undetected until it filled the bottom board with water (see below) and eventually cause significant damage to the home. The installer could find himself in court or a some other dispute resolution proceeding.  bb-water-leak1I would imagine one of the first questions to be asked would be if the installer tested the water lines as is required in the manufacturers installation manual.

“…check the water system for leaks using one of the procedures described below. Before testing, close all water faucets, spigots, and toilet tank float valves…”

The instructions go on to tell you to conduct either a hydro-static (with water) test which is identified as preferred, or the pneumatic (air) test. Ok…you can read the installation instructions for the details (see below for an excerpt from one manufacturers manual). Both of these tests call for the installer to pressurize the system to 100 psi for 15 minutes.

But there are two more important notes tucked away along the margin of the installation manuals:

  • Do not pneumatically test CPVC systems.
  • Pneumatically test Flow Guard Gold systems only at low pressure levels (20 psi or less).

This seems confusing to me, but here is my take.  If the home has CPVC water supply lines, you should conduct a hydro-static test. If you must conduct an pneumatic test, and the CPVC water supply piping is identified as Flow Guard Gold, do so only at very low air pressure.

 

I won’t even venture a guess as to what the issues are here.flow-guardI strongly suggest that installers need to be aware and react accordingly. Talk to the manufacturers you work with to see if they use Flow Guard Gold.

As the professional installer, make sure you are up to speed on these issues. Do you have the appropriate testing apparatus to conduct the test? As proof of a properly conducted test, how about snapping a date stamped picture of the pressure gauge of every home you install?

h2o-testing

Speaking of installer records, make sure you document the test on the Complete Installation Checklist.

h2o-test-checklist

Should you discover a leak, you need to report it to the retailer and/or the manufacturer. And depending on what caused the leak, maybe you should be billing someone for the cost of repair. If you do repair a CPVC leak in the field, make sure you allow the solvent (glue) sufficient time to dry before retesting the plumbing system (generally 30 minutes minimum). If you need to repair PEX or polybutylene, make sure your tools are properly calibrated.

pex-1

Truth be told, I don’t see too many water pressure tests being conducted in the field. I hope you are the exception, and if not, the time to start is now.

test-procedures

Don’t Flush! I’m In the Shower!!-UPDATE

This post was updated from the original posted January 9, 2017 

When I was a kid that phrase was heard almost daily. Someone would be in the shower when due to an untimely flush, the water temperature spiked and the unsuspecting person in the shower (usually my dad) almost got scalded. For manufactured home installers today, the stakes are higher and the risk is real. Let’s take a quick look at this situation:

To reduce the possibility of accidental scalding, most plumbing codes, including the HUD Code (Manufactured Home Construction and Safety Standards), require that tubs and showers be equipped with plumbing fixtures that can limit the water temperature to prevent scalding. All manufactured homes produced since June 2014 should have anti-scald plumbing fixtures (serving bathtubs and showers) to meet this requirement. But it is up to the installer to adjust these fixtures to work properly. In case you think this is not an important issue, here are a few statistics:

  • Most scalding accidents occur in bathrooms and kitchens – where they are most preventable.
  • More than 2,000 American children are treated for scalds each year.
  • Scalding often leads to additional injuries such as heart attacks, shock, falls, and serious broken bones, particularly in older folks.

So, what does that have to do with manufactured home installation? Well let me open up a typical installation manual. Way back around page 76, along the side margin, it states that the installer must test the water temperature on each tub, tub/shower or shower to “ensure that it does not exceed 120° F”.

faucet-pic To accomplish this, you are to run the water at the hottest setting for one minute and then take a temperature reading. If the temperature is above 120° F, the installer must adjust the valve per the instructions.

 

anti-scald-instruction

This brings me to a couple questions:

  • As a professional installer, are you aware of this?
  • If so, did you actually perform this test?
  • Do you have the proper thermometer to gauge the temperature?
  • Are you documenting that you have done this on the “Complete Installation Checklist”?

I believe that this is too important of an issue to overlook. Take the time today to review the installation manuals you use. If you can’t find it, look under the section titled “Connect Utilities”. If you still can’t find it, you are probably using an outdated installation manual.

UPDATE: Since this was posted, Eagle River Homes, a Pennsylvania manufacturer reached out to inform me that their Installation Manual does not necessarily require the installer to test the water temperature. Their manual says, “Tub and tub/shower valves are designed to keep water temperature at or below 120 degrees F for safety.  If adjustment is required refer to instructions provided in the envelope containing Installation and Home Owner’s Manuals.” 

erh-anti-scald

Anti scald plumbing devices listed to ASSE 1016 or ASSE 1070 – a HUD Code requirement for tubs and showers – must limit temperature to 120 degrees F as a listing requirement.  However, 120 degrees can scald an infant or an elderly person, so it may be prudent to adjust the devices to a lower temperature. 

As always, check the installation instructions specific to the home you are installing.

Ranking Installation Issues by Impact

 

In last week’s post, we discussed some of the most common problems with manufactured home installations, today let’s talk about the problems that I think have the greatest impact. Truth be told, very few homeowners are ever going to know if their bonding wire is not attached or an anchor is not installed full depth. So listed below is a ranking of issues that have the greatest impact.

  1. Air Infiltration/Loss At The Marriage Line

In all of my years in talking with consumers and hearing about their concerns, excessive heating and cooling costs were consistently a top issue. While manufactured homes are very well insulated and tightly constructed, the weak link in the process is the marriage line gasket. Infrared imaging of several multi-section homes has proven this point time and time again.
infrared-1infrared-2

During your next installation, pay close attention to the gasket and look for areas that might have been damaged by misplaced staples or shipping straps. These things can prevent the gasket from sealing as tightly as it should. More importantly, make sure the home sections are close enough to properly compress the gasket and prevent heat loss.

14-foam-matewall-gasketgaket-1

I would love to see some improvements in how we gasket the marriage line. How about double gaskets or maybe spray foam at this joint? Just a few things to consider.

  1. Site Grading

A close second to marriage line gasket issues is site grading. I fully understand that site grading is often difficult for the installer to address, especially if the installer is not involved in the site checks before the job is sold. But given the damage that can be caused as the result of poor site grading, I think installers should revisit their agreements with retailers and community owners to make it clear who is responsible for site grading. Bottom line, if the site is not graded properly, do not sign-off on the installation of the home.

bad-site-grading

The Pennsylvania Housing Research Center has produced a Builders Brief on site grading and what to do in situations where proper grading is difficult. Check it out: Site Design Considerations for Manufactured Housing

  1. Pier Failure

Now let me be clear, a concrete block used as a support pier is incredibly strong, and when properly spaced are rarely loaded beyond their capacity. While concrete block piers are strong, they are also fragile. Block piers must be evenly loaded at the top and fully supported by a smooth, flat and stable footing. Short of that, the block can crack, split and lead to failure.

bad-footingbad-footing-2

While a typical single section home will have over 20 piers supporting it, a single pier failure might not seem like too big a deal. But that failed pier can have some significant impact on the walls, ceiling, floors, and window and door operation (see picture below). Not to mention, when a pier fails, the load is transferred to the adjacent piers, overloading those as well.

assessory-crack

The vast majority of pier failures I have seen are the result of inadequate footings. Footing depth (frost protection) shape, size (as it relates to pier load and soil capacity) and the finishing of the surface are the keys to successful support of the homes.

  1. Added Structures

Almost every manufactured home producer states somewhere in their installation instructions or home-owner’s manual that “accessory structures must be independently supported”. They say that for one very simple reason: in order to keep the home affordable, they don’t over design or over build. The manufactured home, along with its foundation, is designed to completely support the weight of the home, 40 pounds per square foot (PSF) live load (furniture, people, etc.) and the weight of any snow that might be on the roof (in most of the country 20 PSF). Not the extra weight of any added structure.

We wouldn’t install a home with a 20 PSF roof snow load in Hancock Maine where the roof snow load is 40 PSF, because we know that the home can’t carry the extra weight. But we often don’t think twice about attaching a deck, patio cover room addition, or a garage and somehow expect the manufactured home to carry the added weight of the structure and any additional snow load.

accessy-2

Ad it is not just snow loading that is impacted  by added structures, but wind loads as well! To illustrate this point, in July 2014, the Today Show aired a report on the performance of manufactured homes in wind storms. It clearly showed that a manufactured home could perform quite well in a wind storm and that most structural failure is the result of improperly supported added structures, such as car ports and awnings. You can see that short video HERE

What I really like is that they even provided a solution. They suggest adding support columns against the home and not expecting the house itself to absorb the extra load. This is one of several reports that clearly illustrate that added structures are the main cause of structural failure during a wind storm.

We all realize that other added structures, such as garages and decks can bring their own set of challenges, but we will save that entire issue for another post.

These are my personal top four problems with the greatest impact on manufactured homes. Do you disagree? Leave a comment, I would love to hear your thoughts.

Top Four Installation Problems

Often times I am asked “what are the most common problems with manufactured home installation?”. That generally leads to a follow up question, “which problems have the biggest impact on the home?”.

It might be better to deal with these questions separately, starting with the four most common problems with manufactured home installations. Next week, we will tackle the issues with the biggest impact on the home.

#1 Bottom Board Holes

Folks almost always underestimate the job of the bottom board and as a result don’t think holes or tears are important, but they are! Always remember, the bottom board (or belly board as some call it) is the pressure envelope enclosure for the floor cavity of the home. A hole in the bottom board can be worse than leaving a window open all winter. The floor cavity in a manufactured home is a conditioned air space. Unconditioned air from the crawl space will cool off heat ducts in the heating season and in the cooling season, warm humid air can condensate on the cooler duct work leading to condensation. In the winter, water supply piping and drain lines can freeze, not to mention the general heat loss that leads to very high utility costs.

bottom-board

As the installer, make sure to mend any holes in the bottom board. Use products, those designed for bottom board repair (not duct tape). Inform the homeowner to keep an eye on the cable TV man, telephone man or anyone else that might be showing up after you are gone. They are notorious for cutting open the bottom board without a thought about the problems they are causing.

#2 Bonding Wire Attachment

It’s that #8 bare copper wire hanging off one of the chassis of a two-section home, waiting for the installer to connect it to the grounding lug on the other section. This wire is needed to bond the home section without the electrical panel box to the home section with the electrical panel box.  I think that this a requirement that is simply overlooked by a lot of installers.  You know the old saying, “out of sight, out of mind”. The installation check list (see blog entry from January 9, 2017) is a great tool to help remind installers about this important issue. Start using it!

bond-wire

 

  1. Footing Configuration

I have seen a lot of problems with footings over the years, but the number one problem is what I call the “mushroom” shaped footing. This is generally the result of the installer using too small of an auger, and pouring the footing much bigger at the top to create the appearance of a large footing (giving it a mushroom shape).

mushroom-footing

 

Not only does the “mushroom cap” generally break off, (as in the picture above) but in short timer the pier block will break due to uneven loading. Not to mention how these types of footings are most likely lifted by frost.

The best footing is “bell” shaped, a little wider at the base. Just the opposite of the mushroom.

  1. Heat Duct Crossover

With the advent of the through the floor heat duct cross, I thought that problems in this area were a thing of the past. Boy was I wrong!

The fiberglass gaskets at these crossover areas are subject to some significant damage from the application or removal of the protective shipping plastic applied to the marriage wall at the factory, or just from the friction of aligning the home sections.

heat-duct-crossover

A few years ago, we came up with what I believe is a simple solution to this problem. An “L” shaped piece of coil stock (sheet aluminum) high enough and wide enough to completely cover and protect the gasket while the home is being set. The bottom leg of the “L” is used to secure this “shield” to the bottom of the floor with a couple of screws. After the home is in place, remove the screws and pull the shield out.

A few friends have tried it with great success!

Let me know it you decide to give it a whirl!

 

OK, there were my four most common installation problems.  Next week, we will talk about installation problems with the greatest impact on the home.