Protecting the Heat Duct Crossover Gasket

During last couple of training courses held earlier this year, we talked quite a bit about problems with the heat duct crossover gasket. We all agree that the “through the rim joist” heat duct crossover is preferable to the old flex duct, but keeping the gasket intact during installation is a common problem.

Heat duct crossover gasket before installation.

It has been my experience that the top reason for consumer complaints is generally the result of excessive heat loss which impacts the home owners comfort and leads to unreasonably high heating/cooling bills. If we can keep the gasket intact throughout the installation process, it can go a long way in fixing this problem.

An example of a gasket damaged during the installation process.

 

The HUD code requires that all heat ducts be “substantially air tight” so it is important that care is taken to assure that this gasket survives installation. To do that, But, how can we protect this gasket during installation?

Easy to see how these gaskets get torn apart.

 

For the past couple of years, I have been encouraging installers to fabricate and protect each “through the rim joist” heat duct crossover gasket with a temporary metal shield. Now, it doesn’t have to be anything fancy, just a simple “L-shaped” piece of aluminum coil stock at least 16” long. Bend the metal to make an “L” about 8” high with a 90° bend of about 2”.

A simple aluminum shield to protect the heat duct crossover gasket.

Place one of these shields over each crossover gasket and hold it in place with a screw through the bottom. Once the home is in its final position, remove the screws and pull out the shields.

Several installers have started doing this and they all agree that it works great. However, these installers have offered some feedback to improve on this idea:

  1. Remove the shield BEFORE lagging the floors together. Otherwise it can be difficult to remove.
  2. Hang tags or something similar from each shield to make them easier to spot and less likely to be forgotten.

Now, lets take this one step further, why not start telling the manufacturers to install heat duct crossover shields in the factory? Just think how much they would save in service! Hey, there is no harm in asking!

So, if you haven’t already tried this, give it a go! Maybe you have a better method to protect this gasket, if so, feel free to share it in the comments section!

Finally, be safe and wash your hands!

Still Time to Comment on the Proposed Rule Changes

As reported in the past, HUD is proposing changes to the manufactured housing program. Several of these changes affect the manufactured housing installers and retailers. You still have the opportunity to tell HUD your thoughts, but you must act before March 31, 2020.

I believe it is critical for installers/retailers to weigh in. My previous post on this topic provides links to the proposal and instructions on how to comment. I am re-posting that information below.

Here is a short summary of some of my main concerns:

  1. Many of the proposed changes rely on the manufacturer providing additional materials and documents with the home. As you are well aware, this is a problem in our industry. I am again requesting that HUD require the IPIA (inspecting agencies) start inspecting shipped loose materials and designs.
  2. Quite a few of the proposed changes impact the responsibility of the licensed installer. However, installers are still not represented on the Consensus Committee.
  3. The proposed rules include provisions for attaching structures to manufactured home. The proposed rule change does not include provisions for the attachment of stairs to enter the home. As many of you know, this is often an issue with local building code officials.
  4. HUD has proposed establishing the design criteria of stairs for entry into a manufactured home. This new design criteria (rise and run of the stair tread), exceeds many state and local requirements and could prohibit the use of existing, prefabricated stairs and landings.
  5.  I am very concerned that these purposed rules will require the home installer to extend the water heater T&P discharge pipe to beyond the skirting. While the proposed rule is very short on specifics, I am concerned that this would result in a serious safety related hazard. The unexpected discharge of super heated, pressurized water could lead to serious injury.

The following re-post contains the links and other information needed for you to comment on these changes.

As promised, I have provided my comments to HUD concerning the proposed changes to the Manufactured Home Construction & Safety Standards. While there are many concerns with the proposed changes, l limited my comments to those that I feel have a direct impact on manufactured home installers.

I encourage you to review the proposed changes to the HUD code and submit your thoughts before the deadline of March 31, 2020. If you haven’t reviewed the proposed changes, CLICK HERE.

Also, on the right side of that page, your will see (In GREEN) the link to “Submit a Formal Comment”. You can either provide comments in the text box or attach a separate document.

Also, I am providing you with a copy of my comments for review. Feel free to use my comments as you see fit. CLICK to read my comments.

Having read over this proposed rule a few times, I am now of the opinion that these changes are really an attempt to erase the line between modular and manufactured housing. Many of the code changes (most of which I did not comment on) are written to open the HUD code to include more traditional and modular housing features (multi-story, stair geometry, duplex homes, etc.) I am not sure how you may feel about that, but I wanted to point it out to make you aware.

However, there are still plenty of issues that impact installers and retailers that should make us concerned.

Anyway, please take a few minutes and tell HUD your thoughts on these possible code changes.

 

Let’s Talk About Steel Support Piers

Throughout much of my career, I have only run across a few manufactured homes that were placed on a steel pier foundation. In the Mid-Atlantic region, concrete blocks are typically used to construct piers and most installers stick with what they’re familiar with. About a year ago, while visiting some homes in Vermont, I first observed steel support piers being widely used. More recently, while traveling out west, I again was reminded that steel piers are a viable option to the typical concrete block pier. Maybe it is time to take a second look at steel piers, you might be surprised at what you find!

Typical Steel Support Pier.

First, steel piers are an acceptable foundation support, and I find them included in every installation manual as well as the model installation standards. However, you need to make sure that any steel pier used meets the minimum requirements.

First and most important, any steel pier must be labeled. The label should indicate the pier capacity, and that they have been evaluated by an independent third-party agency to assure that they are properly designed and constructed. If you purchase the piers from a manufactured home supplier, you can be pretty certain that they are providing you with the proper piers. But always check for the label!

Typical Label on a Steel Support Pier

 

Next, be sure to check the pier capacity. Most of the steel piers that I have seen are limited to a maximum capacity of 6,000 lbs. per pier. Your typical “load on frame” for a 14’ wide home, located in the south (20 Lbs.) roof load, at an 8’ spacing is around 5,500 lbs. Just be cautious and take steps to assure you don’t overload the pier. Most of the installations I have seen with steel piers, the installer reduced the spacing slightly for a bit of wiggle room.

Steel Support Pier with Listing Label

Steel Support Piers also come with adjustable risers which allow you to fit the pier head tight to the frame or floor of the home. Keep in mind that the adjustable riser may not extend more then 2” in the final position. And never use the adjustment screw to level the home!

No more than 2″ of threaded riser permitted above pier stand.

These steel support piers come in a variety of heights, are light-weight, and are certainly a huge time saver for the installers.

I know that some folks are concerned about durability, however these steel support piers must be coated to protect from corrosion. If the site is properly graded, and crawl space properly vented, I don’t think corrosion should be a problem.

Truth be told, none of the manufactured homes I inspected that used steel piers had any problems related to the support of the home and/or pier.

If you have followed this blog for a while, you know that I am a big proponent of giving people choices regarding the installation of their manufactured home. I encourage you to do a little research on this pier option. You just might be surprised at what you learn!