What’s In Your Tool Box?

If you’re like me, you can never have too many tools. But to properly and safely install a manufactured home, there are some special tools that you need to use. I though it might be helpful to put together a list of the top 11 things that every professional installer should have at every job site.  

 Angle finder with a magnetic base.

                We all know that when installing ground anchors, the angle of the straps cannot exceed 60°.  Be sure you have a tool to measure the strap angle to be certain your strap angle is correct. If you don’t have one, purchase an angle finder and  start checking the straps angle. By the way, it is always smart to snap a picture for your installer file!


A continuity tester.

                You know that ever installation manual requires that you perform a continuity test on all metal parts in the home that could possibility become energized. Metal parts like the chassis, heat ducts, metal light fixtures, gas lines, water heaters and furnaces, metal siding or metal roofs, range hoods, etc… A continuous path to ground must be present and you need to perform this test to verify all of these metal parts are grounded.

A continuity tester is a must!

 Continuity testerTester

A circuit tester with a GFCI trip button.

                This allows you perform the required operation test throughout the home as well as test GFCI  outlets, and assure that any slave receptacles (receptacles downstream of the actual device) are protected as well. This is also an easy way to check the operation of any switched receptacles.

Grainger tester

An apparatus to perform a water supply line pressure test.

                This device is probably going to have to be fabricated from plumbing parts. It must include a gauge that can measure pressure, and inlets with shut off valves to allow you to introduce water and air pressure into the water piping. Remember to remove the source of air when conducting the test. 

 H2O testing

A manometer (or other testing gauges that measure in increments not greater than 1/10 lbs.) to conduct gas line testing.

                By now you should know about the two required gas line tests; the high-pressure test (3 psi) that checks the piping and the low-pressure test (6-8 oz or 3/8 to 1/2 psi or 10” to 14” of water column) that checks the entire system as well as the connections to the appliance.  Again, this may be an apparatus  you assemble yourself, or maybe purchase an electronic, digital version. If someone else (like the fuel provider), performs this test for you, make certain to provide them with a copy of the proper test procedures from the installation manual, and get receipt or other written proof that the test was conducted for your files.  


GFCI protected extension cords.

Working in often damp or wet conditions, with a great possibility of cords being stepped on, frayed or otherwise damaged, you want to reduce the risk of electric shock hazzard. All extension cords must be equipped with Ground Fault protection.gfci-power-extensions-tower-manufacturing

A thermometer to check the water temperature at each of the bath tubs, bath tubs/showers or showers.

                Run the water in each tub or shower fixture for 1 minute at the hottest setting and use a thermometer to assure that the water temperature is not greater than 120°. While the fixtures are generally pre-set, I have seen defects that allowed the water temperature to exceed 120°. Don’t take the risk, test the fixtures.

H2O thermometer

A glue bottle.

                In the event that you ever need to replace a wall panel, section of the ceiling, or a section of the floor decking, it is critical for you to glue the panel or decking to the framing members. A ¼” bead of PVA glue (white glue) is generally sufficient.

wood glue

Go/No Go Gauges for water supply lines.

                If you ever have to install a crimp ring on a water supply line, you need to assure that the crimp is done properly and Go/No Go gauge is the only way to do that!

 go No Go

Safety Glasses

                Everyone working at the job site must wear safety glasses. Having a few extra pairs handy is a great idea.  If your crew likes to wear sunglasses on the job site, make sure that they are equipped with shatter resistant lenses and side shields. 

safety glasses

First Aid Kit.

                Every good set crew has a fully equipped first aid kit available. If you don’t have one, a basic kit runs only about $30.

 first aid kit

I am sure that there are some other important tools that I am forgetting. Feel free to drop me a message if you can add to this list.


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!