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.

Water Heater Temperature & Pressure Relief Valve Discharge Pipe

A few installers have raised a question about the discharge pipe for the water heater Temperature and Pressure (T&P) relief valve. Ultimately, should the water heater T&P discharge pipe be run to the exterior of the crawl space? 

I did a little research and quickly discovered that this issue needs much more discussion than is provided in the manufacturer’s installation instructions, or that we can accomplish here! But we should start thinking about it.

The first thing to understand is the job of the T&P valve. If the temperature in the water heater reaches 210° or the pressure reaches 150 psi, the relief valve will open reducing the pressure or releasing heated water to be replaced with cold water. This is  to prevent a potentially catastrophic failure. Just image the power that can be generated when the water starts to boil inside the tank! There have been reports of water heaters exploding and propelling themselves through the walls causing significant damage to the home.

The amount of heated water that can be expelled through the T&P discharge pipe can range from a trickle to a gusher! Either way it enough to cause severe burns!

The manufacturer’s installation instructions don’t offer much guidance. I reviewed several “Complete Installation Checklists and they all state “Dryer vent, range/cook top exhaust, water heater temperature and pressure relief overflow pipe and AC condensate drain installed to the perimeter of the crawl space”.

If you look a little deeper in the manufacturer’s installation instructions, several state “If the home is to be installed on a basement or enclosed crawlspace, install the drain pipe connecting the discharge from the water heater temperature and pressure relief valve to the outside or to a sump”. I did find a few exceptions that clearly state that the T&P may discharge under the home. But bottom line, there is no consistency in the various manuals, and no direction as how to safely extend this discharge pipe to outside of the crawl space.

In my opinion, the installation of vinyl skirting around the perimeter of the home meets the criteria of a crawl space, and I have yet to see any definitions that say differently. So, I guess they are saying to run the T&P discharge pipe outside the skirting.

T&P & water heater pan pipes discharging under the home.

Finally, I double checked the Manufactured Home Construction and Safety Standards (245 CFR 3280.609(c)(iii). It says the “relief valve outlet which shall be directed downward and discharge beneath the manufactured home”. 

So, what should a professional installer do?

If you should decide to extend the T&P discharge pipe to the exterior of the crawl space, keep these things in mind:

The T&P pipe should have an elbow directing any discharge downward.

Any water being discharged from these T&P valves is extremely hot with the potential to cause damage to people, pets or property in the area. Make sure the pipe points downward to about 6” above grade to reduce the possibility of injury! Make sure it is visible, but away from an area where people or pets might be injured.

Any extension of this pipe must be the same size as the discharge pipe attached to the valve. Keep the piping as short as possible (less than 30’ total length), with as few elbows as needed (four elbows are the maximum permitted).  Any horizontal sections must slope away from the valve. Do NOT install a trap, shut off valve, or a cap on the discharge pipe!

Never connect the T&P discharge pipe to the DWV (drainage) system of the home. Should the valve become defective, the occupant would never know, and in the event of a violent discharge, the DWV system could be damaged and people possibly injured. Not to mention possible contamination of the water supply!

I suggest a discussion with the local code enforcer to get his take on this issue. Also, review the water heater instructions and see what they say. Contact the home manufacturer’s engineering department for their input as well.

Unfortunately, there may not be a simple, straight answer to this question. But maybe this discussion will help us to make the best decision to assure the safe operation of these water heater T&P valves.

I would appreciate hearing your comments on this issue!


Safety Pays!


My grandfather Giovanni Battista Conte

My family has been in the construction business ever since my grandfather immigrated from Italy in the early 1920’s. Having five sons, my grandfather always had an in-house work crew and back-log of work. Not only was he a skilled carpenter, but he was extremely frugal  and always looked for ways to save time and money. Unfortunately, his focus on saving  time and money  failed to include working safely. Eventually this ended up costing him dearly. You see, when my grandfather was in his mid-twenties, he lost his little finger on his left hand using a circular saw with a broken guard. To compound this injury, about 10 years later, he lost his right arm to the elbow as a result of severe laceration, again the result of overlooking his own personal safety.

These accidents ended up costing him much more than he ever expected and made a big impact on me. Every time I visit a manufactured housing installation site, I see professional installers placing their health at risk, just like my grandfather.  I  hope that this post might prompt you to examine job site safety to reduce the risk of injury for everyone involved in manufactured housing installation. Stay with me as I touch on a few things for you to consider.

First Aid Kit-This is a must at every job site. Make certain that all trucks in your fleet have one, and that they are fully stocked at all times. You can’t predict when an accident might happen!  

Eye protection-Over 500,000 job related eye injuries requiring medical attention occur every year. Don’t allow anyone on the job site without proper eye protection. In fact, you should have a few extra pairs of safety glasses or googles in your truck (with your first aid kit) at all times. In general, prescription eyeglasses add some level of protection, add some side shields and you are in great shape! Watch out for workers wearing cheap sunglasses as a projectile can shatter the plastic lens and lead to more injury.

Also, sunglasses are never to be used to protect your eyes during welding, acetylene burning, or cutting work. Sunglass lens are NOT the same as welding or cutting lenses!

Back injuries-Over 1 Million on the job back injuries occur annually. Make sure you and your crew practice proper lifting techniques. Bundles of shingles, boxes of siding, concrete blocks, sheets of plywood or OSB are heavy. Take a few extra minutes to plan ahead to reduce the probability of back injury. Work smart – Not hard!

Fall Protection-OSHA requires personal fall protection for anyone working 6’ or more above the next lower level. ThatABC-of-fall-protection means a properly fitted harness every time you are working on a roof. Visit OSHA.GOV for more information on this.

Suspended Loads-NEVER allow anyone under a suspended load. Cables and straps can break, loads can shift, spreader bars can fail, and rim joists can split. Make sure if the home were to drop, it would be supported by cribbing, and not be on top of you or your crew!

Footwear-There are 1.2 million job related foot injuries per year! In our industry, footwear should have slip/puncture resistant soles and a steel toe. No sneakers on the job site! Actually, once a worker starts wearing work boots, they won’t go back to sneakers! Especially those with time working on a ladder!

Tools-Never use a nail gun without a properly working safety mechanism. Never use a nail gun like a hammer to finish driving in a nail or staple, or as any type of striking tool. Make sure all saws have the proper guards in place, and the work piece is secured and supported to prevent injury.  Double check the placement of all jacks and winches (come-alongs). Position yourself so that in the event of a slip, you are in the clear. When using an impact wrench, make sure to use impact sockets, not hand ratchet sockets. Don’t use a screwdriver as a chisel or pry-bar. Only use a tool as intended,  I think you get the picture!

Electrical Service-Make certain every tool and cord is powered by a GFCI protected circuit or extension cord!


Ground fault circuit interrupter cord. 

Immediately replace damaged or frayed cords.  

Ladders-I can’t tell you of all of the risks I see being taken with ladders. Make sure you buy high quality (I prefer fiberglass) ladders that are the right size and capacity for the job . Inspect your ladders every day before use, replace worn out ropes on extension ladder pulleys, and steer clear of power lines!!! A ladder standoff is a very valuable tool.


Ladder standoff

Read the warnings on each ladder and believe them!


Clothing-I am a big fan of work uniforms for several reasons. But the biggest reason is safety. When properly fitted, they provide added protection from many hazards. Plus, you and your crew will look professional and your customers and potential customers will be impressed. Gloves must fit your hands snugly, and shirt tails should be tucked! I know a lot of you think that in the summer, a work uniform would be too hot to wear, but back in the day, my crew wore them and found they were more comfortable wearing work uniforms. And the cleaning service was well worth the price.

Housekeeping-There have been countless injuries because of messy job sites, such as stepping on hidden nails in piles of debris, and tripping and slipping. Not to mention time lost looking for tools, materials, etc. Keep things tidy as you go. You will realize saving in time, money and safety!

Distractions-Everyone knows that distracted driving is a problem, but do we realize that distracted working is just as dangerous? Have you considered having your work crew leave their cell phones in the trucks? I see too many guys on jobs sites paying more attention to their smart phone than their jobs. For their own safety, make them put their phones away.


OK, these are a few things to start the discussion. I would love to hear what you have to say.

We need to practice safety and not learn it by accident.