How To Look At A House

McGarry and Madsen's home inspection blog for buyers of  

site-built, mobile/manufactured and modular homes

What is the difference between a manufactured/mobile home water heater and a regular water heater?

Friday, June 29, 2018

Every major water heater manufacturer has models of water heaters specifically designed for mobile homes. State Water Heaters, for example, has the “Scout” line approved for mobile homes. Water heaters that meet HUD standards have the following characteristics:

  1. Usually side plumbed for cold water inlet.
  2. Approved by a major national rating agency as compliant with HUD standards for energy efficiency. To avoid the possibility of carbon monoxide leakage into a mobile home when a gas water heater is installed, there must be a complete separation of the combustion system from the interior air of the home. This can be achieved by a “direct vent” sealed combustion system (although not all direct vent water heaters are HUD-approved) or by installing the water heater in a compartment that is sealed-off from the living area of the home and only accessible from outside.
  3. Must have a non-adjustable temperature and pressure relief (TPR) valve.
  4. A corrosion resistant catch pan and drain to the exterior necessary under the water heater.
  5. Water heater required to be secured in place, usually by a strap system.

    Only water heaters that meet the published standards of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) under Title 24 CFR Part 3280, “Manufactured Home Construction and Safety Standards,” are allowed by HUD to be installed in new mobile homes. Water heaters that are not HUD-approved are often marked as such on the side of the tank by the manufacturer, like in the photo above, taken from the side of a standard Rheem residential gas water heater. Also, all water heaters that are approved for mobile homes will have sticker like the one below, on the side of a Bradford-White. 

    Here’s what “Part 3280.707(d)(1) says:

    After a mobile home leaves the factory and is installed at a site, it is no longer under the oversight of HUD. So, theoretically, you could install a non-approved water heater when the time comes for replacement. Some local jurisdictions check for HUD approval, however the ones that we know of don’t. And other jurisdictions, such as the State of California, specifically state that a replacement water heater does not have to be HUD approved.

     But what happens if the water heater causes an insurance claim? Will your homeowner’s insurance honor the claim if the damage was caused by a non-approved appliance? Also, will a home inspector like us call out the lack of HUD-approval for your replacement water heater when you sell the home? For these reasons, we recommend a HUD-approved replacement water heater. They are more expensive than a standard water heater, but a good way to avoid future grief. 

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Want to learn more about inspecting
manufactured/mobile homes? 
Get our  Handbook for 
Manufactured Home Inspectors 
at for $19.95

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Here’s links to a collection of our blog posts about MOBILE/MANUFACTURED HOMES:

Where can I file a complaint if I have problems with my new or used manufactured/mobile home in Florida?

 What are the most common defects in mobile/manufactured home foundation piers?

How do I determine the age of a very old mobile home?

What is a "HUD label verification letter" for a mobile/manufactured home?  

When did a ground cover vapor barrier (plastic sheet) become required under a mobile/manufactured home? 

Is it safe to go under a mobile home? 

Are older mobile homes unsafe? 

What do I need to know about buying a foreclosed mobile home? 

Does it make sense to buy an older mobile home and remodel it? 

Where do I find the vehicle identification number (VIN) on a mobile home? 

How do I find out how old a mobile home is and who manufactured it?

What is the right price for a used mobile home?

How energy efficient is a mobile home?

When were the first double-wide mobile homes manufactured?

How do I upgrade my old (pre-1976) mobile home to meet HUD standards?

What size air conditioner is right for my mobile home? 

Can you move an older mobile home in Florida? 

What does the HUD tag look like and where do I find it on a mobile home? 

Can you put a zone 1 mobile home in Florida?

How can I remove water under my mobile home?

What's the differences between a trailer, a mobile home, a manufactured home, and a modular home? 

How can I tell if a mobile home is well constructed?

How can I tell the difference between a manufactured home and a modular home?

       Visit our MOBILE/MANUFACTURED HOMES  page for other related blog posts on this subject, or go to the INDEX for a complete listing of all our articles.

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