How To Look At A House
McGarry and Madsen's home inspection blog for buyers of
site-built, mobile/manfuactured 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:
- Usually side plumbed for cold water inlet.
- 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.
- Must have a non-adjustable temperature and pressure relief (TPR) valve.
- A corrosion resistant catch pan and drain to the exterior necessary under the water heater.
- 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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