How To Look At A House

McGarry and Madsen's home inspection blog for buyers of  

site-built, mobile/manufactured and modular homes

What would cause half of a double-wide mobile home to lose electric power?

Sunday, July 15, 2018

There is a cross-over connection of the wiring between the two halves of a double-wide, and it can be snap-together, male-female connections or a junction box with standard wire nut connections. The connections are usually at the marriage line near the front or back of the home, and they can be below the floor (look for patched area in belly board or small cover panel) or in the ceiling next to the marriage wall or on the marriage wall (look for access panel). 

    The snap connections sometimes come loose or the junction box becomes damaged. However, there are also other problems that could cause a loss of electricity in an area of the home. Troubleshooting to locate the problem, and then repairing it correctly and safely—so as not to endanger yourself or create a new defect—requires electrical wiring knowledge and experience that most homeowners don’t have. So we think you should call an electrician for this, and not try to fix it yourself.

    Here’s three other things it could be:

  1. The electrical service to a home consists of two separate 120-volt legs, and each serves one of the two columns of 120-volt breakers in the electric panel. If the connection at one of the service lugs has come loose or burnt up, or if the main breaker has deteriorated, half of the 120-volt circuits that serve receptacles, lighting, and small appliances in the home will not be functional. Also, the major appliances that use both legs for 240-volts of power, such as the water heater, electric range, and air conditioner, will not be functional at all. Checking this requires removing the dead front cover of the electric panel, which we recommend that only an electrician should do. 
  2. A 120-volt circuit in the panel serves multiple outlets in different rooms, and sometimes also the lighting in the rooms. If there is a loose or damaged connection or broken hot wire at the beginning of the circuit, the whole string will be dead. While a single circuit would not actually disable half of the double-wide, it might appear that way at first.
  3. The electricity returns to the panel from 120-volt outlets, lights, and appliances on a white, neutral wire. Any broken connections or loose neutral screw-set connections in the panel will also disable a circuit. 

    We recommend doing this first: throw all the breakers off and then back on, including the main breaker, at both the main service panel outside the home and the distribution panel inside the home. Any breaker that will only go back half-way between off and on indicates a problem circuit. Listen for any arcing sound or visible sparks as you reset the breakers. Also, push the test button and then the reset button at the GFCI-receptacles in the kitchen, bathroom, and exterior walls of the home. Then, if all of these simple checks do not fix the problem, call an electrician.

    Also, see our blog post Is it safe to go under a mobile home?

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? 

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 are the tie-down requirements for a mobile home?

How fireproof is a mobile home?  

Can I install a mobile home myself?

What is a Park Model mobile home?  

Does an addition to a mobile home have to comply with the HUD Code? 

What walls can I remove in a mobile home?

What can I do to prevent dampness and mold in my mobile 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 ELECTRICAL and MOBILE/MANUFACTURED HOMES pages 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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