How To Look At A House

McGarry and Madsen's home inspection blog for buyers of  

site-built, mobile/manufactured and modular homes

Where do I find the water heater in a mobile home?

Monday, July 9, 2018

Almost all mobile home manufacturers put the water heater in a compartment with an access panel secured with screws. Older mobile homes have the access panel on an outside wall, usually next to a bathroom or kitchen window. Also, there is often an on/off switch in or near the bathroom that glows red when the water heater is turned on. 

    Newer mobile homes locate the water heater compartment access panel in the master bedroom closet or laundry. The raised panel with a narrow trim piece around it is easy to recognize, and the screws typically each have a snap-off cover piece to conceal the head.

    If you have tried looking in all these locations and still can’t find the water heater, here are several other possibilities:

  1. Sometimes a homeowner installs new siding on an older mobile home and sides right over the access panel, making it disappear. Yes, it’s silly, but it does happen.
  2. When a long-term leak in the water heater compartment rots out the floor, some ingenious homeowners put a low-boy (short and wide) water heater on the ground directly under the compartment. Check in the crawl space.
  3. If the homeowner decided to upgrade to a larger water heater that does not fit in the compartment, it may have been moved to a shed on the ground next to the exterior wall of the compartment, or to a detached shed, carport storage room, or well house.

    Because getting at a mobile home water heater requires a few minutes work to remove the 6 or 8 screws securing the cover panel in place, it rarely gets checked for leakage or corrosion unless it stops working. That’s a shame because, when a problem does occur, it may not get noticed until water seeps into an adjacent room. At that point, there is likely to be structural damage to the floor, wet insulation under it and mold growth in the drywall of the compartment. To head off this potentially expensive problem, we recommend opening the compartment once a year for a quick look around.

    If you determine that your water heater needs replacement after you find it, only a water heater rated for installation in mobile homes should be used. See our blog post What is the difference between a manufactured/mobile home water heater and a regular water heater? for more on this.

    The water heater may also have an on/off switch located in the bathroom, especially in older mobile homes and it is often red and lights up when on.

    Another location for an on/off switch is mounted over the cover plate for the heating element at the side of the water heater, like in the photo below. If you have checked the circuit breaker in the electric panel and it’s “ON,” but you still do not have hot water, try looking around for a switch.

    Also see How do I move a water heater?

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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?

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 WATER HEATERS 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. 

Water Heaters

Water Heater Age

"What Are The

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Septic Tank Systems

Structure and Rooms

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Modular Homes

Rain Gutters

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Building Codes

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Energy Efficiency

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Doors and Windows



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