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Here's the 30 most recent of over 1,300 home inspection blog entries. You can also use the Blog Index link above, or Google Custom Search box below, to find the article with the info you need. Also, our Blog Archive lists all the articles, including a reposting of earlier blogs from www.mcgarryandmadsen.com dating back to 2011.

5

How To Look at a House

recent blogs

What is the minimum HUD-code standard for leveling a mobile/manufactured home?

Friday, February 22, 2019

There are two requirements for the accuracy of leveling at the installation of a mobile home, per HUD-Code 24 CFR 3285.6: 

No more than 1/4” difference in level between adjacent pier supports, both frame and perimeter.
Exterior doors and windows are functional, do not bind, and can be properly operated.

    Also, see our...

How can I tell if a window or sliding glass door is double or triple pane (insulated) glass?

Thursday, February 21, 2019

Hold a flashlight up to the glass and count the reflections. It’s that simple. Tilting the light at an angle to the glass can make it easier to see the one, two, or three reflection images.

    Unfortunately, multiple-pane insulated glass can also become clouded after the perimeter seal around the glass panes is broken, and regular air...

What is the maximum height you can mount an electric panel above the floor?

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

There is no maximum height specified for the panel box, but the center of the highest breaker handle in its highest position cannot be more than 6-foot 7-inches above the floor. See our blog post What is the maximum allowed height of a circuit breaker (OCPD) above the floor? for more on this. 

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What is the maximum allowed height of a circuit breaker (OCPD) above the floor?

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

The center of the breaker handle in its highest position cannot be more than 6-foot 7-inches above the floor, per the Residential Edition of the Florida Building Code [FBC E3705.7(6)], International Residential Code (IRC), and the National Electrical Code [NEC 240.24(A)]. An exception is allowed for supplementary breakers that are part of an appliance...

Does the Nest Protect system meet current building code standards for a combination smoke and carbon monoxide alarm system?

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

The second generation of Nest Protect® appears to meet the standards of the Residential Edition of The Florida Building Code (FBC) and the International Residential Code (IRC), based on their compliance with required NFPA 72, UL 217, and UL 2034. The earlier version was not hard-wired, so it would not be acceptable.



   Here’s...

What is the minimum SEER that HUD requires for an air conditioner or heat pump for a mobile/manufactured home?

Monday, February 18, 2019

HUD defers to the U.S. Department of Energy’s Energy Conservation Code for the minimum SEER rating at 24 CFR3280.714(a)(1)(i). The current minimum Energy Code SEER, from now until January 1, 2023, is 14 for package unit heat pumps and air conditioners, and split-system heat pumps. It drops to13 for split system air conditioners.

    Also,...

What is minimum requirement for the insulation of a mobile/manufactured home according to the HUD-code?

Sunday, February 17, 2019

The HUD-code for mobile homes is primarily a “performance" code, rather than a “prescriptive" code, meaning pretty much what it sounds like: instead of specifying what to install and how to install it, the code sets performance standards that give the manufacturer some leeway in how they choose to meet the standard. 

    The insulation...

What is the code requirement for receptacle outlets in a foyer?

Saturday, February 16, 2019

Foyers that are not part of a hallway and are greater than 60 square feet should have a receptacle outlet on each wall space that is 3 feet or more in width, according to the National Electrical Code [NEC 201.52(I)]. Doorways, door-side windows that extend to the floor, and similar openings are not considered wall space.

    Also, see our...

Can a receptacle outlet be mounted face-up (horizontally) on a countertop?

Friday, February 15, 2019

No, you can’t mount a regular receptacle outlet flat on a countertop like the one shown above, per National Electrical Code [NEC 406.5 (G)], which states "Receptacle Orientation - Receptacles shall not be installed in a face-up position in or on countertop surfaces or work surfaces unless listed for countertop of work surface applications."

What is the code requirement for receptacle outlets in a closet?

Friday, February 15, 2019

Closets are not included in the list of rooms that are required to have receptacle outlets in the International Residential Code (IRC) and the Residential Edition of the Florida Building Code (FBC E3901.2).

    An identical list of rooms requiring general purpose receptacle outlets is at 210.52(A) in the National Electrical Code (NEC),...

What is the unusual garage door opener mounted on the wall above the door and marked "Wayne Dalton"?

Monday, February 11, 2019

We saw one of these for the first time the other day, and decided to ask our garage door guru Eddie Hoeft, of Lester’s Garage Doors, about it. “It's called an “I-Drive” opener and I thought it was a great idea when it first came out about fifteen years ago,” according to Eddie. “But they had reliability problems and are no longer manufactured.”   

Can I run an electric power cord or extension cord through the wall?

Sunday, February 10, 2019

Yes, we know that there are lots of nifty articles on the web about how to make an unobtrusive wall opening and fish an electric cord through the wall. But you probably already suspect that it is unsafe, and you’re right.

Here’s what it says in the National Electrical Code, at NEC 400.12:

Uses Not Permitted. Unless specifically...

How many outdoor receptacle outlets are required for a mobile/manufactured home?

Saturday, February 9, 2019

Only a minimum of one exterior receptacle outlet is required for a mobile/manufactured home, per HUD-Code 24 CFR 3280.806 (d)(8). Site-built and modular homes, on the other hand, need at least two outdoor receptacle outlets—one in front, and one in back of the home, according to NEC 210.52 (E)(1).

    Outdoor receptacle outlets must also...

Is aluminum wiring allowed in a mobile/manufactured home?

Saturday, February 9, 2019

Aluminum wiring is not allowed for the branch circuits, although we often see it used for the service cables to the distribution panel in the home. “Aluminum conductors, aluminum alloy conductors, and aluminum core conductors such as copper clad aluminum are not acceptable for use in the branch circuit wiring in manufactured homes,” according to the...

Are arc fault circuit interrupter (AFCI) breakers required in mobile/manufactured homes?

Saturday, February 9, 2019

They are not required but, if installed, must meet the standards for AFCI breakers of National Electrical Code, 2005 edition, per HUD 3280.801(b). Also, see our blog post What is the difference between a Combination Arc Fault Circuit Interrupter (CAFCI) and an Arc Fault Circuit Interrupter (AFCI) circuit breaker?

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What are the electrical code standards for a mobile/manufactured home?

Saturday, February 9, 2019

Manufactured homes must comply with Subpart I of 24 CFR Part 3280 (HUD-code) and Part II of Article 550 of the National Electrical Code (NEC), which has specific standards for manufactured homes, with following qualifiers: 

HUD follows the 2005 edition of the NEC, not the current one [3280.801(a)].
Where there is a difference in the...

What is the minimum size of an exterior door to a mobile/manufactured home per HUD-Code?

Friday, February 8, 2019

The minimum swinging exterior door size is 28” wide by 74” high (2’-4” x 6’-2”), per HUD 24 CFR 3280.105, and an interpretive bulletin issued by HUD in 1976 explains that verifying the required dimension can be done by measuring the door itself. However, the door stops may not reduce the clear opening to less than 27” x 73”.

The minimum...

What is the minimum size electric service to a mobile/manufactured home?

Friday, February 8, 2019

Minimum electric service rating is 100-amps, per National Electric Code [NEC 550.32(C)], although we only see a service that small in older homes. Most newer models are 150 or 200-amps. Also, see our blog post How can I find out the size of the electric service to a house? and What is the difference between the electric service to a mobile home and...

How do you flash skylight, chimney, and pipe vent roof penetrations on a metal roof?

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

The principle behind flashing on any sloped roof, and especially a metal one, is downlapping. The bottom edge of one piece of roofing overlays the upper edge of the piece below it, which overlays the upper edge of the piece below that, and so forth.

    Roof penetrations like skylights can be challenging when trying to maintain downlapping....

Does an attached garage that is only used for storage or as a workshop, and not for parking a car, still have to comply with building code requirements for a garage?

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

The building code requirements for a garage, and an attached garage in particular, have evolved over the years based on the risk of fire from the flammable fuel in a car’s gas tank, and the possibility of a fire in an attached garage quickly spreading into the adjacent residence. The 1936 edition of the North Carolina Building Code defined a garage...

How can formaldehyde gas in a house be a problem?

Friday, February 1, 2019

A big part of that distinctive “new house” smell that hits you when you walk into a newly constructed home, or recently remodeled one with fresh carpet and paint, is formaldehyde gas. It is a colorless, strong-smelling gas that is in a category of chemicals called volatile organic compounds (VOC’s), all of which vaporize at ordinary room temperature. 

What is the HUD-code requirement for the manufacturer's serial number of a mobile home?

Thursday, January 31, 2019

The serial number, also called the Vehicle Identification Number or VIN Number, must be stamped into the front cross-beam of the undercarriage of the mobile home, in letters a minimum of 3/8-inches high. Here’s the full text of the requirement, per 24 CFR 3280:

See our blog post Where do I find the vehicle identification number (VIN) on...

What are the HUD-code requirements for a mobile home data plate?

Thursday, January 31, 2019

HUD requires that each manufactured home have a data plate permanently affixed inside the home, near the main electric panel or other accessible location, and able to be cleaned without damaging the information. It lists key data about the manufacture of the home, and we usually find the data plate on the wall of the master bedroom closet or in the...

What is the HUD-code requirement for whole-house ventilation in a mobile home?

Thursday, January 31, 2019

HUD requires that a manufactured home have a whole-house ventilation system with a minimum capacity of 0.035 cubic feet per minute per square foot of floor area. So 1200 square foot home would require 0.035 x 1200 = 42 cfm fan capacity. But the code further states that it cannot be less than 50 cfm or more than 90cfm, so a 1200 square foot would need...

What is the HUD-code requirement for lighting in a mobile home?

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

The HUD minimum is that each habitable room of a manufactured home must have a window or door with a glazed area equal to 8% of floor area. Kitchens, bathrooms, toilet compartments, laundry areas, and utility rooms may have light fixtures instead of windows. Foyers, hallways, and other accessory areas are not considered habitable rooms. 

What is a HUD Certification Label for a mobile home?

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

It is the official name that the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) uses for what most people call the “HUD tag” or “red tag,” a 2-inch by 4-inch metal plate stamped with an identifying number that is riveted to the long side of each section of a mobile home. For more details, see our blog post What does the HUD tag look like and where...

Can the condensate from an air conditioning evaporator coil at an air handler in an attic drain into a vent pipe?

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

There are two reasons why the condensate drain from an air handler in the attic should not termate into a vent pipe nearby:

It’s not allowed by the building code (Residential Edition of Florida Building code P3101.3 and similar in International Building Code).
The blower in the air handler creates suction that can sometimes suck the...

What is a "host beam" at a mobile/manufactured home?

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Mobile homes are not ordinarily designed to be able to support an addition bearing on their walls. Most manufacturers do not allow it—except when the manufacturer builds a “host beam” into an area of exterior wall for support of a future site-built addition, such as a carport. It is an optional extra you can request for an additional fee, and will...

Why is there an air conditioning vent (register) outside on the ceiling of the porch?

Monday, January 28, 2019

It is most likely a fresh air intake for your heating and air conditioning system. Modern homes are so well sealed that some HVAC designers specify a return air duct at an exterior soffit or porch ceiling that allows a small amount of outside air to be bled into the return air circulation of your system. It will usually also have a filter behind the...

How do I set a humidistat in Florida?

Sunday, January 27, 2019

The humidistat is essentially a gatekeeper installed ahead of the thermostat, which will only allow the thermostat to work when the humidity exceeds the desired percentage—and the usual setting is around 55%. If the humidity exceeds the humidistat setting, then the thermostat is allowed to turn on the system when the room temperature exceeds its own...