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Electrical wiring in mobile homes: how to Inspect Mobile Homes or Manufactured Housing Electrical Wiring, Electrical Panel, and other Electrical Components for Defects: detailed procedures, defect lists, references to standards.
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Ver.3.5 - 04/25/07, updated through 2014 - Steve Vermilye, New Paltz NY and Daniel Friedman, Poughkeepsie NY, Hudson Valley ASHI Chapter Seminar, Newburgh NY, January 4, 2000, NY Metro ASHI Fall 99 Seminar, Holiday Inn Crowne Plaza, White Plains NY, October 2, 1999.
Common electrical defects in mobile homes are discussed below.
Our photo (left) shows so much makeshift extension cord wiring in this mobile home that we considered it a red flag meriting a close inspection of all of the electrical system's components: grounding, panels, receptacles, switches, circuits, etc.
Continue reading at MOBILE HOME CODES & STANDARDS or select a topic from the More Reading links shown below.
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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Question: intermittent electrical power loss in our 1994 Redman doublewide
Jan 1 at 2am I lost power in a bedroom and 2 plug outlets in the living room(adjoining wall) then on Jan 3 @4:20 am it came back on only to go back off that night. Where do I start lookin. I live in a 1994 Redman doublewide. - Cindy 1/5/12
Cindy, what worries me is that circuit breakers or fuses in residential buildings do not automatically reset themselves. So your symptom sounds like a loose connection or worse, a connection that is burning up or arcing. The age of your home suggests we should not find aluminum branch circuit wiring, which if present would make the problem more widespread.
Question: loss of power at a electrical outlets in a mobile home or a doublewide
I have an outlet that went out in a bathroom, the light fixture still works there. The light fixture in the adjacent hallway no longer works. I have a 2001 Spirit Double Wide. I also have two light fixtures that the lights go out about a week after I replace them.
(Jan 21, 2013) Payne said:
My grandfather has a 1978 Connor mobile home he lost power at the kitchen one receptacle in the living room and middle room all completely out any ideas? Or where I can find where the main power comes in cause it just suddenly went out
(Jan 24, 2013) Kristy said:
We are renting an old single wide mobile home. Recently we were trying to put plastic over windows so we were plugging the blow dryer into several different outlets. While doing this, we noticed if we plugged it into a certain outlet that was also where the ceiling fan is plugged in, we lose power in one bedroom, bathroom, and the porch light. If we unplug it and wiggle the fan plug the power will come back on? Also when we plugged up to a different outlet it tripped the breaker for part of the house. When we reset the outlet in the bathroom quit working and hasn't worked since? Any ideas? Is it unsafe for us to be staying there? The landlord is a real peach!
4/30/2014 Theresa Dunn said:
We bought a used 1985 Columbia double wide. 3 bd room 2 bath. We have power in the kitchen, dinning room, and masterbedroom all in one front of the home. In the livingroom we have 2 plugs with no power getting to them.
We also have in the area where the fireplace is no power in that room at all and then no power in the two bedrooms in the back of the house but between all those non working rooms is a bathroom where we have lights the recepticle for the electrical plug did work but it now has stoped working. It worked when all those other places do not.
Any help appreciated. We are trying to get our grandkids from cps and this is why we bought the home in the first place and the people we bought it from said it was working when we bought it and it was a as is purchase, There was no way for us to check the power on the lot it was sitting
Tammy, sometimes a loose electrical connection causes arcing that can indeed affect bulb life. I've also seen bulbs fail quickly in light fixtures that were overheating, either because a too-large (too many watts) bulb was installed
(WATCH OUT THIS IS A FIRE HAZARD) or because the fixture was improperly installed or insulated (also a fire hazard).
It is worth having an electrician check the wiring in your home not just to get the hall light working but to be sure there is not a fire risk. Meanwhile, be sure that you have working smoke detectors in the home.
Payne, it sounds as if the two receptacles are on the same circuit and that the fault is either inside one of those electrical receptacle boxes or upstream (electrically) from them. But before starting to tear things up, look in the kitchen or bathrooms for a ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) on the same circuit that has tripped. Try pressing the re-set button and check for power at the other receptacles.
Watch out: if elecrical wires have come loose, been burned, torn, damaged, this is an unsafe condition risking fire or shock.
Kristy: you are describing loose electrical wiring or a damaged receptacle - which is unsafe, and you might also be describing an electrical circuit that is overloaded - when the breaker trips it's trying to preventy a fire that might be started by overloaded and thus over-heated wiring.
Kristy - The only way you would need to move is if the peach of a landlord does not get a licensed electrician out there as soon as possible to get the short figured out. To have a loose connection is one thing but to have a short is worse. if it is tripping the breakers think of it like this. that breaker is the only thing that has kept it from catching on fire yet!!!
These are normal electrical repairs that should be performed as soon as possible. It'd be smart to shut off an electrical circuit that is acting oddly until it has been repaired by a licensed electrician. Notify the property owner in writing and orally of these unsafe conditions.
Watch out: because electrical hazards are also fire hazards, be sure that you have working smoke detectors properly installed and that the fire exit doors on your home are operable.
Theresa: re 1985 Columbia doublwide with no electrical power at many devices
You describe loss of electrical power in what sounds like multiple circuits in the home. If these circuits were really working before the home was moved to its present lot it's still possible that the movement of travel loosened connectors in some of the circuits. You'll need an electrician to sort out and repair the trouble. Often s/he can identify the circuit and by noticing which devices still have power it may be possible to find the connection problem quickly.
Watch out: be alert for discovery of burned wiring, unsafe wiring, improper connections, damaged receptacles or light switches: fix or replace those at the same time rather than paying to call the electrician to come to your home repeatedly.
Question: electrical code references for a mobile home?
is there a list of codes to follow so when I re-wire my 1965 mobile home so as not to run into any set backs at the inspection? I already know about get rid of the aluminum wire,and use plastic not metal switch boxes and junctions, use 12/2 copper I just want to touch all bases so I don't have any more re-work than what is planned. - David East 5/24/12
David, specific electrical code regulations for mobile homes and manufactured homes originate in the U.S. in the National Electric Code but are in many if not nearly all instances further specified in state regulations that vary among the states. Below are some examples and citations. If none of these is your state let us know and we'll research it further.
Note that for the purpose of electrical wiring guides, just about every one of the documents I reviewed below assert that unless otherwise indicated (whatever that means) the term "mobile home" includes "manufactured home" - that is, for the purpose of regulating electrical wiring installation.
Definitions: Typically a "mobile home" or "manufactured home" wiring guide does not regulate electrical wiring specifications for modular construction. More about these definitions of types of housing and their differences can be read at DEFINITIONS of MOBILE HOME, DOUBLEWIDE, MODULAR, PANELIZED CONSTRUCTION
Question: sudden power loss after a short circuit
I lost power to my 1965 trailer when i accidently shorted out the power to the house
Short circuit may have damaged wiring - this sounds unsafe, I'd trace out the circuit
Question: is electrical conduit required between the park fuse box and my trailer breaker box?
I live in a mobile home park . Do i have to run conduit from the park supplied fuse box outside the trailer to my breaker box in the trailer. or can i just run conduit from the park supplied box to under my trailer as long as its burried . then just cable to my breaker box with out conduit the rest of the way
The cable needs to be rated for outdoor exposure if above ground, and for being buried if underground; also we often find dangerously damaged electrical wiring outdoors where it is close to ground and not protected by conduit - hit by mowers, for example.
Question: trailer window air conditioner keeps blowing fuses
window air conditioner keeps blowing fuese's
Check for an overloaded circuit or a failing window air conditioner compressor
I woud like to know if there are electricians who understand modular home wiring because this repairman said it ws easier to go without electricity in 3 rooms than it would be to fix the problem, and I'd just like to know if this is accurate - Pamela O'Conner 6/15/12
Pamela, electrical wiring for a modular home must meet the same local, state, or national electrical code requirements as a stick built home or other residential buildings.
Question: dummy electrical boxes in doublewide ceiling, used surface mount conduit - adding a ceiling fan
I bought a '98 Fleetwood Doublewide and found, in the living room, and all three bedrooms, that the lights / fans appeared to have been removed by previous owner. However, on inspection, it appears there's actually no wire in the ceiling, the shallow pie pans even had the knockouts still intact, and no wire ever run to the boxes. Then I noticed 6' tall basic surface raceway installed on the wall directly over a switched outlet in each room.
I'm guessing but, looks to me like previous owner rigged some lamp cord wiring of some sort run through the surface raceway over to suspended fixtures. My question: Is this factory arrangement? Did '98 code permit exterior raceway? I noticed in the owner manual ceiling fans were an "Option"...does that mean that if the option was not purchased those rooms would not have been conncected to the electrical distribution (i.e. not even a drop in a box in each room)? I took the boxes out and looked up into the space in the trusses but I don't see any wires at all so I can't really tell if there's a wire coiled up there or not. Sure would appreciate any help. Oh yea...if exeterior raceway and a suspended fixture was an option, is there an approved fixture (fan or light) to use in that configuration? - Mike 7/30/2012
Question: getting electrical power to an Airstream Trailer Home
(Dec 13, 2011) Rob said:
I have a 1967 Airstream International planted in the backyard and want to run an extension cord out to it to run basic electric. It has 5 amber running lights and a porch light on the outside that runs on DC. It is completely gutted and I have access to the single wire from each fixture. What do I need to do to hook up the outside running lights to a power strip.
Question: electrical wires too short at the box
(Sept 3, 2012) brent said:
I have a trailer previous owner took out the breaker box and cut wires to short what are my options besides completely rewiring it.
Brent, If the short-wire problem is on just one or two circuits usually you can use a metal junction box to safely contain an electrical wire splice so that you can extend the length of the too-short wires.
If the too-short electrical wire problem is for all of the wires it might be possible to move the electrical panel or breaker box enough so that all of the wires can reach it. If not you're going to need to install a large raceway or "bus" = basically a large electrical junction box to contain spliced-on additions to the wires to reach into the new panel.
Question: locating the mating plug for two halves of a double-wide
(Jan 14, 2013) tim ferguson said:
can you tell me where the plug is on a double wide for plugging each half togather again after being moved?it is a 1989 fleetwood mobile home
Tim, usually I find the mating plug under the unit near one end and near the mating beam. In some construction the mating connector is in an accessible attic space. Electrical connectors should never be completely buried or made inaccessible.
Question: reader comments on electrical safety hazards & landlord response
(Feb 7, 2013) Corren said:
For Kristy: we had the same problem last month. We are also in the same situation with the landlord.... We moved in the trailer back in Sept 2012. From the get go we had electrical issues. Plugs not working...basically if it was electrical it may our may not work...plugs, switches, lights...The first night we spent in the trailer,the main breaker blew for the first tune. If I had more than one major appliance on, it would blow. If I had one major appliance on and more than a couple of lights, it would blow.
We called the landlord. his response was,"Well dont have so much going on, trailers aren't made for all that". He did nothing....in dec it the main breaker blew one final time and would come back on when we reset it from the outside pole (what he had told us to do when the main breaker blew).
Long story short....after having to call the city (me), they had to replace the main breaker and pole. Also had to replace the writing running into the trailer because it had broken underground. Do after the city, an electrician that worked for 20's park, and a different electrician that landlord hired the problem was finally fixed. The problem was two-fold....the pole was over 30 years old and rusted.
The second was all the broken writing. When the city came to look at it, they took the meter out because everything inside the breaker box was melted and burnt to crumbs INCLUDING the metal bracket that was holding the meter in. Everyone said we are lucky to be alive because it didnt catch the trailer on fire. GET THE CITY INVOLVED IF YOUR LANDLORD WON'T FIX THE PROBLEM!!! I've got 3 small children and never would have moved here if I had known.
Repeating Steve's comment without the link he included:
Bought some property in NY that I need to have electrical service routed to. I found a TT panel with a main disconnect as well as 30A & 20A receptacles already wired. Now my question. If I mount this on say a 5-6 foot 6x6 on a concrete footing would I have any issues the electric co running service to it? Also, would I need an electrical inspection prior to having the electric company connect? - Steve 3/31/2013
You will need to mount the electrical panel to suit your LOCAL electrical inspector and state and local building codes. Your query doesn't include enough detail for one to have an opinion of its correctness or legality.
Question: 98 Colony singlewide, breaker trips immediately after being re-set
(Feb 18, 2014) Roy Clark said:
Have a 98 Colony single wide, the master bedroom and master bath trips the breaker immediately after being set. You cannot reset it, I put a new one in, still does the same thing. I took every plug in and light switch out to try to figure out where the problem is, it does the same thing. How can I troubleshoot for a bad wire without current running to wires. Any suggestions are greatly appreciated.
WATCH OUT: you may have a dangerous situation that risks a fire or shock. If an individual breaker trips immediately most likely there is a dead short somewhere - as you suggest. But when the MAIN breaker trips that suggests that there is a large overcurrent inside the panel which in turn is not being detected and shut off first by one of the individual circuit breakers.
The safest thing to do is leave power off and call a licensed electrician. The electrician will probably start by a visual inspection beginning outdoors at the meter, continuing indoors at the panel and panel interior looking for obvious overheating or damage.
It might be helpful to know the brand of panel and breakers installed - use the CONTACT link at page top or bottom to send me some photos if you can.
There are some brands like FPE Federal Pacific Electric and Zinsco that have main breaker failures and burn-ups as well as individual breaker failures.
As I'm trying to explain, when the main breaker trips, unless the fault is in that breaker itself, the suggestion is that one or more individual breakers in the panel is not tripping when it should - or that there is an internal short or damage in the panel. Since you say you already installed a new main breaker (I can't imagine how you did that safely unless the utility company dropped power for you outside) the suggestion is that there is an individual breaker or panel or bus failure.
But for a non-electrician, even opening the panel by removing its cover can be quite risky. If you're not trained & experienced it would be safest to leave that alone.
Please keep me posted, and send along photos if you can. Stay safe.
Question: Southern Breeze mobile home, loss of power, can't find the problem.
(Mar 9, 2014) Erika said:
I live in a 1991 Southern Breeze mobile home, a few days ago, in my master bedroom, the bedroom light, closet light, one of the 2 bathroom lights, one bedroom outlet, the GFCI plug in the bathroom, and the outside plug have all quit working, we can't seem to find the problem, help us please!
Erika because this is a fire and shock safety hazard it makes sense to ask an licensed electrician to trace out the circuit to find the problem; meanwhile I'd leave the circuit OFF.
I'm assuming you tried pressing the re-set button on the GFCI once, right?
Question: tripped main fuse when changing a light, neutral wire found to be "live"
(Mar 13, 2014) Mike Smith said:
I've managed to trip the main site fuse box while changing a ceiling light. All my trips were OFF and wiring safe when checked with a circuit tester & (stupid I know) by touching each wire. When the site electrician came he touched the neutral wire to the metal shed wall & there was an audible discharge & the trip activated. WHY?
If touching neutral to ground causes a short then the circuit to which the neutral is connected was live (and, happily, the shed is grounded)
This is a dangerous condition. The short needs to be found and repaired. Leave power off until that's been done.
Questions & answerrs about how to troubleshoot & fix problems in manufactured home or mobile home electrical systems: service entry wiring, electric meter, main panel, wiring, outlets, lights, switches.
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