Can I Put A Regular Hot Water Heater In A Mobile Home?

Ossiana Tepfenhart
by Ossiana Tepfenhart

When I first started doing home improvement work, I was shocked to find out how many seemingly universal household parts don’t work with mobile homes. I mean, they’re supposed to be universal, right?! We all know that most heaters and toilet systems may need to have modifications in mobile homes. When it comes to matters like hot water heaters, things can get dicey.

You cannot legally install a standard hot water heater in a mobile home, since standard water heaters are not HUD-approved. This is primarily due to the fact that they need to have a non-adjustable temperature, a pressure release valve, and a cold water tap on the side.

The temptation to have a regular water heater can be high, especially if you are used to working with them. However, it’s a bad idea. We’ll explain why.

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Why Can’t You Use A Regular Water Heater In A Mobile Home?

In theory, you absolutely can use a regular water heater in a mobile home. I mean, the connections are all the same. It would take a little bit of extra finagling. However, there are legal ramifications to adding a regular water heater into a mobile home. Due to the fact that manufactured homes are more delicate than standard homes, they have to have water heaters that are secured in different manners.

If you feel like skirting this issue, think again. This isn’t just a state-specific matter. There is a national mandate that says mobile homes require HUD-approved water heaters. Otherwise, your home will be deemed unsuitable to live in.

What Kind Of Water Heater Is Best For A Mobile Home?

Believe it or not, manufacturers make water heaters that are specific for mobile home use. They are nationally HUD-approved, which means that they can be converted from gas to propane in a pinch and have the right layout for easy mobile home installation.

Though national HUD approval is key, it’s also important to realize that your state or municipal building codes may have additional requirements. To ensure that you can legally use a water heater, it’s best to take a look at the local building codes in your area. Your mobile home HOA may be able to help you find a good heater that’s up to code.

Why Aren’t Standard Water Heaters HUD-Approved?

There are a lot of reasons for this, including the fact that their pipe placements aren’t the same as well as the fact that they can be converted from propane to gas. Many water heaters also don’t have non-adjustable temperatures. Some also don’t have pressure relief valves, though that’s rare.

As you can see, there are a lot of reasons why a standard water heater won’t work with a mobile home’s strict standards. However, the most commonly cited reason for the ban deals with the fact that most heaters do not have a sealed square intake vent.

What Happens If You Use A Regular Water Heater Instead Of A HUD-Approved Heater?

Well, there are a lot of things that can happen (or will happen) if you use the wrong water heater. The most common issues that can arise include the ones below.

  • You will get written up, fast. You may end up having your mobile home condemned or face a local fine for it. Your municipal government will ask you to replace your water heater. This often comes with a strict deadline.
  • Some mobile home communities may actually ask you to leave. Most communities will have this as a part of their code of conduct. While the first misstep can involve a simple warning or a fine, some groups will make a point of trying to get levies against your home.
  • You will probably have a hard time installing it. While regular water heaters have all the same parts, their location can make it hard for them to use in a mobile home. You might have to add extra pipes or parts to make it happen. This alone should tell you that something’s not right.
  • The warranty on your water heater will be null and void. This is almost an instant given, regardless of the brand. You also will probably be unable to return the water heater if you’ve tried to install it.
  • It will nullify your homeowner’s insurance policy. No insurer in their right mind will be willing to cover a house that is knowingly against code. The moment your mobile park gets the announcement is the moment that you’ll be uninsured.
  • You’ll be at a higher risk for accidents. Make no mistake about it. Installing the wrong type of water heater is an improper installation. Improperly installed water heaters are dangerous water heaters. This means you may end up with a potentially lethal accident on your hand.

Can You Rent A Water Heater For Your Mobile Home?

While water heater rentals are actually somewhat common in certain parts of the country, they are exclusively relegated to traditional homes. You cannot legally rent a HUD-approved heater, though the reasons why are unclear. Most of the time, it’s safe to assume that the reasons are safety-related.

How Much Do Mobile Home Water Heaters Cost?

Believe it or not, they tend to be slightly more expensive than the lower tier of standard brick-and-mortar home water heaters. You should expect to pay between $500 to $900 for a mobile home water heater. Some areas may have additional mandatory features that may also add extra to the price tag. In some areas, you also might be able to get a deal by finding a refurbished one. (We don’t recommend it though!)

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Related Questions

Do mobile water heaters need to be strapped in?

Much like many other homes in the nation, mobile homes have a requirement to tie down their water heaters. All mobile home water heaters will need to have straps holding them in place in the event of an earthquake or tornado. How many straps you will need, though, can vary from municipality to municipality. So, it’s best to check with your local HUD to find out what building codes say for your specific area.

How many volts should an electric water heater have for a mobile home?

Most mobile homes will be able to use a 120-Volt water heater. This is roughly half the power and capacity that you would have in a typical house. (That’s a standard of 240 Volts, just in case you wanted to know.) So, if you were worried about electric bills, don’t be. Mobile home water heaters are actually fairly good when it comes to energy conservation.

Where can you find the water heater in a mobile home?

A mobile home usually contains the water heater right next to its furnace in the utility closet. In some rarer cases, you can find the water heater in the bedroom closet or near the bathroom in a separate closet. Some areas will also have it in a closet in the hallway behind a panel that is made to look like the rest of the wall.If you aren’t sure where it is, asking the manufacturer or the mobile home community manager will do the trick. They often will be able to tell you when you can’t find it in your home plans.

Ossiana Tepfenhart
Ossiana Tepfenhart

Ossiana Tepfenhart is an expert writer, focusing on interior design and general home tips. Writing is her life, and it's what she does best. Her interests include art and real estate investments.

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