Wednesday, January 19, 2022

Woodstove in a manufactured home?

Some time ago, a reader left a comment as follows: "My wife and I are thinking about retiring into a mobile home. It looks like that's what you and your husband fixed up. Are you satisfied with it? Is it sufficiently built to make a comfortable home? I thought you indicated you had a woodstove and I did not know you could put a wood stove or firebox stove inside a mobile home. Please comment. Thank you."

The following material was written mostly by Don.

Prior to moving into our current abode, we had very little experience with manufactured homes. During the transition between our old home and our current home, with got within a hair's breadth of purchasing a rather dingy (but inexpensive) 1970s single-wide installed in a mobile home park, just as a temporary place to live. The seller pulled out at the last minute so the sale never went through, but let's just say the inside looked like a 1970s single-wide.

 

However a few years ago, at our old place, we had some new neighbors who bought the property next door. They purchased a triple-wide manufactured home (they have a large family), and we watched with fascination the process of hauling in the sections and installing them. When it was completed and the neighbors toured us around, we were impressed with how bright and airy and beautiful it was. Clearly things have come a long way in the manufactured home industry, especially compared to that 1970s model.

Our current home is a hybrid, part manufactured and part stick-built (a large extension was added which we use as a living room). The original manufactured part was built in 1995, and here and there we can still glimpse some of the early d├ęcor (the back of a closet, under the bathroom sink, etc.) However over the years the home has been improved and decorated to look much nicer. Someone installed nice laminated flooring, the walls are a decent neutral beige, they remodeled the kitchen and bathrooms, and the appliances were upgraded (a mixed blessing). During this remodeling, in addition to the stick-built extension, they also added two beautiful porches facing north and east. As a result, it doesn't look like a manufactured home at all.

Since moving in, the first major indoor project was building a spacious pantry in an underutilized corner, which gave us a double bang for our buck: pantry inside…

…and a library wall outside.

The second major indoor project was installing the wood cookstove. When we moved in, our home had two heat sources: forced-air central heating, and a pellet stove. Clearly these are useless during power outages; and power outages, we've discovered, are not uncommon. A non-electric heat source was an essential improvement.

Anyway, back to the reader's original question about installing wood heat in a manufactured home. The answer is yes, it can be done – with a few provisos.

Firstly, if you want to install a woodstove in a manufactured home (or if there's one already installed), you should contact your insurance company to find out what their requirements are concerning the installation. Manufactured homes differ structurally from stick-built homes in a variety of ways, so you need to make sure everything is compliant with state and local codes.

The most common requirements are:

• The woodstove must be rated and approved for use in manufactured homes. This means the stove model has been tested and is in compliance with HUD Standard UM-84 (a metal tag will be affixed to the rear of the stove attesting to this compliance). An approved woodstove will have a separate air intake vent to the outside, to allow exterior air into the firebox during combustion. The reason for this requirement is because most manufactured homes are built fairly air-tight, and installing a woodstove without a separate air intake vent may result in carbon monoxide buildup.

• Most approved woodstoves have a built-in heat shield attached to the rear of the stove. This is probably due to the limited space in a manufactured home.

• The woodstove must be mounted to the floor in such a way that, should the home be moved at some point in the future, the stove will remain in place.

• The woodstove must be installed in a way that meets standard state and local codes (proper pipe spaces, pipe types, distance from combustible materials, Class-A pipe through the ceiling and roof, non-combustible heart pad, etc.).

It's worth noting that some insurance companies may object to allowing a woodstove to be installed if it will be the principle or only heat-producing system. Some insurance companies may also require an inspection of both the woodstove and its installation by an agent or specialist. Some companies may even require the stove to be installed by a licensed professional. This is in addition to whatever state and local regulations which with you must comply. Don't forget to look online for specific installation information for manufactured homes.

Woodstoves in manufactured homes are not usually allowed in sleeping spaces (bedrooms). Also, because manufactured homes are usually so air-tight, it is often required (and recommended) to install a smoke and carbon monoxide detector.

We were able to skirt a few of these requirements because a significant portion of our home is the stick-built addition to the manufactured portion, and we installed the woodstove in that addition. But our insurance company still required us to provide photos of the UL tag on the rear of the stove, as well as photos (both interior and exterior) of the final installation and pipe assembly.

It helped that we have the same insurance company we used at our previous home, as well as the exact same model of woodstove we used in our old place.

We don't profess to be experts in manufactured homes by any stretch. However we've been very satisfied with the quality of construction of our nearly 30-year-old model. It's warm and well insulated, lends itself to remodeling projects (such as the pantry), and in all respects makes a cozy abode for a couple of semi-retired empty nesters.

12 comments:

  1. Manufactured home, modular home and mobile homes are not all the same thing. The quality of construction varies widely. We have a modular home, and 90 percent of people couldn't tell it from stick built.

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  2. Check into a Lopi by Travis Ind. I believe they are rated for mobile homes.

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  3. In my experience, it depends on the insurance company. My insurance company didn't care as long as the installation instructions for the stove were followed, and having one (or not) didn't affect the policy. But they also did not have pool specific requirements either.

    When looking at wood stoves, don't forget to use the correct piping and roof connections - both size, wall and insulation, and roof type. Some roof penetrations are specifically designed for mobile homes.

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  4. There are a lot of mobile homes just south of us that all have wood stoves for heating. It can definitely be done.

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  5. Very interesting! Thank you for responding. Love your blog.

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  6. They are nice until you have a water leak that you don't know about or a busted pipe! The floor and walls are pressboard which soaks up water like a sponge and begins to dissolve almost immediately. Ask me about the $15,000 bill I had to replace floors and walls in 2 rooms. It was horrible!! Stick built will always be the way to go!

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    1. Yeah, I know what you mean. We have a 2001 manufactured home and the same thing happened to us. That pressboard is horrible stuff!

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  7. I have been in my 14 x 70 mobile home since 1995. At that time, it was the highest quality made for a single wide. Walls are sheetrock. Solid particle board floors (just as I know that is used on lots of stick built houses, know contractors). Shingle roof lasted 17 years. Replaced with sheetmetal roof. Added giant den, 2 bedrooms, 2 porches. And why could I afford to build all the extra rooms? Because the house loan which included the well and septic tank/drain field cost had been paid off after the first few years. Like anything else, the is different quality with different manufacturers. I get the last laugh now. Retired early at 62, not a slave to a Mcmansion house payment. Also the property taxes are low with a mobile home, it depreciates. My 2020 Tacoma's property taxes were higher than my 2 acres and mobile home. If you do by a new mobile home, only go with a factory dealer that will fix any issues, with no worries. The big name manufacturers have teams that fix issues. So you are not costing your dealer. So your company dealer, can get you a fix( most of the time, it is warranted for at least a year).Now full disclosure, if you are trying to impress some yuppie that lives in a Gone With The Wind style house, you won't. A mobile home is what it is. However, with the money I saved, we have made a compound, then my daughter bought an acre beside us. All 3 acres fenced, gated. Have backup generators, food storage, 2 wells. Solar, on and on. So when the SHTF, we just sit on the porch and watch the world burn down around us.

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  8. I too had wondered about the stove, and also how your roof was holding up to snow load, or had it been replaced with metal. After zooming in on the picture of your roof I think I see the bottom of a tin roof that was possibly added on.
    Your posts are very informative. Several of us readers are at a similar place in life and thinking ahead to the next step, Lord willing.
    A beautiful old couple I used to know before they passed over, used to ask each other daily, " Do you think today might be the day?" They were referring to Christ's return. I loved hearing it. We can make our plans but He owns the future.
    That said, what better place to wait than out in the country.

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  9. I would bet you could run a pellet stove a good long time with a spare car battery (or a deep cycle battery) combined with an inverter. The only thing that draws much power is the periodic pellet screw feed. Might make a good preparedness exercise.

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  10. While being able to run a woodstove with a closed up fire box does reduce CO back drafting into the home. The reason for the dedicated air intake in a well sealed home it to avoid oxygen depletion as the fire burns. Combustion consumes oxygen and also draws the air up the chimney. The make up air comes in through air leaks around doors, windows and in walls. Tight construction won't let in enough fresh air so the oxygen will deplete and your house will develop a vacuum.

    My ventless propane wall heater, burns efficiently and doesn't introduce CO (well not much, I've measured 9 ppm which is at the standard for a home) if well maintained. But the pilot assembly has an oxygen depletion sensor which will kill the flame if the O2 gets low saving me from suffocation.

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