DO IT YOURSELF

Mobile Home Electric Furnace: The Ultimate Guide for Installation and Maintenance

Gary Merritt
Written by Gary Merritt

Heating is one of the most essential requirements in any home. Winters can leave you frozen, and sometimes the warmer seasons aren’t anything to write home about, depending on where you live. It may feel a little worse in a mobile home because there could be several potential avenues that could let in cold air.

A great investment to solve this dilemma would be a mobile home electric furnace. It will automatically bring in new warmth to the home, making it more comfortable and habitable. But the question is: How do you install one?

Why You Must Use a Furnace

It can be very tempting to ignore sound advice and get a regular furnace to install into your mobile home. That is something that shouldn’t happen, and with good reason. Here are some of the most important reasons why.

1. Small duct work

Every furnace comes with ducts, but those on a regular furnace are much bigger than those on the kind of furnace you need here. It would be a little difficult for the duct work on a regular furnace to fit into the space assigned to a furnace in a modular home.

Installed ductwork on furnace

Purchasing a regular one will therefore be a waste of money.

2. Circulation

A mobile home is often smaller than a regular site-built home. The air needs to properly flow so as not to cause any dangerous scenarios. The furnace produces a little carbon monoxide in small quantities. This gas is invisible and odorless and therefore one can easily inhale it.

However, if this gas saturates a room and someone breathes it in, that person can experience carbon monoxide poisoning. It will first cause dizziness, nausea, vomiting and some stomach cramps. Some movement as well as exposure to fresh air can help deal with it and it may take a while.

Where the gas is in large quantities or if the affected person is left unattended, this gas could lead to death. This is why these particular filters have a special fan. The fan ensures proper emission of this gas up a chimney and out. What circulates inside a home is only warm air that is harmless to the occupants.

3. Size

Regular furnaces are larger than their mobile home counterparts and will generally not fit into the tight corners of a mobile home. There is not much space to make adjustments in a modular home, so the ideal furnace would be one specifically designed for it.

Leaky mobile home furnace

You may want to go for a regular furnace because it will produce more energy, but consider the implications above before you do so. Apart from getting a special furnace for your home, you should also remember to get the right model.

You should check the model and year of your home to get a clue about what is best for you. Buying a furnace just because it is made for mobile homes without getting the model right will render the furnace useless.

Now that you know why you should get the right furnace and how to identify it, you are ready to install your newly acquired furnace.

How to Install an Electric Furnace for Your Mobile Home

Step 1: Remove the existing furnace

Begin by removing the older furnace if you previously had another one. You must switch off the power at the furnace itself and then the main power source. This will allow you to take a closer look at the wiring that goes to the furnace. The power cord will have to be replaced, so remember to get one as you buy the new furnace.

Furnace repair demo

You will find other cords that will also need replacing. Take care not to remove the exhaust and intake hoses because these should remain connected to the mobile home. If they however get damaged, take them out and carry them with you when you go furnace shopping. Carrying them will help you explain what exactly you need to replace.

Step 2: Disconnect

The power is off from all points now. Wait for the furnace to cool down so that you can easily touch it without getting burnt. Disconnect all the electrical connections, and carefully remove the furnace.

Take a look at the power connection points as well as the adapters for damage. Any kind of damage means they must be replaced. You can easily remove them by unscrewing using a pair of pliers or a basic flathead screwdriver.

Step 3: Check Fittings and Reconnect

Now you are ready for the new furnace. Try fitting it in without the connections first. This is to check how well it fits into the space provided because it should be neither too tight nor too loose. Once you ascertain it fits properly, you can embark on the connections. They should be at the back of the furnace.

Check furnace fittings

Match the cords to the connection points and bring everything together. You can tighten them with a wrench or screwdriver depending on whether they come with bolts or screws respectively. Be sure to tighten them just enough because having them too tight can cause them to weaken sooner than is necessary.

Step 4: Restore Power

Turn the central power back on and switch on the furnace. Keep it on for about an hour and then check to see whether there is any heat coming from it. And you are officially done with the installation.

You have a new furnace now and the warmth it provides is inviting, to say the least. You want to enjoy the services of this furnace as long as possible because a warm and cozy home is a primary need and you also just spent a good amount of money on the furnace. It requires proper maintenance so that it can have a long and healthy life.

Simple Maintenance Tasks for Better Function

Regular maintenance is absolutely necessary when it comes to handling a mechanical device. Many may prefer to call a technician to handle their maintenance needs, but there are those who are skilled at DIY projects and love to get their hands dirty. Some of these tasks may be time consuming, but the end result is definitely worth it.

Check the filter

A furnace has a furnace filter. These work the same as the air filters in your air conditioning system. They filter the dust, dirt and sometimes allergens, depending on the type of filter your furnace uses.

The nature of their work leaves them rather dirty and sometimes clogged. A clogged filter causes the whole system to work much harder to circulate heat around the home, and this takes your heating bill higher.

Electric furnace for mobile homes

Before you take out the filter, take a good look at the outside. The filter lies on the inside of the furnace, so you need to mark the airflow direction, which you can easily find on the filter itself. There should be an arrow showing airflow direction.

Take a permanent marker and draw the airflow direction on the furnace for guidance. That way you will know which way to put the filter back in when you are done.

Open the top door. You might need to remove the bottom door too depending on the model. Remove the filter and wash it with clean water if it is a foam filter. Let it drip until completely dry. You can now put it back. Foam filters go in any way so the direction isn’t important.

If the filter is a box filter, it will have an arrow showing the direction of air flow. You must throw a dirty box filter and replace it with a new one. They aren’t expensive so this is no cause for alarm. When putting in the new filter, take care to do so in the right way so as not to affect the proper functions of the furnace.

How often you do this is dependent on several things such as the amount of dust that comes into your home, humidity levels, the number of people living in the home and the number of pets you have. You might need to do so once a month to be on the safe side.

Replacing furnace filters

Seems like too often? Well, if it does get clogged and remains so for a long time, not only will the furnace work harder, but it could also lead to problems with the blower, which will lead to replacement.

Clean every moving part

Parts that move need to remain mobile at all times. This can be done at least once every year. Give everything a little dusting as is appropriate and lubricate where necessary.

Fan belt and bearings

Bearings will need lubrication to keep them from rusting. The fan belt may need a little tightening after being used throughout the year. Do this carefully, taking care not to damage them in any way. If the fan belt is already damaged, you would do well to replace it.

If the motor is one that requires oil as part of maintenance, put one to four drops of motor oil in the designated area. Too much oil is just as bad as not enough oil so be sure to maintain a balance.

Check for damage to ventilation

Wear and tear is normal during the lifetime of any piece of equipment, but it should be monitored at all times. Maintenance should include checking for any damage that may be affecting efficiency. Look for cracks, holes, leaks, separated or broken joints, and anything else that signifies a problem in the ventilation system.

Inspecting the furnace

Any leaks cause quite a lot of strain on the whole system because all the warm air seeps through the cracks. The living areas lose out on valuable warm air and the furnace works harder to keep them as warm as they should be and that creates an endless cycle of inefficiency.

Fix any holes and scratches to keep in the warmth and generally reduce the strain on the furnace. If you are worried about causing more damage as you fix, call in a professional and watch how they do it. You will have much more confidence to do the repairs next time.

Maintenance is necessary and should be done regularly and in good time. The last thing you want is to notice a faulty furnace just when the winter chill is setting in. Schedule it way before winter and get ahead of the cold.

Keeping in the warmth to reduce heating bills

You have your new furnace functioning properly, and your next maintenance routine is a few months off. As you continue using your furnace, the electric bill continues to come your way.

Many wish they didn’t have to deal with this recurring bill and sometimes it goes a little too high. Some report having a $500 heating bill and others even higher. The whole essence of moving into a mobile home is usually to reduce bills as low as possible, so this may be a little disheartening.

Troubleshooting electric furnace

It may be a little difficult to keep a furnace’s consumption where you want it, but you can definitely make an effort to reduce it. The good thing about the possible cost reduction measures is that you won’t have to compromise your warmth.

All you need to do is make the most of the warm air that’s coming in and to keep it in as long as possible. This also prevents the furnace from overworking itself to keep your home warm, which is essentially what causes the increase in consumption in the first place. Here are a few pointers that will not cost an arm and a leg.

Ensure you have proper insulation

Insulation in your walls will keep your warm air warmer for longer. It tucks it in and keeps it circulating within, which allows the room to get warmer much faster. A mobile home without insulation gives off a lot of the heat and fast, leaving the furnace working extra time to keep the home warm.

This raises the bill of course. Make sure you get insulation between walls and in the ceiling too. Consider blown in insulation as well and you will experience warmer winters and cooler summers for a few years.

Check the doors and windows for openings

Doors and windows may not fit properly into their spaces, thus leaving room for warm air to escape. You will need to cover these if you find any. Take some insulation tape and cover all those gaps.

Sealing windows to maintain heat

Better yet, caulk every space that shouldn’t be there. Check under the sink, bathroom and any other possible place and seal them shut. This is sure to stay in place, and there is no chance of any air getting through it. You can also paint over the walls because this will automatically cover any holes and cracks in the walls too.

Once every possible ‘leak’ is covered and the insulation is installed, add on a second layer of protection. Replace your regular window curtains with insulate drapes and keep them drawn close. This will keep in whatever warmth is generated.

You can also cover the windows with dark film. The film will keep out excess heat in the hotter months but still allow for sunlight to come through.

Some greenery goes a long way

This particular approach is ideal for those who will be staying in their modular home for a long and indefinite time period. Trees always break the impact of strong winds. You can use this to your advantage by planting some trees close to your home.

Mobile home front lawn greenery

The trees will reduce the speed and impact of cold droughts coming into your home from any angle thus keeping it warm. They also come in handy in the hotter months since trees always provide a cool breeze during this time. An additional benefit is the shade for your mobile home.

Heat is lost through the floors and this could impact the electricity bill. Keeping the crawlspace covered could have a positive effect on heat loss and can add to the aesthetics of the place. Plant shrubs along the crawlspace and block one of the ways heat is lost in your mobile home.

Turn off the hot water breaker

Many home owners leave the hot water on the whole day. While it may seem convenient and not much of a problem, this raises electricity bills to exorbitant levels. Why would you leave the hot water on during the day while nobody is using it? The best thing to do is to have it on only when required. This is simple to do because it has a breaker switch.

Turning off hot water breaker

Switch it off as soon as everyone is done with their shower for the day. You can then switch it back on about an hour before people need to use it in the evening so it can heat up. Remember to switch it off when everyone is done. This means the hot water will be on for less than three hours in a day thus cutting down the electric bill.

Check your meter

Sometimes your electricity bill is so high yet you’ve taken every step to keep it in check, including replacing a faulty furnace. The bill just remains as high or gets even higher! That can be very frustrating considering the economic crunch. Try monitoring your meter as you switch off the electric items one by one.

Switch off the refrigerator, kitchen outlets, pump and anything else you own that uses electricity. Turn them off one by one as you look at the meter. You might need someone to help you look at the meter, or switch off the individual breakers, unless you don’t mind the back and forth trips to the meter each time you switch off a breaker.

Checking electricity meter

This should tell you which appliance is sucking the most juice and you can decide to have it checked for faults. You will probably find a faulty outlet. This can easily be fixed.

Sometimes an appliance is just a major consumer of electricity and not faulty. Older fridges may have been less energy-efficient but they were smaller. Current newer fridges are much bigger and consume a considerable amount of power and many homes have these bigger fancier-looking ones.

Compare the consumption between when such an item is on and when it is off to get a better picture of what it actually uses. If you find that it is indeed consuming more than expected, decide whether you are willing to sacrifice something flashy for lower bills or not. You can sell it off and buy an older model with a lower consumption.

Digital electricity meter

Another possibility is that your meter is broken. It may seem like a long shot, but anything is possible. Switch off every breaker in your home and then take a look at your meter after you are done. If the meter still reads some power consumption then it could be faulty and causing you to pay for electricity you haven’t actually used. Replacing the meter should solve the problem immediately.

Better get the right maintenance procedure for your furnace

Time flies and before you know it another month has gone by and your filter needs replacing. It may be wise if you learnt how to properly conduct small maintenance tasks on your electric furnace so you can tackle them as is often required.

It may seem a little tricky to work around at first but you eventually learn how to with practice. The best place to get additional instructions is the user manual. Some furnaces have instructions on the panel and a closer look at it may prove useful.

All in all, maintenance will reduce the occurrence of wear and tear, will reduce energy costs and will increase the lifespan of allergens which improves the overall indoor air quality. Better airflow provides a better quality of life.   f the furnace. It will also reduce the presence of mold, dust and

Properly maintained furnace

Do you think you are ready to install an electric furnace? What did we miss that you still would like to know? Let us know so we can help make this process as easy and painless as possible.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Gary Merritt
Gary Merritt

Gary did an engineering degree in Vancouver, BC while working in different construction companies both on-site and in the office. He is passionate about manufacturing process and dreams that one day construction of the house will be as simple as ordering a hamburger in McDonalds. His motto is: “It is possible”. Gary is an optimist and works on making changes in housing situation on global scale.

  • Rachel

    A proper guide about how to choose and install an ELECTRIC FURNACE? Reading this article would help you out in this matter. When you are selecting an electric furnance, read the cost and features of various furnace you require to consider before purchasing a water heater are explained thoroughly.Furthermore, you should get one that is able to handle multiple sources of water consumption simultaneously.

    • Gary Merritt

      We really wanted to show our readers how it is done properly, Rachel. Safety is our primary concern and it is one of the reasons why we prepared this article for everyone to read.

  • Mark David

    A mobile home electric furnace functions in much the same way that a standard electric furnace does. These furnaces are typically smaller and less powerful; however, they have a smaller amount of space to heat.

    Before you install your mobile home electric furnace, it pays to do a bit of research on the best kinds of furnaces for your mobile home. Some furnaces use more energy than others and may be better or worse choices for your setup. Read on for a brief guide on how to install a mobile home electric furnace.

    • Gary Merritt

      Thanks for pointing that out. Some homeowners are enticed to get a small home electric furnace because of how compact it is. However, it is very important to identify the need first, because owning a severely underpowered furnace defeats its purpose.

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