Need a fresh perspective

sparkycNovember 3, 2009

Thanks in advance, My brain is tapped.

I have an electrical issue in a mobile home. Single wide, 100amp service. One lite in the kitchen w/o power, one outlet in the living room w/o power and a back bedroom and bath almost entirely without power.

My two biggest issues are that I have never troubleshooted in a mobile home, and I am not all that used to romex, either.

The breaker in the box was labeled "Kitchen, living room, bed, bath" and it is the only one that changed nothing when all of the working lights were on. So I narrowed that down, and tried the lead wire behind a known working breaker. All is copasetic in the box...

To be honest I thought the one light in the kitchen had nothing to do with it so I just dove straight into the bed/bath and undid everything the homeowner said was not working.

Turned breaker back on and tried everything with a wiggy. Nothin. So I undid the switch in the kitchen, again, nothing.

So here are my big questions... for those familiar with wiring in mobile homes. It appears the home run goes in the ceiling but homeowner told me there is no access to the ceiling. Is that possible? Where should I look for access? Am I assuming right that the kitchen light may also be on this same circuit as a bedroom at the other end of the home? Any other clues? The romex appears to be in great shape for a home built in 1981. I spent 2 hours there already and she is on a major budget.

Thanks for ANY advice!

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"It appears the home run goes in the ceiling but homeowner told me there is no access to the ceiling. Is that possible?" Yes. The ceiling area is wide open in the factory while the home is incomplete.

"Where should I look for access?" If you mean direct access to the area above the ceiling, there is no way except to remove either ceiling or roof. If you mean access to the other end of the wire from the breaker panel, it could in just about any junction box or fixture in the "Kitchen, living room, bed, bath".

"Am I assuming right that the kitchen light may also be on this same circuit as a bedroom at the other end of the home?" Probably, based on the "Kitchen, living room, bed, bath" label.

"Any other clues?" Look in the kitchen light.

BTW- if you are charging this job by the hour, consider giving the homeowner some credit for allowing you to learn all about mobile home wiring in his/her home.

    Bookmark   November 3, 2009 at 8:07PM
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Most problems like this I have encountered in mobile homes are the same as you would see in a stick built home: poor connections due to pushin connections on receptacles. Only in the MH, the receptacles are much cheaper.

    Bookmark   November 3, 2009 at 8:20PM
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Ron Natalie

The only other thing I can add is that sometimes your "accessible" junctions are found on the OUTSIDE of the structure. But I agree with Normel, the cheapest backstab or other cheezy receptacle and fixtures are the norm in manufactured housing. I'd check every device.

    Bookmark   November 4, 2009 at 6:44AM
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Is there any chance at all that a GFCI could be involved?

    Bookmark   November 4, 2009 at 8:13AM
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Thanks everyone.

There are no GFCI's in the home.

I already ruled out a bad device, as I dismantled every one and tested the wires directly.

I am charging by the hour, but it's cut-throat rate, just for my time. She is my friend's mother, so I am not looking to make money on this, just helping her out. I am more worried about how much it will cost to FIX the problem, when I find it...

So would the wires be stapled throughout the ceiling? i thought it might just be easier (if they are not stapled) to pull a new wire. There is slack in the walls, but they are stapled right out of the panel.

Wayne: I didn't want to waste too much time taking down light fixtures as I figure since it's romex, it really doesn't need to go through junction boxes, Just layin up above the ceiling. Whoa. Ok. Just had a thought. She mentioned she hated her new fan in the kitchen. Calling her now. But keep those wheels turnin for me!!! I have reached a LOT of dead ends on this one!!

    Bookmark   November 4, 2009 at 11:21AM
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I'm not that familiar with mobile homes, but I assume they're more or less similar to motorhomes, which I used to work on. I would suspect that Molex Self-Contained Power Connectors or the similar product from Amp are used to connect cables together. The connectors may be difficult or impossible to access in the finished home. If workers in the mobile home industry are anything like those in the RV industry, there's a pretty good chance that some of these connectors were not installed correctly--the connector may not have been fully closed, or the latch may be broken, or two cables may have been stuffed into one connector. If you're lucky, you may be able to find the connectors behind an access panel somewhere. Sometimes, it's easier just to run a new cable and not waste time trying to find the problem in the old one.

There's a chance that you might be able to find the break with a fox and hound set like the phone guys use. That kind of tester has limited capabilities, but it's not too expensive. I always wanted to get a good wiring tracer, but they're way too expensive for me.

    Bookmark   November 4, 2009 at 4:14PM
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Mobile homes are a world unto themselves, with rules set by HUD and the feds.

They are NOT required to follow the NEC, and can have splice and junctions in concealed places that are not even in junction boxes.

There is also often zero room to drill and pull cables (a 2x4 wall is NOT going to be found).

Since the depreciate in value with age, it is rarely worth spending a lot of time (or money) to repair or replace much of anything.

    Bookmark   November 5, 2009 at 3:48PM
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Are you saying the factory can put a flying splice behind a wall?

    Bookmark   November 5, 2009 at 6:38PM
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They use these or similar in Mobile Homes.

Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   November 5, 2009 at 8:18PM
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The T-splice in saltcedar's picture is pretty fragile. It's very easy to break the latch that locks the vertical connector into the horizontal T-connector, leaving an insecure connection that may work for a while and then fail unexpectedly.

    Bookmark   November 5, 2009 at 11:03PM
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