Home Care Guide: Understanding Electrical Systems in Prefab Homes

From smoke detectors to GFCI outlets, learn how to maintain the electrical systems in your manufactured home.

Caring for the electrical system in your home starts at the service panel. Here, you'll find several circuit breakers that protect the electrical system by shutting down or "tripping" if the system becomes overloaded.

While it's possible for a breaker to trip because of a power surge outside the home, more often it's caused by using too many appliances on the same circuit at one time. When this happens, the power to that circuit will turn off, shutting off the power to all the connections on that circuit.

What to do if your circuits are overloaded

man checking circuit breakers

Inside the service panel, the tripped breaker will be in the middle position. Before you reset the affected breaker, make sure to turn off all items that are plugged into that circuit. To turn the power on, you should push the breaker switch all the way off and then back on.

Once the breaker has been reset, turn each appliance back on individually. If the breaker trips again, then the circuit is still overloaded. If this is occurring, it may mean that there are too many things plugged in. Items like microwaves or hair dryers especially require a large draw of electrical power. This could cause damage to both your appliances and your electrical systems.

To help this, turn off the breaker, go to the area where the breaker is tripping and unplug a few of the items. Turn the breaker back on to see if it trips again. If it does, try turning the breaker off one more time, and make sure to only have items plugged in that the electrical system can handle. If you continue to do this and the breaker keeps turning off, contact a local electrician to investigate the issue.

Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI or GFI):

GFCI

Inside your home there are Ground Fault Interrupters, known as GFCI or GFI outlets. These outlets are designed to provide extra safety in areas where water is present such as the:¹

  • Kitchen
  • Bathroom
  • Utility Room
  • Garage

To test a GFCI, push the "Test" button on the outlet receptacle to activate the "Reset" button which will restore power to the circuit. If a GFCI pops, turn off anything connected to the circuit and press the reset button to activate the GFCI; then you can turn on items connected to the circuit.

Smoke Alarms:

changing smoke detector

The smoke alarms installed throughout your home may have been wired into your electrical system, and it's important to test them as often as the manufacturer suggests.

All wired smoke alarms have a set of backup batteries in case of a power outage. If the batteries have low power they'll make a high-pitched chirping noise, however changing them twice a year, or as often as the manufacturer recommends, is your best bet to avoid any problems!

To test a smoke alarm, press the "Test" button on the detector. If the alarm beeps, it's working, if it doesn't, your first step should be to check the batteries to see if they've lost their charge.

If changing the batteries resolves the issue and the detector beeps when tested, your smoke alarm is working. If the alarm still doesn't emit a noise, you should have the smoke alarms checked to see if they're functioning properly.

Contact the home center where you purchased your home if you need assistance in finding someone to check your alarms.

According to most manufacturers, smoke alarms should be replaced every 10 years. If your smoke alarm is more than 10 years old, it's a good idea to go ahead and purchase new alarms even if the battery still beeps when tested, as the sensor may have deteriorated.

Cleaning your smoke alarms is also important as dust and debris could clog the sensors that are necessary to detect smoke.

Following these tips will help increase the longevity and functionality of the electrical systems in your home! Remember, if you're unsure about anything related to the electrical systems in your home, minimize risk and contact a professional to look at it.

  1. "Ground-Fault Circuit Interrupters (GFCI)." Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Accessed May 09, 2018. https://www.osha.gov/SLTC/etools/construction/electrical_incidents/gfci.html.

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