6 Mobile Home Maintenance Tips
Just like a site-built home, a mobile home needs routine maintenance and inspections to keep it in top shape. The following mobile home maintenance tips can help you keep your home healthy and beautiful.
Mobile homes are pre-fabricated structures that were built in a factory before July, 1978. We love factory built homes because they are less expensive than a home built on-site but are equally attractive and comfortable. Manufactured homes can be any size, from small, single section units to large multi-section units. They can have whatever features a site-built home can have; fireplaces, cathedral ceilings, and even basements. You can even have a 2 story manufactured home!
6 Mobile Home Maintenance Tips (that every mobile home owner should know)
1. Make Sure Your Mobile Home is Level
The most important tip a professional can give a mobile home owner is to check your home every year to ensure the it is level. Mobile homes can settle over time. If a mobile home is not properly leveled it can cause several issues: doors and windows won’t shut properly, cracks appear in walls, and leaks occur.
2. Skirting Ventilation
A mobile home’s skirting, or perimeter enclosure as the pros call it, is more important than most realize. Skirting acts as an insulator for the whole home, it adds protection from pests, and it adds curb appeal. Skirting should be secure so animals can’t get in but have adequate venting so humidity can’t damage the home and mold can’t grow.
Proper ventilation is serious business. There is a formula (1:150) that you can use to ensure you are giving your home the proper skirting ventilation based on your square footage. In other words, there should be one square foot of venting for every 150 square foot of space under your home. You will need to install these vents within 3′ of each corner (to prevent dead air pockets).
Please note: your home’s manual should provide guidance (or possibly a different formula). Skirting manufacturers will also give you guidance on proper ventilation protocol.
3. Roof Maintenance
If you have a leak on a flat mobile home roof you will need to fix it as quickly as possible. There is also to reseal or recoat it regularly. Some manuals state this should be done every year.
Make sure your flashing is in good condition and there are no soft spots or cracked caulking. Also, make sure you use the right coating. Asphalt or aluminum coatings cannot be used on PVC or rubber (EPDM) roofs.
Gutters are important as well. To avoid winter water damage, be sure to clean out and inspect rain gutters for leaks or holes. They should be slanted so water runs away from your mobile home. Don’t forget to check and repair downspouts or extensions.
4. Know your Home’s Measurements
Mobile homes, built before July 1978, will not use standard ‘big box construction store’ sizes. Bathtubs are usually smaller than those available at Lowe’s or Home Depot. Doors, both interior, and exterior, are usually smaller as well. Windows are also typically an odd size.
As soon as you can measure everything: cabinets, fridge, stove, windows, doors, tubs, faucets, counters, closets, etc. This way you will always know if that beautiful countertop you found at the flea market will fit.
Make sure doorknobs, faucets and other fixtures are fitted properly. In case you need to change them, take your current hardware along with you to the hardware store. Some fixtures for mobile homes are specially designed just for mobile homes.
5. Helpful Plumbing Tips
Mobile home plumbing is a bit different from site-built homes but the same concept applies: the plumbing system has a supply line, a waste or drain line, and ventilation. The pipes have to be able to breathe to work properly.
Ideally, all mobile homes will have a shut-off valve at every water feature. If possible, add one to the toilet and faucets in the bathroom and kitchen. Make sure you know where your main shut-off valve is to your home, too.
6. Learn How to Inspect a Mobile Home
While a homeowner inspection should never replace a professional inspector it is smart to do a regular inspection of your home.
Problem is, most of us don’t know what to look for or know when something seems ‘off.’
Here’s a quick list of common issues you should look for when doing a mobile home inspection
- Are the I-beams bent or rusted?
- Is the wood floor framing damaged or rotted?
- Are the masonry piers cracked, chipped, or otherwise damaged?
- Are the masonry piers in contact with the steel frame?
- Are the masonry holes in blocks used in the piers facing upward or sideways?
- Are wooden wedges present between the pier cap and the steel frame?
- Is there perimeter blocking located underneath large wall openings such as sliding glass doors and windows greater than 4’ in length?
Yellow Bathtubs and Vinyl Coated Walls
There are two more mobile home specific issues I wanted to address. Through the years, two complaints keep coming up: yellow bathtubs and vinyl-coated walls.
You can absolutely update your mobile home’s vinyl walls (or VOG, Vinyl over gypsum panels). The secret to the best result is to clean the walls really, really well. Once you’ve cleaned the walls you will need to use a high-quality primer/gripper like Killz (two light coats). After the primer has dried use high-quality paint (again, two light coats). If you want to learn how to remove the battens that cover the panel seams and paint the walls click here.
Yellow bathtubs in mobile homes is a problem that is a lot tougher to fix. There doesn’t seem to be a ‘one size fits all’ remedy. The tub is oxidizing, turning the composite materials used to make and form the tub yellow.
The two most common remedies are to fight the oxidization with chemicals or to refinish the tub.
Your mobile home can last for many decades with proper maintenance and care. The maintenance is essentially the same as a stick-built home with only a few differences such as skirting and roofing.
As they always say, “An ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure” (or something like that). A few minutes of inspection time and a couple of dollars in material can save you a lot of time and money in the future.