Mobile home construction – At the factory

Manufactured home construction

Mobile Homes built before 1976 were constructed to much lower standards than those built later. Homes built prior to 1976 had only one or two inches of insulation wrapped around the walls, floor and ceiling, 2″ x 2″ or 2″ x 3″ studs, uninsulated air ducts in the floor and ceiling, no ceiling vapor barrier, and jalousie windows. In addition, some homes built between 1967? and 1971 were constructed with aluminum wiring. Mobile homes manufactured in 1976 or later were built to much higher standards required by the HUD (US Government Dept. of Housing and Urban Development).

Modern mobile home manufacturing plants are marvels of organizational efficiency. Approximately 150 production workers will produce 10-12 floors per day. Floors is an industry term meaning 1 singlewide or 1/2 of a doublewide. The work is routine, fast paced, and physically demanding. Workers are rewarded for speed and penalized for errors in ways that encourage teamwork and put pressure on them to work as a team. These bonuses are also frequently tied to attendance to avoid problems resulting from absenteeism on Mondays and Fridays.

In the following paragraphs I will go through the construction process. There are variations from factory to factory but in general the homes are all built the same way. Everything is done with jigs from a limited number of plans. The plan to plan variation is not great and anyone who has worked at the factory for more than a few weeks has all the variations memorized. The following description is for a singlewide factory. Just for fun I have attached a list of the defects a new homeowner might want to check for before accepting deliver of home.

Frames Belly paper 16′ wide is unrolled for the length needed and stapled to the wood frame that will run around the perimeter of the home. Insulation bats as laid on top of this and electrical wire pulled to the points it will come up through the floor and coiled in place. Pre-assembled water and sewer lines and the ductwork for heat/AC are dropped in. Pre-cut floor joists are then nailed in place. With the joists in place the lines are fastened into position using pre-cut forms to make sure they have the right slope. The result is that all the water, sewer, and electrical lines in a finished home are above the insulation where they will stay warm from the heat in the house. Five or six people can do all this in an hour or less.

Floors. The completed frame is lifted, moved over, and set down on top of the axles and wheels that have been assembled elsewhere. Liquid glue is spread on the top of the floor joists and frame members and sheets of tongue and groove plywood or OSB are nailed in place. Holes have already been cut in these sheets for the water and drain line penetrations. Since the plywood is square this step really determines how straight the walls of the house become. If the grooves are seated properly and care is taken to make sure the panels are lined up before they are nailed in place the materials themselves produce nice straight edges. If things get to rushed, materials are badly warped, and the overhangs get trimmed with a router the edge of the home may look like a snake. In any case, with the hundreds of nails driven in by the air nailers and the glue set, there isn’t going to be any way to change it later.

Floor Prep. The completed floor is then rolled to a prep area where one person gets under the home and drives lag bolts through the metal frame members (outriggers) and into the floor joists. This is what connects the home proper to the metal frame. These same bolts are what can be adjusted after the home is set to try and stop floor squeaks. On top of the floor there is a lot of activity. The areas of the floor that will be covered with vinyl get sanded. Holes for the floor registers are cut, ducts installed and glued/stapled into place. The water heater and furnace are fastened in place. The vinyl is put in place and stapled around the edges (no Adhesive). The vinyl is then covered with a protective mat or plastic sheeting. Finally, toilets are set in place.

Walls. At the same time the floor is getting nailed down the exterior and interior walls are being assembled. Like the floor, precut studs are laid out on a jig and nailed in place. Insulation is unrolled between the studs. The edges of the studs are coated with liquid glue and precut panels which will become the inside wall of the house stapled into place. Openings for windows and electrical outlets are cut at this time. The entire assembly is lifted with a hoist and moved over to where it can be set onto a floor. You can imagine that an 80′ wall made of 2 x 4′s butted together has LOTS of flex in it and how straight it becomes depends on the straightness of the floor it is attached to.

Assembly. One of the exterior side walls is lowered into place on a bead of caulk and fastened into place. The end walls are fastened into place and interior walls placed. The interior walls are pre-assembled, with paneling on only one side so the inside is accessible to electrical. As fast as the interior walls are placed the pre-made cabinets, counters, etc. are put in place, wall mirrors hung etc. Finally the 2nd exterior wall is lowered and fastened into place.

Ceilings. Along with floors and walls, ceilings has been busy laying panels out on a jig and setting pre-assembled trusses in place. Trusses are nailed to perimeter 2 x 4′s and held in place by wood strips at the centerline and at a couple of other places. The point where the bottom of the truss rests on top of the ceiling panel is sprayed with a quick setting foam adhesive. The ceiling is sized to go from outside edge to outside edge of the house so the edge of the panel rests on the wall. Do we begin to see how repairing or replacing a ceiling panel can be a challenge? If the ceiling is to be textured, it is picked up and moved to a spray/paint area where someone can walk around under it and apply the appropriate coating(s). Finally it is moved to an area where the holes for electrical outlets, ceiling fans etc. are cut and the electrical boxes installed.

Electrical and Assembly. As soon as the walls are placed electrical can beginning pulling the lines that were dropped in place by floors. Holes are drilled through the bottom of the wall and the floor material and metal sleeves hammered into place. The wire that was coiled in the belly is pulled through these sleeves and up into the walls of the home. The main panel box is installed and breakers etc. wired into place. Someone uses a router to cut notches into all the exterior wall studs and wire for the wall outlets is stapled in these notches. Sometimes, depending on the siding that will be applied, the wire is covered with shields to prevent a nail from being driven through it when siding is applied. At the same time the plumbing people are installing showers and tubs and the cabinet and mirror people are fastening their things in place.

Additionally, the ceiling is lowered onto the home and fastened in place with metal straps. Electrical also runs wire from ceiling outlets, fans, bathroom vents etc. Installing electrical boxes and running wire is the process most likely to disturb the insulation. Batts get pulled to the side so boxes can be installed, they come loose etc. If this happens and is not corrected the walls have voids which are going to reduce the efficiency of the heating and cooling systems.

Roofing. A layer of rockwool insulation is blown in on top of the ceiling. Then, if the house is getting a shingle roof, plywood or OSB decking is is nailed over the trusses. The decking is covered with tar paper and shingled. If this is to be a metal roof, there is no decking and a large roll of metal is unrolled over the house. It is fastened at on end and then stretched from the other. When stretched, the second end is fastened down and then the sides are folded over, caulked and stapled.

Siding. While the roof is being done others are fastening siding. This may be hardboard, metal or vinyl.
Trimout This is where the mistakes get found and, hopefully, taken care of. Trim strips can cover a multitude of things quickly and cheaply. This is when protective mats are taken off the vinyl and any damage discovered. Carpet is installed, windows are caulked, interior doors are hung etc.

Testing. The home is hooked up to power, water and gas and everything should get tested. Inspectors are looking for water leaks, dripping faucets, improperly connected light switches etc. This is the point where the some critical management decisions get made. If there was to much pressure for production in spite of absent people or inexperienced workers there will be a much heavier load for the testing and trimout crews. Homes that are not quite ready to ship will start to back up in the yard. The temptation will be to ship them anyhow.

However, this is a very temporary solution because the dealers or customers are going to find these problems on the lot or after it has been set. Warranty repairs require huge amounts of travel time and things that would have been simple to fix during construction are much more difficult to handle. For example, sheet vinyl is just laid down and stapled in the factory. If a service technician has to replace it he has to cut it to fit and probably put down quarter round along all the edges. Work that took 15 minutes in the factory becomes a two man, two day job for service.

Transport. Lots of interesting things happen during transport. Drivers are paid by the mile so they like to make time. Police in Albuquerque recently clocked some homes going through a construction zone at 65MPH. During transport the bumps, vibration, and other forces twist and torque the homes and frequently crack panels, loosen connections etc. Drivers occasionally rub against traffic signs etc. Mobile home tires are inflated to 2.5 times the usual pressure so blowouts are not uncommon. If a couple of tires go at once and the frame hits the ground it can be bent making future leveling impossible.

Setup. Setup can raise difficult issues because of the number of organizations involved. The factory is responsible for the home itself, the dealer is responsible for making sure the home was ordered properly and any optional features are installed properly, the setup company is responsible for setting and leveling the home, and hooking up the water, gas and electricity. If air-conditioning is needed that is probably done by another company. Now suppose an electrical breaker blows whenever the AC comes on. Is the main electrical panel, done by the factory, at fault, did the AC installer make a mistake etc. The opportunity for the parties involved to blame someone else are almost endless.

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{ 120 comments… read them below }
kathy
We are looking at a used a trailer that has some iron?/metal apparatus sticking out one end past the skirting area. It looks like it might be the tow bar but i’ve really no idea. The home otherwise looks good and is on it’s own land, but not permanent foundation. Any idea what this thing sticking out from under the trailer could be and if it is a serious problem?
Paul
Without a picture I can’t be sure, but on older mobile homes the hitch was frequently left in place and the skirting cut to fit around it. Sometimes the hitch was welded on so skirting around it would be much cheaper than removing it. Frequently they left the wheels and axles under the home too.

Juan Inchausti
It’s a good overall explanation as to how its built. I own one myself and would like your opinion on how often to re-level my 1492 sq. ft. home, also is it just a matter of tightening the piers that are loose?
Paul
I don’t know that there is any reason to re-level unless you notice problems. What needs to be done would depend on what cause the house to get out of level. Did water get under it, was the soil not properly compacted, etc.

cathy
I wish to know what mph winds can a singlewide mobile home withstand
Paul
From the weather reports I can see why you might be worried, but unfortunately, there isn’t an easy answer. For many years now new mobile homes have been required to meet HUD standards for wind resistance. The standards that must be met depend on where the home will be located. So mobile homes sold in much of Florida will have to meet the highest standards of wind resistance. Here is a link to the HUD standards for mobile home manufacture. You can look at the pdf for wind rules and anything else you might want to see. A wind zone map that might be helpful.

Christine
I’ve searched the floor articles and could find no articles on my issue. The floor of our home seem to be “rippling” . It’s as though the floor is solid in one area and not in the next, and it feels like it’s based on where the beams are beneath the structure. The most prominent area is in the kitchen. Our home is on a poured concrete basement that still looks good and solid. We have the recommended number of jack posts installed. It was manufactured in 2002. Have you ever heard of this before?
Paul
I’m coming up blank on this one. Water/moisture is the only thing I know that commonly causes problems with mobile home floors. You are telling me there are no leaks showing under the home so that can’t be it. Is there any water in the A/C ducts? Is there some reason the humidity in the home would be exceptionally high? I wonder if the problem will go away when you turn on the furnace?

Wilton sellers
check and make sure your dryer duct is vented to the outside of your home.If it is not moister from your dryer could affect your floor if you have any belly board or insulation missing. I have replaced floors because of this.

Daniel Owens
1996 Schult New Generation 16 X80 includes 4′ tongue. Some saging of sheetrock ceiling -no cracks. Put 1×4 strips on ceiling (ripped to 3″ to match 5/8 by 3″ decorative trim. Screwed these strips to the ceiling trusses. Was mostly effective with the sheetrock sage , but still had variations with the differences with the ceiling trusses. Checked the attic the ceiling trusses were 2″by 2″ . Opened the gable and put a 24′ 2×4 (3 —8′ pieces scabbed -held with screws) and screwed the ceiling trusses to the 24′ 2×4 -that was placed on edge in the attic for strength. This helped. Was working with 7′ ceilings with wall support at 9′ and 6′ and 8′ support of the 24′ 2×4. Disappointed about the 2″ vertical supports from the ceiling to the roof about 30″ from the outside will More fink supports in the trusses would be stronger.
After a strong storm I had replaced the single sheet of sheet metal roof (actually strips crimped together) with 26 gauge -5 rib metal. Left the flat metal in place. Is it advisable to plug the end of the ribs of the 5 rib strips. Thanks for the opportunity to respond.
Paul
Plugging the ends would keep wasps from making nests there, but the heat might do that anyhow.

Daniel Owens
Also my attic is not vented. Should it be.
Paul
Leave it the way it came from the factory.

Will
Paul, I am glad I found YOU!. I have a DW 24×56. I basically gutted the interior.I hung drywall on the ceilings and all walls 1/2″ aprox. 110 sheets. recently I noticed that the floors around the total perimeter of the house sagged anywhere from 1/4′ to 1/2′. To tell you the truth I don’t know if it was like this when I got it or not.I tried jacking on the edge of the floors , in one area and it came back,but I was afraid to have all that weight on the floor edge. I was told this happened because of the weight of the drywall.Today I reinforced the exterior perimeter with 4×4′s every 4 feet to maybe help combat this from going further. I would like to cover the floors with plywood and then install wood floors I know I will have to do some shimming. I also want to side the place. My question is ,Am I adding to much weight to this home.It was built in 1983(?). Thank you again for being on the web. Will
Paul
Yes, I think the weight is getting out of hand and you are asking for more problems.
Keep in mind that mobile home manufacturers have engineers on staff full time. Their job is to figure out the cheapest ways to meet, but not exceed the HUD standards. Unlike a site built house there is NO extra weight bearing capacity. In addition the walls rest on the very end of the outriggers so weight their puts the maximum stress (leverage) onto the support system. Your ceiling work also added weight to the walls. Wood floors should not actually be as much of a problem since their weight is spread out and largely supported by the floor joists and main I beams.

Roger
Is it impractical to try to take a single wide frame and build from that?
Paul
I doubt the numbers would pencil out. I think you could probably buy one that needs work for less than the materials cost.

Matt
Paul, I want to build a 12×8 addition to my 60′s 12×60 mobile. I would like to knock out 12′ of the outside wall to enlarge the living room. I’m wondering if this is possible without a center post and if so how much of a header or beam do I need? If you have any type of blueprint to a trailer that old I would greatly appreciate it.
Thanks
Paul
I’m not an engineer, and have never seen any plans that show how such an opening must be supported.

Alison
Matt, I’m wanting to do the same thing. We have a roof built over our trailer (and existing addition alongside); I want to open up between the trailer and the ‘addition’. The new roof extends over both the trailer and the addition. I’m also wondering if we can remove the existing trailer ceiling/roof to see straight through to the “new” roof. We didn’t build this. But I’
Alison
sorry – to continue…. I’m hoping we can have more of a cathedral ceiling on the trailer, a beam separating the trailer and addition, and the cathedral ceiling on the addition side. One more question for Paul: can we cut off the tongue and pull out the bench seat existing?
Paul
Hi Alison,
Cutting off the tongue shouldn’t be a problem. I’m not sure I am visualizing your layout correctly, but things like seats are normally installed last and have no load bearing or sturctural importance.
Janet Steuer
I bought a 1969 Detroiter, 12 x 65… with a 12 x 50 addition on it.. a friend of mine put 6x6s in the entry between living room and addition room. the one overhead is supported by the same at each end of the opening.. it HAD been sagging terribly before he put those beams in.. there is NOT a center beam, and it looks very nice. I WANT to put a sloped tin roof over top of the EPDM wrapped rubber roof that leaks like a sieve… but might have to put vertical beams outside to take the weight. I am in Alaska, so also intend to put vertical 2 x 4s in the interior walls, and insulate the hell out of this place!! It has recently been reskirted, and I still have to replace 8 windows and 3 doors! I MIGHT have water before winter sets in this year.
Paul
Good luck with all that.
I find it hard to imagine making a mobile home weather tight in your climate.
Paul

Vicky
I have a 1978 Conch Double Wide with a standard pitch roof. I also have an ugly 7′ flat ceilings. Can I remove the flat ceiling and vault the ceiling? I was wondering if I could just attach light weight bead board to the 2×2′s (I assume that’s whats in there!), or even to the plywood, and leave the 2×2′s exposed and paint them. At the very least, could I remove the existing, ugly ceiling and replace it with the bead board or some other material?
Vicky
Paul
Certainly you can replace the existing ceiling tile with something you like better. I think you are going to find a plastic vapor barrier, insulation and trusses above your tile. You don’t want to cut, remove or mess with those.

Carol
We have a double wide and want to take down a closet in the middle of the kitchen, to open up to the living area, should be be worried about a support beam
Paul
If the wall you want to remove is on the marriage line where the two halves of the house come together you do NOT want to remove it.

Carol
Thanks for your replay. The wall we want to remove is 4’6” long, will this still cause a problem and if so what would be the issue. Could we place a support beam across the ceiling, or would that have to much weight for the house?
Paul
I’m sure that with the proper support in the ceiling and possibly some extra support under the home it can be done. However, I never messed with load bearing walls and can’t offer any specific suggestions.

Jona
I live in a 1978 double wide, not sure the make and model, I wanted to hang a swing in my sons room and was wondering if there should be studs or something in the ceiling to hang it from or if it would be a good idea, the swing is a cacoon like swing from IKEA. He has autism and would greatly benefit from having one. How much weight could the ceiling bear.
Paul
Bad idea (Using the ceiling). The trusses were designed to handle a load from the top and would never stand up to the use you describe. You might consider building some kind of support structure that stands on the floor.

Jona
Thanks for your reply, sadly I don’t have that kind of space available. I appreciate your quick responses.

Tia
I have a very old single wide mobile home 10×46 (built in the 1950′s or 60′s I believe.). It is not in good shape, so I am wanting to gut it completely down to it’s metal shell and studs and remodel the inside completely. Am I able to take down the interior walls without worrying about structural integrity? There was also a 7 foot hole cut into the side of the mobile home for an addition that is no longer usable. Will I be able to wall that back in as well? OR am I just biting off more than I can chew and should just scrap the whole idea and not even try?
Paul
In my (painful) experience it would be a big mistake. The problem is that after all that time and effort you would still have an “old mobile home” or an “old trailer”. Your chances of recovering any of your investment are zero.
I have heard from people in special circumstances where it made sense. For example, valuable land where no new homes were allowed. You might want to look up Trailersteading by Anna Hess on Amazon and read her thoughts. It would make sense in some of the circumstances she describes.
If you have the skills & energy, I think your efforts would be much more rewarded & rewarding if you applied them to a handyman stite built home. The financing is easier, buyers appreciate quality work, etc.
Good luck
Tia
Thank you for your answer. Sorry I wasn’t more clear before. I am not looking to sell it, I have owned the property and mobile home for the last 14 years and lived in it for 5 of those years before I moved away. Due to financial hardships, I am thinking of moving back and working on it while living in it.
Thank you for the book referral as well. I think it is just what I’m looking for.

Michael kelsey
I have a 2003 champion double wide that was just set up and do not have power to the master bedroom and den. I’m wondering if my electrical connection is under the trailer or in the walls? Do you have a idea for me it would be helpful thanks!

joe
So my mobile home is to old to move so I am wanting to take the axles off of it is there any way that could cause an issue
Paul
All the houses I moved were supported on blocks with the wheels and axels hanging from their mounts with no weight on them. If that is the case with yours removing them is fine. You might call a mobile home transport place to see if anyone wants to buy them. When they delivered newer homes they started pulling the axels when they set the home. Anyone wanting to move one of them has to find/buy/rent them. I used to get $80-100 each.

Dan
Hey Paul,
I’ve got an old single wide hillcrest trailer. The perimeter of the floor where it meets the walls sag bad. I can see outside in the worst spots! What’s my best fix short of major construction? I envision bracing and reinforcing with a kinda L wood bracket underneath.. What’s your take?
Paul
Can I assume it is located where neighbors won’t complain about what you do and that money is an issue?
How about buying some 2 x 4″ or 2x 6″ pressure treated boards, some concrete block, some 4 x 4″pressure treated posts and some wood wedges like the mobile home setup guys use to level a house.
Fasten the 2 x 4″ as best you can to the bottom of the walls. Drop the blocks every six feet or so under the sagging areas. Cut the 4 x 4″ to a length that makes a tight fit between the top of the block and the bottom of the wall. Hammer in wedges to force the sagging wall parts upward. Depending on how much the blocks sink into the soil and how much the wall rises you my have to repeat the process a few times.
Then get to work on the places where water is getting into the walls and causes in the sagging

Penny
My daughter recently moved into her grandmother’s doublewide which had been empty for 3 years only to discover raccoons in the ceiling. Traps have been set. Is there a safe way to access the attic area to look for damage. She is especially concerned about damage to the electical system.
Paul
I think this is getting beyond what a homeowner should try on their own. The potential electrical problems need to be checked by someone with the right tools and the experience to know how to spot hidden damage. A physical inspection needs someone young and skinny who knows where to (carefully) place their hands and feet or you will be coming back to the website to look into ceiling repairs

Paul
I have a 2000 Homes of Merit double wide. We have installed 1×6 pine tongue and groove boards around the house to give it a cabin feel. We want to install the boards on the ceiling also. I would put fur strips across the ceiling joist right over the popcorn ceiling drywall. My question is would the ceiling support this much added weight, in your opinion? I really don’t want to tear down the existing ceiling and start over. Ceiling is sound right now with no problems that we can see. Thanks for any input.
Paul
I don’t know. I never tried anything like that. Could you add extra supports that are resting on the wall & marriage line? Perhaps test it in one room and watch it for problems?

Rexa
I want to put up an interior wall to make two rooms from one. Can I get a prefab one or should I be concerned about weight? The trailer has many add one already.rex
Paul
I think a wall section will spread the weight out so it is not a problem. Mobile homes have to cope with water beds, pianos, etc. Where I get concerned is when the weight is concentrated and near the outside walls.
Reply
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Leslie Fay
Hey Paul! Do you mind sharing your opinion on installing a barn door on an interior wall of a 1981 Marlette? I am intending to use 1″x 6″ boards for the door, a metal track system from National Hardware, and a required 2″x 6″ board to attach everything to the wall. The door will weigh approximately 40lbs. The metal track attached to the 2″x 6″ board weighs approximately 25lbs and will span a distance of 5′ at the top of the wall next to the ceiling. Does this sound feasible? I have thought about opening the wall and sister-ing each stud with another 2″x 3″ board so that the wall will be sturdier. I have read that the interior walls are not load bearing, but are they secured to the roof rafters at all? In advance, thanks so much for your advice!
Paul
You might get by with that, but since I am NOT a structural engineer that is a guess. Mobile homes are built to handle snow loads and other stresses, so there may be enough strength to do what you plan, especially since what you describe spreads out the load.
It may not apply in your case, but many mobile home owners don’t realize the walls are supported on outriggers which are not designed to hold extra weight either. Even homes with so called permanent foundations have a gap between the bottom of the mobile home wall and the top of the foundation.
Leslie Fay
Thanks for the advice/information!!! The barn door replaced the old, hollow-core door to my bathroom. The interior wall it is hanging on is situated just a few inches off the centerline of my home. So far, so good.
Thank you for the additional information about the outer walls being supported by outriggers. Your statement has made me rethink my next project…removing the original tub / shower surround and replacing it with a ready-to-install shower base and fully tiled walls using ceramic subway tiles.
My tub runs along the outside wall. Now you have me wondering if the weight of a fully tiled shower stall is comparable to the original tub filled with water? It may be best for me to install a complete shower kit and be on the safe side. Any thoughts? Thanks for your time and your advice!

Curtis Stubbs
Hello I have a 1979 70′ x 14′ Palm House built by Palm Harbor. My problem is where the carport is attached has pulled away and drooped. It was braced in 1 spot before I got it. And not knowing I just let it go until now. I’ve been patching and sealing the metal roof and removing the rust. That is how I found the problem, it was fastened I think jus below the top plate. I’m not sure of the construction but would guess there is nothing solid at that point to lag to. just not sure. Is there? or should I fasten to the 2 x 4 wall studs that are 16″ OC or try to push up the carport and fasten to the top plate? The two ends are still solid but also starting to pull away.
Paul
Work with the idea you want things to touch firmly, but NOT add any weight anywhere. Get more support under the addition and make sure it is tight against the house wall but don’t expect the wall to support any kind of load.

Dwight
I have a 1992 14 x 70 mobile home and it has the factory metal roof. Is it ok to take off the metal roof and cover the rafters with plywood and shingles, box it in, and install blown in insulation and add attic air vents? Should I worry about all of the extra weight added to the roof? Your professional opinion would be greatly appreciated.
Paul
I think that would be a REALLY big mistake!
Dwight
Thanks Paul. I really appreciate the fast reply. I just called my contractor and cancelled that job.
William DiCello
I have a DW 24′ x56′ built in 1997 (Schult) i need a new roof can i do an overlay? would the trusses hold the extra wieght?
HELP !!!
Paul
No. I was taught site built homes can handle three layers of shingles. Mobile homes only one. So the old shingles have to come off.

Paul
Hi Paul; I want to add a 30′x16′ porch to a 12′x65′ trailer, will the outside wall sustain the roofweight or should Iuse 4×4 under the 2x6x30 board?
Paul
Don’t add ANY weight to the home! Your addition should totally support itself.

Jeff Killen
I have a double wide circa 1970′s in southern Oregon. I am having
trouble with the kitchen sink drain. It plugged up on me and I managed to unplug it with 45′ of a 50′ snake. Now it is plugged again
and my 50′ snake would not unplug it. Having spent a lifetime in manufacturing and fabrication, and having the equipment necessary at hand, I spliced another 10′ of snake onto the existing snake and still with 60′ of snake I have not been able to unplug the drain. Why would there be 60′+ of drain pipe for the kitchen sink, (accept to keep plumbers in Cadillacs?). So is this a common problem? I have been looking around under the unit and I cannot
figure out where the kitchen sink drain intersects the main sewer.
None of the other appliances are plugged (bathroom sinks, toilets,
tubs). The dishwasher may be on the sink drain line but I don’t know because I have never used it.
Paul
If none of the other drains are having problems the blockage must be closer to the sink. Unless some handyman did some really creative work (which is possible) the kitchen drain should connect to the main line by the shortest possible path. 10′ maybe. No manufacturer would pay for even an extra foot of drain line. What if you opened the trap and worked on the nearby lines?
Your diswasher comment bothers me a little. Is it functional? If so will it empty if you try to run it?
The problem has to be close to the sink.
Paul

jamie
Paul I have a 1969 Marlette. It’s been well maintained over the years and I’ve done some work. I’m re-doing the bath and have had nightmares! The elongated toilet my handyman put in, leaks from the water holding tank. He’s tried everything we can think of — replaced the bolts and washers ; moved the toilet so it didn’t touch the wall; put sealant on washers– it still LEAKS!! Jamie
Paul
Not much I can say to that except it is really frustrating. Maybe try giving the tank seals some time (hours/days?) to seat and then tighten again? Return the toilet as defective and try a different one? Good luck.

tami henderson
Please help me. I have a 1978 hillcrest mobile home. I need to know what kind of air conditioner was used on this model?
This one has a unit on the roof. Is this proper from factory?
Paul
I doubt that any factory installed A/C would have lasted this long. You will have to have a local A/C person take a look at it to tell you what you are dealing with.

Jamie
I have a Palm Harbor 2004 32X80. I have about a a 12X12 tear in my floor insulation, of course, under my ac ducting. I read you can put strips of insulation on a tarp and put it over the metal beams…but my insulation doesnt seem to lift off….is it heavy,,or stuck? Big wood rats get up there, and I really need to get it sealed off..my floors get cold! And am I supposed to put plastic on the dirt under my trailor? It is on concrete pillars…
Paul
Is that feet or inches? Do you know what caused the tear and if the problem has been fixed?

Brian
1968 Taylor mobile home at the beach. I beams and supports are rusted underneath but still solid. Home is in excellent condition. Floors are solid. Should I do anything? If the I beams fail, can I fix?
Paul
Make the most of it, spend the least possible, consider any money spent as spent, not an investment.

lori
Hi
i have a 1979 14×68 mobile home with a metal roof. I was thinking about removing the roof and replacing it with roof trusses ,Covering that with plywood and shingles or new metal. If that is not a good idea how do I best care for my roof against any chance of leaking?
Paul
The only problem I see with your plan is that the walls of the home were never designed to support the kind of weight your plan would put on them I would suggest adjusting your plan to add posts which support ALL of the weight of the new roof. I think it would probably even be cheaper since you would not have the costs of working on the existing roof.

G.Lee
My son had a 1992 single wide set up on my parents farm, which I bought to live in it while I cared for aging parents. It is remarkably solid…extremely heavy the movers had said. It appears it may have been custom or a higher end home, as it has framing that meets residential code, i.e., 3/4-inch plywood flooring, 2×4 framing on 16-inch centers, heavy insulation, etc. Problem was it looked like trailer decor and I couldn’t stand looking at it every day. So I had 1/4 inch sheetrock installed over and glued to the panel board, ripped out the kitchen and bathrooms and replaced with standard cabinets and bath fixtures, replaced the carpet with laminate flooring, and replaced all the plumbing, lighting, windows, and doors. (Yes…lots of money not wisely spent I know…I know…I know…but had to live there much longer than planned and I couldn’t stand the added depression from living in ugly.) Anyway, now I’m ready to build, have been looking at modular homes, and realized that is basically what I’m now living in, except for roof and trailer frame. Since I’m approaching retirement instead of going in debt, I thought I might be able to to move it like a modular unit put on a foundation with floor joists and rip off/rebuild a normal roof. The framing is solid…walls straight as an arrow. But the big unknown is whether it is possible to transfer the restructured onto a block foundation with floor trusses, dropping the metal frame underneath. Your thoughts on how to transfer to a mobile home from metal frame to house foundation would be much appreciated and a major financial help if it can reasonably be accomplished. (County codes officer already said I can get a building permit if I can get it off the frame, since all else meets code. Hired a civil engineer who told me it would meet residential building codes with these few changes. Thanks.
Paul
Way over my pay grade
It sounds possible but I would try to be sure there were no regulatory hangups after you had already written big checks.

Jackie
I have a 1998 16 x 80 Skyline mobile home with the original roof/siding. I recently had a puddle of water on my kitchen floor under the window. No water on wall, window or ceiling. I had a mobile home contractor come out and he said it was wind driven (We had 30 – 50 mph gusts the night before with rain) rain getting in under the roof and coming down the walls. He told me I don’t have plywood on the outside of the house. It is just the 3/8″ wall board, probably 2 x 3 studs and then 1/4″ foam board and then my vinyl siding. I’m surprised the thing is still standing. He’s recommending taking the siding off, putting up plywood and then wrapping with Tyvek and putting the siding back. I’m getting a new roof for sure. I’ve had several spots that leaked due to snow on the roof (I live in Iowa and the polar vortex last year wasn’t easy on my roof). My question is since I didn’t have plywood before, wouldn’t the added weight be too much for the frame?
Paul
I’m not qualified to answer your question since I am not an engineer. It seems like a huge expense. It makes me wonder what could be done by someone with a case of caulk who knows what he is doing.
The thing is, while the wall construction looks fragile, it did meet HUD standards. Is there any way to get a second opinion?

K. Austin
We are moving into a 76 by 16 single wide mobile home. We have a very large collection of books that are placed in teak bookcases which are also very heavy. We plan to put them along the wall in our living room. Is there any weight restrictions that we need to be aware/concerned about.
Paul
Not being an engineer I don’t know any specifics. I do know the outside walls are supported on extensions (outriggers) from the main I beams. To the extent you can, keeping the weight closer to the centerline of the home would reduce the load.

Casondra
I have a 1972 Norris single wide mobile home. I want to move the stove to the middle of the kitchen and build an island around it. My question is about the stove plug. Is it run up from the floor, through the wall, or down from the ceiling?
Paul
Up from the floor.

Casondra
Thank you so much. That should make things much easier!

John
I have an 89 FW reflections 14×80. It has a crimped galvanized sheet metal roof. Its surface rusting in spots and a couple of the seams are leaking. I would like to install a ribbed metal roof over it on perlings. My problem is I’m unsure of the construction under the metal sheet. When I walk carefully around on it, it seems to only have trusses about four feet apart. If I could find out how its put together I can figure out how to proceed.
Paul
What you feel is what you get.
Those trusses were carefully engineered to support the original roof + snow loads + wind loads and no more. They really do not have the strength to support more weight.
For what you describe I think you will need to think about a roof-over with all the weight of new materials supported by posts set on the ground.
Paul

Justin
I have a shult single wide made in 2001. I would like to put a gun safe in. The safe weighs 500 pounds and will end up being 600 pounds fully loaded. I have located where one of the center beams runs and will locate the safe over the beam near the middle of the trailor. Would the floors be able to handle this? The weight of the safe is spread over 5 square feet. Thanks.
Paul
That is probably less weight than a piano, so I think it should be fine. Good thinking about where to place it.
Paul

teri
I have a neighbor that has a 1974 mobile home with a rubber roof that he cant stop the leaks so he is putting on a shingled roof with joists every 2 ft. Will the side walls hold this much weight?
Paul
Who knows? It certainly wasn’t designed for it. Maybe until the first snow? (if you get snow). Maybe for a while?

Cathy
We have a 92 Palm Harbor double-wide mobile home. Will it hold a king sized free flow waterbed in the master suite at the end of the home?
Paul
I’m thinking that if waterbeds fell through the floors of mobile homes it would make the evening news
So you should be fine.
I did see a couple of bedrooms where the waterbed leaked. That is NOT a place you want to experience.
Paul

Kara
Hi there! I am hoping to hang something from the ceiling of my 1997 Fleetwood mobile home. I’d like to put it in the vault of the ceiling. My concern is the wiring. Don’t want to be drilling through wires. I have looked online for some type of electrical plan or layout, but I guess they don’t just put it out there. I was wondering if there was a quick way to find out where the wires are. So how do I find out where the ceiling wires are? Oh yeah, its for a light/ceiling fan set up.
Thank you!
Kara
Paul
The manufacturers are very “shy” about releasing any information. I don’t know any way to be certain where the wires are except look.
That said, they don’t like to waste money running more wire than necessary. They also don’t waste a lot of time tacking wire to the studs inside the walls. So if you work where you are not on a direct line between a wall switch and a factory installed ceiling fixture you are probably OK.
Obviously, I have no way to be certain of that

Tom
Paul,
I hope you’re still around. I just found this site, but the Q&A’s have no date stamps, so I can’t tell how old they are.
I have a 2004 Fleetwood 14′ X 70″ mobile home. I wanted to put a 7-foot pool table in the living room, which is in the middle of the house (the largest room). The table weighs 700-800 lbs; dimensions are 3.5′ X 7′.
Do you think there would be a problem with the floor supporting the table along with my 200 lb. body walking around the table as I play?
Thanks!
-Tom
Paul
I’m still around, sometimes. I removed date stamps because most of the information doesn’t change much.
I wouldn’t expect any problems unless you have a particle board subfloor that has had water damage in the past. The weight will be directly over the I beams which is good.
I don’t know what sort of “feet” come on pool tables but if you wanted to distribute the weight you might consider putting down some plywood squares under the table. If you made them wide enough to span the distance between the joists you could be sure the weight was distributed & well supported.

Veronica
Hi – I am wanting to buy a mobile home
1979 14×64 the roof seems it needs repair. Can I removed the roof and build a whole new one cathedral style?
Paul
That would be a really bad idea. Mobile homes are built as a single engineered unit. The nails, screws and glue used in assembly are essential. Without the roof in place the walls have no lateral support.
If you want a cathedral ceiling, which I can understand, you need to shop for a home that already has one.
Paul

Terry
Hi: My wife and I bought a 1976 Barrington Mobile Home, our celling truses are 2+2. he I exterior walls our made up of 2*2″ squares, not the 2+4 studs as we were told.
Where can we get the plans on how our Mobile Home was really put together? Many years ago I called the factory where the mobile home was made, but what they sent me really did not show how this house was made.
If you can help us get the plane we would appreciate it.
Sincerely: Terry
Paul
I have never known anyone to have any luck getting plans to even new homes. I can’t imagine who would have plans from 1976. Besides, homeowners do so much “creative” work you couldn’t trust the plans in any case.
I’m afraid you are on your own.
Paul

Mike Bizzaro
All –
I’m in a Buddy mobile home.
There is a nocturnal pest of some sort in the ceiling. I don’t see any way to access the ceiling to place a trap.
It’s a 1973 … Buddy (still in good shape)
Do I have to do a cut-out somewhere ?
Thanks Mike
Paul
Hi Mike,
Since I have never, to my knowledge, seen a 1973 Buddy I am just guessing the answer is yes.
It might be possible to de-mount a bathroom ceiling fan and use that opening. That risks cracking old ductwork, etc. so I wouldn’t recommend it.
If you do decide to cut an opening into the ceiling of a closet or other hidden space I would suggest attaching a strong cord to the trap. Snap traps sometimes catch a mouse or other animal as they walk by and don’t kill immediately. They can pull the trap a long way before they stop moving. With a cord attached you can pull the trap out and avoid a week or two of really unpleasant aroma.
Paul

Mona
Hi Paul,
Thank you for the very informative site. We are trying to roughly figure out what a 1971 Safeway 48x24ft trailer weighs empty. We are needing an estimate because of a fire and the demolition costs included getting rid of contents as well.
It doesn’t have to be exact but ballpark would be fine. It was all wood panelling and 2×3 construction inside.
We brought 35.4 metric tonnes to the dump and we figure at most the trailer would have been 10 of that but would be good to hear from someone in the industry as well.
Thanks,
Mona
Paul
That is a great question, but I have no idea what the answer would be.
Maybe someone in the mobile home transport business will see this and provide an answer.

Jill
Do you have any generic blue print style drawings that I can work off of? I can take hours under neath taking pics, notes, tearing out walls, ceilings. I have 1994 16 x 70 Commodore I need to do serious repairs on and looking for specs has been futile. Working in construction for years I am able, but have no experience with mobiles. I have to almost gut– floor sag issues (roof shingle layers weight bearing is in excess so bowing floors all exterior walls out). I want to tear all off, metal and tear out floors one end to other but would love some drawings to go off of if you can save me a lot of work…
Paul
Hi Jill,
If you find any, please let me know. I have never seen any outside of the factory.
Have you taken a pencil to the numbers for the work you plan? My experience was that it was very hard to add enough value to make such extensive renovations worthwhile from a financial standpoint. You may have good reasons why it is the best approach for your situation. I often did better using my time and money looking for a home that didn’t need work.
Paul

Ashley
Hello, I just bought a 2015 Doublewide and when it was being installed on my property there was some damage to the ceiling drywall so it’s currently being replaced but I was just told by the contractor that the drywall was glued to the ceiling and not nailed. Can you tell me if this is a common practice in these types of homes? I’m a little worried that the “glue” will not last long and assuming this is how all the ceilings were put together.
Paul
Hi Ashley,
I wouldn’t worry about it.
They build the walls & and ceilings on a large “jig” that means the assembler just lays the wood in the marked places and nails/screws them together. Once the wood frame is complete he grabs a hot glue gun and runs a bead of glue along the edges of all the wood. The ceiling or wall panels are then set in place.
So you end up with a solid bead of glue the entire width of the 2 x 4 that runs from one end to the other.
I have heard complaints about what a chore it is to remove all the old glue, but never that the glue joint has failed
Paul

Lee
Dear Paul,
Trying to help a friend who has a 1982 Marlette, 14×70. Her roof is leaking. I had a roofer (who has worked on mobile homes) tell me that he can remove the metal roof, lay OSB, and install a rubber sealed roofing material. What do you think?
Paul
Hi Lee,
I never tried anything that ambitious so this is all speculation on my part.
The roof metal goes on last at the factory and is fastened over the top of the exterior wall material. I suspect getting a watertight seal using the approach you describe takes some skill and attention to detail. I would be a little concerned about weight. OSB, even thin sheets, has to be substantially heavier than metal.
Take a look at this link An Inexpensive Metal Roof You Can Install Yourself. It will open a new window and you will have to scroll down to see the article. I have not tried this either, but it looks easier and should be cheaper.
If you choose to go that route I would appreciate hearing back about how it worked out.
Paul

Dena
Paul, my mother recently purchased an early 80′s mobile home and we are looking to expand the two bedrooms to one larger room. I’ve read on your page that if the wall is in the middle where the two halves are put together then that is not to be removed. Can it be “cut out”?
Paul
Hi Dena,
Your question is getting deeper into structural engineering than I am comfortable trying to answer. I am sure there are ways to strengthen supports and distribute the load, but I am not qualified to make suggestions.
Paul

Edward DeMatteo
I am getting close to retire and looking at a 55 + community where they have a 2004 fleetwood 14×70 for sale for 24k with a garage and driveway. I am not sure what to look at to see if there is any problems and the reviews on fleetwood is less than good. Any suggestions for me Ed
Paul
Hi Edward,
I’ll have to admit that when looking at older homes I could never see any significant difference between brands.
Water damage is the biggest hidden problem. I would step all around toilets, sinks, windows, doors, etc. to see if there are any places the floor feels “spongy”. Toilets leak, windows get left open in the rain, flower pots leak, and all can cause floor problems. Look really carefully around the water faucets in the tub to see if there is any sign they might be leaking and letting water run behind the wall. Look under sinks for evidence of leaks. That could include lime deposits, mold, damp smell, etc. Look at the ceiling for evidence of water stains. Pay particular attention along the walls and any place there is a roof penetration. Look hard enough and close enough to be sure a problem has not been recently painted over. Look below all the window sills for evidence that caulk around the window frame has failed and is letting water seep through. Look for drips under the water heater. Look around the refrigerator for water damage from the condensation pan overflowing or a problem with the water dispenser connections.
Turn on the water to the tub and sink, let it run for a minute or two and then flush the toilet two or three times. Does water back up anywhere? Do you hear any gurgling noises?
Depending on how agile you are, wear coveralls and bring a powerful flashlight so you can get under the home and look around. Past water or drain leaks frequently make the insulation so heavy it tears through the belly material and you can see it hanging down. A profession repair would have sealed that damage so mice, bugs, cats, or coons don’t have easy access to the subfloor area. Of course that is seldom done because it takes more time and materials. That means a contractor who does that kind of work has to bid higher. Most will assume the homeowner won’t look in any case and won’t know what to expect if he does.
It might be worth spending a few dollars to buy an electrical outlet tester. Turn on every light. Bring a light bulb with you so you can be sure it is or isn’t a failed switch. If you don’t have a tester of some kind bring a small lamp with you and check EVERY outlet with it. When you turn lights on, watch for any flicker.
Talk to the neighbors and see if they have any outstanding issues with the park management. Do they show up promptly if there is a problem. How long has it been since the last rent increase? How big was it? When you buy a older mobile home on leased land you are REALLY locked in. The home is almost worthless if it has be be moved.
Especially if you have some handyman skills, many of these problems are not that difficult or expensive to fix. They do make good negotiating points that may help you take a few thousand off the price. If you will have to hire all the work done, it will get expensive fast.
I hope this doesn’t come across as totally negative. Mobile homes can be a very affordable way to make a comfortable retirement home. However, they are more fragile than site built homes so make a commitment to stay on top of maintenance if you decide to make this purchase.
Best wishes,
Paul

Tammie
I have a 1998 16×76 Fleetwood mobile home, can I raise the ceiling in the master bedroom and if so how? I have a canopy bed and it will not fit!
Paul
Hi Tammie,
No.
Mobile home ceilings rely heavily on truss construction that provides maximum support with minimal use of materials. You do NOT want to do anything that might weaken them.
It would be much cheaper to buy a bed that fits.
Paul
Tammie
I was afraid that was the answer I was going to get, lol, thank you for replying, Paul.

Henry Goetz
Hi Paul,
I have a 1998 Jacobsen and was asked by Ins. how the trusses are attached. Was any wind strapping used then? Where can I find the H U D code for 1998 code for the attachments? thanks Henry
Paul
Hi Henry,
All links seem to point the HUD which is such an enormous organization I got lost trying to find anything useful. You might try this link for starters and see if you have better luck http://archives.hud.gov/offices/hsg/sfh/ref/sfhp1-8d.cfm
What it comes down to is that if your home has the HUD sticker on it, it met the standards when it was built. It seems to me the insurance company shouldn’t need to know anything else. There are no doubt multiple ways to meet the standard, none of which the insurance company is qualified to evaluate. I wonder if you need to check with an insurance company/agent with more mobile home insurance experience?
Good luck,
Paul
Henry Goetz
Thanks Paul.

Faith Young
Hi Paul. I have a 1986 D/W. Sits on Jacks that sit on dirt. When moved in asked for inspection and was told the Mobile home is structurally sound. This is my first time living in a Mobile home so please forgive my ignorance in this question: I would like to have a party here but am unsure how many people I can invite because of the extra weight on the floor in the main area (front room, kitchen). Is there a safe weight guesstimate of the additional guests for the support of the floor ? Thank you.
Paul
Hi Faith,
I wouldn’t worry about it. Compared to the weight of book cases, aquariums, water beds, pianos and other things people move into mobile homes your guests total weight is small.
The heaviest point load on the floor will come from the high heels some of your guests will be wearing. You might find this link entertaining http://hypertextbook.com/facts/2003/JackGreen.shtml
I suppose one of them could find a small soft spot but even that seems unlikely.
Enjoy your party.
Paul

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