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. You can buy a water level online for less than $60.

Related: Here’s a good article about using a water level.

 

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).

Learn more about buying mobile home skirting and vents at Mobile Home Parts Store here.

Mobile Home Parts Store
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 mobile home with a flat roof you will need 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.

Aluma-Kote Aluminum Roof Coating
 

Here’s an article that has top tips for flat roofs on mobile homes.

Here’s a great video about mobile home roof maintenance:

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.

Related: Mobile Home Bathroom Guide

Here’s a good video that shows you how to measure your mobile home exterior door:

 

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 counter top 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 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 breath 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.

Here’s a very informative article about mobile home plumbing basics (be sure to read through the comments as there are a lot of good questions and answers there).

Manufactured Home Plumbing: Drainage and Ventilation Issues

Here’s another article on mobile home plumbing drainage and venting problems.

 

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.’

McGarry and Madsen, a home inspection company in Florida, has a great list for homeowner inspections on their website here.

 

Related: Our Manufactured Home Safety Inspection Checklist can be found here.

Here’s a quick list of common issues you should look for when doing a mobile home inspection (the rest are at this link):

  • 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. If you are experiencing these you are not alone!

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 click here.

The yellow bathtub problem is a lot tougher to fix and 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 is to fight the oxidization with chemicals or to refinish the tub. Read how one blogger had excellent results using Rustoleums Tub & Tile Refinishing Kit here.

 

 

Another blog, SFGate, shares a homemade recipe that helps turn a yellow bathtub white here. It’s a combination of dish detergent, baking soda, and automobile whitening paste. Another tip I’ve gotten is a product called GelGloss (affiliate link).

 

Summary

Your mobile home can last 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.

As always, thank you for reading Mobile Home Living! 

Note: The notated affiliate links help support Mobile Home Living at no additional cost to you. 

About The Author

Creator/Author

Hello! I'm Crystal, the creator of Mobile Home Living and I appreciate you stopping by! I hope MHL is an inspiring and informative resource for you! Please consider letting me feature your remodels, room makeovers, and home improvement projects. There's not enough inspiration available for manufactured homeowners and I want to change that. Thanks!

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22 Responses

  1. LNWeaver

    I didn’t know a mobile home being off level could cause cracks and misalignment. I guess that’s because mobile homes are pretty heavy. It’s good to do regular maintenance and checks. I guess I’ll have to start checking my home’s balance during those checks.

    Reply
  2. Melanie

    Can you just apply sheetrock over paneling? Without removing the wall/paneling?

    Reply
    • Crystal Adkins

      Hi Melanie,

      You can, but it’s not usually recommended. There are a few issues that can occur: condensation and sweat are the big ones. Airflow is restricted and some gross things can grow between the panels.

      If you are just doing a single wall you probably won’t experience any repercussions (assuming it’s not in a bathroom or near water).

      Best of luck!

      Reply
  3. Lin

    Hello! Your site is very useful, and I’m grateful to you for replying to readers questions about maintenance.

    One area not covered is Windows. In Southern California we’ve been having heavy rains, my home is a double wide year 2000 Skyline, during a heavy rain yesterday for the first time ever I found a medium fast leak from (guessing here-blinds were in the way) the corner top of the window. Are observations, advice? Are mobile home Windows different from regular Windows?

    Sincerely!

    Reply
    • Crystal Adkins

      Hi Lin,

      Windows are way out of my comfort zone and takes a lot of time to research. You will want to find out where the water is entering before it gets to the top corner of the window. It could be a blockage in your gutter letting water flow down the side of the home, it could be degradation of the sealant around the window or an issue with the sheathing under the siding (if you have it). Or you could just have a window failure. Since water follows the path of least resistance leaks usually start above where they appear.

      Being your home is a 2000 model I’m thinking your windows will be pretty similar in size as standard windows – the more recent models started offering larger windows in more standard sizes (but each builder differs so don’t hold me to that).

      Best of luck! Let me know how it goes!

      Reply
  4. Linda Gerstner

    I have bought a 1983 double wide Feb, 2016. Not knowing what I got myself into found bad sub-flooring, rotted joist and wall studs. I tore down walls, built walls, etc. Did 70% of the remodel myself after going through 3 contractors which left me not finishing work and/or ripping me off. I have interesting pictures of before and after [not quite finished] but thought sharing would be great. Wondering if your interested? I read allot off your website to learn how to do the remodel. By the way I am a senior single female, do it yourself kinda girl.

    Reply
    • Crystal Adkins

      Hi Linda!

      Of course, I’m interested! Sharing real homes and real experiences are so helpful to other homeowners. If you can email me at crystaladkins@mobilehomeliving.org and we’ll start working on it!

      Thanks so much for contacting me! I’m excited to see what you’ve done and hear about your experiences.

      Reply
  5. Karen

    We bought a 2009 double wide and lately our kitchen floor feels “mushy” in spots. What might cause this

    Reply
    • Crystal Adkins

      Hi, Karen!

      I don’t want to scare you, but I usually associate the word mushy with water damage. It could be several things, though. If you can pull up your floor covering and take a look at your subfloor, please do so. You may want to go under the home to look for any signs of water damage (from leaks or just condensation). It could be the subflooring just needs to be tightened down too.

      It’s good that you have noticed this as it is usually a sign of some kind of issue but it doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s a serious problem like water damage (though if it is water damage you want to find the source and replace the wood as soon as possible). Best of luck and please let me know how it goes!

      Reply
  6. Jeni Gray

    Hi Crystal!! Love this informative article! Thank you!!
    Something I found when I needed to replace the refrigerator was that the front door was too small for a standard one to fit through!
    Something to think about when purchasing any new appliances, as you mentioned.

    Reply
  7. Laura

    The doors in the mobile home I just bought have been removed from the closets, where do I find them to fit

    Reply
    • Crystal Adkins

      Hi Laura,

      It depends on the type of doors. The interior doors you can buy at Lowe’s for $30 are too long for older mobile homes but they are OK width -wise. You can cut them down (buy the ones without the doorknob hole so you can put it at the right height). If they are the vinyl pleated doors you should be able to make them the right height. Buying through a mobile home parts store will be a bit more expensive BUT you’ll get the right size and not have to bother with retrofitting.

      Best of luck!

      Reply
  8. Derek Mcdoogle

    My friend has been wanting to purchase a mobile home and is trying to see what kinds of supplies he might need. Your tip about checking the home skirting was very insightful. Are there different types of material that use to make the skirting? I wonder if there are any kinds that work better than others. It appears that making sure he has the right materials could be very beneficial.

    Reply
  9. sylvia townsend

    just found your site. thank god! for us mobile home owners

    Reply
  10. Ryan poske

    Its was a great pleasure of reading this awesome article. Thank you for posting this extra ordinary information for us. This site is amazing and I have been a regular visitor of this site since I found it first time.

    Reply
  11. tracyann

    Hi Crystal! Thanks for the reply in my comment. I do agree with you that it is really hesitant to guest post but we must also know that if it can help our blog in deriving traffic, then it is much better.
    My recent post קייטרינג לאירועים קטנים

    Reply
  12. tracyann

    Thanks again for sharing this 8 tips to ponder in order to create beautiful mobile home. I think I need to follow them.
    My recent post הדרך לאושר

    Reply
  13. CrystalMHL

    I liked all the tips too. I was always hesitant to put guest posts up
    but ones like this that are so helpful are great! Thanks Tracy!

    Reply

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