We get a lot of questions for mobile home plumbing problems like slow drainage, foul odors, and backflow. Some of these issues can be fairly easy fixes for a homeowner with average DIY experience.
With the information below you should be able to better pinpoint what is causing your mobile home plumbing problem, why it’s happening, and what needs to be done to fix it.
You can learn more about manufactured home plumbing and drainage and ventilation issues here.
Why Mobile Home Plumbing Problems are So Common
Mobile home plumbing problems are common for a couple of reasons: the materials used in the system are usually made of plastic or softer metals because they are lighter and more affordable and the pipes are smaller and not as securely placed as pipes in a site-built home. We’ve seen pipes just laying under cabinets more than once.
Poor ventilation is another big reason for many mobile home plumbing problems. Most homeowners know about their home’s water supply lines and drainage lines but aren’t so familiar with their plumbing’s venting system.
In fact, the majority of questions that we get from readers usually involves either a stoppage or a venting problem. Read our first Ask a Mobile Home Expert article about venting issues and sewer smells here.
5 Common Mobile Home Plumbing Problems
We cover the 5 common mobile home plumbing problems below. We attempt to explain what causes the problems and what you can do to fix them.
1. Hearing Thumping
Thumping can occur when water is running or when it’s draining.
Hearing thumping in your walls can be a bit scary. Oftentimes, homeowners won’t even associate the thumping they hear with water or plumbing.
Thumping sounds are a sure sign that a mobile home has a ventilation issue supply and drain lines.
If you do hear thumping while water is draining it is likely a ventilation issue.
Unfortunately, venting issues are complex and in the majority of cases, you will need to call a professional. With that said, you can do a couple of things so we’ll get you pointed in the right direction so you save time and money and can hopefully get everything fixed in one call.
Thumping when Water is Running
If you hear thumping when your water is running it is likely from your water lines not being strapped properly and it happens a lot. In lots of older mobile homes, you’ll find water supply lines run through cabinets or floor joists without straps.
There is a product called hammer arresters that will help but a plumber will need to install it. This Family Handyman article can explain more.
2. Slow Drainage
A slow drain in a bathroom sink will probably be hair build up on the popup. Check the drain plug and the metal bar attached to it.
Snaking the Drain Lines
Snakes come in many different sizes but they all work the same: they snake through the drain line and pull or push clogs through. Hand snakes are great tools for a homeowner when there’s a small clog but there are some commercial snakes that professionals use that will clear anything. You can buy a hand snake for less than $30.
Be sure to snake out each point that you are experiencing issues.
3. Backflow into Bathtub when Toilet is Flushed
When water flows into the tub after flushing a toilet you are likely experiencing a clog in your drain line.
It backflows into the tub because your tub is the lowest point in your system. Water levels out and always find the lowest point first, that is usually a bathtub in a mobile home.
To fix backflow issues that occur after a flush, you will need to use a closet auger. These are similar to a sink snake we mentioned above. It’s essentially a cable and rod system that works together to drill a clog out toward the sewer.
If you aren’t dealing with noise, smell, or other issues it’s probably just a stoppage.
If the backflow problem is not caused by a stoppage, you may have a ventilation issue. Try adding an additional vent for the master bath sink, tub, and toilet (tie them together on a single waste line).
Another issue could be poor grade on your drain line. You’ll want to get the T-branched and graded properly. You need 1/8″ of a grade for every foot of pipe (if it is 3″ or 4″ pipe). Also. make sure it doesn’t have any dips in it. You’ll want to strap or hang it every 4ft, if possible, or build a stand every 4ft to keep a steady percentage of fall to the sewer tap.
3. Foul Odors
Foul odors can be caused by several things but it usually always means something isn’t working as it should.
Bad Auto Vent
The most common is a bad auto vent. Older auto vent springs may stop closing themselves off properly which allows the foul odor through.
Bad Wax Ring
Wax ring under your toilet will be leaking but won’t be visible. If this is the case, unfortunately, sewer water is slowly building up under the home.
A partial clog could be blocking a vent that is causing water in your sink traps to be sucked out. A dry P-trap allows the smell to come through.
If it’s coming from the drainage/waste line you probably just need to snake it out really well.
You could have a drain pipe pulling apart and allowing leakage to collect under your home.
4. Low Pressure
Low pressure in a mobile home is usually going to be an aerator clogged in your sink screens. A quick clean or an inexpensive replacement should fix the problem.
Pressure reducing valve may be partially clogged.
There are valves, filters, and screens that can get dirty or clogged in several places throughout a plumbing system. Be sure you understand where they are in your home and know how to clear them.
If you have galvanized supply lines slowly close off with mineral buildup which causes low pressure. Replacement is about all you can do if this is causing a mobile home plumbing problem.
Leaks aren’t just mobile home plumbing problems, they are common in all homes but because mobile homes tend to have cheaper materials they can be more common.
Shower Head Leaks
Shower head leaks are a common mobile home plumbing problem. Moving a shower head around causes leaks that only occur when water is being run through the head so homeowners don’t catch them until water damage appears on the wall or floor below. Fixing it will require a professional so it’s important for homeowners to be aware of the problem and keep an eye on the shower heads.
Faucet leaks in the kitchen are usually from the connectors where the faucet attaches to the main supply line. In mobile homes, these connectors are made of plastic which loosens up over time. They can get bumped under the sink a lot, too.
We Haven’t Forgotten Frozen Pipes
We have an entire article dedicated to frozen pipes in mobile homes because I suspect it is the absolute most common mobile home plumbing problems in the nation.
Inspect Your Entire Plumbing System Twice a Year
These 5 mobile home plumbing problems are fairly common in older mobile homes but they occur in newer manufactured homes, too. Inspecting your mobile home is important regardless of the age. Use this mobile home safety inspection checklist as a guide at least twice a year.
Inspect Under the Home
Being a proactive homeowner is vital for a healthy home. We should all inspect the entire plumbing system at least twice a year. A thorough inspection includes going under the home with a light and looking for loose pipes, drips or pools of water, and foul odor under your home.
Inspect Around and Under Sinks, Toilets, and Tubs
Inspecting the walls and floors around your sinks, tubs, and toilets can save you a lot of headache in the future. Feel for wetness or softness. If you store stuff under your sinks make sure you stay away from the pipes.
Finally, you should make it a habit to check your sink aerator screens when you replace your furnace’s filter.
That’s our 5 most common mobile home plumbing problems and their causes and fixes. While you should always call a professional before you do anything extreme, you may be able to save yourself a little money by doing the simple things like snaking a drain or cleaning the aerator.
Thank you for reading Mobile Home Living!