Maintaining Your Mobile Home Foundations (Frames, Leveling, and Windows)
We have been working our way up, down and all around the mobile home in this maintenance series. So far we have covered roofs and caulking (Part I, Part II). In this post, we will be checking up on your mobile home frame, whether or not your home is level, and how to make sure your windows keep up with a little upkeep!
What is a mobile home frame?
The frame of your mobile home is very important. Consider your mobile home as having a skeleton. The skeleton keeps everything in place: floor, walls, ceiling, roof, etc. In this scenario, the frame would be the spine to the skeleton.
Here’s an interesting fact about the importance and usefulness of mobile home frames: when old mobile homes are destroyed, the frame is usually salvaged and reused if it is in good condition. Even if the salvaged frame is in bad condition, time is often taken to repair it so that it can be used again.
Needless to say, mobile home frames are useful, valuable, and worth receiving some tender love and care.
Here are some ways to do that:
MAINTAIN THE PAINT
Mobile home frames are painted by the manufacturer with rust-resistant paint. It keeps that pesky corrosion from eating away at the spine of your home! See our recent post on also painting the inside of your home.
So, DON’T BE PASSIVE! Painted surfaces can get scratched.
If you find any areas that have been scratched or damaged, you will need to touch them up. Scratches can be caused by wild animals, transporting mobile homes, or just regular wear and tear from outside elements.
For touching up the steel frame, you can use:
- Zinc Chromate
- Asphaltic base paint
CHECK THE STRESS
Another way you to maintain your frame is to find out where the frame has been reinforced and how much weight (or stress) it’s been designed to handle. Reinforcement of a mobile home frame is done either at the manufacturer or by the customer when wanting to add something heavy to the home (i.e. tiled flooring, waterbed, etc.).
If there’s too much stress in an area, ask a professional to reinforce your frame and save yourself major repairs in the future.
Checking if your home is level
Whether you had a trusted mobile home mover place your home, a mobile home park already had set it up, or you did the job yourself, you should check if your home is still level. Things can change, which is not always bad, but make sure those changes are not destroying your home.
Check the level of your mobile home every 6 months. If you see signs that your mobile could be un-level, perform a check before then. If you see signs that your mobile is definitely un-level, have it checked right away.
Here’s how you can tell if your mobile home is not on the level…
Might Not Be Level
Do your doors swing open or closed by themselves? Your hinges may need to be adjusted, or it could be an indicator that your home is not level.
Are your windows and doors not opening or closing properly? These signs could just mean that you need to adjust the windows and doors themselves. But they are usually the first things you’ll notice if you’re home is not level.
When you are cooking a meal, take the time to check oil or sauces in your pots and pans. If the liquids pool to one side or another, you may need to adjust the legs of the stove. However, if you notice that it continues to be a problem, you probably want to get your home checked.
For doors, windows, and stove, always try adjusting them first before concluding that your mobile home is unlevel. If the individual items are fine (or if you have to keep fixing them), then it could be time to check the level of your home.
If you fancy yourself perceptive, or “spatially aware,” then these next two signs might hold more weight for you. Do you often feel that you are walking up or downhill? Do you hear noises, like what is called “settling noises,” more than usual? Both of these are possible signs of an off-level mobile home.
More Definite Signs That Your Mobile Home Is Not Level
The following signs are “red-light” problems when considering if your home is level or not. If you have multiple of the following, you should work to resolve the issue urgently.
Showers and bathtubs are regularly used places. After taking a bath or shower, if the water is not draining properly and pooling to a side of the tub away from the drain, this is a very strong indicator of an un-level home.
The same is true regarding how the water in your sink drains.
If your gutters are not draining properly, you should make sure they aren’t clogged. If there is no clog in the system, but water still pools away from the drain, either your gutters or your mobile home is not level. Issues with your gutters can lead to bigger issues as well: water dams, dammed up water overflowing and going underneath the shingles, and also leaking damage to the roof and other areas of the mobile home. Check to make sure your gutters and your mobile home are level.
If your ceiling and walls are separating, this is a sure-fire sign that your house is not level. Your ceiling and walls are not supposed to do that! Follow the steps below to perform a simple level check yourself.
When setting the table and eating your dinner, you naturally expect that plates, glasses, and silverware will stay where you put them down. If things placed on a flat surface in your house are sliding off, you should definitely consider the possibility that your house is not lying flat.
One thing that can bring a family together, or tear them apart if they are highly competitive, is board games. A component of many board games are various pieces and character markers, spaces, and sometimes piles of fake and brightly colored money. When your pieces and cards are sliding to one side of the board, it is not only extremely annoying, but it should also convince you to check if your house is level.
Moving knick-knacks, constantly crooked picture frames, falling books from shelves … these are probably not signs of poltergeists but a mobile home in need of some balance (see what I did there).
Noticing more than one of the above? Then you should know that a level check is in order. If you do not have a carpenter’s level already, purchase one that is 8 feet long. A longer level makes the job easier since you cover more space every time you move it forward.
Whether you are concerned that your house is either leaning towards one end lengthwise or one end widthwise, this check will help you figure out if the problem is real. Take your level to the far end of your mobile, place it on the floor and look at the bubble in the middle. If it is level, the bubble will be exactly between the two lines. If not, move down to the section below.
If you’re not sure, keep moving the level lengthwise all the way across the floor. Next, take the level and work your way across the mobile home widthwise. After doing both of these steps, you will have been able to figure out if your mobile home is level or not.
MOBILE HOME FRAME REPAIR
If after a level check you find out that your mobile home frame is not level, the best thing to do is to call in a professional – they’ll figure out what the issue is and find a solution.
Don’t fret! You won’t have to take down your entire home. All you might need is shim each joint or replace parts of the steel frame.
Mobile Home Windows
You may be so used to looking out your windows that you cease to even look at them. Or maybe you just think of them as…well… windows. I mean, haven’t they always been there?
The windows you know and love are complicated mechanisms with multiple pieces that need to work properly in order for your window to simply open and close. Windows are made of frames, tracks, glass, and on certain designs there are hinges.
Maintaining your windows can save you some more expensive repairs down the road.
HOW TO CLEAN MOBILE HOME WINDOWS
Being able to see out of your window is an important feature. Grime and scum can build up on the surface of the glass. A simple solution as a mobile home owner is to clean them yourself.
- Extendable Squeegee (metal is sturdier and lasts longer)
- Most come with a replaceable rubber blade wiping off the soapy water.
- Before purchasing any size squeegee, figuring in how many window panes you have, and also the size.
- Smaller sizes are easier to move with you.
- Lint Free Rags (for drying the windows)
- Cleaning Solution
- Water and Dawn dish soap do wonder to dirty windows.
This blog has a how-to guide for clean exterior windows.
If have scum in between your window panes, it could mean there is a leak somewhere in the seal of the window. To reseal a double pane window, which is quite common, you will need the following supplies:
- Scrap Wood
- Silicone Caulk
- Caulk Gun
- Utility Knife
- Putty Knife
- Paint or Stain
Check out this site for instructions on how to seal double pane windows, both permanent and removable windows!
- Silicon Lubricant
Follow these steps:
- Remove the window sash.
This can look different depending on the model of the window.
- Use a dry cloth to remove loose dust, debris, and dirt from the windows track and frame.
- Use a vacuum to clean up any left over debris in the track and frame, as well as the sash.
- Take a cloth dipped in cleaning solution to clean up mold, mildew, and heavy dirt build up that didn’t come off with the dry cloth and vacuum. A good cleaning solution can be made by mixing 1-and-a-1/2 cups of vinegar to a gallon of hot water.
- Rinse off the vinyl with clean water, and then drying it up with a clean towel.
- Using a dry rag or cloth, wipe silicon lubricant into the window tracks and also the liner where the window sash slides open and close. Spraying directly from the can is not advised. If it gets on the glass, it can leave permanent grease stains. Also, if you get any on the vinyl, you will have a greasy mess to deal with.
- Reinstall the window sash, and then open and close the window repeatedly. This allows for the lubricant to be distributed evenly.
Like it was said above in the “checking if the home is level” section, windows that are sticking, or not opening and closing properly, could be a sign that the mobile home is not level. If you’ve lubricated your windows and are still having problems, then we suggest you go back and follow the steps to check the levelness of the home.
Window leaks can often be fixed by applying caulking or sealer which you can usually find at most hardware stores. Here is a how-to guide for resealing permanent and removable windows.
Long Lasting Mobile Homes Starts With Great Maintenance
Who would’ve thought that your mobile home frame, windows, and level could overlap so much in regards to maintenance? Remember that maintaining your mobile home only helps it keep its value for the long run.