Full Circle Inspections: Mobile Homes Full Circle Inspections: Mobile Homes
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Mobile and manufactured homes present intriguing difficulties for a home inspector.  Originally named mobile homes, they became manufactured homes in the mid-1970s when Federal manufactured home standards were established.  With any home or property, our primary focus is on safety items.  However, the standards that manufactured homes are held to allow some conditions that would not be acceptable in a site-built home.  In addition to differences in construction, manufactured and mobile homes have a different set of problems that we typically find.  As a result, a home inspector who is not familiar with manufactured and mobile homes should not inspect them.  In the following group of photos, you will see some of the common conditions that we find.
If you are thinking of purchasing a manufactured/mobile home, be sure that your home inspector has experience with these unusual structures.
The interior floors are susceptible to moisture damage.  I find areas of leaking, primarily at corners and under windows.  These areas are particularly vulnerable if there is no awning at the exterior.  An awning can help to shield the window openings from direct rain.
The two primary methods of support under a home are metal jacks and concrete blocks, blocks being the most common.  The interesting thing in this photo is the pad on which the jack rests.  This is a recycled material made from soda bottles instead of the more common wood pads which tend to rot.
This, as you can see, is a concrete block support with wood spacers. The problem here is too many spacers were used between the block and the chassis, which makes it less stable.
There are many different types and manufacturers of lateral bracing.  Some are single supports that are attached to the underside of a girder at a single point.  The type in the photo is my favorite, as it is attached at several points and to both of the main support girders under the home.
The label on this water heater very clearly states that it should not be installed in a mobile home.  Yet, a majority of these structures that I inspect have one.  Why?  Well, the primary reason seems to be that they cost about $50.00 more than the tanks for site-built homes.
Aluminum wiring is common in mobile homes built during the Vietnam War years.  Copper was expensive and many manufacturers looking for ways to reduce costs turned to aluminum.  Unfortunately, this turned out to be a potential fire hazard.  If your home has aluminium wiring, it should be corrected.
Many manufactured/mobile homes are roofed with metal panels.  These require periodic service, such as recaulking along the marriage line and at through penetrations.
If you look closely, you will notice the exposed edge of the marriage line cap flashing.  If not caulked/sealed, this can leak.  Typically, caulking in our area will last 7-10 years.
The through penetrations will also require periodic resealing.  In this case, the metal is showing some rust.  It should be okay for a while, but will require replacement in the foreseeable future.
The paint on the metal panels will wear out over time.  To keep the metal in good condition, it is beneficial to repaint.  But, regular housepaint will not do the job.  It should be done with a paint that is formulated to work on metal, such as epoxy.
Stains adjacent to the water heater gas vent pipe are not uncommon, particularly in older homes.  While they may represent leaks that have been repaired, it is important to make sure that all penetrations are maintained.
Gas meters on site-built homes are supported by two pipes.  One from the ground and the other that enters the home.  Here, there is only one rigid pipe.  Therefore, meters on manufactured/mobile homes require additional support.
In this home, the marriage line (where the two halves were joined-together) is misaligned.  This could indicate a problem with the attachment and should be inspected.  This will require removing ceiling panels to access the trusses.
The ceiling on the left has dropped a bit, leaving the marriage line trim at an angle and a gap is present along one side.
Drain leaks can lead to damage to the floor sheathing and framing.  This leak should be repaired.
Even though no pipes are visible, the staining on the underside of the bottom closure material under the home indicates a leak from somewhere.  Further review may require opening the bottom closure.
The feeder conduits between the electrical service equipment pedestal and the home's distribution panel are often laid directly on the soil and will corrode through.  Elevating and supporting a conduit will help to preserve the metal.  This one will need replacement.
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Click on these thumbnail images for a nifty little slide show and descriptions.
Home inspections in Santa Rosa, Petaluma, Windsor, Healdsburg, Sebastopol, Sonoma, 
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