Can a mobile/manufactured home get termites?
Friday, July 20, 2018
Yes, both Subterranean and Drywood Termites can infest a mobile home. It is also possible for a termite inspector to document an assortment of wood boring beetles (which are mandatory to report on with the Florida DACS 13645 WDO form) in a mobile home. Here’s a recent example of a subterranean termite mud tube climbing up a pier into a mobile home.
The only real difference between a mobile home and a site built house is that a mobile is usually installed on a foundation of stacked concrete block columns supporting a steel frame instead of an in-ground concrete footing. Some site built houses—older structures and homes near rising bodies of water—are designed with concrete or wood piers. Most site built homes with piers include termite guards (an angled cap of sheet metal) at the the top of the pier below the wood framing to deter the advance of Subterranean Termite mud tubes. In 14 years of inspecting site built and mobile homes we have never noted the use of termite guards for a mobile home foundation.
Both types of termites can enter a mobile in the same way that they would access a site built structure. Subterranean Termites utilize wood-to-earth contact or build mud tubes up the foundation. Drywood Termites enter by flying through a small opening or in infested wood furniture brought into the home. Treatment and protection methods for Drywood and/or Subterranean Termites is the same as for a site built home.
Mobile homes tend to have more moisture intrusion issues as they age compared to site built homes and wet wood is a favorite for termites. The "belly wrap" vapor barrier that covers the underside of the floor framing on a mobile home can obscure the view of evidence and damage from termites and easily retain moisture from plumbing leaks.
Loans secured through VA (Veterans Administration), and sometimes FHA (Federal Housing Administration) and USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) require WDO inspections on mobile homes, just like site-built homes and condominiums. Because these agencies oversee the purchase of safe livable homes for their buyers, it is a clear indicator that termites and other wood destroying organisms are a threat to mobile homes.
Also, see our blog post Does wood chip mulch in the yard attract termites?
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