How To Look At A House

McGarry and Madsen's home inspection blog for buyers of  

site-built, mobile/manufactured and modular homes

Why is it important that a mobile home stay level throughout its lifetime?

Thursday, August 16, 2018

A manufactured home is leveled by the licensed installer when it is initially set, but here are a few of the reasons that a it can slip out of level over time:

•• Initial settlement after placement of the home during the first year as the ground responds to the new loads placed on it.

•• Organic debris in the ground, such as the root system of a dead tree, that rots over time and the soil sinks to fill the void caused by the decay.

•• A channel of rainwater running under the home can wash away a strip of soil that causes piers to tilt.

•• Manufactured homes are not designed to support the additional weight of any site-built additions. When the roof structure of a home addition bears on the walls of the home, it can cause stress and settlement, or uplift forces elsewhere in the steel frame.

   When a mobile home is out-of-level, the weight of the home will be unevenly distributed. This causes floors and walls to buckle slightly, making windows and doors difficult to operate—one of the first signs of a foundation leveling problem. Other indications are bent skirting and cracks appearing in the walls or ceiling. When the skirting was pulled away at the ominous bulge shown below, a failed pier was behind it. If the settlement progresses further, you may have the sensation that you are walking downhill.   We recommend that you check that your home has continued to stay level about three months after installation, then every year or two afterwards. A three or four-foot long spirit level is the right tool to use. Lay it across both the long, short, and diagonal directions around the floors of each room of the home, making sure you get a centered bubble in the vial everywhere.

   If you do find that your home is developing a dip or hump in the floors, further evaluation and repair below the home at the steel-beam frame is required. There are instructions for do-it-yourselfers on several websites around the internet, but if it involves more than just tightening the shims at a couple of piers, this is not something we recommend that you tackle unless you have experience with foundation repair. 

    A dip at one location, for example, can sometimes be caused by heaving ground at another location, and jacking up the beam at the dip can cause structural stresses that create new problems. Evaluating the level of the steel beam at each pier with a water level, then planning a strategy from the findings, is required. Hire a licensed professional installer, preferably one recommended by a friend.

    Also, see our blog posts What causes a crowned floor in a mobile/manufactured home? and What are the most common defects in mobile/manufactured home foundation piers? 

Here’s links to a collection of our blog posts about MOBILE/MANUFACTURED HOMES:

Where can I file a complaint if I have problems with my new or used manufactured/mobile home in Florida?

How do I determine the age of a very old mobile home?

What is a "HUD label verification letter" for a mobile/manufactured home?  

When did a ground cover vapor barrier (plastic sheet) become required under a mobile/manufactured home? 

Is it safe to go under a mobile home? 

Are older mobile homes unsafe? 

What do I need to know about buying a foreclosed mobile home? 

Does it make sense to buy an older mobile home and remodel it? 

Where do I find the vehicle identification number (VIN) on a mobile home? 

How do I find out how old a mobile home is and who manufactured it?

What is the right price for a used mobile home?

How energy efficient is a mobile home?

When were the first double-wide mobile homes manufactured?

How do I upgrade my old (pre-1976) mobile home to meet HUD standards?

Does an addition to a mobile home have to comply with the HUD Code? 

What walls can I remove in a mobile home?

What can I do to prevent dampness and mold in my mobile home? 

How can I tell if a mobile home is well constructed?

How can I tell the difference between a manufactured home and a modular home?

       Visit our MOBILE/MANUFACTURED HOMES  page for other related blog posts on this subject, or go to the INDEX for a complete listing of all our articles.

Water Heaters

Water Heater Age

"What Are The

Signs Of..."

Septic Tank Systems

Structure and Rooms

Plumbing Pipes

Termites, Wood Rot

& Pests



When It First

Became Code

"Should I Buy A..."

Park Model Homes


Shingle Roofs




Wind Mitigation

Roof and Attic

"Does A Home


Pool and Spa

"What Is The Difference Between..."




Concrete and

Concrete Block

Metal Roofs


Modular Homes

Rain Gutters

Mold, Lead & Other Contaminants


Older and

Historic Houses

Crawl Spaces

Mobile-Manufactured Homes

Building Permits

Life Expectancy

Clay Soil





Exterior Walls

& Structures


Common Problems

HUD-Code for

Mobile Homes

Garages and Carports

Flat (Low Slope) Roofs

Electrical Panels

Sprinkler Systems

Electrical Receptacle Outlets

4-Point Inspections

Hurricane Resistance

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Home Inspection

Heating and Air Conditioning

Building Codes

Fireplaces and Chimneys

Inspector Licensing

& Standards

Energy Efficiency

Washers and Dryers



Doors and Windows



Electrical Wiring

Click Below  

for Links

to Collections

of Blog Posts

by Subject

Plumbing Drains

and Traps


Smoke & CO Alarms

Aging in Place

Top 5 results given instantly.

Click on magnifying glass

for all search results.






Air Conditioner & Furnace Age/Size


Electrical Switches





Water Intrusion

Electrical - Old

and Obsolete


Foundation Certifications

Tiny Houses

About McGarry and Madsen



Buying a home in North/Central Florida? Check our price for a  team inspection by two FL-licensed contractors and inspectors. Over 8,500 inspections completed in 20+ years. In a hurry? We will get it done for you.

Moisture Problems

Crawl Spaces