How To Look At A House
McGarry and Madsen's home inspection blog for buyers of
site-built, mobile/manfuactured 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.
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