Mobile homes, also known as manufactured homes, are a popular choice for many due to their affordability and flexibility.
However, just like any other type of house, they require regular maintenance to ensure they remain safe and comfortable to live in.
One essential aspect of this maintenance is mobile home leveling.
Mobile homes are unique in the sense that they are built off-site in factories before being transported to their final location.
Unlike traditional stick-built homes, which are constructed on a solid foundation on the property site, mobile homes are set on piers or blocks, which can settle over time.
This settling can cause the home to become unlevel, leading to a range of problems from structural issues to plumbing malfunctions.
As such, it’s vital to understand how to level a mobile home.
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Tools Needed for Mobile Home Leveling
Before you begin the mobile home leveling process, it’s essential to gather all the necessary tools.
Having the right tools at hand not only makes the job easier but also ensures that it’s done correctly and safely.
The most important tools you’ll need for mobile home leveling are a water level and hydraulic bottle jacks.
The water level is used to determine which parts of your home are unlevel, while the hydraulic bottle jacks are used to raise the sections of your home that need leveling.
You’ll also need steel jacking plates to distribute the weight evenly and prevent damage to your home’s frame.
A water level is a simple yet effective tool for determining whether your home is level or not.
It consists of a long hose filled with water.
When both ends of the hose are held up, the water in the hose will level out, providing a clear visual indication of whether the surface is level.
Hydraulic Bottle Jacks
Hydraulic bottle jacks are powerful tools used to lift heavy objects.
In the context of mobile home leveling, they are used to raise the sections of your home that need to be leveled.
Two 10-30 ton hydraulic bottle jacks are typically needed for this task. You’ll want to place the jacks at crossbeams, at the hitch, or at the axles.
Steel Jacking Plates
Steel jacking plates are used in conjunction with hydraulic bottle jacks.
They are placed under the jacks to distribute the weight evenly and prevent damage to your home’s frame.
Without them, the force exerted by the jack could potentially puncture or warp the frame.
Safety Measures for Mobile Home Leveling
As with any DIY project, safety should be your top priority when leveling your mobile home.
It’s crucial to take all necessary precautions to protect yourself and avoid causing further damage to your home.
Keep in mind that leveling a mobile home involves lifting and manipulating large sections of your home, which can be dangerous if not done correctly.
Therefore, it’s vital to follow all safety guidelines and use the proper equipment.
Necessary Safety Gear
Essential safety gear for mobile home leveling includes sturdy gloves, protective eyewear, hard hats, and steel-toed shoes.
These items can protect you from falling debris and other potential hazards during the process.
The Role of Assistance in Ensuring Safety
Having an extra pair of hands can significantly improve safety during the leveling process.
They can help you handle the equipment, provide a second opinion on whether the home is level, and assist in case of an emergency.
If possible, consider enlisting the help of a friend or family member.
Step-by-Step Guide to Leveling a Mobile Home
Once you’ve gathered all the necessary tools and taken all the safety measures, you’re ready to begin the leveling process.
Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you through it.
Step 1: Preparing the Site and Removing Skirting
The first step involves preparing the area around your mobile home and removing the skirting.
The skirting refers to the paneling that covers the area between the ground and your home’s base.
Removing this gives you access to the foundation pillars, which you’ll need to inspect and adjust during the leveling process.
Step 2: Securing Plumbing and Electrical Installations
Before you start leveling, make sure to secure all plumbing and electrical installations. This minimizes the risk of damaging them during the process.
You may need to disconnect certain installations temporarily or move them out of the way.
Step 3: Checking Pillars and Identifying Leveling Problems
The next step is to check the pillars supporting your home and identify any issues.
You’ll want to look for any signs of deterioration or damage, such as cracks, leaning, or sinking into the ground.
This is also when you’ll use your water level to determine which parts of your home are unlevel.
Step 4: Using the Mobile Jack to Raise the Beam
Once you’ve identified the problem areas, it’s time to start leveling. Place your hydraulic bottle jack under the first beam that needs to be raised.
Slowly pump the jack to lift the beam until it reaches the desired height.
Make sure to do this slowly and steadily to avoid causing any sudden shifts or damage.
Step 5: Placing Shims Between the Beam and the Pillar
After the beam has been raised, you’ll need to place shims between the beam and the pillar.
Shims are small, wedge-shaped pieces of material that are used to fill in gaps and help keep objects steady.
In this case, they will help to maintain the new level of your home. Once the shims are in place, slowly lower the jack until the beam rests on the shims.
Tips for Maintaining a Leveled Mobile Home
After leveling your mobile home, it’s important to take steps to maintain its level condition.
Here are a few tips to help you do so:
Keeping Ground Dry Around the Home
Try to keep the ground around your home as dry as possible.
While you can’t control the weather, you can minimize activities that cause water to accumulate around your home, such as overwatering plants or directing gutter runoff toward your home.
Regularly Checking Tools for Malfunctions
Regularly inspect your tools for any signs of malfunction.
Damaged tools not only make the job harder but can also pose safety risks. If any of your tools are damaged, replace them immediately.
Selecting Strong, Durable Pillars
Pillar selection plays a crucial role in how long your mobile home stays level. While wood pillars are inexpensive, they require frequent maintenance and are prone to rot and termite damage.
Consider investing in concrete or metal pillars, which are more durable and require less maintenance.
When to Hire a Professional
Although leveling a mobile home yourself can save money, it’s not always the best option. If you lack the necessary tools, experience, or physical ability, it may be safer and more cost-effective to hire a professional.
They have the knowledge, tools, and experience to level your home correctly and safely.
If you’re unsure about any part of the process, if your home is severely unlevel, or if you notice significant structural damage, it’s best to call a professional.
Attempting to level your home in these circumstances could result in further damage and potential safety hazards.
When looking for a contractor, start by asking the dealership or manufacturer that sold you the home.
They often have in-house crews or partner with outside companies that specialize in mobile home leveling.
Additionally, you can ask for recommendations from other mobile homeowners or search online for reputable contractors in your area.
FAQs about Leveling a Mobile Home
Here are some commonly asked questions about leveling a mobile home:
Is it Hard to Level a Mobile Home?
The difficulty of leveling a mobile home can vary based on several factors, including the size of the home, the severity of the unlevel condition, and the person’s experience and physical ability.
However, with the right tools and a good understanding of the process, most people can level their mobile home.
How Do I Know if my Mobile Home is Not Level?
Signs that your mobile home might not be level include uneven floors, cracks in the walls, doors, and windows that won’t close properly, and recurring plumbing issues.
Using a water level can also help determine if your home is unlevel.
How Long Does it Take to Level a Mobile Home?
The time it takes to level a mobile home can vary depending on the size of the home and the extent of the unlevel condition.
However, with the proper preparation and tools, the process can typically be completed in a day.
How Do You Keep a Mobile Home Level?
Maintaining a level mobile home involves regularly checking for signs of instability, keeping the ground around your home dry, and using strong, durable pillars.
Regular inspections and prompt action at the first sign of trouble can help prevent your home from becoming unlevel.
How Often Should You Level Your Mobile Home?
It’s recommended to check the level of your mobile home at least once a year.
However, if you notice any signs of your home being unlevel, such as uneven floors or doors and windows not closing properly, you should check it immediately.
In conclusion, leveling a mobile home is an essential part of maintaining its structure, functionality, and safety.
Whether you choose to do it yourself or hire a professional, understanding the process and the importance of regular checks can help ensure your mobile home remains a safe and comfortable place to live.