“It’s not the heat, it’s the humidity!” “It never rains, it only pours!”
If I had a nickel for every time I said these things this year, I’d be a rich woman. The amount of moisture in the air since the Spring has just overwhelmed our home and our ground and our community. The purpose of this post is to share a few ideas we’re toying with regarding moisture control, but also to offer some great resources we’ve found in our search for ways to secure our home from the horrors of moisture damage.
But! Let me take a breather before I get into this post. It will be full of information about moisture in our mobile homes, but it involves hard work, observation, preventative measures, and cleaning methods. I always like to think of something I like before I tackle things I’m not fond of, and in keeping with the theme of moisture, I had an urge to watch one of my favorite movie clips of all time. Please excuse us while we pause for this brief break…
Okay, now, back to business!
As I was saying, moisture can be a big issue for mobile homes. We tend to suffer with pretty poor insulation. Many states and the federal government developed new building standards for manufactured housing in the late 90’s. Our home was built in ’95. Enough said…but yet, I go on… The insulation, windows, and studding quality is questionable at best. Don’t get me wrong, we love our home and have worked hard to make it more energy efficient, but it seems that as we make changes, more challenges arise that we need to find ways to correct. One simple tip is to use a dehumidifier. These can be expensive, but you can often find one reasonably priced on Craigslist.
The first mistake we made when putting our house on the property was to use only footers for support. Footers are concrete forms that are a little more than a foot wide and run the width of the home from front to back. They are placed several feet apart and then the home is propped on cinder blocks supported by these footers. This method leaves mostly dirt in your crawl space. In our area, the soil content is mostly clay. Clay retains water pretty well and the yard around our home was not graded well or prepared for proper drainage. The home actually sits downhill from the road and yard in front of it, allowing water to drain downhill under the house. Water also collects with each rainfall around the edges of the home and really has nowhere to go but under it.
Here’s a link to a great document about Moisture Problems in Manufactured Homes put out by HUD (Housing and Urban Development). It lays out the many problem areas for moisture in your mobile home and some solutions to these issues. One helpful tip in this document that we will be trying this year is to cover the ground under our double wide with 6 mil plastic sheeting. We built wood skirting three years ago and even though we put four vents (1 for each side) in the skirting, it still retains much more moisture than regular vinyl skirting would. Add that to the saturated clay dirt from a damp Spring and Summer and you get musty, moldy dampness. This can’t be good.
Our plan was to by a roll of 20′ x 100′ 6 mil plastic sheeting (about $100 at Lowe’s) and run 20′ widths from front to back, using a staple gun to fasten the plastic to the bottom frames of the skirting. This should keep the plastic firmly in place, and any water that drains under the home should actually drain into the ground beneath the plastic. The damp ground will no longer share the same space as the underside of our home. It was our plan to complete this project this Fall and to replace our 14 year old heat tape at the same time. However, our love of attending NASCAR races and our season hockey tickets have caused us to play hooky from housework on the weekends over the last month…and I think we’re running out of time.
My dream of what it would look like (picture links to another great article from Inspectapedia.com> about sealing under your home):
The writer suggests that 6 mil plastic may be fine, but people report that repair is often necessary after entering the crawl space. They suggest that plastic the thickness of a pool liner would be better suited for such installations. Well, I have personally been in the position of having a swimming pool liner that I didn’t know what to do with when it became stretched or torn. TWICE! I have to believe there are people in our community who would love to recycle their pool liner that has been sitting in their garage while the guilt of throwing it in the landfill was just too much for them to bear. So, now, I begin my quest for enough swimming pool liner in need of being recycled to complete this project next Spring.
In many homes, the heating system’s ducts would offer a bit more ventilation/warmth under the home and keep things from being so damp. However, we have installed a pellet stove to heat our home and only run the furnace about once per month just to keep it from getting rusty. In the winter months, the pellet stove keeps the interior of our home so dry, we actually have to run a humidifier to keep the static and dust down. But once the Spring months come and the stove goes off, the humidity climbs once again.
One thing I found interesting in the HUD document I offered above was an item about ventless gas stoves. We used to have one before our pellet stove was installed. The installer said that propane burns with much more moisture so it feels warmer in the home. We didn’t realize that heating this way with a ventless stove rather than the furnace or vented pellet stove would trap moisture in our home even more, or that this could be a bad thing. I will put together an article on heating with various types of stoves in mobile homes soon.
Because our home sits in a dip, the water collects in our side dooryard once the snow begins to melt. Last year, we expanded the garden in that area and put a sidewalk where standing water was always a problem. We enlarged the garden two years ago and that helped considerably, so this year we did it up big and covered the whole area that was a problem with a garden. We’re hoping this garden will soak up all of the water that might collect there in the Spring. This becomes dangerous because in the Spring in Upstate New York, we’ve had 90 degrees at the end of April, and then snow on Mother’s Day. Mother Nature really has a sense of humor here. (Yes, this article is being submitted on October 29th, and two days ago we had 3 inches of snow) Once all of the snow melts, and then we get another cold spell, all of that water turns to ice….in our yard…where we walk. So! You can see why we want it to be controlled.
We’ll keep you updated on our moisture issues and would love to hear about your own concerns, fixes, and questions regarding moisture in mobile homes. How are you dealing with it? Have you had success with controlling it? Let us know in the comments area below!
Stay dry and warm!