Mobile home plumbing differs in many ways compared to traditional stick-built homes. It’s built with specific materials and construction methods, which can affect its overall durability, longevity, and maintenance. Additionally, it also has its own set of codes and regulations that must be followed.
In this article, we will go over the basics of plumbing systems within a mobile or manufactured home. This will include the pipe materials used, common plumbing issues that arise, tips for maintenance and repair, and associated costs.
The Basics of Mobile Home Plumbing Systems
Mobile homes are constructed differently than traditional stick-built homes. They are factory-built homes constructed on a chassis and often transported to their final location, which can affect the location of the pipes and the materials used. Plumbing lines are typically run through the floor or walls, depending on the layout and design of the home. The main supply lines for water and drain lines for waste are typically run through the floor, while the vent pipes are run through the walls.
The pipe materials used can depend on the specific application and the conditions of the mobile home. The main materials used in mobile home plumbing systems are variations of plastic and metal. Below is a list of the most common materials used in mobile home plumbing:
- PVC pipes: Lightweight, durable, and corrosion-resistant plastic plumbing, less expensive than copper pipes, but not as flexible. Suitable for cold water lines.
- Copper pipes: More durable and flexible, but also more expensive
- CPVC (chlorinated polyvinyl chloride): Similar to PVC, but has a higher temperature and pressure rating, suitable for hot water lines
- PEX (cross-linked polyethylene): Flexible plastic tubing, resistant to freezing and bursting, often used in radiant heating systems.
- Stainless steel pipes: Corrosion-resistant, durable, and long-lasting metal plumbing, but also more expensive. Can be a good option for areas with high water hardness
- Galvanized steel pipes: Coated with a layer of zinc to prevent rust and corrosion but can become corroded over time. You might see this if your home is older.
When it comes to mobile home plumbing, it’s important to also consider the different types of pipes and their functions. Plumbing supply lines bring water into the home and drain lines take wastewater out. There are ventilation pipes that help prevent sewer gases from entering the home and clean outs that provide access to the sewer line for maintenance and repairs. Additionally, shut off valves are installed to allow for easy control and isolation of different parts of the plumbing system in case a repair needs to be made.
The typical pipe sizes used in mobile home plumbing can vary depending on the manufacturer and local codes. However, the most common sizes for supply lines are 3/4 inch and 1 inch, for drain lines are 1 1/2 inches and 2 inches, and for vent pipes are 1 1/2 inches and 2 inches. These sizes can be different based on the type of material used, the location, and the needs of the mobile home.
Maintaining and Repairing Mobile Home Plumbing
It is important to keep in mind that regular maintenance, inspections, and proper repairs can help prevent costly issues and prolong the life of your mobile home plumbing system. Here are some suggestions that cover plumbing basics to keep your mobile home plumbing in top condition:
- Regular inspections: One of the easiest things you can do to maintain your mobile home plumbing is to inspect regularly. This can involve checking for leaks, corrosion, and other potential issues to see if you need to repair or replace anything.
- Prevention: Regular plumbing maintenance can help prevent issues from arising in the first place. For example, checking and cleaning the aerators on faucets can prevent them from becoming clogged, which can lead to low water pressure.
- Fix leaks immediately: Leaks, no matter how small, can lead to major problems if left untreated. Make sure to fix any leaks as soon as they are discovered.
- Insulate pipes: Mobile homes are often more susceptible to freezing temperatures, so it’s important to properly insulate pipes to prevent freezing and bursting. Something like Cold Snap insulation tape works just fine for this.
- Avoid chemical drain cleaners: These products can damage pipes and cause corrosion. Instead, use a plunger or snake to clear clogs.
- Know the location of your shut-off valves: Mobile home supply lines are typically equipped with a main shut-off valve and valves at the various fixtures. Knowing where your shut-off valves are located can allow you to quickly isolate the water in case of a leak.
- Keep an eye on water pressure: High water pressure can cause leaks and damage to pipes. A pressure gauge can help you keep an eye on water pressure and make adjustments as needed. You can hook one of these right up to your garden hose connection.
- Hire a professional: When it comes to repairs, it’s best to hire a professional plumber to ensure that the work is done correctly and up to code.
Common Mobile Home Plumbing Issues and How to Troubleshoot Them
Mobile home plumbing problems can be unique and complex, with their own set of challenges and considerations. Understanding common plumbing issues and knowing how to troubleshoot them can save you time, money and prevent bigger problems from arising. See below for some of the most common issues that mobile homeowners may encounter and some tips on how to troubleshoot them:
- Leaks: Leaks can occur in any plumbing system, but they are particularly problematic in mobile homes after the initial transportation of the home. Leaks can be caused by a variety of factors, including corrosion, damage to pipes, or faulty fittings. To troubleshoot leaks, check all visible pipes, fixtures, and fittings for signs of water damage or dripping. If you suspect a leak or any other plumbing problem, turn off the main water supply and call a professional plumber.
- Low water pressure: Low water pressure can be caused by things such as clogged aerators, corroded pipes, or a malfunctioning pressure regulator. To troubleshoot low water pressure, first check the aerators on your faucets and clean them if they are clogged. To check sink aerators, first locate the small removable cap on the end of the faucet. Using pliers or your hand, unscrew the cap and remove it. Once the aerator is removed, use a brush or a toothpick to remove any debris that may be stuck in the aerator and flush it out with water. Reinstall the aerator and turn on the water to check for improved water pressure. If this does not solve the problem, check the pressure regulator and make sure it is functioning properly. If the problem persists, call a professional plumber.
- Clogs: Clogs can occur in any plumbing system, but they are particularly common in mobile homes due to the compact nature of the plumbing and the use of older materials. Clogs can be caused by a variety of factors, including buildup of soap scum, hair, or grease. To troubleshoot clogs, use a plunger or a snake to clear the blockage. Avoid using chemical drain cleaners, as they can damage pipes and cause corrosion.
- Frozen pipes: Mobile homes are more susceptible to freezing temperatures, and frozen pipes can cause serious damage if not addressed promptly. To troubleshoot frozen pipes, locate and insulate any pipes that are in unheated areas or near exterior walls. Open the faucets to allow any trapped water to expand and escape. If a pipe has already burst, turn off the main water supply and call a professional plumber.
- Sewer gas odors: Sewer gas odors can be caused by a variety of factors, including a blockage in the vent pipe or a malfunctioning trap. To check the vent pipe, first locate it on the roof or exterior of your mobile home. Use a ladder to access the vent pipe. Look for any debris, leaves, or other materials that may be blocking the pipe. Clear any blockages you find. Check the pipe for any visible cracks, holes, or damages. If you find any issues or if you are unable to access the vent pipe, call a professional plumber to inspect it.
Most of the time its worth it to call a professional for your mobile home’s plumbing problems. We will discuss why in the next section.
Safety Considerations and HUD Regulations
It’s important to keep in mind that safety should always be a top priority when dealing with plumbing problems, and that compliance with HUD regulations is necessary for ensuring the safety of the occupants and longevity of the system.
The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has specific regulations in place for mobile home plumbing, including the materials that can be used and the minimum pipe sizes that must be used. These regulations are designed to ensure that mobile home plumbing is safe and functional. Mobile homes manufactured after 1976 must be built to the HUD code and must comply with the regulations. It’s important to ensure that any repairs or upgrades to your mobile home plumbing are done by a professional and comply with HUD regulations.
I always hire a professional to handle plumbing and electrical issues. I keep a list of 24/7 plumbing companies in my cell phone notes in case of a plumbing emergency. It is important to use plumbers that work when residents are home, aka nights and weekends, because that’s usually when the issues arise. If you must work on your own mobile home plumbing, then consider a few safety bulletins:
- If you are working in tight or confined spaces, make sure to use proper equipment and techniques to prevent injury. Flashlights, headlamps, gloves, knee pads, etc.
- When working on elevated surfaces such as a roof, make sure to use proper safety gear and equipment, such as a harness and safety lines. Pro tip: Tie down your ladder so it cannot tip over!
- When using power tools, make sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions and use the appropriate safety gear, such as goggles and ear protection.
- Avoid over-reaching or awkward postures when working, as this can lead to muscle strains or other injuries.
- Always use proper lifting techniques to avoid back injuries when moving heavy objects. Lift with your legs not your back!
- Some plumbing repair and maintenance tasks may require the use of hazardous chemicals, so be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions and take appropriate safety precautions.
- Lastly, if you are unsure of your ability to safely perform a repair or maintenance task, call the plumber.
Costs Associated with Plumbing in Manufactured Homes
The cost of installing or repairing plumbing problems can vary depending on where the home is located, materials used, the type of repair, and the professional you hire. Average costs for common repairs such as replacing a faucet, fixing a leak, or unclogging a drain can range from $100 to $300. Let’s break this down a little:
- Installation costs: The cost of installing a new mobile home plumbing system can vary depending on a number of factors, such as the size of the home, the type of materials used, and local labor rates. On average, installation costs can range from $3,000 to $10,000 or more for a new mobile home plumbing system.
- Materials costs: The cost of materials for a mobile home plumbing system can vary depending on the type of materials used. PVC pipes are generally less expensive than copper pipes, but copper pipes are more durable and flexible. CPVC and PEX piping are often more expensive than PVC or copper, but they offer a higher temperature and pressure rating.
- Repairs and maintenance: Regular repairs and maintenance can help prevent costly issues and prolong the life of your mobile home plumbing system. The cost of repairs and maintenance can vary depending on the type of issue, the age of the system, and local labor rates. Common mobile home repairs such as fixing leaks, clogs, or replacing worn out parts can range from $100 to $500 or more.
- Upgrades: Upgrading your mobile home plumbing system can improve its efficiency and extend its lifespan. Upgrades such as replacing old pipes, installing a water filtration system, or upgrading to a tankless water heater can range from $1,000 to $5,000 or more depending on the scope of the project and the materials used.
- Professional fees: Hiring a professional plumber for repairs, maintenance or upgrades can add to the costs, but it can also ensure that the job is done correctly and up to code. Professional fees can vary depending on the type of service and local labor rates, but on average it can range from $50 to $200 or more per hour. Always get multiple quotes before committing to larger jobs.
Additional Resources and Professional Hiring Tips
To learn more about mobile home plumbing, there are several resources available. You can check the HUD website for information on the standards and regulations regarding mobile home plumbing code, consult with a professional plumber, and research online articles and forums. Remember that good maintenance, regular inspections, and proper repairs should keep your mobile home plumbing in good shape.
When it comes to mobile home plumbing repairs and installations, it’s important to hire a professional who is experienced and licensed. Check for credentials and ask for references, before making a decision. Before signing any contracts, make sure to get a detailed estimate of the work that will be done and the total cost.
Ask if the professional will guarantee their work and if they have insurance to cover any damages or accidents. As a park owner I always ask to see a copy of any contractor’s insurance. I want to make sure they have up to date general liability and worker’s compensation insurance to protect me and the plumber in case of accidents or injuries that may occur during the course of their work.
As you can see, there are a lot of considerations and details to keep in mind when it comes to mobile home plumbing. By following the advice outlined in this article and consulting with a professional when needed, you’ll be better equipped to keep your mobile home plumbing in top condition. Whether you are a mobile home park investor or homeowner I hope this guide has helped you out!