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Catch leaks early and save big

Second of three parts.

Our three-part series on repair and maintenance of manufactured homes continues with advice from Daryl Brown, owner of All in One Contracting in Lakeland.

Brown has 20 years' experience as a serviceman and subcontractor for Fleetwood Homes, Skyline Homes and Redman Homes. His firm specializes in repairs and improvements to manufactured homes.

He finds that much of his work is the result of water leaks, most often due to neglect. Homeowners often don't notice what is happening or don't perform preventive maintenance. Leaks in the roof lead to major damage in the interior that causes ceiling cracks and stains on the ceiling and walls. A small leak, undetected, can lead to repairs costing hundreds or thousands of dollars.

Brown recommends having manufactured home roofs inspected twice a year. Roofs on manufactured homes are subject to major temperature swings, which shorten the life of the roof. The low slope of the roof in a manufactured home adds to problems. Check for leaks around skylights and vents. The joint between the carport, screen room and main roof should be inspected twice yearly, as a leak here can cause major damage to the interior walls. Temperature swings cause shrinking of the caulk around vents and skylights, leading to leaks.

Here are some common problems and the simple maintenance every homeowner should perform. You may want to clip this list and post it somewhere prominently:

+ When leaving the house vacant for any length of time, turn the water off. Snowbirds, pay attention. This will prevent costly drips and leaks, or disasters if a hose breaks.

+ If your home has gray pipe, inspect it at least yearly. This polybutylene pipe may leak.

+ Check and replace caulking around shower fixtures and faucets to prevent leaks.

+ Clean and replace as needed the caulking around the tile by your kitchen sink. A leak here might lead to water damage or delamination of the countertop.

+ Watch for small ceiling cracks that might be caused by settling. Water under your house can cause settling of the piers that hold your home level, causing cracks.

+ Watch for low spots in floors, areas where the floor is pulling away from the molding. Again, this is the result of settling.

+ Check the crawl space under your home for water problems. While you're under the house, check for rodent damage: They can chew pipes, insulation, wood and the plastic of the air conditioning and heating runs.

+ Watch for leaks around the toilet pipes. An easy way to check is to place toilet paper around the pipes where they penetrate the floor to see if moisture builds up. Repair before it ruins the floor.

+ If your home has single-pane windows, wipe off condensation frequently to prevent moisture from getting into your walls.

+ Watch for the first sign of a minor leak or for mold, and deal with it right away.

More on repairing and/or maintaining your manufactured home in part three of this series.

Send comments or questions to Len Bonifield at elbgate.net, or fax to (863) 853-8023, or phone (863) 858-1557. Please include your e-mail and mailing address. Bonifield is a manufactured-home resident and a past HOA president and former officer of the FMO District 1 board of directors.

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