One of the most common problems for mobile home owners is roof leakage. Due to the use of cheaper materials, many models (especially the older ones), do not fit the elements well. Many new models have composite shingle roofs and the repairs are similar to traditional homes. It's really just a matter of matching the color and removing and replacing the old shingles. The older ones are a bit more complicated. The following steps will guide you through the process.
1. Locate the problem
You will usually notice a roof problem when noticing a dark brown stain or rust in the ceiling. The most obvious place to look for the leak is the area directly above the spot. However, this is not always the source. Water can enter the roof at one place and travel before finding the ceiling below. If the damage is not visible directly over the spot, start extending your search to other areas. Sometimes even the smallest hole can cause a lot of damage and the smaller the leak, the harder it will be to find. It will be to your advantage to take a broom and sweep up all leaves and other debris before inspecting the roof. Roof construction on most old mobile homes will consist of thin metal sheets 4 to 8 feet wide going from the front to the back of the house. The seams generally overlap and may lock together or may be sealed with some type of metal or fiberglass tape. These seams and the places where vents and pipes enter the roof are the most likely places to escape.
2. Determining the Repair Method
Once you have determined where the leak comes from, you must decide what type of correction is needed. For seam leaks, you have some options. The first step before any repairs is to clean thoroughly within a 12-18 inch radius of the leak. Regardless of the type of material used, the chances that it works and that it will come back will be much better if it is applied in a clean, dry place. Use a wire brush, a Brillo pad or a piece of sandpaper to clean and rough the area. All repair materials will bind better to a rougher surface. Once you have cleaned the area to be repaired, you are ready to apply the patch. One of the following options should work for your repair.
- Tape the Seams – One of the most effective repair methods is to use an adhesive tape. There are some different products available. But, basically, it's a 12-24-inch-wide roll compatible with a sheet-like surface with an asphalt-like or black tar-type backing. You have just cut a piece of material large enough to cover the damaged area, peel the tape backing and cover the leak, with the sheet side of the tape facing up. Press firmly on the tape, especially around the edges. The edges of the tape should extend at least 12 inches in each direction of the leak. Depending on the width of the material you are using, it may be necessary to use two or more overlapping pieces. Always be sure to read and follow the manufacturer's instructions for best results.
- Asphalt Coatings – Another common repair technique is that of asphalt-based products. This is probably the most common type of roof repair for mobile homes or conventional homes. It is extremely durable, will adhere to almost any surface, and is quite easy to apply. There are several different brands, but the products are similar. You can get in pails of 1 or 5 gallons or for small jobs, they are available in caulking tubes. The material in the buckets is usually applied by spreading with a trowel or putty knife, but, there are some products that come in a thinner pourable solution that can be brushed or rolled. The main disadvantage of asphalt materials is the mess. Plan to have a lot of rags or towels that will have to be thrown away. The recommended cleaning is often gasoline. Which is dangerous, so, as always, read the information on hazardous materials before using a product. To help strengthen repairs, you can apply a fiberglass mesh with asphalt. This type of repair works well for seams, holes or sealing around pipes and vents.
- Elastomeric Coatings – The latest type of mobile home roof repair I would like to talk about is a rubber or elastomer-based coating. These are thick liquid materials that are brushed or rolled on and harden to a hard plastic coating or a more flexible rubber surface. If it is done well, it can be an effective solution. However, it is crucial that you read about the product to see what types of materials it will bind and what kind of preparation should be done. Unlike asphalt products that will generally work, to some extent, on any surface, elastomeric coatings will fail if they are not installed according to specifications. Again, read all technical data for procedures, safety precautions and cleaning methods.
The use of any of these three methods of repair should solve most of the problems of defective roofs. But no matter which technique you choose, always follow the appropriate safety procedures. As we mentioned earlier; mobile homes are not always built with materials or standards of superior quality. Watch for signs of weak or rotten areas and use caution when climbing on these roofs.