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Perhaps the most important thing to keep in mind when addressing the basics of mobile home plumbing is the fact that most mobile home fixtures and hardware can be quite different from the options used in standard construction. The building code is also different, so if a homeowner plans to tackle plumbing projects, he or she should check for local codes that may be applicable. In general, the codes seem to be a bit more lax, but it is still prudent to make sure the work is up to code.
Since it can be difficult to find a plumber who can or will work on mobile home plumbing in some areas, it is a good idea to become familiar with the basics. There are books and websites available for the do-it-yourself homeowner. For those who cannot find a plumber and are not confident in working on plumbing, the mobile home manufacturer or a repair company that specializes in mobile homes may be able to provide help.
Another issue, since the fittings and other mobile home plumbing parts tend to be quite different, is that hardware stores and plumbing supply outlets in many areas do not always keep plumbing parts in stock. It depends on the location. If there are many mobile homes in the area, one may have better luck locating specialty parts. Otherwise, those parts or any specialty tools that are required to repair, replace, maintain, or install mobile home plumbing may have to be specially ordered.
Aside from the fixtures and fittings, some of the features of mobile home plumbing are different as well. Instead of having several water shut-off valves throughout the home, such as at sinks and toilets, there may only be one or two shut-off valves for the entire home. One is generally located externally, near the hose spigot. A second, if present, may be located near the water heater. This means the water will have to be turned off throughout the home, or most of the home, while plumbing projects are being done.
While it may be possible to install shut-off valves throughout the home, the parts needed may have to be specially ordered and some parts may have to be changed. The space in which one has to work is also smaller. One may also be required to crawl around on the ground underneath the mobile home, as there is no basement from which to access pipes.
Speaking of pipes, this brings up another important consideration when dealing with mobile home plumbing. While in some older mobile homes piping may be made of copper of other materials, plastic is generally used now. Mobile home pipes must be also protected in cold weather. Even if the mobile home has good underpinning, pipes can freeze. There is pipe foam, or pipe insulation available, as well as heat tape and other protective products that can be ordered for this purpose.
I can back up what this article says about mobile home plumbing. I worked for a plumber during breaks from college. During the winter breaks when I was helping him, we would be rushing around repairing frozen pipes that had burst. When we would get a blast of cold air and temperatures dropped really low, we would be repairing pipes for weeks.
That was a bad situation for some of these people because, as this article mentions, they had to cut off all the water in the house until we got to them and repaired the pipes. A couple people would ask the guy I worked for about adding more cut off points to the plumbing so they could
have some water when a pipe burst.
He always told them that because of the type of plumbing they had, adding more cut off points was not a good idea. I don't know whether that was because he didn't want to do the job or because the plumbing wasn't right, but he never added cut off points to mobile home plumbing.
My cousin's mobile home is a couple decades old. She and her husband have had it underpinned and the house is a double wide, so it looks a lot like a any other house with aluminum siding. They also added a porch and a garage, so that makes it resemble a stick built house even more.
Even though the mobile home looks like a stick built house a lot of the parts and pieces are special made. This article talks about how the plumbing is different but so are the sizes of the doors and the way certain appliances are set up.
My cousin doesn't even go to the local home improvement stores when they are looking to
replace something in the house. There is a place near them that sells items specially made for mobile homes, and they go there. They once tried to replace their mobile home sink with one from a home improvement store and their vanity was not built well enough to hold the weight of the new sink.
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