Why should I Re-Level?
Mobile homes need to be re-leveled periodically in order to maintain structural integrity. Most Manufacturers recommend re-leveling every 3-5 years. Some possible reasons: Frost heave causes pier settings to sink and tilt, moisture under the home and burrowing rodents can do the same thing. Wood shims used to level the home initially can become compressed, rot, or destroyed by wood boring insects. Steel piers can rust and collapse. Improper initial set-up and inferior workmanship can cause piers to be over stressed and compromised before their time.
Your home’s level is the single most important maintenance aspect of your manufactured home because it affects virtually every other component of your home's integrated systems. It affects your floor, walls, doors, windows, cabinets, roof and crawl space skirting; it can even affect the proper draining of your waste water and sewer system.
An out of level manufactured home can cause exterior doors and windows that no longer seal out the cold of winter to drive up your heating costs dramatically.
An out of level manufactured home by definition is a situation where some of your foundation support piers are bearing significantly more weight than other support piers. This causes some of the supporting beams on the interior of your home to be over-stressed, sometimes to the point of failure in extreme cases.
An out of level home is the leading contributor to the accelerated deterioration of homes in the manufactured home community. Because of this, Manufacturers recommend that their homes be checked for level every 3-5 years and be re-leveled whenever there is more than a ¼” discrepancy in support pier heights.
Re-leveling your home is the greatest deterrent to increased maintenance and energy costs.
When should I Re-Level?
Before any kind of remodeling or additions:
skirting, earthquake systems, tie-downs, foundation refurbishing
awnings, decks/porches, appurtenant structures
drywall, cabinets, floor coverings
interior or exterior doors, windows, sliders
If these things are done while the home is out of level – leveling will require
many of these items to be adjusted or make it impossible to completely level
your home when it does become necessary.
When you notice these symptoms of an out of level home
Skirting begins to wrinkle, crush or bulge.
Decks seem to be higher or lower than normal.
Windows are crooked in their frames and no longer seal or latch.
Exterior doors stick or are hard to latch and don’t seal, letting cold air in.
Interior doors don’t latch or swing open or closed by themselves.
The sensation of walking up or down hill and hallways may seem crooked.
Cracks in the drywall at the marriage line (where the sections of the home are joined).
Cracks in the drywall around windows, doors or where walls meet the ceiling.
A springy feeling in the floors or floor squeaks may indicate an out of level condition.
Floor humps or ledging at the marriage line.
Cabinets and back splashes are pulling away from the walls.
Water and items roll off counter tops.
What is Re-Leveling?
Your manufactured home is unique among living structures in that it is built upon steel beams to which were attached axles and wheels in order to transport it to the site where it is now. Each section of your home is attached to these I-beams permanently. When your home was initially set-up on its current site it is jacked up and the foundation piers are built and leveled with a water-level, then the home is lowered onto these pre-leveled foundation piers.
When we re-level your home, we kind of reverse-engineer the settling process. First, we access the crawlspace of your home and set the water-level to the height of the bottom of the I-beam at the closest pier setting. Then we measure all the other pier settings in comparison to that height either higher or lower. Next we decide what the average mean height is of the majority of the pier settings and then we raise or lower the I-beam at each pier setting to match that average level. When that process is complete your home is completely level.
There are times when we cannot completely re-level a home due to appurtenant structures that were attached to the home while it was in an un-level condition, such as attached garages or other additions. Because we do not want to cause roof leaks at the appurtenant structures where the roofing ties in, we will elect with the consent of the home owner to arrive at a happy medium. In other-words, a gradual and hopefully undetectable slope to or from the attached structure that we don’t want to disturb. The important thing to achieve in these situations is equal weight distribution among the existing pier settings so that no supporting structure is over-stressed and each pier is supporting its fair share of the weight of your home.
Some things to keep in mind...
When a home has been out of level for a long time or was never leveled properly from the start or is severely out of level, collateral issues may result from the leveling process which cannot be accurately foreseen. Typical manifestations are things like drywall cracks, or in homes without drywall, panels may buckle or trim pieces may need to be refastened and doors may rub or stick in ways they did not previously. Skirting may need to be adjusted to accommodate the new height of the home. Though we may at our discretion attempt to make sure that exterior doors will latch and open, sometimes the right fix is to have the door "re-hung". These repairs are not included in the cost of the re-level and must be addressed by other contractors with those proficiencies.
Keep in mind as well that "Mobile Home leveling or re-leveling" is not the same as "floor leveling". We re-level the I-beams under the home and when the I-beams are level with each other - that is the Manufacturers original Specifications, but sometimes the floors will do their own thing completely unrelated to the level of the I-beams. When we level your home there may still be floors that have completely separate issues related to the soundness of the joists or sub-floor of your home that are not going to be mitigated by re-leveling the I-beams under the home such as flooring humps, dips or squeaks. Humps and dips can be caused by a warped floor joist or an area of the joists and subfloor that have gotten wet by a previous water leak or in the case of squeaks, subfloor fasteners that have just come loose over time. Though I will do my best to make you aware of these potential issues and provide suggestions for where you may find competent help to address them - we as a company do not fix those issues as part of a re-leveling service, nor do we claim that a re-level will fix those issues. Those are all things that can occur in a home that is perfectly level.
We are often asked if we have a warranty and the short answer is: No we do not. We guarantee that the house is as level as we can make it when we drive away. The reason we can not warranty that the home will stay level for any amount of time is because we have no control over the soil your home is sitting on. Many of the homes we re-level are sitting on former swamp land or old landfills, there are water incursion issues with many houses, burrowing animals, tree roots, railroad tracks nearby, etc. etc. These are all things that contributed to the house being out of level to begin with and re-leveling only starts the settling process back to zero. That is why occasional re-leveling is considered a normal owner maintenance item for the life of your home.