So, we are approaching the end of summer and what tend to be two consecutive seasons of relatively minor concerns when it comes to maintaining your park. Unless you are in an area with extreme weather patterns, spring and summer mean flourishing gardens and lawns. And that includes warm sunny days that carry little threat towards either the mobile homes in your park or the surroundings.
That’s all about to change come fall and especially its “big, bad brother”- winter. But don’t worry! In this guide, we’ll point out the areas of concern you need to address before and during the turn of the season to prepare your mobile home park for fall.
How to prepare the mobile homes
This depends on how the responsibilities are divided between home tenants and management in your mobile home park. You will need to take care of the following yourself or perhaps remind your community members to do so. Regardless of whether it falls on the management or occupants’ shoulders, we can all agree that it’s in everyone’s best interest to keep the mobile home units in as good condition as possible.
Clean the gutters
Autumn isn’t called fall for no reason. During this time, plants start to cast off their dead or dying parts. These can include everything from leaves to twigs to whole branches. It’s best to start the season with a clean slate so that you don’t get overwhelmed or run into problems early on.
Gutters should be cleaned thoroughly from top to bottom. In fact, make sure that there is absolutely no debris stuck anywhere in the pipeline. You would be surprised at how quickly junk can build up once the leaves start to fall. So be prepared to have groundsmen regularly check the gutters during the fall and winter season.
Inspect and repair roofs
There are two crucial reasons why you should inspect and repair any damage to mobile home roofs before fall rolls in. The first is that the amount of falling debris from trees will increase. This can lead to debris entering the ceiling cavity if there is any damage.
The second is to protect the home from extra moisture making its way into the ceiling and the walls. Water damage is an ever-present concern when it comes to mobile homes as mobile homes are made almost entirely of wood. Make sure that the roofs are in good condition and that there are no cracks near any protruding fixtures, like vents. Butyl tape can go a long way in helping you with this.
Inspect and clean HVAC systems
As temperatures start to go down during the fall season, the strain on the HVAC systems will inevitably go up. It’s a good idea to give the HVAC systems of each home, and particularly the furnace, a thorough service to make sure they are running properly. Additionally, be sure that they are completely clean.
This is probably a good time to replace the filters as this is something you should do at least every 90 days anyway. Other than that, make sure that everything is free of dust and grime as well as the ducts and vents.
Check doors and windows
As this is not a crucial factor, you can probably leave it to your tenants to inspect doors and windows. However, it’s worth pointing it out to them. Not all mobile homeowners are aware that mobile homes settle in place over time. They can also move/bend because of the elements (temperature changes, moisture, wind, etc.). Gradually mobile homes can develop small cracks, especially in rigid fixtures like the doors and window frames.
While it won’t be until much later on that these cracks can result in serious damage, they will have a significant impact on the home’s insulation. To keep energy costs down and improve the effectiveness of every home’s insulation, it’s a good idea to caulk up these cracks. You may even need to put in new frames for severe cases. Since fall and winter are also the two harshest seasons on a home, it could aggravate any existing blemishes.
This might be a non-issue depending on where you are located. If you are located somewhere that experiences fall/winter rains or snow, then you should definitely make sure the dehumidifiers in all homes are working properly. Some states, such as Washington, receive most of their rain in the summer. So, hopefully, your dehumidifiers were already in good working order.
Don’t forget that mobile homes consist almost entirely of wood. That means that any trapped moisture is very bad news especially for the spaces in between the walls, the ceiling cavities, or the subflooring.
Make sure the gas/wood/fuel-burning equipment is in working order
Most mobile homeowners should have an HVAC or air-conditioning system in their home. However, that doesn’t stop many owners from getting some extra help to fight the cold in the shape of gas or fuel-burning heaters. Some homes might even have fireplaces in them.
If this is the case, you should make sure that your residents understand the risks as well as what safety precautions to take. A fire in the park is bad news for everyone, whether you own the unit or not. If you supply any such equipment as management, it’s doubly important that they are in good condition and that all safety precautions are taken when using them.
Inspect fire alarms
The safety standards when it comes to fire alarms in mobile homes are actually regulated by the Manufactured Home Construction and Safety Standards Act of 1976. Fire alarms that are working with emergency batteries should be installed in the kitchens and bathrooms. Don’t forget installing them close to any bedrooms.
Fires are still the leading cause of home accident fatalities. Fire alarms are one of the most basic, yet effective, means to warn occupants of the danger and make sure they get out alive.
Insulation that is in good condition plays a huge role in how well a mobile home preserves heat. Just as little as 5% of missing insulation can reduce its efficacy by up to 40%. Unfortunately, in most cases, insulation is located within the structure of the home such as the walls, ceiling, and subflooring. This can make it difficult for tenants to inspect and fix themselves, and if you own the units, you probably don’t want them digging around there anyway.
Making sure that homes are properly insulated will dramatically reduce your tenants’ reliance on heating systems. Potentially, it reduces the risk of accidents as well as the energy bill.
Switch off water to unused homes
In most states, this shouldn’t really be necessary until winter. However, you might as well do it since you are expecting mobile home units. And it’s such a simple task. When the plumbing in homes isn’t regularly used during times of extremely cold temperatures, the water inside the pipes can freeze, damaging the pipes.
If you have some empty units, you should probably make sure that their plumbing systems are entirely empty of water. Also, that their main valves are switched off.
How to prepare the mobile home park grounds
Although they are the most important, the actual mobile home units are not the only area of concern during the fall season. To ensure the safety of your residents as well as their standard of living, you should also make sure that the grounds of the park are ready for this season, too. Which includes everything from the roads to the sidewalks, to the public areas, and to the parks
Trim perennials and trees
As we’ve mentioned, autumn is the time of year when plants make ready to brave the winter and sprout forth anew in spring by casting off the old. This could lead to serious hazards such as roads filled with debris, heavy branches falling on roofs, gutters filling up with leaves and twigs, etc. On a less vital note, it also just won’t look very good if this isn’t properly managed.
Trimming your perennials throughout the park is a great proactive step to limit the physical consequences. In fact, trimming also helps your vegetation prepare for winter. By collecting the debris, you can start making your own mulch or fertilizer which you will find useful later on.
Everything grows better during spring and summer. This includes unwanted plants such as weeds. Some of these weeds and pests are better at resisting the cold of fall and winter than the rest of your wanted vegetation, giving them an upper hand when spring comes round again.
Remove any dead or diseased vegetation
Because vegetation and insects are so much more active during spring and summer, it’s also often the case that insects or vegetative diseases spread during this time. If you don’t firmly stamp this out before fall, your vegetation will find it much harder to recover after winter is over.
Aerate and seed the lawns
It might seem strange, but fall is actually the best time of year to aerate and overseed your lawns. Doing this early in the season, or just before fall officially arrives, will still give the seeds plenty of time to develop or germinate in the warmer soil. Moreover, it helps them to survive the winter so that they can burst out in spring.
Aeration is the process of poking holes throughout a piece of turf to make sure that air, water, and other bio-substances can circulate. It also almost perfectly prepares your soil for overseeding, which is to say literally throwing seeds over the grass surface.
Mulch the gardens
Mulching your garden is one of the best things you can do for it. In fact, there is almost an entire science to mulching your garden nowadays that you can read more about on this great article from Better Homes & Gardens. Mulch can do just about anything from helping your plants grow to help your soil preserve moisture to combat erosion. As your vegetation will be in for a tough time, fall is the perfect time to spread mulch.
Check driveways/pavements/roads for cracks
During winter, a lot of ground-shifting happens. This is due to a number of factors such as:
- Snow collecting on the ground and compacting it.
- Moisture soaking into the soil and expanding it.
- Moisture turning to ice and expanding further.
Winter is actually one of the primary reasons why there are strict foundation requirements for mobile homes.
So, this essentially means that it’s equally as harmful to any paved surfaces throughout your mobile home community. Any visible cracks that have a significant diameter should be closed up before both fall and winter come.
Prepare your park management staff
Make sure you have the right equipment
As these coming months will come with a more intense need for maintenance and lawn care, you should make extra sure that you have all the necessary equipment. These include:
- Leaf blower
- Leaf shredders
- Gardening snips
- Trash bags
- Garden carts
- Pruners and loppers
- Gardening gear such as boots, gloves, overalls
Make sure you have adequate groundsman on call
If you have a grounds manager to deal with the landscaping and maintenance of homes, that’s great. If you don’t, you should prepare by contacting some services nearby and building up working relations. There is no doubt that you will receive more calls from residents during the coming months for help. They’ll need you for things such as broken down furnaces, blocked gutters, lawn care, etc.
Make sure that your on-site team is either ready for the increased workload or that you have a backup plan in place. It might even be worth it to hire a few more helping hands on a temporary basis. Let them deal with the day-to-day chores as well as emergency situations.
Don’t fall behind this fall!
Most of the sunny, carefree days for the year will officially be behind us. However, that doesn’t mean you have to spend the next few months constantly dealing with emergencies and plugging holes in a sinking ship. By taking these proactive steps and continuing to be diligent with DIY repair work, you will minimize the potential fallout from this season and the next.