Thanks to the Housing Act of 1980, manufactured housing communities are well-built, environmentally friendly and easy to keep climate-controlled. However, a little extra effort is required to completely winterize manufactured homes.
The following tips will help you prepare your properties for winter. Doing so will help lower your energy bills and possibly prevent pipes from bursting as well as other disasters.
1. Reverse the ceiling fans
Many people use their ceiling fans to cool off when it’s hot outside. This is done by spinning the fan blades counterclockwise, which pushes cool air down and pulls hot air up. (Cool air naturally wants to go down and hot air naturally wants to go up, making this an effective cooling strategy).
You can easily help winterize your manufactured homes by reversing your residents’ ceiling fans so the blades spin clockwise. This pulls up cold air, pushing all that naturally rising warm air around the room. Doing this will keep your manufactured homes warmer while using less energy.
To switch the fan blade direction, there should be a switch on the fan. If you can feel a breeze when standing directly under the fan, it’s probably spinning counterclockwise—the summer setting.
2. Inspect the water heater
Water heater tanks are generally built to last about 10-15 years. If your manufactured housing properties have aging or deteriorating water tanks, you should consider replacing them before they break, which can flood the property. You (or a professional) should inspect the tank for cracks. If there’s any cracking, the tank must be replaced.
On the other hand, damaged or cracked valves and drain lines are easy to replace, so inspect those as well.
3. Let the faucets drip
Running water is much less likely to freeze than still water. If your manufactured homes experience freezing temperatures, ask your residents to let their faucets drip around the clock. The dripping probably won’t run up the water bill, and a little water movement can prevent pipes from freezing or bursting.
4. Never turn off the heat
Some residents may want to save money and/or use less energy by turning off the heat, but this can wreak havoc on the pipes when the temperature drops near or below freezing. To winterize manufactured homes properly, make sure your residents keep their units warm at all times.
How warm? That could depend on the building materials, how well (or if) your pipes are insulated and other factors. As a rule of thumb, the thermostat should never be set below 50-60 F.
5. Provide adequate skirting
Skirting helps manufactured homes retain heat and prevents snow from building up under the house. It’s a lot harder to warm pipes that are sitting on a pile of snow. Any exposed areas should be skirted.
Metal, vinyl and specialty plastic skirts are common, but be sure you use a material that’s appropriate for your climate. For instance, vinyl skirting may not hold up as well in high winds and is susceptible to impact damage.
6. Crack open closets & cabinets
To be clear, no one is saying you need to have all your closets and cabinets open at all times, turning the home into an obstacle course. But by exposing spaces that don’t have vents to circulate heat, you keep the walls and floors heated everywhere in your apartment. This better protects pipes throughout the house.
7. Caulk doors & windows
Caulk is inexpensive and easy to apply to gaps in windows and doors. You can’t winterize manufactured homes without making sure caulk is in place. If caulk or weatherstrip seals aren’t enough to prevent drafts, the window or door may need to be replaced.
8. Apply heat tape to water pipes
If you’re worried about frigid temperatures affecting your piping, you might want to look into heat tape. This specialized tape plugs into an outlet and works like a warming glove for your piping. Schedule an annual check to make sure the heating element is working.
9. Read your manufactured home manual(s)
Want to know if heat tape is safe for your pipes? Curious which rooms may need to have open cabinets or closets to help circulate heat? Wondering if letting the faucets drip is safe for your properties? Anything else from this article have you feeling uncertain about what you and your residents can do to winterize your manufactured homes? Read the owner’s manual that came with the unit.
You should have extra copies of the manual (the manufacturer probably has them online as well), and your residents should also have a copy for their home. Consult them before making any major decisions regarding pipe warming, caulking, skirting, etc.
Manufactured housing software can help
Winterizing manufactured homes may seem like a lot, but there are plenty of things your residents can probably handle themselves. This is where Yardi Breeze manufactured housing software can help.
- Make a note in your Breeze calendar when it’s time to start winter prep.
- Email your tenants and let them know what should be done before the bitter cold sets in.
- It’s also a good idea to make winterizing part of the lease. If residents need to let the faucet drip, put that in the lease. If they’re responsible for skirting, put that in the lease too. The same goes for everything else on this list.
By having your residents do simple things, like flipping a switch to reverse the fan blades or setting their thermostats to hold at 60, you’re freeing up your own time for tasks that shouldn’t fall on them (e.g., water tank inspections).
Please note that this post does not constitute or replace advice from a professional contractor. We hope this information is helpful as a starting point, and we encourage you to do more research.