Winterizing an Older Unoccupied Mobile Home

I need some advice about a mobile home/trailer. Here's the situation. I bought my father a mobile home back in 93. It is a nice well maintained home, but it is now 30 years old. My father recently passed away and now I have this trailer to deal with.

I was there yesterday and the kerosene furnace is almost out of fuel. Kerosene is around $3 a gallon here, so I would like to put a minimal amount in the tank for now and possibly winterize the home, drain the water, close it up until it's sold.

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I was told I can expect to use around 4-5 gallons a day to heat it. I simply can't afford to waste this money heating an empty home. Does anybody have any thoughts on how to go about this, what do I need to do, who I should contact? The expenses are going to start piling up shortly (fuel, taxes, lot fees, etc.).

I have other issues with this, but I will post them separately. I'm 20 minutes south of downtown Pittsburgh in case anybody here needs a nice, cheap place to live. Thanks for reading!

By Sandy from Pittsburgh, PA

January 27, 20110 found this helpful

I would call a local mobile home sales company, and ask them how to winterize it. They should be able to help you do that so that you don' t have to heat it for the remainder of the winter. People do it all the time for "hunting camps". Good luck, and condolences on your father.

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January 27, 20110 found this helpful

Wrapping heat tape around the water pipes helps keep them from freezing...You can get bails of hay/straw and pile up around the ouside frame of trailer, You can apply plastic around the windows and you can buy it cheaply at Walmart on the roll for a lot less than the window kits. You could close off some rooms where heating isn't necessary with a wall of plastic sheeting (again off the roll) and that helps a lot. Put rolled rugs under the door of rooms that are closed off for the winter and insulated drapes or curtains over the windows to the rooms you are having to heat. Leave bathroom cabinet doors open so heat can get to the pipes to help keep from freezing up too until you decide to drain the water lines and/or shut off the water supply. Set several mouse traps around in each room so mice cannot chew/damage/make nests.

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January 27, 20110 found this helpful

I agree with the previous poster, Jilson. You need professional level advice, and ideally, if the company where you purchased your father's

mobile home is still in business, I would start there. If not, then another mobile home sales company would suffice.

I have experience with a mobile home, also with an oil furnace, that is used 6 months a year and winterized at the end of the season.

Winterizing a mobile home can be done by the homeowner, but you have to know what you are doing, and the best way to learn that is to physically have someone show you. It's a detailed procedure, far too lengthy to get into here, and if you forget anything you can end up with water damage which can be an expensive fix. That's where the mobile home sales company can be of help. They can probably direct you to someone you could hire, who has experience winterizing mobile homes.

As far as the furnace goes, oil furnaces can be somewhat unreliable, so you'll want to get the home winterized ASAP. You also don't want to let the tank run out of fuel, because that will cause air to enter the fuel line if the furnace is running, and that would require you to "bleed the line" to get the furnace working again. That's a service call for furnace repair if you don't know how to do it.

As far as your oil is concerned, you can save yourself some money by buying kerosene from a convenience store like Sheetz in the blue 5-gallon kerosene containers, then hauling it and pouring it into the tank yourself. The kerosene sold by places like Sheetz is perfectly acceptable for use in a mobile home oil furnace. This type of fuel will cost you more money per gallon, but you have the luxury of buying very small quantities at a time. If you buy fuel from a company that delivers to your location, they usually require you to buy a large quantity (like 100 gallons) at a time. That will vary with the fuel company you use. If you buy and haul your own, these 5-gallon containers are very heavy and awkward to tilt and pour, so you'll need a large funnel for this, and be careful that you have purchased kerosene and NOT gasoline, which would be an extremely dangerous mistake.

I don't know how much you know about mobile homes, so I may have given you info you already know. Some of the neighbors in your father's mobile home park might be able to help you too. If you have any other mobile home issues, you can contact me through Thrifty Fun if you want, and I'll do my best to answer your questions.

Good luck and you have my sympathies on the loss of your father.

Tori in PA

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January 28, 20110 found this helpful

Thank you for responding. I called the mobile home guy that my Dad used for repairs (he was disabled) and he said with the older pipes you are better off not winterizing because of corrosion of the pipes. To do it while it's really cold and snowy would probably cost me as much as the kerosene I had delivered yesterday, $345 for 100 gallons. OUCH! I turned the heat down to 60 and I plan to visit several times a week until it's sold. I just pray that it is soon.

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January 28, 20111 found this helpful

I feel for you young people who never were required to learn how things are done.

Just drain the water and drain pipes, including sink and toilet and shower traps, and cut off the utilities. Can't drain those traps? Fill them with car windshield-spray solution or rubbing alcohol. I grew up in northern Minnesota. We built a small summer resort and had to winterize ten cabins every single year! There was no money to call in the so-called "professionals". When that happens a person learns rapidly.

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Anonymous Flag
January 28, 20110 found this helpful

Listen to tomatoehanger and phooey with the professionals because most of them have a self serving agenda! Since you have just put in oodles of new kerosine you'll be able to prove to a serious buyer, who actually places a real offer to purchase, that the heating system works and all you have to do to prove the plumbing works is to turn the water back on again and drain and turn off again until the closing papers have been signed! Just make sure everything is documented and signed in writing by the buyers and possible inspectors that you proved the heat and plumbing works fine! Good luck to you for a speedy sale!

PS - God Bless your heart for having purchased the trailer for your daddy!

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January 28, 20110 found this helpful

My husband and I run a mobile home moving business and have our own rentals. I know something about your problem that can help. First wrap the outside pipes with insulation like the stuff they sell at hardware store for pipes. Turn the water off to the mobile home. If the mobile home is underpinned or has some sort of skirting (around the bottom of the trailer to the ground), then the pipe should be okay underneath the home if you do the following.

First, pull the main breaker to turn the power off to the home. And also flip the breaker for the hot water heater. Flush all the toilets in the home. Turn on all the faucets and let the water run out of them. This will be after you have turned the water off to the home. Add anti-freeze (like you put into car radiators) down as many of the sink holes you have in the trailer. Pour this also into each commode and also the tank. This will keep the water that's left in the pipes from freezing. Be sure to tell who ever buys the home that they need to be sure to let the water in the hot water tank refill before they turn the hot water breaker back on or they will burn the elements up in the tank.

Cold water hitting hot elements will cause your new owner to have to buy new elements or worse a new hot water heater. Also, the new owner will need to run the water in the sinks before they use the water for personal use to run the anti-freeze out of the lines Everything else in the home will be fine. I'd also leave the refrigerator door open because they can really begin to smell foul if left shut for a all period of time. Good luck with the sell.

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January 29, 20110 found this helpful

I took care of houses for realtors for years and once lived in a mobile home. You do need to leave the heat on as winter can occasionally cause stress damage if left unheated. However, you can leave the furnace turned down to 60 degrees.

A work light left on in the crawl space will keep the crawl space and pipes warm and lower heating costs a bit. Put foam insulation on all the pipes. To winterize the water lines, get someone who is a professional. If done wrong it will do damage. Make sure the hot water tank is drained, and refill it before turning the power back on.

You may not want to put plastic on the windows as it gives a buyer the idea that the place is cold in winter. I would not do it. You want to stage the trailer, just like they do for houses. Do not take out all of the furniture until it is sold. Put a de-humidifier into the trailer to reduce any moisture in the air, that will also help lower the heating costs.

Good Luck!

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February 1, 20110 found this helpful

I want to thank you all for your answers so far. I'm glad I didn't drain the lines completely because the pipes are a little bit corroded already, and I'd have trouble when I turned the water back on. After almost a week of not running water, it came out all rusty for a few long seconds on all faucets. To the person who feels sorry for me for my "lack of knowledge", in my day I used to do heavy duty demolition, put a kitchen in my own home, laid flooring, built decks, etc. I am now a 53 year old disabled woman, so crawling under a freezing cold trailer was not my idea of a good time. My husband is in even worse shape than I am, through no fault of our own. So I'm sorry, but that is why I posted here, hoping closing it up was something simple we could maybe do on our own.

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