Crawl Space Inspection

Inspecting Your Crawl Space

The crawl space under your mobile or manufactured home offers access to some of its most important energy details. It’s worth taking the time to inspect this often-neglected area.

If your mobile home has skirting installed around the edges, find an access point where you can either open a hinged door or remove a piece of skirting. The best place to enter is usually near the center of the home, where you will have good access to the plumbing and to the area under your furnace. Wear sturdy clothes for this inspection and bring a bright light.

Ductwork. Your mobile home’s ductwork is probably installed beneath the floor. Check to see if any of this ductwork is exposed and or if any joints are loose or disconnected. Check carefully at the area immediately under your furnace. If you live in a double-wide, inspect the “cross-over duct” that connects the heating system in each half of the home. If you find disconnected ducts or loose joints, seal them up with metal duct tape or with duct mastic. Avoid common gray fabric “duct tape” since it tends to come loose.

Insulation. Your mobile home was designed and built with insulation in the floor, and a layer of fiberboard or “belly paper” to protect this insulation and the plumbing lines above it. This protective layer often gets damaged by animals, wind, or tradesmen. This leaves the home exposed to outdoor air that robs energy in both winter and summer, and allows the floor insulation to get damaged. Replaced any missing insulation with fiberglass batts, then repair any damage you find in the belly. Use plywood and screws to repair any damaged fiberboard. Use belly paper (purchased at a mobile home supply shop) and construction adhesive to repair any torn paper.

You can learn more about mobile home retrofitting and maintenance in my by book, Your Mobile Home: Energy and Repair Guide for Manufactured Housing.

2 thoughts on “Crawl Space Inspection

  1. My boyfriend and I just recently rented this trailer that we are living in now with our kids 7 months ago. Our landlord has told use several times now that he would put underpinning down, but has yet to do so. My boyfriend even told him if he would buy the skirting that he would put it down that it wasn’t a problem. Our electric bill has been almost $300.00 in the summer! That’s CRAZY! We have changed the fillers in the AC unit and cleaned it, we run a window unit, and fans just to keep a little bearable. I was wondering if this has anything to do with the fact that we don’t have underpinning?

    1. Hi Brittany. Thanks for commenting on this post.

      By “underpinnings” I’m assuming you mean the framework that you hang the skirting from. It’s a common misconception that skirting is an energy efficiency measure for mobile and manufactured homes. It isn’t. Skirting is purely an aesthetic improvement for the home and a way to keep animals and such out from under the house.

      The proper energy efficiency measure for the floor of a mobile or manufactured home is air sealing and insulating the floor and the ductwork under the floor. If you look at the underside of the house what do you see? Can you see any of the floor or duct work? What you should see is a continuous sheet of material. That’s the belly pan we mention above. The belly pan holds all of the insulation up against the floor and encloses the ductwork.

      Your high power bills could also be related to the other parts of the home. The thickness of the wall insulation and the amount of insulation in the roof are also relevant. How about the windows? Are the single pane with metal frames, or dual panes with vinyl frames? Where are located? If you’re in a hot climate then that will also be relevant. What kind of shading do you have? Trees or awnings? There are many factors that we consider when looking at high power bills. Unfortunately, since you’re renting, you may not have many options for making improvements if your landlord won’t do them for you.

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