A New Mobile Home Roof and Insulation Cuts Energy Costs

A family discovers that putting a new mobile home roof and insulation in place pays off in more ways that one, including how they placed the roof and a cross section diagram of the roof and insulation.

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    Diagram: Cross-section of a mobile home roof.

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This family has discovered that putting a new mobile home roof and insulation in place on their old mobile home pays off in more ways than one. 

It's estimated that the typical mobile home gives up between 15% and 22% of its heat through the ceiling. For a pre-1976, non-HUD-regulated home located in the northern United States, this translates to a loss of from 104 to 183 gallons of fuel oil every winter season! Fortunately, most mobile home owners—including those living in newer, HUD-approved housing—can take steps to reduce this flow to a trickle . . . and they will decrease their home's maintenance requirements and improve its appearance in the bargain.

Mr. L.T. Ashe and his family moved into their new 14 foot by 70 foot home two years ago, and it took only two rainstorms to convince them that something had to be done about the situation overhead. Not only was the racket of the raindrops rebounding off the metal roof annoying, but the dwelling's lack of overhangs at its edges made it nearly impossible to keep the windows clean and free of streaks. Furthermore, L.T. was concerned about the integrity of the sealant used on the home's exterior seams, and he especially worried about how it would hold up under the heat of the high summer sun.

The answer was a new mobile home roof and insulation called a roof-over, which is a conventionally built, wood frame-and-sheathing "cap" atop a structure's existing roof. For the cost of some common building materials and a little time and effort expanded by family and friends, the Ashes are now able to enjoy comfort rivaling that of any site-built home.

There are no secrets to the construction process, and the cap can be added to any structurally sound unit with a standard wood en top plate, regardless of whether the existing roof is flat, domed, or pitched. To kick off the project, the crew first calculated the materials requirements. Planning their estimates around standard construction practices and taking advantage of reduced prices at lo cal home improvement centers, they were able to purchase everything—including dimensional lumber, insulation, sheathing, roofing materials, nails, and paint—for just over $1,800.

With the materials on hand, the next step was to nail an external 2 by 4 plate along the entire length of each side of the structure, right through the metal roof sheathing and into the existing top plate of the walls below. Even though this strip would eventually be covered, caulking was used at the nail penetration points to minimize the chances of any condensation finding its way into the interior walls.



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