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Mobile home roof repair

Post in 'DIY and General non-hearth advice' started by RoseRedHoofbeats, May 2, 2012.

  1. RoseRedHoofbeats

    RoseRedHoofbeats Feeling the Heat

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    Also known as "the hole I throw money into..."

    Okay, so. I live in a 30 year old mobile home. It's got your standard flat tin roof over particle board. Last winter, it started leaking around the base of my wood stove chimney. I got a tube of the roof tar sealant stuff and coated it to hell and gone, and that seemed to do the trick, but when my stove guy was out here cleaning it, he said I should really look into replacing the roof.

    I called contractor after contractor and no one wants to work on an old mobile home, there would be too many possible structural weaknesses and they don't want to be on the line if my roof caves in. Our homeowner's insurance doesn't cover this kind of repair (but will pay for the roof caving. Go figure, you think fixing it BEFORE then would be cheaper...)

    I've worked on shingled roofs before, just helping my dad patch things up after bad storms and stuff, but I don't have a clue what to do for a mobile home roof. I am not interested in ripping it off and starting over with shingles if we can possibly help it. The idea for the moment is to live cheap in this place for the next 5-8 years and then get the hell outta dodge.

    I know there are several other mobile home owners. Ideas? Tips on how to make the all-consuming fire look like an accident that was in no way connected to my woodstove?

    ~Rose

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  2. Hogwildz

    Hogwildz Minister of Fire

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    You could install 1/2" fiberboard over what you have there now, and fully adhere EPDM(rubber roofing) on it. Or frame an "A" frame with lumber on top and then shingle it.
    Or just keep bandaiding it until you move in the next 5-8 years.
    kettensäge likes this.
  3. kettensäge

    kettensäge Feeling the Heat

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    My brother did the" A" frame deal for a friend of his. Looked pretty good when it was done.
  4. Jack Straw

    Jack Straw Minister of Fire

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    I just helped a friend install a metal roof on a trailer. It just had a slight slope of a roof. We installed 1x4 firring strips 2' on center running the long way of the trailer, screwed into the "rafters" over the old roofing. Then we screwed the metal roofing to the strips. The metal roofing is installed perpendicular to the strips.
    woodsmaster likes this.
  5. RoseRedHoofbeats

    RoseRedHoofbeats Feeling the Heat

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    Hog, do you have any experience with the rubber roofing? I have a friend who did that and raves about it, but the company she uses is only in the south. It sounds like the most cost-effective option (and I want to shingle a 13x72' roof like I want a hole in the head.) I don't know if band-aiding is going to cut it and I really don't want to have to move in with my in-laws when my roof caves in. I'd also like to be able to sell this heap to some other sucker at some point.

    Jack, did you take the old roof off, or just put this on top? So you've got the rafters that got horizontal down the length of the trailer, and then you did the 1x4s across those, so going vertically down the length, then sheets of metal roofing across that?

    Thanks!

    ~Rose
  6. Jack Straw

    Jack Straw Minister of Fire

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    Rose
    We left the old roof on. We screwed the 1x4s through the old roof into the existing rafters. We ran the 1x4s the long ways. The steel was 12' which we ran the shorter way. I could post pics, but It may take a couple of days to get them.
  7. StihlHead

    StihlHead Guest

    That is the way that my roof is here: perlins (1x4 pine strips) nailed perpendicular to the rafters over the original dubba wyde asphalt shingles. Seems to work OK and takes the snow loading OK here. The lower perlins tend to rot though (from water creeping back up the low slope), so you have to add 90 degree metal flashing above the perlins along the low ends. Also use roof screws designed for metal roofing with rubber seal washers on them. They are 1/4 inch hex drives, and you screw them into the perlins. Make sure they are pressed tight to make a good seal. Over time they can loosen and leak. I replaced all my roof screws this fall as the seals were dried and mostly shot, and I found a few perlins that were rotted from leaky screws, so I replaced them and replaced all the metal roof screws. Here Coastal Farm supply has the best price on roof screws, at $2.99 a pound in bulk. By the box at Home Depot they are about $10 a pound. HD does not have the best prices when it comes to nails and screws, I have found.

    Metal roofs are spendy, but asphault roofing is rediculously priced these days. $50 a square for thin rolled asphault roofing... oh yah, the flue does not leak here, but some valleys did where the 2:12 trailer roofing ran out over some 1:12 porch and patio covers. I replaced the perlins there and used butylflex between the metal sheets (top and bottom) and screwed them down good to make a butylflex seal. I may use silicon in future though, as it sticks to metal pretty well over time.
  8. coaly

    coaly Fisher Moderator Staff Member

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    Rose, Your roof material is probably ganvanized steel. Putting lots of sealant on isn't the way to go about it. You need to scrape the old off, preferably when warm, down to the original material and flashing. A tar sealant is an asphalt base compound, and does not adhere well to metal. The metal has too much expansion and contraction for tar, especially when cold. Tar is only fluid and adheres when warm. It's for a rough surface like shingles. Once you're cleaned down to the bare metal, Geo-Cel sealant should be used. It is a tri-polymer base, meaning the base is compatible with plastic sealants as well as remanants of oil or asphalt base sealants. It is available in gallons, although about a quart should be plenty to do around a chimney and then some. It's also available with fibers in it for strength. No one can tell you how to fix it until you scrape it down to the problem. Any gaps or holes over 1/8" should be filled with Geo-Cel in a tube. Same stuff, just thicker like caulk so it doesn't run through the crack. The product in a can is brushable. Used to be called 2300 in a tube, 2310 in a can. It's used for putting gutters together, tractor trailers that flex, motorhomes...... I used it in my RV service business on aluminum roofs around vents and other roof accessories. It can be used on damp or slightly oily surfaces, and below freezing. So clean, dry and warm, it should adhere very well and expand and contract with the metal. It mixes with any asphalt base sealants already there, so by using the clear, you can see the old stuff break down and mix into the new clear sealant like it's a solvent to the old that you can't get off. Worst case is a heat gun or hair dryer to heat it up to remove it. It's all in prepping the surface and not putting the new over the old ! Just like painting a picnic table or fence, you can't put new paint over old peeling paint. The new will peel off with the old.
    EPDM rubber CANNOT come into contact with any asphalt base or petroleum products. It is absorbed, and makes it grow. ONLY Lap Sealant made for EPDM can be used. So the rubber membrane is only as good as the sealant used at edges and holes cut through it for chimney, sewer or bath vents......... If there are pinholes through the steel roofing from the galvanization wearing off, or electrolisis eating holes through the metal, EPDM membrane glued over the existing material is fine.
    Galvanized steel is difficult to adhere silicone to. Over time, oils continue to come out of the metal and lifts silicone off with the oils. New galvanized panels must be "weathered" before applying anything. First hot day, it will peel right off.
  9. RoseRedHoofbeats

    RoseRedHoofbeats Feeling the Heat

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    Coaly- thanks so much for your comment! I went right out and found the tube and yup, you're right, it's asphalt based. It didn't say anything about not using on metal roofs (did mention the EPDM thing though) so I didn't look into it. The fact that this happened in a relatively warm March with just a freak snowstorm is probably why it worked. I will get up on the roof ASAP and get some of the right stuff.

    The only problems with the roof leaking we've had is around the chimney, but it is REAL REAL shaky when walking on it and the metal is very warped.

    ~Rose
  10. Hogwildz

    Hogwildz Minister of Fire

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    Rose,
    Yes I have laid many miles of EPDM as well as tar, shingles, metal etc. roofing. Was my career for years.
    The tin is probably rotting through at this age. And the penetrations and along the edges will prolly be the worst areas. Geocel as mentioned is good stuff, but again is only a bandaid . Any roof, especially any penetrations like the chimney, should have solid decking, and proper flashing.
    Coaly is correct that you do not want the rubber in to be set in asphalt products. A little bit here and there will not hurt. But you do not want to lay down rubber and then caulk stuff with asphalt, roof cement, muck as we call it. If the roof is tin, you do want to put a minimum of 1/2" fiberboard over the old roof. And the old roof must be somewhat flat. Meaning if it has standing seams, they will have to be hammered as flat as you can get them, then the fiberboard is installed over top with screws & plates that are made for such a system. You can chance going over the metal, but IMO your just asking for trouble down the road. And you will void the warranty if there is one if you go over the metal directly. The pipes, chimney and any penetrations are then flashed with flashing made for the EPDM system. Best to have a roofer that knows what he is doing, because any roof is only as good as it is applied. The flashings used to last 10+ years. Maybe longer these days. I have not been roofing other than personal, since about 2000.There are usually only 3 caulk types used in EPDM. Lap sealant as coaly stated, which is mostly for caulking the edges of any seams after the are glued. In seam sealant goes along the back edge of the seams where any two pcs of rubber meet. And water cut off mastic is used along the top of any flashings that meet concrete, masonry etc & pipe boots. We used it on any vertical edge where rubber ended. And you may also need termination bar on any flashings at walls etc. Fully adhered is the way to go. Costs a little more, but with your roof you ain't going to use ballast, which sucks anyway. And the mechanically fastened system could work, but is not as secure as fully glued down.
    a 13 x 72 mobile home roof is a fairly easy jog for any rubber roofer that knows what he is doing. Be careful of guys claiming they know rubber roofs, and try to talk you into a torch down or cold applied modified bitumen. That is NOT rubber roofing! And many hack roofers will call it and sell it as such.
  11. coaly

    coaly Fisher Moderator Staff Member

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    When on the roof, you should stay on the supports, or better yet, take a piece of plywood that spans a couple joists with you to stay on. Many mobile home roof supports called spars or truss are only made of 1 1/2" wide X 3/4 wood with paneling between the top and bottom piece ! 14 feet long, i fnot over walls and cabinets are not very strong for a persons weight in one spot.
    The problem isn't getting a sealant to adhere to metal, it's the expansion when it heats up and contraction as it gets cold. The longer the piece of metal. the more expansion and contraction. The sealant material needs to be flexable enough to stretch with this movement. Tar and asphalt base material won't do that. They are actually hard and crispy when very cold.
    Here's a quick history of RV and mobile home roofing;
    Early metal roofs were made of galvanized steel and used expansion joints with a rubber seal machine made. This worked well, until the rubber deteriorated and needed to be resealed. The silver roof coating was normally used for this over the seams only. In cases where the gavanization wears off, and the steel rusts, the entire roof was coated. If this would leak, many people simply recoated the entire roof, since it was quite a job to remove old loose roof coating. But the best way is to remove anything loose before recoating.
    In the late 70's or early 80's a one piece aluminum roof was supposed to be the answer to a better roof material. This one piece of aluminum expanded and contracted even more than steel and failed. It failed because they were still using the same sealing materials as used on steel. The cure was labor intensive to remove all the old coating at seams, and wherever a hole was made through the material for vent stacks ect.... Back then only Plastic based roof coatings were invented for the cure. It was like plastic body filler without the hardner. It would be put on thick with a spatula or putty knife and it would skin over. This would slowly dry out and become hard all the way through in 4 or 5 years, and would be able to peel off. One of the name brands was "Plas T Cote". (Gray dried out faster or White) The thicker applied the better, but it still peeled off when it finally dried all the way through.
    Once Geo-Cel or other similar brands came out, removal of the plastic base adhesive when it dried out to the point of removing easily became the norm. Once Geo-Cel was put on, that was the last time it needed to be done. It should still be checked yearly, but it holds up very well.
    Another product I used years ago was Parbond. Clear, one gallon cans. It's like synthetic rubber and adheres well, but it yellowed in time and can crack, needing touch up. I have it on a 1985 Coachmen truck camper that has only needed a few spots touched up since done in about 1990. I will use Geo-Cel over it if I have to fix any cracking Parbond.

    Most of my RV repair was appliances and water leaks. I can tell you from removing roof vents that a 30 foot piece of aluminum expands and contracts enough to elongate the screw holes to football shaped holes lengthwise with the camper roof. You can't expect asphalt products to give and stretch that much and stay stuck to the roof metal. Once someone got on the roof with a bucket of tar, I would walk away. I don't miss roof repairs at all !

    The EPDM used in the RV and manufactured housing industry is white, and we only used lap sealant since it was one sheet, and only used sealant around cut outs, ladder racks, antennas, edges, and front and rear transition seams. Usually to a fiberglass "cap" ; the rounded roof edge in the front and rear where clearance lights are on motorhomes and travel trailers. A little different than the home and commercial roofing industry. I never wanted to do their job, and they didn't have the patients to do mine !
  12. JeffRey30747

    JeffRey30747 Member

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    The cheapest (but not the most aesthetic) thing to do with an older mobile home with roof problems is to build a pole barn type structure over the mobile home. It will also add a little bit of thermal barrier to reduce the transfer of radiant heat to the interior in the summer.
  13. StihlHead

    StihlHead Guest

    That is called a ramada here (in the Oregon building code). I am not sure if that is the cheapest solution, as it requires a lot of framing and foundations and poles and and a roof put down over it. I have seen several of them done well, and they actually looked OK. The owner of one said that it cooled the house by 10 degrees in summer and helped keep the heat in winter. Here you need a permit to build one around your house (anything over 200 sq ft needs a permit here). A metal roof on perlins will also help reduce the heat transfer from sun to the house.
  14. RoseRedHoofbeats

    RoseRedHoofbeats Feeling the Heat

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    Yeah, I don't think that would work for my house- The trailer is on a concrete pad, and I'd have to go out and sink the poles in the dirt outside of it. Though that would give me a covered driveway...

    ~Rose
  15. Jack Straw

    Jack Straw Minister of Fire

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    Around here the BTR (Blue Tarp Roof) is the cheapest and most common!!!
    StihlHead likes this.
  16. RoseRedHoofbeats

    RoseRedHoofbeats Feeling the Heat

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    Trust me, I've considered it! That, and duct tape... I mean what could go wrong? =P

    ~Rose
  17. Cazimere

    Cazimere Member

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    I put a metal roof on my old mobile by myself 2 years ago. Got tired of patching leaks : )

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  18. RoseRedHoofbeats

    RoseRedHoofbeats Feeling the Heat

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    You have a doublewide! I AM SO JEALOUS. =P

    ~Rose
  19. Cazimere

    Cazimere Member

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    Not a double wide Rose. Just has a 12 X 16 sunroom on the side.
    But i do have a Moat, if that helps : )
  20. RoseRedHoofbeats

    RoseRedHoofbeats Feeling the Heat

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    I'm about to have seven people in a single wide three bedroom. I would take a sunroom. =P

    ~Rose

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