STATEWIDE (WIS) - Hurricanes and tropical storms can wreak havoc on many types of structures, but what about mobile or manufactured homes?
There are several things mobile or manufactured home owners or renters can do, according to the Manufactured Housing Institute of South Carolina.
Most of the wind damage seen on TV involves older homes, a spokeswoman for the institute says. Prior to 1976, the homes were built to a patchwork of state, local and voluntary codes. Some were well built; others were not.
Wind standards for modern manufactured homes were revamped in July 1994 following Hurricane Andrew. Federal law requires that a home built and installed after that date in the nine South Carolina counties nearest the coast must withstand winds of 100 mph. These counties include Beaufort, Berkeley, Charleston, Colleton, Dorchester, Georgetown, Horry, Jasper and Williamsburg. Homes placed further inland must be able to withstand sustained wind gusts of 80 miles per hour.
Wind resistance levels are printed in the homeowner's manual as well as on the "data plate" located in each home. Data plates are typically found in the home's utility room, inside a kitchen cabinet, or similar location.
The most common reason for wind damage in manufactured homes is improper installation rather than the structure of the home itself. A manufactured home will perform properly in high winds only if it is properly installed.
Prior to a storm's arrival, you should do your own inspection.
Manufactured homes are anchored by a series of 10 to 20 large steel anchors, depending on the size of the home. The anchors are connected by metal anchor straps to the heavy steel frame that the house rests on. Inspect each anchor strap beneath your home to be certain that there is no slack or play in the strap. Check also for rusted straps and have these replaced. Also, check for signs of movement in the anchors themselves. These inspections are particularly important the first six months after the home is installed (due to settling) and after a storm.
Anchor straps can be tightened with a socket, ratchet and adjustable wrench, but most homeowners will want to leave the replacement of straps and resetting of anchors to a professional. Finally, remember that of course even the best-prepared homeowners should evacuate their homes when local authorities recommend evacuation -- regardless of whether their house is site-built or factory-built. Ignoring warnings and evacuation notices puts homeowners at needless risk.
For more information, visit the Institute's storm safety website.