Mobile home living is an affordable, convenient lifestyle for thousands of people, but none is safe once a hurricane threatens.
Mobile homes that dot the landscape in communities or are isolated in woodlands are the state’s most vulnerable residences in a hurricane of any size.
That is why emergency officials order their evacuation even for a Category 1 hurricane, the least powerful storm.
Although newer mobile homes are built to withstand higher winds, emergency officials still believe you are safer elsewhere.
And you don’t need to be in the direct path of the storm’s worst winds. Hurricanes can spin off tornadoes miles from the eye.
A mobile home’s main defenses against the wind are proper tie-downs or anchors. They can mean the difference between returning to a home still standing or one in ruins.
Faulty, missing or unstable anchors can allow a mobile home that might otherwise survive the storm with relatively minor problems to be badly damaged or destroyed.
Florida law requires all mobile homes to be anchored. It pays to check yours, especially on older mobile homes or ones that have been moved.
Steel anchors should go 4 or 5 feet into the ground and be braced by steel plates. The type of soil determines how deep the anchors are set.
The state requires anchors every 5 feet, 4 inches on center along each side for the length of the home and along the front and rear of the home. A double-wide model must have a minimum of nine anchors at each end.P> Those requirements went into effect in March 1999 for all new installations and for used mobile homes moved to different sites. Homes set up before that may not have as many anchors.
Straps tightened with bolts hold the mobile home to the anchors. They run under double-wide mobile homes and over single-wide homes.
They form the foundation of your mobile home, keeping it from twisting or lifting in the wind.
They will not, however, prevent wind from damaging the walls or roof.
Even properly installed anchors and straps can rust over time, though the state recently required straps to be more rustproof and increased the minimum size of the metal plate holding the anchors in the ground.
You might be able to check the condition of the tie-downs, but it’s best to hire a licensed mobile home installer or repair company.
Some may do the job for as little as $35, but the cost will vary and could be as much as $125.
It also may pay to check with your county’s building department. Some offer free inspections.
When getting quotes for an inspection, ask if the inspector will crawl under the mobile home or just check the exterior. Crawling under the mobile home is the only way to assess the condition of the anchors and straps.
The inspector should check the piers or supports the mobile home rests on. Sometimes shims need to be replaced and the bottom should rest firmly on the piers.
You also should get a written report on the inspection and any repairs made.
If you have problems with the repair or the inspection, call the mobile home bureau to file a complaint.