What Is Re-Leveling?
Your manufactured home is unique among living structures. It was built upon steel I-beams with axles and wheels attached that enable it to move to the site where it is now. Each section of your home is attached to these I-beams permanently. When your home was set up on its current location, it was jacked up, and the foundation piers were built and leveled with a water level, then the home was lowered onto these pre-leveled foundation piers.
When we re-level your home, we kind of reverse-engineer the settling process; first, we access the crawlspace of your home and set the water level to the height of the bottom of the I-beam at the closest pier setting. Then we measure all the other pier settings in comparison to that height, either higher or lower. Next, we decide what the average mean height is of most pier settings, and then we raise or lower the I-beam at each pier setting to match that level. When that process is complete, your home is entirely level.
There are times when we cannot wholly re-level a home due to appurtenant structures that were attached to the home while it was in an un-level condition, such as attached garages or other additions. Since we do not want to cause roof leaks at the appurtenant structures where the roofing ties in, we will elect to arrive at a happy medium with the home owner's consent. In other words, a gradual and hopefully undetectable slope to or from the attached structure that we don't want to disturb. The vital thing to achieve in these situations is equal weight distribution among the existing pier settings so that no supporting structure is over-stressed and each pier supports its fair share of the weight of your home.
Some things to keep in mind...
When a home has been out of level for a long time or was never appropriately leveled from the start or is severely out of level, collateral issues may result from the leveling process, which cannot be accurately foreseen, but typical manifestations are things like drywall cracks, or in homes without drywall, panels may buckle or trim pieces may need to be refastened, and doors may rub or stick in ways they did not previously. Skirting may need to be adjusted to accommodate the new height of the home. We will attempt to ensure that exterior doors will latch and open for security purposes; sometimes, the proper fix is to have the door "re-hung." These additional repairs are not included in the cost of the re-level and must be addressed by other contractors with those proficiencies.
Keep in mind that "house leveling" is not the same as "floor leveling." When we level your home, there may still be floors that have entirely separate issues related to the soundness of the joists or subfloor of your home that will not be mitigated by leveling the home. We will do our best to make our customers aware of these potential issues and provide suggestions for where you may find competent help to address them.
We are often asked if we have a warranty, and the short answer is: No, we do not. We guarantee that the house is level when we drive away. But the reason we can not warranty our work because we have no control over the soil your home is sitting on. Many of the homes we re-level are sitting on former swampland, and there are water incursion issues with many houses, burrowing animals, tree roots, railroad tracks nearby, etc. These conditions are all things that contribute to a house being out of level to begin with, and re-leveling merely puts the settling process back to zero. That is why re-leveling is a regular owner periodic maintenance item for the life of your home.
When Should I Re-Level My Home?
You should re-level your home before any remodeling or additions, such as...
- skirting, earthquake systems, tie-downs, foundation refurbishing
- awnings, decks/porches, appurtenant structures
- drywall, cabinets, floor coverings
- interior or exterior doors, windows, sliders
Doing any of these things while the home is out of level will require many of these remodeling tasks to be adjusted or make it impossible to level your home completely.
You should re-level your home when you notice these symptoms of an out of level home:
- Skirting begins to wrinkle, crush or bulge
- Decks seem to be higher or lower than normal
- Windows are crooked in their frames and no longer seal or latch
- Exterior doors stick or are hard to latch and don’t seal, letting cold air in from outside
- Interior doors don’t shut, or they swing open or closed by themselves
- The sensation of walking up or downhill and hallways may seem crooked
- Cracks in the drywall at the marriage line (where the sections of the home join)
- Cracks in the drywall around windows, doors, or where walls meet the ceiling
- A springy feeling in the floors or floor squeaks may indicate an out-of-level condition
- Floor humps or ledging at the marriage line
- Cabinets and backsplashes are pulling away from the walls
- Water and items roll off countertops
Why Should I Re-Level?
Mobile homes need to be re-leveled periodically to maintain structural integrity. Most Manufacturers recommend re-leveling every 3-5 years. Some possible reasons: Frost heave causes pier settings to sink and tilt, moisture under the home, and burrowing rodents can do the same thing. Wood shims used to level the home initially can become compressed, rot, or destroyed by wood-boring insects. Steel piers can rust and collapse. Improper initial setup and inferior workmanship can cause piers to be over-stressed and compromised before their time.
Your home's level is the most critical maintenance aspect of your manufactured home. It affects virtually every other component of your home's integrated systems. Its level affects your floor, walls, doors, windows, cabinets, roof, and crawl space skirting. The proper draining of your wastewater and sewer system may be affected as well.
An out-of-level manufactured home can cause exterior doors and windows that no longer seal out the cold of winter to drive up your heating costs dramatically.
By definition, an out-of-level manufactured home occurs when some of your foundation support piers are bearing significantly more weight than other support piers. Being out-of-level causes some of the supporting beams on the interior of your home to be over-stressed and, in extreme cases, sometimes to the point of failure.
An out-of-level home is a leading contributor to the accelerated deterioration of homes in the manufactured home community. Because of this, manufacturers recommend that their homes be checked for level every 3-5 years and be re-leveled whenever there is more than a ¼" discrepancy in support pier heights.
Re-leveling your home is the most significant deterrent to increased maintenance and energy costs.