Do It Yourself: Mobile Home Roof Repair Tips

You don't have to call a professional to repair your mobile home's leaking roof. Here are the most popular (and affordable) repairs.

You usually discover trailer-roof leaks at the worst possible times.

For example: the championship game's on TV. You've been making plans to watch this game for the last six months. Your pizza is there. Several of your closest friends are crowded into the living room with you. Your team is making a crucial play: every one of you leap out of your seats, cheering at the top of your collective lungs.

All of the sudden, a river of water pours from the roof - right onto your pizza.

Or perhaps you're trying to sleep, only to be awakened ever so rudely by a constant drip-drip-drip from a small, persistent leak right above your bed: it's Chinese water torture, mobile-home style.

Fortunately, your trailer's roof can be repaired easily and inexpensively, especially if it's made of metal. All of the necessary supplies can be found at your local home-improvement store, and are easy to use.

Even better (and cheaper) is preventive maintenance, which is infrequent but very helpful.

HOW TO PREVENT LEAKS IN YOUR ROOF, WITHOUT CALLING IN A PROFESSIONAL

The process of seal-coating your trailer's metal roof takes just a couple of hours and less than one hundred dollars. The most difficult part is overcoming your fear of heights, if you have that problem, because you'll have to climb onto your roof and spend a few hours up there with a brush and a five-gallon bucket of roof coating.

First, select the right roof coating for the job. One of the most popular brands, Silver Dollar, runs anywhere from fifty to eight dollars per bucket. It's silver in color (hence the name), and smells faintly of gasoline, but the drying time is short and the coating lasts for months, if not years, depending on how thick it's applied.

Another type is latex-based and is white in color. Manufacturers boast that this helps deflect sunlight, thereby lowering energy costs because your home will be less susceptible to the summertime heat. This type is usually more expensive, but the advantages are worth consideration.

Once you've decided what to put on the roof, you need the proper equipment. This includes:

A sturdy ladder, for getting onto and off the roof.

A brush, which can probably be found near the roof coating in the store, for applying the coating.

A long paint-stirring stick to mix up the coating. Be sure you pick a sturdy one; the coating is very thick and needs to be thoroughly mixed for best results.



A push-broom, because it never hurts to sweep off your roof before you lay down the coating.

Follow the directions and repeat the process as often as necessary to prevent leaks and other damage to your roof.

CAUTION: if you're susceptible to dizziness or fainting spells, don't do this job on your own. Find a friend to help. Even though most trailers aren't very high off the ground, the fall could be very dangerous - not to mention painful.

HOW TO FIX LEAKS (EVEN BIG ONES)

Applying the roof coating usually fixes the small leaks. It can patch up rusted-through spots in the roof, and effectively deal with the pinhole leaks that you won't be able to spot on your own.

Remember: mobile homes, like any other structures, shift over time. Just because water is falling through your roof in one spot doesn't mean the leak starts there. You could have a pinhole leak several feet up, causing water to run downward and exit at its earliest convenience (i.e. wherever the ceiling panels are weak and it can break through).

So, with that in mind, go after the pinhole leaks with the roof coating. While you're up there putting it down, keep an eye out for particularly rusted spots and larger holes. If they're too big, the roof coating alone won't necessarily fix them.

But you can cut a piece of sheet metal to fit over the rusted spot / hole, with an inch or two all around extra for overlapping purposes, and use silicon caulk to put it into place. Once it's dry, cover it with the roof coating for the best possible leak proofing.

There are, however, instances in which the hole is just too big for sheet metal and roof coating. If a meteor crashes through the middle of your roof, it's a safe bet that you'll need to replace the entire thing, or at least a very large section of it. Then again, if this has happened to you, there are probably bigger things on your mind than the roof.

SAFETY TIPS (SO YOU'LL STILL BE AROUND TO ENJOY YOUR NEWLY-REPAIRED ROOF)

Don't work outside in the middle of the day, especially in summertime. Odds are you'll be in direct sunlight, without any shade or opportunity for a break, so start early in the morning or wait until later in the evening.

Don't do this job on your own. If nothing else, make sure someone is nearby in case you need help. You need somebody to hold the ladder while you're on it, so make sure he or she sticks around just in case you need something else.

If you have to cut sheet metal, be very careful. The edges are extremely sharp, no matter how thick the metal might be.

Dispose of any leftover coating (or the empty bucket) according to label directions. It may not be something you can simply throw into the Dumpster and forget about.

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