By definition, mobile homes are pre-built structures that are then transported to a specific site. And while mobile homes are often used as year-round, permanent homes, the fact that they can be transported or moved – if necessary – remains. Noting the portable nature of this type of housing, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that Mother Nature can take its toll on these types of housing units. Weather conditions like high winds, earthquakes, heavy storms and tornadoes have the potential to move or even tip a mobile home unit. Though in some cases mobile home damage or movement is inevitable, one key way to ensure that this risk is reduced is by administering mobile home anchors and tie downs to secure the mobile home as well as possible to the foundation that it is resting on. The ties, or straps, are typically constructed from steel and designed to either wrap around the mobile home and attach to ground anchors or secure the mobile home unit from underneath it, again attaching to ground anchors. In this piece, we’ll discuss everything you need to know about anchors and how they can help secure a mobile home.
The Various Ways to Anchor a Mobile Home
There are two general categories of mobile home anchoring: top anchors and frame anchors.
Top Tie Downs
As the name implies, top anchors consist of ties going over the roof of the mobile home unit and attaching to ground anchors, essentially wrapping around the structure. While top anchoring is practical, the one big disadvantage of anchoring this way is that the straps can be an eyesore if they are installed following the mobile home’s construction. Another potential drawback is that a roof rack (also commonly referred to as “thimbles,” “roof brackets” or “buffers”) is necessary to support the tie down straps so that they don’t cause damage to the mobile home’s roof. When these straps are installed during the mobile home’s fabrication, however, they can be integrated into the structure of the home (i.e., the roof or siding) and thereby appear more hidden. An additional disadvantage is that tie down straps must also be arranged in a way so that they’re not blocking any windows or doors.
Frame Tie Downs
Unlike top anchors, frame anchors install from underneath the mobile home. This is a more common type of anchoring, as since most mobile homes typically sit on concrete piers there’s the opportunity to safely secure it from underneath the unit. While anchoring this way eliminates the eyesore that may be associated with top anchoring, one of the drawbacks is that it can be more difficult to do. This is because it’s not always convenient or easy for individuals to work underneath the unit itself. This can present an issue in administering the cables and in adjusting the tension on them to properly anchor the unit. It’s also worth noting that in lieu of ground anchors, frame anchoring may also be accomplished by securing the mobile home to a layer of concrete or similar structural support material that exists on the foundation or lot. In some cases, especially in the case of oversized mobile homes, both using ground anchors and securing the mobile home to concrete on the foundation (if possible) may be necessary.
Types of Manufactured Home Anchors (And How to Choose the Right One)
Regardless of what type of anchoring is selected – top anchoring or frame anchoring – there are various ground anchors that will be utilized to secure the mobile home to a lot. The anchors that are necessary are dictated primarily on the type of lot the mobile home is situated on.
Here’s an overview of the different types of anchors that are available for securing mobile homes:
- Concrete (deadman) anchor: These types of anchors combine the auger style of anchor with the structural foundation of concrete. Essentially, it’s an anchor within a slab of concrete, designed to create a firm, secure attachment.
- Auger anchor: One of the most common types of anchors, auger anchors are designed for both hard and soft soils. They’re typically made of steel and screwed into the ground itself to provide a secure attachment.
- Drive anchor: Just as how auger anchors are designed to be administered into the soil, drive anchors are designed for concrete.
- Hard rock anchor: As the name implies, these types of anchors are designed to secure a mobile home to a rock foundation
- Concrete slab anchors: Though typically these aren’t the only anchors that are used when it comes to securing a mobile home to a concrete foundation, these anchors can give additional support a mobile home that’s stationed on a concrete slab.
Can You Anchor Yourself?
One of the biggest questions that mobile home owners have when it comes to properly anchoring their units is whether or not this is a task that they can complete themselves. The answer is “yes,” as this can be a DIY job just so long as the consumer has the correct information, the right types of anchors and the other tools necessary to do it right. (However, be sure to consult with your municipality before beginning, as licensing is required in some states.) Auger anchors, for instance, must be screwed into the ground to support the mobile home. This is best done by using a metal bar to gain leverage or with assistance from a machine designed for such purposes. Unlike other anchors, a hole should not be dug to place the auger anchor in. That’s just one example, here’s a look at the step-by-step process of how one would go about anchoring a mobile home themselves:
- Ensure even grade: Successfully anchoring a mobile home begins even before the administration of the first anchor. First, it must be ensured that the mobile home is level to the ground before proceeding.
- Do your homework: You should only be using as many anchors as you need – any excess anchors are essentially wasted money. That’s why you should check the weather charts in your area and see what the wind speeds are., also considering the size of the mobile home unit. You can then draw a conclusion on how many anchors you’ll need to adequately support the unit.
- Check the soil: What type of soil is on the property? Are there concrete slabs that you’ll be tying down onto? This is important data to learn, as it will help you determine the type of anchor you’ll need (or if you need anchors at all).
- Select anchors/hook ups: Your next step is working with a supplier to acquire the type and number of anchors that you’ll require. You’ll also need to select the right hook-ups and tensioning device for securing the mobile home to the anchor.
- Outline utilities: Because some anchors need to be driven at least 5 feet into the soil for best results, it’s important to find out where the water, gas and electrical lines are coming into the mobile home unit. Mark out each line and ensure you’re not driving an anchor into the ground where you may strike one.
- Arrange the tie downs: If you’re going with a top tie down, secure the cable or the strap over a roof rafter and ensure that they don’t cover a window or door on their way down to the ground.
- Install the anchor: How you install the anchor largely depends on the type of tie down you’re doing. For instance, if you’re doing a vertical tie down, you’ll need to drive the anchor into the ground vertically, or straight up. If you’re doing a frame or a diagonal tie down, you’ll need to drive the anchor into the ground at an angle of at least 40 degrees. You can install a frame anchor vertically, but only if you include a stabilization device to prevent it from any sort of shifting while in the ground. You may also install vertically if you pour concrete around the top of the anchor. Just be sure that the concrete will offer adequate support. We recommend any concrete used for this purpose be at least 18 inches deep and 10 inches in diameter. (Note: Most anchors come with directions that inform consumers how far they need to be driven into the ground and at what angle they need to be installed to work properly. It’s paramount to adhere to these instructions.)
- Adjust: Finally, you’ll need to adjust the tension. Do this in a side-to-side manner. Refrain from adjusting one side of your home and then adjusting the other. The straps should not be loose, but tight. This ensures that the mobile home will be adequately supported and won’t rock during periods of high wind.
How Many Mobile Home Tie Downs are Required?
It is important to note that the requirements for your local area can vary quite a bit from what is shown above. In addition, there are many different types of anchoring and tie down systems. You should fully understand your local regulations regarding anchoring a manufactured home. For example, in some states, tie-downs and anchors are not required while in other states they are strictly required and inspected. It is always best to contact your local building inspector to be sure you don’t put yourself at risk.
The number of anchors you need will vary based on your grade and other factors. Many anchors are able to accommodate both a vertical and diagonal tie down on the same anchor. Something to consider to keep costs down.
Where to Purchase Mobile Home Anchors
Mobile home anchors can be purchased from just about any hardware store and from some big box chain stores. However, to get the best service and to better understand what types of anchors are needed for a specific mobile home and a specific foundation, it makes sense to make such a purchase from a specialty mobile home service and supply business. Unlike a big box store or a conventional hardware store, mobile homes are all that those who work in a specialty service and supply business do. They can help with the analysis of weather and wind maps, soil conditions and best assist their customers with the right products and know-how for a successful outcome.
Our Favorite Shops for Anchors:
Where to Find Help With Mobile Home Anchors/Repairs
Installing the anchoring system is one thing, ensuring that they continue to work on a long-term basis is another. There are several things mobile home owners should be doing on a routine basis to make sure they’re still working effectively.
- Keep sprinklers away from tie down to avoid potential rusting issues.
- Don’t fertilize around tie downs, as the chemicals in the fertilizer composition could corrode straps over time.
- Try to look for signs of rusting or cracking on the tie down straps a few times a year.
- Check to make sure that the anchors aren’t being pulled up from the soil. Many anchors are driven into the ground so that only a few inches are visible above ground. Anything more and the mobile home may not be getting the support it needs during periods of high winds or severe weather.
Mobile home anchor repair can be tricky for several reasons. For starters, many mobile homes are anchored from underneath, via the home’s frame. This can make repair difficult because these are often hard to reach areas. For assistance with mobile home anchors and repair, we’d recommend contacting either a handyman with experience in mobile home repair, a mobile home service contractor or a mobile home repair company. You can also register and join our active mobile home repair forum for help!
Additional Resources for Mobile Home Tie Downs and Anchors
State of Florida Installation Standards