Believe it or not, mobile homes are much more susceptible to damage caused by an earthquake than any other type of home. Most conventional homes are supported by a permanent concrete foundation unlike mobile homes which have a much weaker support system. Fortunately there are things we can do to make mobile homes much safer to seismic shaking damage. First, we need to know about the two main types of mobile home support systems.
A reinforced concrete foundation system
A reinforced concrete foundation system is available for most mobile home installations. This is the strongest foundation system available and is the least likely to suffer major earthquake damage.
A steel pier system
Many mobile homes are installed with a steel pier system. This system is easily adjustable but gives the mobile home a bearing surface causing it’s frame to be much weaker and subject to more damage upon a major earthquake.
A Lateral Restraint System.
All mobile homes in the central U.S. are required to have a lateral pier system which prevents any mobile home foundation system from wind damage. First you must install a diagonal frame anchor attached to the strong ground anchors.
Studies show manufactured mobile homes will be very vulnerable to future earthquakes even after the 1994 Northridge earthquake and the 2014 south Napa earthquake. There is a very large number of mobile homes that are not even required to improve seismic bracing and therefore will be vulnerable in the next earthquake. The next step is to be prepared for anything that could happen by minimizing damage and repair costs to each mobile home.
In the 1994 Northridge earthquake extensive reports showed that 49 percent of mobile homes slid off of their support system. Another 10 percent of homes support systems shifted causing the homeowner to pay a substantial amount in repair costs.
What can I do to help reduce damage to my home?
While California is known for some of the most memorable earthquakes, there are many other states which anticipate much bigger earthquakes to happen. Although, no amount of earthquake preparedness will guarantee the home is completely safe when an earthquake hits but it is important to be prepared. Here are some suggestions to reduce damage to the home.
Anchor the home to the ground
Anchoring the home to the ground is important to keep the home safe under mass wind conditions. Ground anchors will help stabilize the home and reduce damage if an earthquake hits.
Keep the hitch and axles under the home after installation
The homeowner needs to make sure as a part of their purchase agreement they keep the axles and hitch from under the house. Usually, there should be no additional charge for such an agreement. This will help the house stay intact and not slide off the foundation system in a seismic earthquake.
Stop movement of the home by installing an earthquake restraint bracing system.
Although this is a more expensive option, it is much safer than most bracing foundation systems. It is much safer because this more elaborate system keeps the home intact under vertical and horizontal movement.