Do Manufactured Homes Make Noises?

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Manufactured homes are prone to more noise, being more cheaply built to keep costs low and the home light for transportation. There are ways to reduce sound transmission and treat your home. It is important however to be wary if your home (whether manufactured or site built) starts to make noises. This usually alludes to a recurring problem that if unattended, can lead to serious structural damage. Often, these are either the presence of critters and pests taking refuge, a problem with your plumbing, your ductwork or flooring.

For this piece, we’ll tackle the problems that cater specifically to manufactured homes:

  • Walls & Ceiling
  • Doors & Windows

As well as noises to identify for all homes:

  • Flooring
  • Plumbing, Drainage & Ductwork
  • Critters & Pests
Image from How to Soundproof Your House from Traffic Noises (housetrick.com)

Walls & Ceiling

Manufactured homes were made to be affordable and efficient, doing away with what they can to keep costs low. They also need to be light enough to be able to transport these homes easily. This can result in thinner walls of drywall, vinyl, not having the same sound insulation as stick built homes might. (1)

Sound would be a bigger consideration and factor if your plot of land is within noisy traffic, a loud district or around noisy neighbors. If this is the situation you’re stuck in, try these treatments.  (1l)

Acoustic ceiling tiles are easy to install and cheaper than other options. It is a foam board that can be fire retardant and bacteria resistant. A more expensive option would be filling in your ceiling, floor and/or wall cavity with a noise insulating material. The floor and ceiling are important to treat if you’re preventing sound between floors that are adjacent vertically, like a music room above or home theater below.

Fitting the walls with sound proofing material is the best solution however can be an extremely costly move. The smartest approach would be identifying the crucial areas that need the soundproofing or receive the most noise and start from there. (1)

Image from Soundproofing: How to Soundproof a Room (DIY Project) | The Family Handyman

There are a variety of sound insulation to choose from like foam pyramid, wedge panels, long tiles, fiberglass, vinyl or decorative wood panels. Try to opt for products that are also water repellent, especially if you’re treating the bathroom or kitchen. (1)

Fiberglass panels are great as they reduce airborne noise (people talking) as well as structure borne noise (impact from vibrations. They also don’t take up too much space in the room not being as bulky, so apply this where your budget allows! Another option is Mass Loaded Vinyl on the ceiling. (2)

Doors & Windows

Due to the movement of homes during transportation, gaps and cracks can occur in the joints of homes, especially doors and windows. Also metal frames are too good a sound conductor that will help bring in the noise.

For your framing, replace these with wooden frames. The glazing is trickier.

Windows can be treated with placing thick, heavy curtains, applying window films or replacing the entire unit with thicker glass meant for storm windows. If you’re replacing the glazing, get the higher rating of STC in glass (Sound Transmission Class of 50 or more. The higher the rating the more soundproof the barrier) (1)

For the door, soundproof it with MDF (medium density fiberboard) or replace the door with a thicker material.

Plug up the gaps or holes in doors and windows. Often this is the door connection to the floor that you can fill with silicon door seal sweeps. One can also drape over a fiberglass blanket or use weatherstripping tape for both doors and windows. (2)

Summary for Manufactured Homes

To sum up how to treat sound, tackle it in two ways: (2)

  1. Add density: Thicken the walls, doors, windows, etc.
  2. Cover any gaps and open spaces: Check all joints and connecting points between door to frame, to floor, window to wall, etc.

Also take into account the structural load your home can carry. Padding your home with the heaviest soundproofing boards might cause the floor joists to break.

Maybe can soundproof a room or zone in your home as opposed to the entire house. Choosing the right sound materials can prevent sound from coming in and escaping.

Prioritize spaces or elements like just the bedroom or all windows only. Purchase a little over the amount you need, to ensure you have extras stored to easily replace a part should one go bad or accidentally break while installing it.

Flooring

Sound: creaking (especially when walking on it)

When the sound is creaking a little louder and creepier than usual, have this checked! It could signal to your floorboards rotting and may call for a replacement of your subfloors. (3)

Image from Creaking Floors – The 4 Main Reasons – Buyers Ask

Have it checked as this may be your joinery, screws and nuts that have gone loose. When pressure is applied, the loose joints can be the source of such a noise. Just like our plumbing, this can be due to temperature changes, causing the wood to expand and contract, creating cracks that make that creaking.

As per usual, call in a  building professional. They are needed because this can greatly affect the structural integrity of your room or home. (3)

Plumbing, Drainage & Ductwork

Sound: loud thumping or banging; popping, banging, tapping, rattling; musty smell

Observe if you hear a loud banging sound when you flush the toilet, a loud thumping when you run the faucet or dishwasher. Your pipes may just be responding to the temperature changes of the water, a joist out of place or pipes that weren’t properly fastened beneath the home. Remember that the pipework being underneath the home, most likely can be left exposed and therefore more susceptible to getting loose or freezing with weather changes. (3,5)

Image from Common Water Pipe Noises (countrysideph.com)

Ductwork can be identified if a popping, banging or tapping sound is coupled with your energy bills going off the roof. This means your air ducts aren’t containing the heat or cool as efficiently and may be expanding and contracting to the varying temperatures.

Notice if you only hear these sounds as you turn the heat up or down. Perhaps you hear a rattling as you walk around the home.

The best solution is always to call in a building professional! This ensures everything all pipes and ducts are nice and tight, secured and sealed. (4)

If your site wasn’t graded well or the land mostly consists of a clay soil, drainage can be a problem for your home. Once water accumulates too much underneath due to heavy rain (or just slopes there and puddles), this can lead to mold problems that can produce a “musty smell.” (4)

Image from What are the most common problems with older mobile homes? (howtolookatahouse.com)

Critters & Pests

Sound: Pattering, tapping or popping.

If you’re hearing these sounds (most often at nighttime), this can mean an animal has made a home underneath yours. This can happen to manufactured homes, especially those that don’t have a foundation or basement. (5)

Popping sounds can be animals chewing metal or plastic, so be careful on how your utilities are neatly kept underneath as they may be chewing at your electrical wires!

While other critters will dig under your skirting and nestle under your home like squirrels, others like mice and rats will start crawling up the home and cozy up in your wall insulation. Mice and rats only need a small crack to get through your home so it pays to keep the construction tight!

Animals can range from insects, snakes, to squirrels that’ll dig, mice and rats that squeeze in through the cracks, or skunks whose spray will bring those fumes up and into your home!

The best way to deal with animals is inspect for any possible openings they can get through. If you’ve confirmed its presence, (whether living or dead) call animal control to handle them safely. Afterwards, repair any damage to your skirting ASAP! Keep your lawn cleared and garbage tightly sealed to prevent attracting new unwanted guests. (4,5)

For a detailed list on how to handle certain pests, check out What’s Causing Noises Under Your Mobile Home (7 Pests) – Pest Prevention Patrol

Parting Words

Always be observant of how things normally look and normally sound, that way you can be perceptive to once things feel a bit off. Trust your instincts! Besides, it never hurts to have anything checked.

For more information on all noise problems in homes and how to handle them, check out 11 Strange House Noises That Could Mean Trouble – Bob Vila

After all, a manufactured home is just as much a home as any site built one is and therefore can still be prone to the other sounds!

References:

  1. bryceadmin. (2021, October 27). How to dampen noise and reduce sound in thin walls mobile home. US Mobile Home Pros. Retrieved June 2022, from https://www.mobilehomesell.com/thin-walls/
  2. Bone, P. (2018, June 21). How to soundproof a mobile home (Full guide) – diy soundproof advice. Soundproof Advice. Retrieved June 2022, from https://soundproofadvice.com/how-to-soundproof-a-mobile-home/
  3. Wallace, P. (2021, November 28). Why does your mobile home make cracking and popping noises? Mobile Home Repair Tips. Retrieved June 2022, from https://mobilehomerepairtips.com/mobile-home-noises/
  4. Pest Prevention Patrol. (2022, May 26). What’s causing noises under your mobile home (7 pests). Pest Prevention Patrol. Retrieved June 2022, from https://pestpreventionpatrol.com/whats-causing-noises-under-your-mobile-home-7-pests/
  5. bryceadmin. (2020, July 20). Q&A: What can I do about noises under my mobile home? US Mobile Home Pros. Retrieved June 2022, from https://www.mobilehomesell.com/noises-under-mobile-home/
  6. Clement, T., Solomon, C., & Vila, B. (2021, October 18). Creaks, groans, and squeaks: 11 Spooky House sounds that could spell trouble for homeowners. Bob Vila. Retrieved June 2022, from https://www.bobvila.com/articles/strange-house-noises/