'Looking After' that Park Model
(Also see the trailer information provided in the section About Park Model Trailers)
Already Own a Park Model?
This section is designed to assist the park model trailer owner with all those questions related to trailer ownership. We have placed a lot of emphasis on maintenance, repair, and renovation to keep and improve this winter home.
We have searched for sources of good information related to Park Model trailers and also have added some advice and tips we have gleaned from the 'more experienced'.
We realize that many readers will already have considerable knowledge and experience with their trailers. But we also need to provide information on the assumption that you are a new owner and wondering what to do next.
To those who already have a lot of experience with their Park Model we would love to hear from you with any advice and tips you feel would help others less experienced.
Once we bought our park model trailer it was then a challenge to figure out (both) what we had and how to look after it. We found information was lacking and not that easy to find on the web. The process started with a plumbing leak, a swamp cooler that didn't do anything, and a furnace that didn't light.
Good neighbors, the local hardware store, and some experimentation helped solve the problems.
Good information on park models is not easy to find. There are plenty of sources for the traveling RVs and the standard house trailers but little specifically related to park models.
We were able to find some sites that provide
good advice that applies to all trailers and
some that dealt with specific infrastructure that
applies to any home structure.
We also found some experienced owners of
park models who were only too willing to share
their knowledge and experience. We are most
grateful for their advice and have included some
of that information in this section.
Adding an Arizona Room
We will be adding information as it is available. Information is being collected from; a lifelong trailer owner who has 'done it all'; an experienced buyer/seller of park model homes; and, we will share any of our own experiences and those of others we hear from.
But there is no intent to 'reinvent the wheel'. There are many good professionals who provide good information on their sites and we do not intend to compete with their experience and knowledge.
Some Sites with Repair Information
The following sites provide good information on the wide range of trailer maintenance, repair, and renovation:
Mobile Home Repair
Mark at the Mobile Home Repair site has years of experience in doing repairs and remodeling and provides lots of information on a variety of topics related to trailers. He has published a book on mobile home repairs, operates a park, and has been a trailer dealer.
Included on this site is a forum for discussion of mobile home issues.
The Mobile Home Doctor 'How to' advice on trailers
Repair Trailer Roof geeksonhome.com "How to Repair a Trailer Roof"
Painting Paneling shabbycreekcottage.com ... for those Park Model paneled walls
Heat Pumps howstuffworks.com ... "How Heat Pumps Work"
The links provided in this section are only suggested as potential sources of information. There is no recommendation suggested or implied regarding these suppliers and/or information sources.
Summer-izing your Park Model
Some Tips gleaned from the more experienced
Most of us are used to house maintenance in a very different climate. And we probably have no experience with leaving a residence to sit for many months. There are some things to keep in mind. When preparing your trailer to sit in the summer heat of Arizona it is important to know some basics.
Add some Moisture to the Air
Your trailer will not have much ventilation and it could become pretty hot in there. The climate is extremely dry so you need to consider adding some moisture to the air by providing some evaporation.
One method is to place containers of water
throughout the trailer that can evaporate over the
summer. Using small mouth jugs allows for
slower evaporation to assure they last the
The containers in the picture are after eight months
of vacancy. As you can see they are all just about
half full so 3 gallons of water had evaporated.
Close off those Traps
Those traps below your sinks, bathtub, and in
the toilet are there for a reason. (If you have
ever removed one you will know what I mean)
During the summer the water in the traps is sure
to evaporate and remove their �plug� value. They
need to be closed off to prevent that from
Toilets can be sealed off with plastic
wrap so as not to allow evaporation from the bowl
and even the tank.
Some people use mineral/baby oil or similar to stop the evaporation. Oil does not mix with water and remains on top creating a seal. Only a thin layer of oil is needed.
Seal off all the Drains
It is important to seal off all drain openings. Make sure to include all sinks and the bathtub or shower.
A variety of methods are used for this, some
quite creative. One method is to cover the
drain openings with plastic bags filled with
water. The bags then take the form of the
surface where the drain opening is.
Make sure to use sturdy bags and that they
are 100% sealed. We had a couple fail due
to careless sealing of the opening.
Use tape to seal the overflows. To be safe
you may want to use a better quality moisture-
proof tape than the painters tape used here.
Cover all Windows and Patio Door
Wherever possible, windows should be covered to prevent sun damage and reduce internal heat.
Many trailer owners have cut aluminum insulation
sheets to fit each window and place them inside
the curtains or blinds, or between the window
A variety of window coverings are seen in the parks
come summer. Some simply use cardboard, some
appear to be thin plywood. Some trailers with awnings
will lower and secure them. But probably the most
common are those aluminum sheets cut to fit each
each window and the patio door.
They are quite durable and can be used year after
Shut off Water and Power Supply
And of course power and water supply lines should be shut off. Shut off power at both your internal breaker and the outside main breaker. Shut furnace thermostat and water heater off.
Some people advise leaving water in the lines to help protect the plastic lines from drying out and plugging.
And when you return it is suggested that you open some taps before turning the water back on and run the hot water for about ten minutes to clean out the hot water tank.
More Inside the Trailer
Clean the fridge and freezer and use baking soda or coffee in
dishes to help absorb odors. Some people also like to block
open the doors to keep air circulating.
Clean the grill and oven. Use drain cleaner in kitchen and
bath drains and flush with hot water.
Remove batteries from smoke alarms, clocks, and remotes.
Outside the Trailer
Weeds should be sprayed around the trailer. They can grow quite well over the summer and most parks will charge you for dealing with them.
Termites are another issue in Arizona. Those of us not familiar with these little pests are certainly in for a lesson in determination and (unfortunately) some destruction. It may be a good idea to call in an exterminator to have your unit checked and sprayed.
You can buy termite sprays and do some work yourself but be sure to read the instructions for dealing with these critters. We are told that you can kill termites that are there but to prevent them at all you need to dig trenches or holes in the ground and then soak the ground under the surface. That's where they will come from.
And don't store anything under that trailer unless it is sealed in plastic. That good 2x4 you are saving will be a real attraction.
You can find good information about termites from the Arizona State University or the Arizona State office of pest management (search 'termites' for a variety of topics.)
Arizona does get some good winds and they tend to come in the summer �monsoon� season. Your trailer can be quite vulnerable so you need to take a walk around to examine anything that could be caught by a good wind. Awnings should be secured down and various trim and other items checked for their security. Also check yard ornaments and outside furniture.
You should do the walk around to see what can best be stored inside the shed or trailer. The less loose things around the better. (And, of course, less tempting should there ever be a breach in security.)
Ants are another concern. As with other issues, things can happen over time when no one is around for maybe seven or even nine months. Get some ants appearing in your home and you usually catch things before they get out of hand. But when no one is around to catch things they can/will get out of hand.
All about Swamp Coolers
aka Evaporative Coolers
If you care about utility bills and about the environment then don't discount the Swamp Cooler.
Swamp coolers use water evaporation to provide cooling that is then blown by fan throughout the trailer. They are only effective only in hot dry weather. Certainly a reasonable cooling alternative for the desert areas.
Some have given us a hard time about including this 'old' technoligy on the site. And we realize you don't see many swamp coolers on later park models. BUT ... we have one and I have become a true believer. The performance is amazing ... when humidity is low of course.
After a bit of searching and asking around we learned about that strange thing on the roof of our old trailer. The Swamp Cooler.
The best explanation I have heard to describe the concept is to imagine putting on a wet t-shirt on a hot day and then blowing yourself with a fan. The rapid evaporation of the moisture provides considerable cooling effects.
Once we got ours operating the air conditioner has never been used.
Swamp coolers became quite out of fashion and almost suggest 'old'. But there may now be some resurgence.
They can be more economical to operate than air conditioners and will save on energy. The energy consumption is about 1/8 if a standard air conditioner.
They require some regular maintenance but do seem to be quite an affordable means to provide some relief from the heat in earlier fall and later spring.
The following websites provide good information on both the value and use of a swamp cooler and how to maintain and repair them.
Referenced items on swamp coolers
The Care and Feeding of a Swamp Cooler
How to Fix your Swamp Cooler