Ask An Architect
Q What would you recommend I do to reinforce my mobile home underneath to keep it level when the ground swells during the rainy months, while at the same time securing the coach in the event of high wind or earthquake? Helen L. Lenox
Santa Cruz, Calif.
Until a few years ago mobile-home piers were supported on 12-inch-square pads. The requirement now is to place the piers on 2-inch-thick, 12-by-30-inch pressure-treated wood pads. This, combined with proper drainage away from the underside of the coach, should rectify the movement problem.
The earthquake ties are another problem. Service people are available to install a series of ties and braces to create a rigid frame under the floor, causing the piers to move with the coach. To the real estate editor:
With regard to the question about getting up the tarpaper under linoleum, I have an idea. I cannot say that this method is fun, by any means, but it is cheap and possible by a do-it-yourselfer.
Amway Corporation has a product called Concrete Floor Cleaner. Applied in a heavy solution of very hot water and allowed to soak for a time (8 to 15 minutes), it will scrape clean with a putty knife. It turns into a pile of brown sludge, but comes up ready to be sanded and refinished.
The only caution is that prolonged soaking will sometimes discolor some areas of the wood. A product such as S-A-8, Amway's laundry detergent, should actually be tried first, as some tarpaper will respond to that, and it is a milder, cheaper, less caustic product.
Rubber gloves are recommended. It is a messy process, but gets the job done.
Madeline K. Fluckey
Avon Lake, Ohio To the real estate editor:
I also had to remove linoleum/tarpaper from the floors of my 1930 adobe house. I discovered that once the linoleum is removed, the tarpaper layer can be dissolved for scraping by using undiluted household ammonia.
Needless to say, this should be done on a day when all windows and doors can be left open.
Pour the ammonia onto the tarpaper surface and spread it into a thick film. Cover with strips of waxed paper. This traps the ammonia and greatly increases its effectiveness. Let sit for 10 to 30 minutes, depending on the depth of the tarpaper. Remove the waxed paper and scrape up the tar, using a regular paint-scraping tool.
Sand after the surface has been cleaned and dried.
If you have a question on designing, improving, or maintaining your home, school, church, or place of business, send it to the real estate editor, The Christian Science Monitor, One Norway Street, Boston, Mass. 02115.