Insulating the roof on mobile home


September 12, 1992|By James Dulley | James Dulley,Contributing Writer

Q: I live in an old mobile home with no -- or very little -- roof insulation. It gets hot in the summer and my heating bills are too high in the winter. What can I do to save energy and improve my comfort?

A: Older mobile homes, and some newer ones, can literally feel like ovens in the hot summer sun and be an energy sieve in the winter. Adding roof insulation and improving the heat rejection properties of the roof surface greatly reduce your utility bills year-round and improve your comfort.

There are several simple methods to improve the roof. Adding an insulated flexible roofover is an excellent method to increase the insulation level of the roof. In addition to the increased insulation, the new white or reflective roof surface rejects much of the summer sun's heat. The annoying noise from rain and wind ("roof rumble") is also eliminated.

First, lay either standard fiberglass batts or rigid foam insulation board over your existing roof. Lay the tough and durable flexible EPDM rubber-like white sheet material over the insulation. Pull the sheet tight over the insulation and attach it to the sides of the roof with an aluminum trim strip and screws.

You can also have an insulated metal roofover installed. This produces a durable new-looking roof. If you paint it white or leave it a natural aluminum color, it reflects much of the sun's heat.

If your mobile home roof is adequately insulated, you can coat it with a special do-it-yourself acrylic rubberized liquid. It dries to form a durable, thick coating, which seals any small leaks. Although a white color reflects the greatest amount of the sun's heat, the acrylic is available in many other colors to match your mobile home.

Another do-it-yourself option is to apply a special reinforced adhesive-backed foil material. It is easy to apply yourself. The thick, rubberized adhesive seals all leaks and permanently sticks to the existing roof. A shiny foil or white color is most effective for summer cooling.

For a roof which is in good condition and well-insulated, you can just apply one of the new roof paints. These reflect much of the sun's heat and protect the surface.

One type of heavy paint has tiny ceramic spheres in it. These ceramic spheres effectively reflect the sun's heat and help to dissipate it. This is the same material used in the space shuttle heat-rejecting tiles.

You can write to me for "Utility Bills Update No. 185" listing addresses and telephone numbers of manufacturers of flexible and metal insulated roofovers, liquid acrylic coating, adhesive-backed foil, special heat-rejecting paints, product specifications and installation instructions. Include $1.50 and a self-addressed business-size envelope.

Q: Would you explain what super-insulated staggered-stud wall construction is and is it energy efficient?

A: Staggered-stud wall construction usually refers to using 2-by-4 studs on 2-by-6 top and bottom plates. Every other stud is lined up with either the indoor or outdoor edge of the bottom and top plate. This produces a wall where none of the individual studs actually touch both the indoor and outdoor wall surfaces.

Although a staggered-stud wall is efficient, you still must line up the studs at door and window openings. You might also consider a standard 2-by-4-studded wall with insulating foam sheathing on the exterior.

Questions should be addressed to James Dulley, c/o Baltimore Sun, 6906 Royalgreen Drive, Cincinnati, Ohio 45244.

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