What Is a Mobile Home Belly Board?
Mobile homes have an underbelly that includes all the components found in the sub-floor, such as the insulation, joists, wiring, HVAC system, and plumbing. All these parts are covered by a belly board, which is a black sheeting made of polyethylene.
(Note: Belly board and underbelly are sometimes used interchangeably, although they are inherently different from each other.)
The belly board is a durable plastic integrated with a special fabric so that any critters cannot easily tear it. It also has chemicals that prevent mold and mildew growth, condensation, and animal damage (the taste makes it unappealing to common house pests).
Meanwhile, some homeowners don’t like to install belly boards because they make it difficult to perform plumbing and ductwork repair. Additionally, they make it difficult to detect a water leak.
DIY Repair Tips for Mobile Home Belly Board
It is possible to DIY repair a damaged belly board, but it requires a bit of effort and careful planning. You may also want to consider getting help from friends and family because this project requires some elbow grease.
Below is a step-by-step guide to repairing your mobile home belly board:
- Install a vapor barrier
First things first, you have to install a vapor barrier to protect the ground from the mess while doing the project.
- Remove the belly board and its insulation
If you remove the old insulation and the black belly board, you’ll see the floor joists, HVAC system, plumbing, and other components of the underbelly.
- Look for damage
Before you repair or replace the belly board, you must first inspect the entire underbelly–the floor joists, insulation, wiring, ductwork, chassis, subfloor, and plumbing.
Pay close attention to damage and signs of wear and tear in the HVAC system, plumbing, and other underbelly components. Anything that looks amiss should be repaired before proceeding to the next step.
- Reseal the ductwork (if applicable)
Make sure that the ductwork, especially its seams and corners, is taped and completely sealed to protect it from outside elements.
- Repair your damaged or old plumbing (if applicable)
If you need to replace your old plumbing, place the new pipes near your ductwork to prevent them from freezing and bursting during winter.
- Install new insulation
You can use several types of insulation material, ranging from spray foam and molded expanded polystyrene (MEPS) to fiberglass and rock wool.
Foam is the most commonly used material for underbelly insulation because it is relatively easy to install, affordable, and energy-efficient.
Keep in mind that a well-insulated underbelly can make a huge difference in your comfort and energy bills. It also prevents water damage, mildew and mold growth, and expensive or major home repairs in the future.
- Install the new belly board
Once you have installed the insulation, you can begin replacing the old belly board with a new one. But if it has only a few holes or small rips, it’s better to just patch them with durable tapes. Make sure that the tape covers the damaged parts completely.
Because the belly board makes it difficult to find water leaks, some installers recommend poking small holes through it using safety pins or needles. With this hack, homeowners can immediately see if they have a moisture problem, which can lead to water damage if left untreated. However, this is not ideal if you live in a wet or pest-prone region.
You may also want to check the building codes before you start any remodeling project. The regulations primarily depend on the location of your home and the type of house construction.