How To Salvage, Reuse And Recycle A Mobile Home

With so much waste and concern about filling up landfills, a number of states have begun programs to salvage mobile homes before disposing of them. This practice is desirable because it is an environmentally sound waste management program that conserves natural resources, enhances blighted areas, and creates an option other than mismanagement and abandonment of old mobile homes. Mobile home salvage programs also create economic opportunities for local businesses, recycling plants, and day laborers.

The feasibility of salvaging and reusing mobile homes was studied in the state of Vermont and published by the City of Bristol in 2000 in cooperation with the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources Waste Management Division and the Manufactured Housing Institute of Arlington Virginia. Their study, entitled & ldquo;A Feasibility Study of Mobile Home Recycling & rdquo; showed that the process was easily doable, not too expensive, and provided jobs and economic opportunity for the community where it is performed. By encouraging the development and advertising of mobile home salvage yards, a state can cut back on the wasteful disposal of valuable items that can be salvaged from a damaged or old mobile home and provide economic opportunities for its citizens.

When a program for salvaging and recycling mobile homes is undertaken, persons who are looking to remodel their current mobile homes can find valuable cabinets, appliances, faucets and sinks, bathroom fixtures, furniture, carpeting and more for much less cost than purchasing new. Builders can access valuable construction materials such as floor and roofing joists, insulation, roofing, interior and exteriors doors, and more. HVAC professionals can purchase used furnaces, air conditioning units, and sheet metal for use in other customer & rsquo;s mobile homes. Electricians can benefit from accessing electric panels, fuse boxes, wiring and more. Large machinery companies can obtain a new client, as large machinery is needed for stability in the final stages of disassembly and hauling.

The other advantage of salvaging before disposal is that you can find mobile home salvage yards who will pay you for your appliances and scrap metals such as aluminum, brass, copper and more. Check your local listings to find out what salvage yards accept, because their terms vary from location to location and state to state. Some trailer services such are interested in antiques, so they will accept travel trailer parts, furniture, appliances, and more from pre-1970 & rsquo;s mobile homes.

Disadvantages of Disposing of Mobile Homes in Landfills

There are many disadvantages to disposing of an entire mobile home by just dropping it off at a landfill. First, you need to think about the cost of driving to and from a landfill or the cost of hiring an experienced home transporter. You need to make sure the transport company has the proper permits for moving the mobile home, as well as enough experience to perform the task well. In addition, there is also a disposal fee charged by the landfill, which varies by location and can be quite costly.

Another problem with disposing of a mobile home at a landfill is that there are a large number of landfills which will not accept whole mobile homes, so you may have to go some distance to find one that does. Check with your local waste disposal company and government agencies to understand the laws and implications of mobile home disposal. In addition to the costs of disposing properly of a mobile home, there are penalties imposed by the state if a mobile home is left in poor repair, abandoned, or illegally disposed of.

Before disposal, a mobile home owner must remove all hazardous materials including propane tanks, appliances with refrigerants, and have a landfill staff inspector approve before it will be accepted. They must also be prepared to answer questions about the condition of the trailer such as whether or not it was in a fire, abandoned, condemned, has asbestos materials, and more. No matter how you look at it, disposing of a mobile home can be a troublesome task.

Before you get discouraged, take a minute to consider an alternative. When mobile home owners choose to drop off the mobile home at a landfill, there is a lot of waste created and an incredible loss of recyclable, re-sellable and reusable materials that could have been salvaged before disposal. There is a better way that is good for the environment, reuses and recycles mobile home materials, and provides economic opportunity for the community. The answer is to deconstruct and salvage materials from your mobile home before disposal.

Resources for Salvaging and Disposal of Mobile Homes

State and County Department of Environmental Quality
Visit www.deq.[yourstate].gov (i.e. www.deq.utah.gov)

National Mobile Home Transport Company List: http://www.mobilehomeparkstore.com/mhp_movers.htm

EPA List of State, County, and City Landfills: http://www.epa.gov/osw/nonhaz/municipal/landfill/section3.pdf

Yet most of that money comes from do-it-yourselfers who are looking to improve their homes without having to spend to being in an interior designer or contractor. Usually, they & rsquo;re looking to find the best appliances, fixtures, and flooring available at the lowest price. Luckily for them, home improvement store chains such as The Home Depot and Lowes are there to meet their needs.

But what if you number among the estimated 10% of Americans living in a mobile home? Where do you go if you want to make repairs or upgrades to your little patch of heaven? Specialty stores are out there that offer new parts for mobile homes, but because it tends to be such a niche market, often these new specialty products are out of the budget range of many mobile home owners.

Mobile Home Salvage Parts

However, there is an option available to you to make those needed repairs and upgrades to your mobile home that won & rsquo;t require you to stretch your budget out too far. Mobile home salvage parts from salvage yards have become increasingly popular with today & rsquo;s mobile home owners. One can often find top-of-the-line mobile home appliances, furniture, and flooring at these locations that are available at a low cost.

Now, you may have an idea in your head about what the typical salvage yard may look like: a landfill-like setting where you take your life in your hands navigating through rats, bugs, and trash just to get a deal on someone else & rsquo;s leftover junk. While there certainly may be some salvage yards out there that fit that description, the increasing demand for mobile home salvage parts has necessitated the opening of many new yards across the country that are well maintained and whose available parts are catalogued for a shopper & rsquo;s convenience.

Benefits for Mobile Home Owners

OK, so the salvage yard might not be the dump that you envisioned, but again, why use parts that someone else didn & rsquo;t want, right? You may be surprised to know the types and conditions of many of the mobile home salvage parts available at your local salvage yard and what benefits they offer over parts purchased at a specialty store:

  • Condition: Often, damages done that render a mobile home unlivable are limited to one area of the home. For example, damages to the home & rsquo;s support stands or piers or water damage in a bedroom causes mold issues in the walls may make the home unlivable. Yet these damages often have no effect on the functionality of the flooring or the lighting or plumbing fixtures. These undamaged parts can be in as good of condition as any others found in stores.
  • Specialty products: Home interior items such as kitchen appliances and furniture, as well as interior and exterior doors found in mobile homes are often unique to the sizes and styles of their units. As such, one simply can & rsquo;t go to your local home improvement store to replace them, and as was mentioned earlier, ordering from a specialty store can be expensive. Many mobile home salvage yards will have these specialty items available in a good condition and at a lower price.
  • Availability: Due to the unique design of mobile homes, they are more susceptible to damage than the typical foundation home. After all, there is a reason behind the statement & ldquo;happier than a tornado in a trailer park. & rdquo; After severe weather events or other natural disasters, there are often a large number of mobile homes that are damaged and deemed unlivable. Knowing this, contractors, state agencies, and now salvage yards descend in droves to strip these units down of their functioning parts, creating a growing surplus of mobile home salvage parts available to you at your local salvage yard or online.

Selling Old Mobile Home Parts

The growing mobile home salvage parts market isn & rsquo;t just benefitting those looking to remodel the mobile homes that they currently live in. Many people who are leaving their older units are now advised to sell those parts of the home that can still be used. If you & rsquo;re leaving a mobile home and want to make some extra cash off of your old unit, follow these steps:

  • Contact your neighbors about buying any furniture and appliances that you won & rsquo;t be taking with you but that still have a few years of use left.
  • Remove any pipes, lighting fixtures, flooring, and heating or cooling elements. Contact local contractors or salvage yards and see which of these items they may be willing to buy from you.
  • Inquire with your local salvage yard or landfill about the mobile home shell itself. They & rsquo;ll often pay you for the metal, or at least cover the costs to towing the old shell away.

Purchasing or selling mobile home salvage parts has never been easier or more cost-effective (or profitable). Knowing where to go to find or sell these parts can not only be financially beneficial to you but allow you the chance to extend the life of old yet still usable parts as opposed to them simply sitting in a salvage yard or landfill.

The findings of this study can be helpful for mobile home owners who are trying to understand how to salvage a mobile home, including best practices, as well as the mobile home salvage resources available. The following information includes the best process for salvaging parts from a mobile home as discovered by the study researchers.

Salvaging Valuable Parts from a Mobile Home

When you are salvaging a ruined mobile home, your first job is to carefully remove anything of value that can be reused, resold, or recycled. By uninstalling and removing each item carefully, it will be ready for reuse in another mobile home of the same type or with a similar layout. Here are the items of value that you will want to look for when you are in the disassembly process:

Appliances - Any appliance that is working and in good condition can be resold. Non-working appliances can be recycled for parts and scrap metal. Review each item and carefully remove or disassemble.

Furniture - Evaluate the furniture to decide what is valuable enough to reuse or resell. Research prices to see what the value will be for each item and recycle anything not good enough to be resold.

Carpeting - Inspect carpeting and carefully remove anything in good condition. Be sure to cut as large of pieces as possible to make re-installation easier and more practical.

Doors - Remove all interior and exterior doors. Be sure to keep all hardware and place it inside a heavy duty container and keep with the doors.

Sinks and Water Fixtures - Disassemble and remove sinks, faucets and water hoses for resale or reuse.

Countertops - Disassemble vanities, mirrors, countertops, tile, and formica for resale and recycling.

Waste System - Remove toilets, toilet parts, and other waste system items that are reusable.

Cabinetry - Carefully unscrew cabinets from the walls, trying to keep them intact for resale. Also remove any shelves, and keep all cabinet hardware in a heavy duty plastic bag attached to the insides of the cabinets.

Panelling and Trim - Remove any wooden panelling that can be resold. If it is in poor condition, it can be cut up to be recycled.

Heating and Cooling Systems - If the furnace or AC are in working condition, these can be very valuable resale items. Remove any and all parts, and save all documentation that you have for the next owner.

Light Fixtures - All lamps, lights, bulbs, and other fixtures can be reused, resold or recycled. Remove these items carefully, especially the more delicate lighting structures.

Electricity System - The breaker box, wiring, and electric outlets can be reused or resold and should be carefully disassembled, making sure you are not connected to any outside power source before you begin.

Miscellaneous Hardware - Anything else you find such as bolts, screws, hinges and other miscellaneous hardware can be either reused or recycled for the metal. Pay careful attention to these items and keep them in a box while you disassemble everything else.

Tools Needed for Disassembling a Mobile Home

Deconstruction work on a mobile home needs to be done carefully so that as much as possible can be salvaged. By using hand tools when learning how to salvage a mobile home, valuable fixtures and materials will be ready to be reused. Rechargeable battery-powered drills and screwdrivers are a good choice for dismantling and disassembling sinks, faucets, light fixtures, cabinets, and other valuable items. Chain saws can be used to cut composite materials such as ruined flooring, sub flooring and other non-recyclables into manageable pieces for disposal, and an acetylene torch can be used to cut up the trailer frame. Large machinery such as a bucket loader can carry off any large remaining waste products.

Finishing the Salvage Process

Once all valuable items have been removed from the interior, remove all interior walls down to the studs and insulation. Then remove all the windows, aluminum siding, and insulation for reuse, recycling or resale. Use a bucket loader or other heavy equipment for stability while carefully removing all studs until the roof collapses onto the floor of the trailer. At this point, workers can remove roofing materials and attic insulation for reuse. Once this process is complete, the roofing and flooring joists can be removed with heavier equipment for salvage, and the remaining waste materials can be disposed of.

By learning how to salvage a mobile home and carefully dismantling valuable parts remaining after a disaster, large amount of waste in landfills can be reduced, items of value can be sold to persons wanting discounted parts, and valuable recycling can be completed.

The full study, & ldquo;A Feasibility Study of Mobile Home Recycling, & rdquo; October 2000, cooperatively prepared by the Town of Bristol, the Manufactured Housing Institute and the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources, can be found at: http://www.anr.state.vt.us/dec/wastediv/recycling/pubs/TRAILER.pdf.

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