Plumbing in the Mobile Home: How to Make Do with Your Water Supply When You’ve Got a Fixer Upper

Plumbing wasn’t the only thing wrong with the 14′ x 52′ Rent to Own mobile home. In fact, we’d need to figure out how to do a lot of repair in the fixer upper. Wind whistled through a gap at the bottom right corner of the picture window in the living room, for example, and we’d drown during the first rainstorm if I didn’t get up there on the roof mighty soon with five gallons of Aluma-Seal™ and a stiff brush.

But plumbing was definitely a priority and an entire series of DIY projects begging for attention.

We’d moved from a rented house to a few acres of rented land in the middle of a remote South Dakota ranch. It wasn’t off grid; all I had to do to get the electricity hooked up was stop in at the local Rural Electric Co-op and let them know we needed service. Additionally, the parking space was provided with its own well, and the landlord paid for the electricity that powered the well pump. Best of all, there was a septic tank.

However, while the water line was plumbed from the well past the rancher’s oversized corral to surface in the general area of the mobile home’s location, that was it. From there, we were on our own.

It would be awesome to have photos of the project. Alas, the thought of illustrating our projects online never crossed our minds in those days. It was mid-July, 1997, and there was only one thing on our minds:

Survival.

Fortunately, I did make a list of the plumbing that would need to be done:

    1. Connect the main water line to the mobile home’s inlet.

    2. Check for leaks (we knew there were some) and stop those.

    3. Hook up the mobile to the septic tank.

    4. Fix the toilet, which had obviously dysfunctional innards and a lid that was busted smack in two.

    5. Re-plumb the piping to the washing machine, which had split wide open in some winter freeze–quite possibly after the home had been traded in to the dealer.

    6. Start budgeting for a new hot water heater. We didn’t know if the existing tank worked or not, but even if it did, we figured it wouldn’t do so for long.

plumb1

Connecting the Water Supply to the Mobile Home

Plumbing the line from the brass outlet connector to the PVC mobile home inlet wasn’t all that easy. A four-foot piece of tough but flexible black hose would work as the go-between, but the only size at the store that seemed workable had an interior diameter slightly larger than the brass and much larger than the home inlet.

Okay, time to use a few adapters.

Snag: There was no single brass adapter in stock which fit the outlet threads and also increased from there to the necessary external diameter to fit inside the rubber hose.

Solution: (*extreme pondering*) I actually had to buy one adapter which increased the size of the connector beyond the hose size…and a second adapter which then brought the diameter back down to where it needed to be.

Clunky but effective.

At the other end, things were equally “weird”.

Snag: There was no PVC coupling in stock (and probably not one ever made) which would slip inside the rubber hose and over the mobile home inlet in one smooth move…or two, or even three moves. There was no PVC coupling with the needed outside diameter, period.

Solution: There was a brass coupling available which would fit inside the hose…and there was a PVC coupling which would screw inside the brass coupling and fit over the inlet pipe.

Head spinning yet?

Again, clunky–perhaps even double clunky–but still effective.

plumb2

Once the threaded adapters were all in place and the PVC coupling-to-inlet properly glued together, it was a simple matter of cinching down the hose clamps (tightly!) and turning on the water to check for leaks.

Those weren’t as bad as we’d feared. The ruptured supply line to the washing machine had been cut out and capped, so that was okay for the moment. There was only one washer in the bathroom sink that would need replacing sooner or later, and the kitchen sink didn’t leak even a little bit. We couldn’t use the toilet yet, but all of the problem areas were to the inside of the shutoff valves, so we weren’t going to drown the place.

We had water!

Okay, so it smelled like cow poo whenever the herd was in the corral for the winter, but with the well situated a mere six feet outside of the corral fence, what can you expect? It’s not like we ever intended to drink the stuff.

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