Buying a 32′ FEMA Trailer

Buying a 32′ FEMA Trailer

So you think you want to live in a FEMA trailer? Are you sure? Before you buy, you need to recognize the sacrifices you will need to make, otherwise you will make a $4000 mistake. The first step in the purchase is making sure you want it. IF you decide you do want to live in a FEMA trailer, here are some other things to consider when looking for one.

First beware of the seller. There are a lot of trailers out there and a lot of people trying to make a quick buck on them. Treat the seller like you would a used car salesman… listen to what he says but make him prove it. He can tell you anything but once you have pulled the trailer off the lot, it does not matter if what he said was true or not.

While the trailer is still on the lot check out every system of the trailer. This includes the air conditioner, the furnace, the water heater, the LP gas supply, the tow package, the water supply and plumbing, 12 volt electrical system, the 110 volt wiring, the appliances, the ventilation fans, and the trailer’s structure itself. While the designs and specifics are different on different manufacturers all should meet some basic standards.

First check the structure. Start at the roof. Climb on top of the trailer and inspect it for signs of damage. Look for cracks in the roofing membrane or deteriorating membrane. Check for loose or missing caulk, especially around the AC unit and the vents. If the roof has not been treated within the past 12 months, you will need to add $80 for material and a half day of labor to the cost of the trailer. If the caulking is suspect it will cost even more. If the roof is PCV you will have less trouble with it that if it is a rubber roof but both require maintenance to remain in good shape. Remember, Katrina was in 2005. Some of these trailers have sat under a hot sun all this time unattended!

Once off the roof, check all the doors and windows. If caulk is missing or if the screws which hold the door frames to the wall (located under a piece of pop-in plastic) are loose they can leak and cause water damage. Our trailer had leaked around the door, damaging the floor which was a pain to fix. Take a screwdriver with you that includes a Phillips-head, flat, and square-tip driver. Test the screws to see if they are loose, if they are inspect the interior of the trailer at that location to see if there is any sign of mold or damage. Re-calking the windows and doors of a trailer is standard maintenance but you have to use the good caulk or it will not withstand the vibration of road travel. While you are at it, note if any of the screens are missing. Window screens for these trailers are hard to find.

Wear your overalls because you now need to crawl under the trailer. It should be completely under-covered with a reinforced vapor barrier. If it is loose or repaired, that is a sign that some repairs have been made to the trailer. You are entitled to know what was fixed (or if it was just patched). Also check for any stains that may indicate a plumbing or sewage leak. Many of the FEMA trailers were not equipped with sewage holding tanks but if the trailer has one, check to see that the valve opens and seals properly.

Then dust yourself off and go inside the trailer and check the interior structure. Look along the baseboard to see if there is any sign of water stains. If the trailer was not properly winterized a frozen water line may have burst, flooding the trailer. Make them explain any stains to your full satisfaction or get them to drop the price accordingly. Inspect the ceiling and the walls for stains or mold which indicate a leak in the roof.

Carefully examine the structure of the floor by stepping on EVERY SINGLE INCH of the floor. Push down hard with the ball of you foot. If the floor gives even the slightest bit be very suspicious! Most (if not all) FEMA trailer floors are decked with partical board and covered with vinyl floor covering. The particle board is horrid stuff. A single gallon of water, if allowed to stand on the particle board decking, will dissolve the glue in the board and turn it into a mess of useless sawdust. The decking can be repaired, but is a job! I had to replace about 20 square feet in our trailer. If the soft spot runs under a wall or a cabinet, it is even more difficult to deal with. A soft floor should mean a greatly reduced price.

Now for the electrical systems. Most travel trailers have two electrical systems. First is the 110 volt system that receives its power from a “shore line” which is a special plug designed to fit into a camper’s 30 amp hookup. This cord will be about 20 feet long and will pull out of a hole in the side of the trailer. Inspect the cord to see that it is in good shape. The 110 volt system will run the refrigerator, the AC unit and a (very) few wall receptacles. INSIST that the seller plug up the system and test everything that is plugged in. The trailer should have a working microwave and a refrigerator (most FEMA trailers have a small house type refrigerators instead of the camper style cooler). Let the refrigerator run long enough to get cold. Test all the receptacles, too. Most of them will be “ground fault” (GFI) to protect against shock in case water is spilled in their vicinity.

The AC unit runs off the shore power. It will have a thermostat mounted on a wall somewhere in the camper. While everything else is still running, switch the thermostat to cool and turn down the temperature. The unit should come on. If it does, allow it to cool to see if it is working. Because the trailer is so small it should quickly drop the temperature. If the AC does not come on when you turn down the temperature, find the breaker box and see if the AC breaker is thrown. If the AC is not working you are looking at a minimum $300-$600 to replace the unit and you can not live in one of these little houses without AC… at least not here in the south! The AC unit may be repairable (I had to replace the control board in mine) but HVAC work is not cheap and not every HVAC man will even work on camper units.

The furnace may be a little harder to test since it is propane and I seriously doubt there will be any gas in the cylinders. Do make sure however that you have two cylinders mounted securely to the tongue of the trailer. There should be a gauge connected to tell you if there is any gas in them. We found that it was cheaper to heat our FEMA trailer with electric heat (more on that later) so we never tried to light our furnace.

Nor do we use the 9 gallon gas water heater for obvious reasons… three women! While it would be great in a camping situation, it is just not big enough nor efficient enough to service our family (more on that later, too). Unless you have water supplied to the water heater, do not try to turn it on. FEMA trailers come with different makes and models of water heaters but most are totally automatic with electronic ignition and have no pilot light. If you have questions about the water heater, get the make and model of the heater and download a PDF manual online.

You do need to attach a water hose to the camper and pressurize the plumbing. With a standard garden hose attached to the trailer, check all the sinks, the bathtub and flush the toilet. Check supply and drain lines for leaks under the sinks. Also check inside all compartment doors and under the trailer for leaks. The water heater is accessible through a small compartment door on the outside of the trailer. Check it for leaks, too.

In addition to the 110 volt AC “shore power”, FEMA trailers also have a 12 volt DC system which runs the lighting, the ventilation fans and controls the ignition to the propane furnace and the water heater. A working 12volt system is a very good idea when the shore power is off because you can still have basic creature comforts. The system includes two deep cycle 12 volt batteries and an inverter which “steps down” the 110 volts to 12 volts and turns it into direct current. The batteries are probably not going to be with your trailer. They are all quickly “salvaged” or have gone bad from lack of use. If you decide you want to have the battery back up, a set of batteries will set you back a few hundred dollars. Check with your local travel trailer dealer to find the type and size battery you need. If you don’t intend to use the 12 volt system as a backup, you will not need the batteries. (We don’t have battery backup so I use the system’s battery connections as a recharging station to keep an old car battery fully charged.)

The inverter for the system will be located near (or as part of ) your breaker box. It will have a half dozen auto type spade fuses accessible from it. If things are not working, check to see if any of the fuses are blown. If one is blown, replace it and try it again. If it blows again, that means there is a short in the system. I have had no problem with our inverter (or 12 volt wiring) but I would not want to purchase a trailer with a defective inverter or faulty wiring. It would be difficult/expensive to repair. The interior 12 volt light bulbs in most FEMA trailers are the “blade” type. They are cheap enough at most camper centers and, if you are willing to pay considerably more, you can replace them with bright, long lasting LED bulbs. The ventilation fans are noisy but they do get some of the hot air out of the trailer making it easier on the AC unit. The blades are often broken, but easily replaced for $10. If the motor does not work it will cost about $50 to replace it.

If you are going to tow the camper home yourself, make sure you have a heavy duty vehicle and some experience in towing. Check out the tires carefully. They may look good because the have very few miles on them, but remember that they have sat in the southern sun for several years and may not make it home. (A few weeks ago I saw a FEMA trailer on the side of the interstate with two blown tires… I bet that was a bad day for someone.) I cut a deal with the seller to deliver our camper to our location. He was better able to cover the towing liability that I was. If you plan on towing it, your vehicle will need to be equipped with an electric braking system and you need to check out the electric brakes on the trailer before you begin.

So how much is this trailer worth? That depends on several things; 1) the condition of the trailer, 2) how many trailers are on the market at the time you are purchasing, 3) how badly you want it, and 4) how badly the seller wants to get rid of it. I have watched the FEMA trailer market for several years and it appears to me that the supply fluctuates dramatically. At times they seem to be sitting on every other corner and at other times they are no where to be found. Wait until the market is right if you can afford to, and you will probably be able to get a nice one for under 4 thousand dollars.

87 thoughts on “Buying a 32′ FEMA Trailer”

  • great information.. i am going to look at one in a few days and the seller says it is a 24ft….i can find no listings for that size and 32ft seems to be the normal measurement….do they have any kind of tank for gray water or is it hooked to a septic system…would a 5500 watt generator be enough to run the ac and use the 110 for lights…will be using it as a hunting camp…no power in the sticks ..and previously about the gray water, do they make a portable tank that would work and do you have to use pressurized water or can you use some from storage tanks…thanks for any info and sorry about my rambling on..

  • Help I recently bought a 2006 clavier fema trailer and we got it cought on a roof and tore a hole in the side and ripped open the back! Do you know where I can find side paneling even online? I’ve called all the local places and none of them Carrie fema trailer parts!

    • Oh Marissa, how disheartening! I do not have any contacts for siding replacement, but I will certainly check around and let you know if I find anything. If you find it, please post here to let us know. Thanks!

  • Great info! We are considering one. Is it normal for these to be sold without a title? I was told by the salesman that they bought a huge lot of them and did not get titles. And, that we can apply to get one. Not sure how many hoops we would have to go through to get one. Thanks for your info!

  • Can anyone measure the bunk bed for me? I am a thousand miles from my trailer and need to buy some bunk mattresses to carry back with me. Any help will be appreciated.

  • The A/C quit after lighting struck the trailer is what my wife said. I had a a/c guy come check it out and said the transformer is out it has power coming into it but not coming out of it, when u take the a/c filter out your looking right at it its a gray plastic box with the big yellow electrical wire going in the box, & also a couple other sets of wires that plug into the opposite side. Any suggestions as to where I can get another transformer !! Thank You Aj
    “Two Feathers”

    • There are a couple of companies that make these. I would start by contacting the manufacturer of your unit. Beyond that I don’t know.

  • Thank you for your insight. Wish I would have found this before I bought mine. It is in great shape, a few minor interior problems. Electric and A/c run good. Need to convert into a 2 to 3 year off-grid living situation, and having trouble configuring how much solar I would need. Was wondering if you might have insight on pros and cons, how many watts would be suficient, etc.. Gonna gut and replace insulation in the spring, gonna also check and fix wiring if need be and add solar then. Thanks again and hope to hear from you soon.

  • Hi,
    I am trying to help a family living on the Pine Ridge Indian reservation, in South Dakota. They need replacement doors for their small FEMA trailer. Do you know where I could tell them to look for the model number of the trailer and do you know of where I could purchase the doors for them? Thank you much
    Ann Davis
    Annandale VA

    • Ann,
      I would try checking with a local RV dealer, first. I will look to see if I can find any more information, and let you know. I have been unsuccessful finding replacement screens for the windows, but am still looking. Hopefully we can come up with something for the door.

    • Try looking inside the doors above the sink, I found a sticker in their, after getting on a chair to get a good look around.

  • I purchased a FEMA trailor recently because my house burned to ground. Of course refrigerator missing one of benches for table .which that’s easy fix. The screens missing. Door has no key all most complete ceiling has mold from being wet . Floor under bunk bed is rotted out . That’s just the start.when I looked at it it had no power or water hooked up. What is the high pitch squeel from when I turn on light switch ? I’m tearing ceiling out to see if can tell where its leaking from . Where can I get screens and vent cover in bathroom ? Is air suppose to blow out more than just at unit ?? Thanks

    • Sorry for the delay in reply. Sounds like you’ve got your hands full! So sorry about your house, that would be so hard. We have the same issue with the high pitched squeal coming from the lights. We have found that we can stop it by turning on or off certain combinations. It is especially annoying at night, and younger ears hear it better than older ones it seems! Sometimes it happens when all the lights are out, so we have to turn on the bathroom or porch light for the night. Vent covers can be ordered or purchased from RV stores, but we have yet to find a replacement source for the screens. We are missing 2, so if anyone finds a source, we would love to know! We changed our lock for one from the RV store, too. The air conditioner has a lever at the source that controls how the air comes out. In one position it comes out only at the source, and in the other it blows out every vent at once. However, ours wore out, and we have to hold it ‘open’ with a clothes pin 🙂 Praying that things are working well for you! We would love to hear back from you.

  • EXCELLENT Article and thank you, very much! I bought a Gulfstream Cavalier trailer in Houston and used your tips. It’s working out VERY well for me.

    Once again, thank you and PLEASE post more tips!


  • do the two batteries need to be connected parallel to the trailer. How long do the batteries last if only using them with the 120v working?

    • We had two cats while we spent 2 years in ours, with no problems. The people that we bought our trailer from had dogs.

  • We have a FEMA 32 ft trailer and we need the inside screen door that is part of the exterior door. Do you know where we can get one?

    • Judy,
      Are you missing the entire door, or just the screen inserts? I have had trouble finding replacement parts. I myself am missing a couple of window screens that I can’t find. However, if you have the frame, the screen can be redone fairly easily.

  • I am looking reasonale cost on fema travel trailer so far havnt see one least see inside look at and how much one cost I like something nice around two thousand dollar not to small.enough space walk around inside and any location in Tennesse

  • I have a 2005 cavalier fema trailer. I want to ad a window in the bedroom on opposite wall of the existing one. Where can I get drawings or info on wiring, wall studs, etc before I start cutting?

    My favorite camping spot is Assateague in MD which is located on the Atlantic ocean. Spots are hard to find. most don’t have electric and generators are to be used sparingly. if anyone complains can’t use.
    with only 1 window on side of camper can’t get any air cross-flow.

  • We have a problem, right now we are having to use a generator on our fema 34ft trailer. The air doesn’t work right now and the microwave makes the generator stall out
    Any suggestions for me

  • Me and my Husband found a 2006 FEMA caviler trailer at a very good price. Are they worth buying? Please help. We really like it. BUT AFTER READINFG YOUR POST I AM AFRAID TO PURCHASE ONE!?!?!?!?!

    • Libby,
      I would definitely recommend the 2006 FEMA trailers. We bought ours 4 years ago and are still using it. The only caution is to check it out before buying it. Even if problems are found, you may decide they are ones you are willing to tackle. Our trailer was in good shape, but there was some leaking around the door, which led to floor damage, since the subfloors are particle board. While a nuisance, we had the ability to repair it ourselves, and replaced it with plywood in that area. We also added a seal around the door, which stopped the leaking. Our A/C didn’t work either, and my husband and a friend with A/C experience repaired it without a tremendous expense. The key to deciding if you can afford it is knowing the problems beforehand, as emphasized by my husbands article, and knowing what the repair cost will be in both time and money. Then add that to the initial cost. As for durability, I can only speak for us…we made the repairs and then lived exclusively in our trailer for exactly 2 years, from October 2010 to October 2012 with 3 teenagers. We made improvements, like running extra wiring/plugs, hooking it to our septic tank, adding an additional water heater, etc., but we had no more repairs needed. We have been living in the cabin for a year and a half now, but we left the trailer hooked up in the front yard (not as bad as it sounds) and I use it for a guest house/office. I am so attached to it, that my kids make fun of me. It has been a great investment that I would recommend.

  • Our trailer came with no screens on the windows. It looks like all the Fima trailers have the same size windows. Is there anywhere we can buy these screens.

    • Vicky,
      Ours was missing two screens when we bought it. I spent over a year looking for replacements with no luck. I finally just gave up. Now that you’ve mentioned it, I am motivated to find some. There may be more options now than there were 3 years ago. One thing I thought about was trying to find some that were being scrapped. And yes, I do believe they are all the same size. Let us know if you find any! Thanks, Susan

  • Have 2006 cavalier. All good till I moved 250 miles. Got set up & I now have 3” of water in the floor ducts. I drained b 4 I moved. Looked & checked for leaks but found none. Any help? T.I.A.

    • The light covers are a little tricky to get off, but just aim for sliding them off straight and level away from the center and out. Once they are removed, the bulbs are a lot like a blade fuse, you just pull them out. They may be corroded and that would make them very difficult to slide out with your finger tips. Wear safety glasses and gloves and try to pull them out with a pair of pliers (insulated to prevent potential shock). When you do this, be very careful to not break the base of the bulb off in the socket! You can buy new bulbs at your local RV/Camper supply place.

  • I bought an electric heating rod that mounts inside the existing water heater. It comes with a thermostat and easily is installed. I put this in my 2005 Cavalier about 3 years ago and never looked back. It is a called a “Hot Rod”.

      • Okay, to order the Hot Rod the best place to look is on line. I happen to live in Baton Rouge and we have an RV supply place about 10 miles from my house so my purchase was very easy.
        The installation was a piece of cake. You remove the water heater drain plug (outside the RV). Using the bushing that is supplied, slide the heating element into the hole where the drain plug was removed. Tighten it up and then prepare to run the electrical cord into the RV. I drilled a 1/4″ hole in the upper right corner of the water heater access door frame. Inside the camper I removed the access panel located under the sink cabinet and mounted the thermostat (stuck it to the tank as directed). Then you turn your water supply to the camper on and check for leaks. After that, plug it in to the AC electrical outlet and wait about 30 minutes. I had to back the temperature down to about 110 on the thermostat. I think I paid about $75 for the whole rig. Well worth it!
        All directions needed were included and it took me about an hour to do the entire job.

        • Really appreciate the info . From the pics , shows adaptors and since my drain plug is 3/4 , I presume that adaptor is included in the kit . Thanks again for the info to stop buying so much propane . In this park , electricity , if free .

      • I also bought a hot rod, but I think it is called Hot Shot.. I bought it about 2 years ago and I haven’t had any problems.. The people are pretty friendly too… Here is the ebay link I used… I’ve been living in my Fema for 3-4 years now…. I graduate in December and I am definitely ready to move out… It is the cheapest way I could live while in school.. Since electricity is included in the lot rent, I used the electric hot rod/shot, electric roaster, skillet, and heaters… I’m not very technical and have basic skills, but I was able to cut out the bad part of the floor in the bathroom, cut 2x4s and reinforce the bathroom floor, then I put more particle board over on top of the work and old flooring still down. I figured it would be a 1/2-3/4 inch step up from the rest of the trailer, but I would know it is stronger… Oh yea… Of course caulked outside, inside, everywhere I could to stop the leaks.. LOL…. I went overboard, but I think I got it all.. Just whatever you do… no matter how awful the couch/bed gets… don’t take it out unless you want to put a recliner in it’s place… You’ll never find a couch or futon to fit the space… It has to be no longer than 5 foot on the dot, no wider than 2 feet or you can’t walk by it…

        • Thanks for the tips Jeremy. We lived in ours for two years,and while I was glad to move out, I really miss some aspects of it. It is still hooked up in our front yard for guests, and I use it sometimes as an office of sorts. Fema living is a great way to live cheap for a purpose such as going to school. Congratulations on graduating!

  • Our brakes wont unlock on 32 ft female camper. Unplugged plug fm brake release switch and plug melted…. why?

    Does the release switch have anything rotar do w exterior lights for towing.

  • My husband and I just purchased a FEMA trailer and the screens were out of the windows, is there a trick to getting them back in?

    • It seems to work best if you work from the inside, holding the red handle. I think it works better to have the window closed. Slip the top into the “groove” and then push it into place with a good bit of force. You sort of have to “insist” that it goes into place. It took us a while before we got really good at it. It felt like it didn’t fit, or that we would break it if we tried any harder. Let me know if you still can’t get it and I’ll go down and do it once and see if I can come up with any more “tips”.

  • Does anyone have expirence attaching holding tanks to these trailers? I have found alot of blogs about people who have done it but no pictures or real directions on what they did. If I can’t find anything super reliable I’m going to just have to learn as I go and post it so other people know bc alot of people purchase these and and want to do it. Thanks

  • Much can be done with these FEMA trailers. You just have to decide how much work you want to put into them. For me, I needed a trailer much out of the ordinary. Cost would have been around 20K for a custom to do what I wanted. I have less than 10K so far into my FEMA rebuild. There’s still a ways to go, but it’s getting there. Like I say, it all depends on what you want and how much time you’re willing to spend.

    • Todd, I referred a guy named Bob to your page. He is asking about attaching holding tanks. We don’t have any experience with that, because we are hooked directly to a septic tank. Thought maybe you could help him. If you would, keep a lookout for a posting from him. Thanks for sharing your pictures on facebook! – Susan
      P.S. I also referred Bama Nana to you with the same question.

  • Does anyone know if the temperature on the hot water heater can be adjusted? I’d like to lower the temperature if possible. I have not been able to find a thermostat for it. Thanks.

    • Scott, sorry to be so long getting back to you! Several legitimate posts got lost in the spam messages. I don’t immediately know the answer to your question, and it would be one for my husband, who is out of town this week. In case you haven’t found the answer by now, I will ask him and post next week. If you did find out already, please post the answer here for anyone else that might ask. Thanks, Susan

  • I purchased a FEMA trailer without holding tanks. Where could I find the best information on adding tank(s)? I also need an idea of where would be the best place or how to go about purchasing the tank(s) that I need. I am on a very limited budget. I will be placing my trailer at a lakeside campsite without a sewer system. They only have a dump station. I think that is what they are called. I am a newbie at owning my TT. But, I am a fast learner and have the help of my dad, who has owned at least one TT most of my life. He also has done all of his own work. We just have never owned a FEMA. Oh and I bought a 2004 Frontier if that helps.

  • We bought a 2005 FEMA Cavalier trailer back in November, got a good price on it and really have enjoyed living in it, but we have noticed the electric bill going up and then we noticed the microwave wasn’t heating and kept dimming when we used it so we put in a new microwave, it is doing the same thing. Our TV has started cutting off and on while watching it too, all of those are on the same breaker and we figured out that if i plug in like an electric skillet and try to use it, it will cut the tv off completely. For the first few months we didnt have this problem and now all of a sudden we do so I am assuming its something with the breaker but we checked it and it seems to be fine.. any ideas on what this could be? And is there a website to go to and look at different ideas for making a FEMA trailer more comfortable for a family of 3?

    • I don’t know what your electrical problem may be. You probably need to have an electrician check it out. You could test the voltage on that circuit and if you have anything less than 120 volts, you are losing current somewhere. That could indicate a fire hazard. Sorry we couldn’t help you more.
      Also, I don’t know of any other sites that address making it more comfortable, besides what Susan wrote here. She would be glad to talk to you about what she did and feel free to ask any specific questions you may have. Thanks for looking at the site.
      P.S. Anticipating living in the camper, I installed 2 new electrical receptacles and pulled a dedicated line from our power source to them. These 2 receptacles were not serviced through the camper’s factory wiring. It was not difficult to pull this line. I simply ran it up through the floor, down the water heater compartment, behind the refrigerator and under the sink. If your problem is just low voltage, with no fire hazard, you may want to consider running a dedicated circuit.

  • I was thinking about buying one, but I am concerned about formaldehyde and sickness. Do you think after 6 years it’s still smelly?

    • We didn’t add any insulation underneath. It is just the standard plumbing underneath the fabric covering. It works well as long as it is being lived in and the inside of the camper stays warm, but we will have to bleed the pipes this winter because it is empty.

  • My son’s FEMA trailer’s hot water heater doesn’t work. What is a goo solution for this. We hate that it was too small and not practical. It took too long to get water heated; couldn’t leave it on; had to flip switch to heat water. Very frustrating! But cold showers aren’t much fun and will prove to be a terrible thing when winter comes.
    How do you fix a forty gallon hot water heater to supply the FEMA trailer and could it serve two trailers? My sons each have FEMA trailers side by side. Help!

    • I simply plumbed around my little 7 gallon tank so that, with gate valves, I could isolate it from the 40 gallon heater. It is plumbed so that the water from the 40 gallon tank does not flow through the 7 gallon trailer tank, but if I ever want to use the 7 gallon tank (say to travel with my trailer), all I have to do is turn 2 valves and disconnect the 40 gallon tank. I presume 40 gallons may be enough for 2 trailers, if you are judicious in how you use hot water. Another option would be to install an in line demand type heater, but they require 220 volt service. Renai is probably the most well known brand of these. The 40 gallon tank we use for the FEMA trailer is actually located in our shipping container about 10 feet from the bathroom. The water from the city supply goes from the tank to the trailer underground by way of insulated pipes. You will probably find that your plumbing is PEX (with red, blue, or white plastic water lines). It is easy to work with and can be done without any special tools if you will purchase the Shark Bite brand fittings found at Home Depot or other building supply store. Somewhat expensive, but easy to use. If you decide to put in a single 40 gallon tank, and plan to permanently eliminate the trailer tank, just cut the lines and plumb from the 40 gallon to the trailer and leave the 7 gallon tank disconnected. Just be sure to disconnect the power to the tank.

  • Not like I need anymore ideas for posts (still have too many drafts that are not yet completed), but this is nonetheless and awesome post and a great resource for any blogger.I wish I would have thought of this idea….Great job.Phil

  • I have my 2006 fleetwood FEMA trailer Am I supposed to have abattery hooked up in addition to the regular power hook up? Is this why the fridge doesn’t cool?

    • If your refrigerator is full-sized it should just run off the main power. If it is a smaller than that, it may run off another source. If it is on at all, though…light, motor, etc. then the problem is with the fridge itself.

    • Mike, we have them wrapped well, and partially buried. I’ll take and post some pictures of them and give more details ASAP.

      • The pipes exposed outside the trailer are wrapped with closed cell styrofoam pipe wrap. First we put on 1/2″ tubes and then 1″ tubes on top of that and held it together with duct tape. We leave that all year and when it was predicted to be down in the teens, we added a layer of insulation that came in boxes with dry ice. It is insulation that is encased in plastic. Whatever is used has to be waterproof or it will lose it’s R value after getting wet. We wrapped the pipes exposed in the storage compartment underneath the bunks, but the rest under the trailer isn’t accessible. If you live in a climate colder than Alabama, I would suggest skirting the bottom of the trailer. I will post some pics tomorrow.

  • Yes, we are finishing our 2nd winter in ours. I was honestly surprised at how comfortable we have been. It was not at all like living in a tent. Although the trailer is equipped with a central heater, we have never turned ours on. We instead have used a single electric heater…the oil filled radiator types that cost $35-$40 at Wal-Mart. We have experienced a few weeks of temps in the teens, and on those extra cold nights, we plugged in an extra little ceramic cube heater overnight…$15-$20 at Wal-Mart. Our power bill has been pleasingly low, and we have been very cozy. The thing that has surprised me most is that when the temperature is in the 50’s or above, we don’t nee ANY heat…the trailer stays around 70 degrees…which cannot be said for any house I have lived in. Occasionally we have slept without heat and the night got colder than predicted. On those mornings there will be a little chill (but not bad) and we can bring the heat to comfortable just by making coffee (on the gas stove).

  • Have you lived in your FEMA trailer during the winter? How well are they insulated? Are they like living in a tent?

    • Susan’s experiance on heating and cooling would be one I would call unusual. It could be because of the manufacturer that her family is not experiencing any warm or cold weather issues. Though the HVAC seem to be able to handle most weather, my Forest River FEMA TT is one of the worst insulation jobs I’ve ever seen. I’m in the middle of ripping out the interior and originally I wasn’t going to replace the inner wall board and insulation. While repairing dry rot, I found the insulation to be extremely poor. I am now in the process of replacing all the fiberglass insulation with radiant barrier foam board. Take a look here ( to see just how poorly a Forest River FEMA TT is insulated. Strangely enough, the entire rest of the trailer was built extremely tough and has been very difficult to pull apart for the remodel.

  • We were in New Orleans during the aftermath of Katrina and have seen many these,along with the contractors that serviced them. We actually bought one in 2010 and are living in it. We have recently done alot of upgrades..including the awning,add a room, replaced the floor in the bathroom, we already had a shed with a 40 gallon hot water tank and have done alot of redecorating
    Granted, it’s not near as well insulated as our old camper that we was an 88 model..but it has served well for the 4 grand that we paid for it..Are we going to live it in forever?? Hell no!! Just a step to getting something better!!Happy Camper Life Ya’ll!!

    • Kathy,
      Thanks for sharing! I would love to see pictures of what you have done. We have managed to make ours very cozy and serviceable, and I am interested in hearing what others have done.

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