Being in the middle of the heating season, I think it is a good time to look at carbon monoxide alarms installed in manufactured homes.
It might seem logical to grab a copy of the Manufactured Home Construction and Safety Standards (AKA the HUD Code) and see what it says about carbon monoxide alarms. But don’t waste too much time flipping through the pages as the HUD Code is silent on this topic.
Since carbon monoxide alarms are not addressed in the HUD code, manufacturers are not required to provide them and the IPIA (inspecting) agencies will not be inspecting new manufactured homes to see if they are provided. But keep in mind, the HUD Code (like all building codes) only establish the minimum requirements and we can always exceed that minimum. For around $20 you can go beyond this minimum code requirement and install a carbon monoxide alarm in every manufactured home you sell or install. Let me explain.
Carbon Monoxide (CO) is a colorless, odorless gas that is produced by any appliance (or engine) that uses fossil fuels (natural gas, propane, oil, kerosene, petroleum, coal) or wood to produce heat. If you don’t think this is a big deal, you should know that according to the Centers for Disease Control, over 10,000 people are poisoned by carbon monoxide each year, and more than 438 people in the U.S. die annually from carbon monoxide poisoning. To make things worse, a CO leak is not likely to wake someone without an alarm.
Since the HUD Code does not address carbon monoxide alarms, you would only be required to provide them in a manufactured home if your state or local government has laws or codes that require them in dwellings. At last count, 38 states (and the District of Columbia) require carbon monoxide alarms in private dwellings either by building code or separate state law. However, this is too great a risk no matter what the codes or laws require.
Regardless of what the building codes may or not establish as a minimum, all manufactured housing professionals should want to provide the highest level of safety for the occupants of our homes. Any loss of life from carbon monoxide poisoning is tragic, but it’s a tragedy that can be easily prevented by the proper installation of a CO alarm.
I contend that every manufactured home with fuel burning appliances or an attached garage be provided with CO alarms. You can purchase battery powered alarms at your local home center, or ask the manufacturer to provide combination smoke/carbon monoxide alarms in their homes.
Either way, I think this is too important of an issue to overlook.