The Home Inspection Professionals in Binghamton, New York

Members of the American Society of Home Inspectors. Proudly serving the Southern Tier of NY and Northern Tier of PA since 1989.

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1278 Vestal Avenue
Binghamton, New York   13903

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Serving Broome, Tioga, Chenango, Cortland, Tompkins, Susquehanna and Bradford Counties

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NYS Property Maintenance Code Smoke Detector Requirements

Smoke detectors are required in all bedrooms of single family homes according to the New York State Property Maintenance Code. This code applies to existing residential structures independent of age or location within the state. While the code is rarely enforced except in the case of rental properties, compliance with this code is required. Besides, it makes sense to have a detector in each bedroom. Closed doors could significantly delay smoke concentrations sufficient to set off the alarms. In addition, detectors are required outside the bedroom areas, one on each habitable floor and one in the basement.

 Ionization Vs. Photoelectric Smoke Detectors

Recent studies have shown that photoelectric smoke detectors are much better than ionization type at detecting smoke from smoldering fires, and only very slightly slower at detecting open flame. Since smoke kills far more people than fire itself, the earliest possible warning of a smoldering fire is a critical element in saving lives. Unfortunately 95% of installed residential smoke detectors are ionization type. Not only are photoelectric smoke detectors much quicker to alert you to a smoldering fire, they are much less prone to nuisance alarms. A high percentage of deaths due to fire are the result of missing batteries, removed temporarily because people were annoyed by false alarms, after which they forgot to reinstall the batteries.

Photoelectric smoke detectors are readily available at all the usual locations that sell smoke detectors. They cost somewhat more than ionization type, ranging from $25 to $35 for a standard battery operated unit. It may be necessary to read the label closely to determine which type you are buying, but it is well worth the effort. Combination units are also available, but are not recommended here, because the temptation to remove the battery due to nuisance alarms will be the same as with an ionization only type. Based on the many studies we have reviewed and the increasing understanding in the industry of the serious limitations to the effectiveness of the more common ionization smoke detectors we highly recommend that you replace your ionization detectors with photoelectric detectors at your earliest opportunity. If you have an integrated and monitored system, contact your service provider for advice on replacing your ionization detectors.


Amanda's Law

Amanda's Law went into effect February 22, 2008 in NYS.  This law requires all residences to have one or more carbon monoxide alarms installed and operational.  Homes built after January 1st 2008 are required to have a CO alarm on any floor with a bedroom, and on any floor with a carbon monoxide source.  This could mean three alarm units in a house with a second floor bedroom area, a fireplace in the living room, and a gas furnace in the basement.  The alarms need to be hard wired into the electrical system with battery backup.  For a house built before 2008, the requirement is essentially the same as for real estate sales, ie. one alarm on the lowest level bedroom area.  The alarm can be battery operated or plug in.  The law specifically forbids placing the alarm in the utitlity room with the heating plant, which is where most people install them.  For more info the text of the law can be found at   http://www.dos.state.ny.us/code/COAlarm.htm 


 CO Alarms vs. CO Detectors

Most of our clients are unaware of the limitations of UL listed Carbon Monoxide (CO) alarms found in most stores.  These alarms are designed to protect healthy individuals from death due to elevated CO levels.  They do not alert homeowners to chronic low levels of CO that can be harmful to healthy people and deadly over time to compromised individuals.  OSHA limits worker exposure to no more than 2 hours of exposure to levels of 30ppm, and rescue workers are required to put on respirators if levels exceed 35 parts per million, but CO alarms are designed not to alarm at these levels for a minimum of 30 days.  They won't sound in a short time period of exposure until they reach levels of 70ppm or more. 
This insensitivity is essentially by design.  This may seem hard to believe, but accurate and sensitive CO monitors are expensive, and low cost inaccurate CO monitors, if they were allowed to register low levels of CO, would raise false alarms.  Since most people aren't willing to pay for sensitive alarms, and cheap alarms that cause false alarms will just be turned off, the sensitivity was deliberately reduced. 
We find elevated levels of CO in many homes that we inspect, and the owner's CO alarms have never made a peep.  Now you know why. There is an alternative, if you're interested.  That is to buy a true CO detector/monitor, rather than a CO alarm.  These devices will give varying levels of warning at much lower exposures to CO.  I have one in my house.  Many inspectors that I know also have this type.  We offer these detectors for sale at our office at a competitive price.  Go to www.coexperts.com for more information about these detectors.  Prices may vary, but as of this publication they are selling for $135.  I believe that it is worth the price to actually know what the CO levels are in your home.


 New Lead Certification Law

A new federal law went into effect as of April 22nd, 2010, that requires all renovation, remodeling and repair work on homes, apartments, and child occupied facilities built before 1978 to be done in a lead safe manner.  It is called the Renovation, Repair, and Painting Final Rule, (40 CFR 745), commonly referred to as the RRP Rule.  Firms working on these target dwellings must be certified and use lead-safe work practices.  Non-certified workers must work under and be trained on-the-job by a specially trained "Certified Renovator".  The Certified Renovator must have taken an approved 8 hour course in safe renovation and paint sampling practices, presented by an EPA-accredited provider.  
The training includes information on the health problems related to lead paint, the certifications required to work with lead paint, how to determine if lead paint is present and how it will be affected by the work being done, how to set up the work area to contain dust, how to work in a lead-safe manner, how to clean up the work area, and verify that the area is sufficiently clean when done, how to dispose of waste safely, and how to document that safe practices were followed.   
It is a tall order.  This law will have a profound effect on our remodeling practices.  While the enforcement of this new law will probably be spotty at first, the liability involved in failure to follow the required practices should contamination of a residence occur, will be extreme.  Every contractor should get the required training immediately, buy the equipment necessary to operate in a safe manner and to perform adequate cleanup, and start documenting that work is being done in compliance with the law.  For more information go to http://www.epa.gov/lead/pubs/renovation.htm

 NYS Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice Promulgated

As of October 27, 2010 rules and regulations under the Home Inspection Professional License Law took effect.  These regulations include a Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice.  These regulations can be found under the "About Us" button at the top of this page.  We hope that the advent of these regulations will help to improve the quality of home inspection services in New York State.  However, the consumer must remain vigilant. There is a wide variation in experience and knowledge among home inspectors.  For information about state law regarding home inspectors and recommended procedures if a problem arises regarding your home inspection, we suggest that you visit the website of the New York State Association of Home Inspectors and follow its links to the relevant portions of the NYS Dept. of State, Licensing Division.  www.nysahi.com 

 About Home Inspector Certification

Many home inspectors list a credential, or indicate that they are certified.  However, ASHI, the American Society of Home Inspectors, is the only organization that is certified to be an accrediting agency for professional home inspectors.  ASHI is a member of the Institute for Credentialing Excellence.  It achieved its status as a certifying agency under the National Commission of Certifying Agencies.  In order to become a certified member of ASHI an inspector must complete at least 250 fee paid inspections, pass a rigorous entrance examination series, including the National Home Inspector Examination, and have reports reviewed by the organization to see that they meet its Standards of Practice. A strict program of continuing education credits are required to maintain certification and membership.  Our inspectors are ASHI certified and can carry the ACI designation after their names with pride.