NY Metro ASHI News

                                                                  March 2003


A Publication of the NY Metro Chapter of the American Society of Home Inspectors

Edited by John Gerardi (gerardi@att.net)

Articles published in the NY Metro ASHI News are the sole opinion of the author and we publish these articles for educational purposes only and not to indorse or state a position for or against the content of the article.


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Date: Thursday, March 27, 2003, 6:00PM

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Victor J. Faggella


Slate Roofing Repairs - Continued


REMOVING SLATES: The first step in removing a slate is to pry up the surrounding slates by gently driving nails under adjoining slates, thus removing pressure from the slate to be removed. Next, the end of the ripper, shown in last month's column, is slipped under the broken slate and hooked behind the nail. The nail shaft is cut by hammering on the other end of the tool. After both nails have been cut, the slate is removed. See diagrams #2 and #3



INSERTING THE NEW SLATE: There are three methods for holding the new slate in place.  The first is by use of a copper holding tab. See diagram #4 below. However, there are two problems with this type of repair. First, it is visible. Second, if it is used in cold climates, sliding ice or snow can unbend the tab and allow the shingle to fall out. The second is a variation on the first. Instead of using a copper tab, a slater's hook is used. While still slightly visible as a repair, it will not unbend under ice or snow pressure. The preferred method is to use a copper slater's nail to hold the new shingle in place. To use this method, the slate is slid up until it lines up with its course. The hole for the nail is marked and drilled 1" to 2" below the edge of the next slate, but above double coverage. The nail must only go through
the replaced slate and not the one below it. The nail head must be filed so that it will fit between the adjacent slates. A narrow piece of steel is used to drive the nail below the surface of the adjacent slates. However, it must not be driven so tightly so as to exert pressure on the slate. The slate should simply hang on the nail. To prevent leakage at the nail hole, a 2" wide copper strip, which has been bent into a slight curve, is slipped under the shingles and over the nail head with the curved side up, to channel rainwater to the adjoining slates. It is pushed up far enough to go under the upper slates at least 2". The piece of steel used to drive the nail, is also used to push up the copper piece, which is called a "baby".







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"Codes Corner"
 by Evan Grugett

What has changed in new house construction requirements since the advent of the Residential Code of NY State last year?  If you are a Home or Building Inspector who inspects new construction, you may want to know the following:

The new R-Code:

* Defines a basement not cellar.
Allows habitable space in basement (cellar "old definition") with no exterior wall exposure.
Eliminates recreation rooms.
No special restrictions on basement use.  Must conform to requirements for habitable space, including ceiling height, natural ventilation, and egress.

* Retained natural light requirement of 8% and natural ventilation requirement of 4% for habitable space.  Added exceptions for artificial light and mechanical ventilation.

1. Glazed area does not have to be operable unless required for emergency escape and rescue openings, and a mechanical ventilation system is provided with 0.35 air changes per hour, or a whole house mechanical ventilation system is installed capable of supplying outdoor ventilation air of 15 CFM per occupant computed on the basis of two occupants for the first bedroom and one occupant for each additional bedroom. Check date plate ratings on equipment or any manuals on hand.
2. The glazed area does not have to be provided in rooms where Exception 1 above is satisfied and artificial light is provided producing and average illumination of 6 foot-candles over the area of the room at a height of 30" above the floor level.      Read fixed light fixture(s).

* Reduces head room requirements in certain spaces.
7' - 6" is minimum ceiling height in habitable rooms other than below.
7' - 0" is minimum ceiling height in hallways, corridors, bathrooms, toilet rooms, laundry rooms. and basements.  The required height is measured from the finished floor to the lowest projection to the ceiling.
1. 6' - 8" is minimum ceiling height to the bottom of ducts, beams, girders, and other obstructions in habitable basement spaces.
2. 6' - 8" is minimum ceiling height basement spaces other than habitable space.
3. 6' -4" is permitted to beams ducts, girders in basement spaces other than habitable space.

* Basically keeps the fire separation between the dwelling, or its attic and attached garage the same, a 3/4 fire resistance rated wall or ceiling assembly, and a 45 minute fire rated door assembly equipped with a self-closing device. Look for: Door labels, or 1 3/4" solid wood doors, gypsum board markings. Test self-close hardware.

* Changes Emergency Escape & Rescue Openings requirements:
Must be operable from the inside without use of keys or tools.
Only required in sleeping rooms and basements with habitable spaces.
Increases net opening sizes to a minimum of 5.7 sq ft, with the minimum net clear opening height of 24", and the minimum net clear opening width of 20".
Exception:  Grade floor openings shall have a minimum net clear opening of 5.0 sq ft.
Window Wells:  Must be provided when the emergency escape openings have a sill height below the adjacent ground elevation.  Must allow full opening of the emergency door or window, must have at least 9 sg ft net of clear area with a minimum horizontal projection of 36".  Ladders are allowed to encroach a maximum of 6" into the clear space. 
Ladders or rungs shall have an  inside clear width of at least 12", shall project at  least 3" off the wall, and be spaced vertically at least 18" on center. A ladder or steps are required when the window well is deeper than 44", It must allow full opening of the window or door.
* Stair geometry:  Changes in minimum stair width clearance, tread depth, and maximum tread and rise variation, headroom.
Minimum clear stair width is 31.5" with handrails on one side and 27" where handrails are on two sides.
Maximum riser height is 8¼".
Minimum tread depth is 9".
Tread and rise variation maximum 3/8" of the smallest variation within any flight of stairs.
Minimum headroom of a stair is 6' - 8" for all stairs regardless of location (no exceptions).
Winders are still permitted provided that the width of the tread, at a point not more than 12" from the side where the treads are narrower, is not less than 10", and the minimum width of the tread is not less than 6".

To be continued.......................................................

Contact the author via phone or fax at 914.723.5795, or by EMail at EGrugett@aol.com, with questions, suggestions, and comments.

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The Environmental Corner
By John Gerardi

The following information was extracted the National Safety Council Fact Sheet Library web site: http:/ /www.nsc.org/library/facts



Biological Contaminants


What Are Biological Contaminants?


Biological contaminants are or were living organisms They can cause poor indoor air quality and some can damage surfaces inside and outside the home These contaminants can travel through the air and are often invisible. Common indoor biological contaminants include bacteria, molds, mildew, viruses, animal dander and cat saliva, house dust mites, cockroaches, and pollen. There are many sources of these pollutants:


* Bacteria are carried by people, animals, and soil and plant debris.

* Viruses are transmitted by people and animals.

* Pollens originate from plants.

*The protein in urine from rats and mice is a potent allergen.  When it dries, it can become airborne.


The two conditions that are necessary to support biological growth are nutrients and moisture. These conditions can be found in many locations, such as bathrooms, damp or flooded basements, wet (humidifiers and air conditioners), and some carpets and furniture, Mold, mildew and other biological contaminants can grow in contaminated central air handling systems These systems can distribute the contaminants through the home


What Are the Health Effects?


Many health effects are associated with biological contaminants


* Some may trigger allergic reactions, including hypersensitivity pneumonitis, allergic rhinitis, and some types of asthma.  Allergic reactions occur only after repeated exposure to a specific biological allergen, However, that reaction may occur immediately upon re exposure or after multiple exposures over time As a result, people who have noticed only mild allergic reactions, or none at all, may suddenly find themselves very sensitive to particular allergens.


* Infectious diseases, such as influenza, measles, tuberculosis, and chicken pox, are transmitted through the air.


* Some molds and mildews can release disease-causing toxins.  These toxins can damage a variety of organs and tissues in the body, including the liver, central nervous system digestive tract and immune  system.  Some diseases. like humidifier fever, can be traced to microorganisms that grow in home heating and cooling systems, although it is not certain whether the disease is an allergic reaction or a toxic response.


* Symptoms of exposure to biological contaminants include sneezing, watery eyes, coughing, shortness of breath, dizziness, lethargy fever, and digestive problems.  Children, elderly people and people with breathing problems allergies and lung diseases are particularly susceptible to disease causing biological agents in the indoor air.


How Can I Reduce Exposure


You can reduce your exposure to biological contaminants in several ways:


* Install and use exhaust fans that are vented to the outdoors in kitchens and bathrooms. Vent clothes dryer air to the outdoors.


* Keep the relative humidity level of the house between 30 to 50 percent.  Dry off wet surfaces and correct water problems.


* Thoroughly clean and dry water-damaged carpets and building materials (within 24 hours if possible) or consider removal and replacement.


* Dust mites, pollens, animal dander, and other allergy-causing agents can be reduced, although not eliminated, through regular cleaning.


* Ventilate the attic and crawl spaces to prevent moisture buildup.


* Take steps to minimize biological pollutants in basements. Regularly clean and disinfect any basement floor drain. If needed, use a dehumidifier to keep relative humidity levels between 30 to 50 percent.


* Maintain and clean all appliances that come in contact with water. Have a professional inspect and clean appliances, such as furnaces, heat pumps, central and wall air-conditioning units, and furnace­ attached humidifiers. Change the filters on heating and cooling systems frequently according to the manufacturer's directions.

Related Links


NSC Environmental Health Center Indoor Air Quality Program

EPA Indoor Air Web site

Environmed Research

Children's Environmental Health Network See other Fact Sheets.

National Safety Council

A Membership Organization Dedicated to Protecting Life and Promoting Health

1121 Spring Lake Drive, Itasca, IL 60143-3201

Tel: (630) 285-1121; Fax: (630) 285-1315


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Letters From the Membership


NYSAHI and You

From Frank V. Libero

The licensing of home inspectors in New York State is going to happen.  If it does not happen this year it will next year or the year after.  It is inevitable.  It will happen whether we participate or not.   There are presently two home inspector bills in the senate and assembly.  Our proposed model licensing law has not yet been introduced as a bill.  If we participate in the making of the law we have a better chance of getting a law that is good for both the consumer and the home inspector.  If we do not participate we may have undesirable requirements and limitations imposed upon our profession and be controlled by a licensing board that does not have home inspectors on it.


What is the issue that the members of the NY METRO ASHI chapter have been asked to vote on?  Not the proposed bill but the concept of  Do you want NYSAHI  monitoring the NY State Senate and the Assembly having input in the making of the home inspector law with your interest at the top of the list or not.”  It is simply do you want to support the NYSAHI or not.  The motion on the floor was and still is “ It is proposed that the NY METRO ASHI chapter make a donation to NYSAHI in the amount equal to $75 dollars per paid chapter member.”  Please give this your serious consideration and be prepared to stay for the business meeting portion of the next chapter meeting and cast your vote.


The content of the model law is important however don’t focus on it. When it becomes a bill it will be challenged and changed by other organizations such as the Professional Engineers, The National Association Of Building Inspectors, National Association of Home Inspectors, New York State Association of Realtors, other affected trades and state Senators and Assemblymen who are sure they know what is best for the home inspection profession or what will best protect the consumer from getting a bad home inspection.  It will come out looking very different.  One thing you can be sure of is that  NYSAHI will be there negotiating on your behalf.


In other words do not focus on what the proposed law is but who you want to strive to help make a law that works for you.


One Man’s Opinion                  

From Victor J. Faggella               

At last month's chapter meeting I understand that a motion was made to have NY Metro Chapter make a donation to NYSAHI in the sum of $75.00 per member.  The purpose of this donation is to allow this organization to hire a legislative lobbyist.


I would like it understood that this commentary is not meant to take a position on either a lobbyist or licensing.  It is rather meant to offer an opinion on the propriety of donating chapter money for these purposes. 


In an e-mail from Gregg Harwood, a representative of NYSAHI, he states that "NYSAHI is an all-volunteer organization made up of your fellow home inspectors."  In previous attempts to have such money donated, the term assessment was used.  When I questioned whether such an assessment was proper or even legal, the words were always changed to a "voluntary donation."  However, if chapter members vote on such a donation, unless the vote is one hundred percent, the donation is no longer voluntary and in effect becomes an assessment.  Further, such a "donation/assessment" would not be tax deductible. How would this affect the chapter as a tax exempt organization?


I am strongly against such a proposal.  No member should be required to give money to cause in which he is not in agreement. A vote by the chapter would force such members to do this.  Therefore, any money given to NYSAHI should be by the individual members on an individual basis.  In this way, any member who does not wish to contribute, for any reason, will not be forced to do so by a vote of the membership.  I believe that this motion should be declared out of order and permanently tabled.


Home Inspector Licensing, Let’s Get it Right

From John Gerardi


We have been asked to financially support the NYSAHI organization that is lobbying for home inspector licensing.  I feel that what NYSAHI is proposing in a model bill is very much related to our support of that organization. Yes the bill will be negotiated and changed by legislators, but if they do not start with something we want, we will certainly not finish with what we want. What is in their model bill also reflects on the representation that we have received so far. 


What basic goals do we want accomplished?

1. Do not put existing home inspectors out of business.  Existing home inspectors have a right to continue their livelihood.  They should not be required to take an exam to continue in business.  They should be grand-fathered without an exam.

2. Do not make entry into the home inspector business so difficult as to discourage new home inspectors from starting. The only requirements should be some education (80 hours or less) and passing an appropriate exam. Do not require supervised inspections that would be at the candidates’ expense.  Otherwise over time there will be a shortage of home inspectors and the public will be poorly served.

3. Make licensing provisions consumer/inspector neutral.  Include provisions to enforce a code of ethics to protect consumers but also include provisions to protect home inspectors i.e. limiting liability to the fee and capping the term of liability to one year after the inspection. Those provisions would lower the cost of insurance over time and eventually help to lower consumer costs.


What is in the NYSAHI model bill?

The only model bill published by NYSAHI proposes that existing home inspectors pass an exam to be licensed. It requires that new inspectors complete 75 inspections under the supervision of an experienced inspector and has no provisions to protect home inspectors legally.


Can NYSAHI represent our chapter?

If we were to join the NYSAHI, our chapter would have about 50 members who would be about 25% to 30% of the NYSAHI constituency. Yet we only have 2 representatives or 2 votes out of 16  (12 ½%) when any decisions are made.  In my opinion our chapter’s views have not been represented by this organization in the past and there is no indication that that will change in the future.



What information are we lacking in making a decision?

1.So far we have not seen a recent model bill or know what NYSAHI is currently negotiating with legislators.

2. We have seen no financial data to show how money has been coming in and spent.

3. We have no assurance that NYSAHI is a legal organization that has filed income tax returns.

4. We have seen no membership numbers to indicate the strength or support of this organization. How many NYSAHI members are there this year.  How many have joined individually as opposed to joining through ASHI chapter financing?


What should we do?

Until the above information is forthcoming from NYSAHI we as a chapter should not join. Individual members who think that the efforts of NYSAHI are worth supporting are free to send in $75 to join.  That is a small price to pay if the organization is representing you. It is a large price to pay if the organization is not representing you.


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BY Robert J. Festa


As a professional Home Inspector, I have always enjoyed reading articles that show you what caused a problem and also shows you how to correct the problem. We have all been asked by our clients, "But why did it happen". I like to know the an­swer, if possible. I came across this art­icle published by Housing and Urban Development Association of Canada. I hope this article will provide some useful information.

Question: What causes separation cracks between ceiling and interior partitions and what can be done to prevent them?    


Answer: These separation cracks could be caused by floor deflection under partitions, or they could be caused by a phenomenon known as "roof truss uplift". Truss uplift refers to a seasonal change in shape of trusses in service, such that the truss bottom chord is lifted up at the middle, during the winter heating season. With the increased insulation, the bottom chords of trusses are buried in the insulation where they remain warm and dry. The top chords are exposed to the cold temperatures and will pick up moisture. The uneven changes in moisture content affect the truss shape.

A commonly suggested solution to the uplift problem is a "slip joint" whereby the ceiling board is made to flex if there is movement of the truss. The ceiling board should not be attached to the truss near interior partitions. In fact, the truss itself should only be lightly attached to partitions to permit movement.

Two possibilities are shown in the illustration.

Caution: The space between partitions and the first row of fasteners("X" in sketch) must be decided carefully. Research conducted at Forintek Canada Corp. indicates that 12.7 mm gypsum board, with 460 mm between the first row of nails and the partition, could easily accommodate vertical sep­aration of 15 mm. Failure of the gypsum board would probably not occur until the separation reached about 50 mm. The case is slightly differ­ent for partitions parallel to the roof trusses, since the gypsum bo­ard strength varies in that direction and roof trusses are usually

separated by 400 or 600 mm. In this case, a lower limit of 400 mm and an upper limit of 600 mm is suggested. Building officials should be con­sulted since the wide spacing might not be acceptable to code author­ities.



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