There are four distinct requirements for Baltimore County Rental Inspection smoke detectors. This continues to be a topic of confusion for owners who are trying to comply with the law. Maryland code for residential properties has never been retro-active. This means that new code only applies to new construction. However, because you are re-purposing the property for rent the licensing laws in Baltimore County are in addition to and supersede the current code.
Section A of the inspection sheet details the specific requirements for smoke alarms. The first paragraph applies to all properties, while the subsequent categories define the locations for various property configurations.
The first requirement is that ALL smoke alarms in a rental property must be hardwired. That is, they are powered by the house wiring with a battery backup in case of a power failure. There are no exceptions!
The second requirement is interconnection of multiple smoke alarms. This is not to be confused with hardwiring. Interconnection of smoke alarms allows them to all respond simultaneously to smoke at a single location. Smoke that originates in the basement will set off all the alarms to alert you no matter where in the home you are. This has the advantage of allowing you more time to exit the property.
Interconnection of smoke alarms can be accomplished in two different ways. One is to simply connect a physical wire between each of the smoke alarms. This may not be practical in situations where the wire must traverse multiple floors such as a town house.
A newer method of interconnection is by radio signal. A coded signal is transmitted between smoke alarm stations by radio waves when a smoke alert is needed. Wiring is greatly simplified by this method and transmitted signals do not interfere with other devices in the home. Note that this method only accomplishes interconnection and does not replace the need to hardwire the smoke alarms for power.
The third requirement for smoke alarms in Baltimore County Rental properties is that they be less than ten years old. Testing has been done by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) and the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) that shows that smoke alarm sensitivity is significantly reduced after ten years. Diminished sensitivity of smoke alarms will reduce the time you have to exit the premises and increase the risk of harmful smoke exposure or death. Smoke alarms ten years or older must be replaced.
Hardwired smoke alarms, as required by Baltimore County Rental licensing, can never be replaced by battery only alarms.
The final requirement for rental properties in Baltimore County is that all installed smoke alarms be from the same manufacturer to insure proper interconnectivity.
I hope this clarifies the Baltimore County Smoke alarm requirements. I have run into a few situations where the installer has complied with the new smoke alarm law, but not with the Baltimore County Rental regulations. Feel free to call Independent Home Inspection if you have any questions.
Indoor air quality has become increasingly important to homeowners. Year round temperature control inside homes results in windows that are seldom opened and air that is continuously recycled. Skyrocketing energy costs have accelerated the sealing off of homes from the outdoor environment.
Many homeowners believe that their air handler filters can play a larger role in the quality of air inside the home. Towards this end they spend money on expensive furnace filters in the hope that that will significantly improve the air quality in their home.
To affect air quality in your home you will need an air handler that is capable of 10 to 15 air changes per hour. Typical residential air handlers average only 4 to 7.5 air changes per hour if run continuously and may only operate twenty minutes or less out of every hour on auto.
After reading above you now know that your system is not optimized to affect indoor air quality. You may have made maters worse by installing a “high efficiency” filter. A filter that has high efficiency (catches more and smaller dirt) has a low air flow. It is simply more restrictive. Low air flow will result in inadequate cooling or heating.
In order to efficiently cool or heat your home your system needs optimum air flow. this is achieved with a less restrictive filter. The purpose of the filter in your system is to protect the air handler components only, not to affect air quality.
Save your money and buy the least restrictive filter for your system. In the long run you will save on energy costs as well simply because your system will run less to do more work!
An Independent Home Inspection can save you money over the life of your home.
January is National Action Month for Radon Awareness. Do you know the Radon levels in your home? Do you know the effects of long term exposure to you and your children.
Independent Home Inspection is offering a 20% reduction in our fee for Radon tests with or without a home inspection. This includes testing those homes that already have a Radon mitigation system. Testing homes with mitigation systems installed insures their continued effectiveness at reducing Radon to safe levels.
You’re wise to check your new home for Radon before you buy. The EPA says all homes can have Radon. This includes new homes as well as older homes. No mitigation systems installed in your neighborhood may simply mean those homes haven’t been tested.
So, what results do you need to make a decision about Radon levels. The answer is simply the average concentration over the testing period. This includes short term tests, as in a Real Estate transaction, or long term tests that might be done to monitor the effectiveness of an installed mitigation system. The EPA has set 4.0 piCul as the action level for a single family home. At or above that level requires a mitigation system to reduce harmful Radon levels.
Independent Home Inspection uses an electret based Radon monitoring system to measure your homes Radon level. Electrets have an initial electrical charge that decays at a known rate in the presence of Radon. I use annually calibrated equipment to measure the electret charge before and after exposure and a computer generates the result on the basis of the measured differences.
Electret systems advantages are many. They require no power source during testing. They continuously respond to Radon exposure rather than sampling (other methods sample hourly or ½ hourly). Results do not require a lab and accurately indicate the Radon average over the testing period. In fact this method of Radon testing has been determined to be the most accurate system available today.
Independent Home Inspection is available to test your homes Radon either with a home inspection or alone. Call or text today for availability and cost: 410-504-3751
My father is daily remembered for having taught me the most valuable lesson in life. A difficult lesson and not one that I recognized till years later, my father taught me the meaning of ‘tough love.’
Now many of you reading this will jump to the conclusion that my father compelled me to suffer some great hardship to learn this lesson. That was certainly a popular idea when I was growing up. Force the kids to endure the harsh realities of life.
Exactly the opposite was true. The love he taught me was tough on him, not on me. Countless times he went to bat for me and supported me despite having to sacrifice some of his own pride, personal ambition, or leisure.
After some time when I had been defiant, argumentative or downright combative and he had responded similarly, he came and apologized. Not for my behavior, I came to realize, but for his own, where he thought he had not achieved some standard he held himself to.
The lesson is simple enough. One I’ve needed with my own children and not easy to live up to. Love is sacrifice. I need to give up my own foolish pride, my selfish ambition, my wants, my time, and my self-serving indignation.
The proving ground for this may be your own family as it has been for dad and myself, but the real test is carrying this sacrifice into the world. Something dad excelled at as well, “Love your neighbor as thyself.”
As energy costs rise each of us can benefit from reduced usage. Some of the more obvious tips are the first to be forgotten.
As children mom and dad always had us turn out lights when not in use. Today we can also benefit from low energy lighting such as CFL and LED bulbs. Tip No. 1 is to use low energy lighting wherever possible. A fringe benefit of LED lighting outdoors is it attracts less bugs (low heat).
Clean air filters for your HVAC unit will allow it to run at peak efficiency. Tape or magic marker on your filter duct the exact filter size so you’ll know it when you need it. Tip No. 2 is to buy more than filters than you need and you’ll have spares handy to change more often.
Turn the thermostat down when your not home. Programmable thermostats are inexpensive and easily installed (low voltage). Make sure you get the thermostat appropriate for your heating unit (heat pumps have special requirements). Tip No. 3 is to program your thermostat to lower heat or cooling when your not home and during the night.
While you’ll only wear warmer clothes during the cold weather your house will benefit from insulation all year long. Unconditioned spaces (not heated or cooled) should be insulated from the rest of your home. Typical unconditioned spaces are attics, basements or crawl spaces, and garages. Tip No. 4 is to install or add insulation to bring you house to the recommended R value for your region.
M is for the million things she gave me
O means only that she’s growing old
T is for the tears she shed to save me
H is for her heart of purest gold
E is for her eyes with love light shining
R means right and right she’ll always be
Put them all together they spell mother
A word that means the world to me
“Love is patient, love is kind, it does not boast…”
Mom didn’t teach me the words, she showed me.
Mom didn’t drive when we were little, but she would of taken the streetcar across country if the need arose. She rode the streetcar to care for her parents, rode it again to care for her aunts. Welcomed each of the grandparents in turn into the home as it became necessary.
Mom came from an ‘extended’ family. They were always extending themselves to others in need and so mom extended ours. With three boys and two girls it didn’t need a lot of extension.
Our family, past and present, ancestors and descendants always shared that secret ingredient that Mom excelled at, LOVE.
Winter is on its way.
Chances are you’ll be running your heat well before the official astronomical date.
Now is a good time to change those furnace filters to ensure your comfort and energy savings during the heating season.
While most of us are aware of our furnaces presence, it is rarely thought of until it doesn’t work as expected. You can save on heating and cooling costs by doing a little maintenance now and ensuring your comfort during the coming season.
Checking your furnace filter will provide you with the following benefits:
>> Help to reduce heating and cooling costs
>> Improve the comfort of your home
>> Protect the heating and cooling equipment
Many programmable thermostats have a function similar to the maintenance reminder on your car which will remember the last time you changed your filter. If your thermostat has this function, don’t forget to reset it after you service your furnace filter.
How often should I check my furnace filter?
Your ‘mileage’ may vary depending on the actual operating time of your air handler, but consider checking it every month as a base to determine your scheduling needs.
Where is my furnace filter located? The filter is usually located in the air return to the furnace which can be on either side of the furnace cabinet. In some cases you may need to remove the furnace cover (face) to access the filter, you will most often be able to do this without tools.
What type of furnace filter should I purchase? The need for clean air in the home has given rise to a wide variety of filter types, including electrostatic, washable and disposable filters. You needn’t ‘re-invent the wheel’ here, chances are the best filter for your installation is already present. Just replace with the same size and type.
How much does a furnace filter cost? Furnace filters can range from $2 to $30 depending on the type of filter you select. The ‘big box’ stores and even many grocery stores carry furnace filters, make sure to buy the correct size. If you prefer the less expensive type of filter buying more than one now will save you future trips.
Helpful Tip: Write down the size of your existing furnace filter in a convenient place before going to purchase a new one (many homeowners write the size directly on the visible portion of the furnace cabinet with permanent markers or on a piece of tape stuck to the cabinet – include the date of service if needed).
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Tagged energy, energy use, filter, fuel, fuel costs, fuel savings, furnace, furnace filter, heating costs, heating maintenance, home heating, money, save money
Maryland, D.C. and Virginia standard home contracts have been revised according to The Greater Capital Area Association of REALTORS (GCAAR) and the Northern Virginia Association of REALTORS (NVAR) to no longer include standard contingencies.
This means the buyer’s need for a thorough home inspection is doubly important. Buyers can no longer be assured that the property they are considering will have basic functioning amenities. Homes sold under the new contract will be completely ‘as-is.’
A home inspection is now, more than ever, a necessity for a new home purchase.
The seller no longer has any obligation to ensure that anything is in normal working condition. Now it’s all negotiable.
Now that the holiday season is wrapping up, many of us will be taking down the tree and putting away all those decorations.
Now is a good time to examine the lights for frayed wires and damaged strings. Discard any that might pose a hazard or simply no longer work. Of particular concern are those outdoor lights that may have been inadvertently stapled through, especially older ‘B’ base (screw-in) bulbs.
Those of us in colder regions will be using our clothes drier more often this season, so don’t forget to clean that lint from the exhaust duct if you haven’t already. Wet lint clogging the duct can cause the drier to overheat or catch fire in more severe cases. At the very least your clothes will take longer to dry with a partially clogged duct, using more energy, and draining your pocketbook.