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Porters, Handymen, and Doorman, or PHD's Blog
Questions For Supers - 1 to 49


last update on Thursday January 31, 2008 09:52 PM

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The information given on these question and answer pages has been carefully checked and is believed to be accurate; however, no responsibility is assumed for inaccuracies. The Supers Technical Association reserves the right to make changes to any and all content without notice, and to edit all questions and answers received for accuracy or clarity, or for any other purpose.

Although the Supers Technical Association of New York believes the content to be accurate, complete, and current, the Supers Technical Association makes no warranty as to its accuracy or completeness of the content. It is your responsibility to verify any information before relying on it. The content of this site may include technical inaccuracies or typographical errors. From time to time changes will be made, without prior notice, to the content herein.


Question #49: Where and how do I apply for electrician permit? Click here to post your answer to this question

Answer: Go to, click on NYC Agencies; under Departments, click on  Licenses. All shall be revealed.
Dick Koral

Question #48: I have a shop sink that keeps overflowing with soap bubbles, causing a large puddle on my basement floor. My landlord allows washing machines - is there a way I can stop this? Click here to post your answer to this question

Answer: You can stop that overflow by installing a check valve to the tail pipe underneath the sink. George Sulivera

Answer: Tell the tenants on that riser to use less soap and put a check valve on the basement sink trap. Tom Lynch

Answer: There is one mechanical solution to this problem and one people solution to this problem. The mechanical solution is to add a "suds zone" to the plumbing, as described in the NYC plumbing code. This entails the tearing open of walls, etc. The people solution is to tell people to stop using too much detergent. You decide which you prefer - a mechanical solution or a people solution.

Answer: You could have a check-valve installed on the waste line to prevent any thing from backing up.

Answer: This is a landlord-tenant problem, not a technical question, obviously. You may be correct that the problem stems from the washing machines on the upper floors, but it may also be that the connection between the soil stack (the vertical cast-iron pipe that drains all the sinks and toilets) and the house drain (the sloping, horizontal pipe that carries the stuff to the street sewer) is slightly blocked. A handyman can enter the connection through a hole blocked off with a screw-on lid and, with a rod, push the accumulated stuff down the drain pipe. However, this is guess work on my part. The owner needs to get a plumber. In the worst case, the plumber will have to change the routing of the pipes, which can be very expensive.
Dick Koral

Question #47: Carpet warranties: Has your experience in dealing with claims against carpet warranties been positive, negative, neither? Are warranties worth having? Click here to post your answer to this question

Answer: Warranties on carpets are not what they seem to be until you file a claim. First, if you haven't had your carpets cleaned and treated by a professional cleaning company, your warrantee is worthless. This never seems to be told to the customer at the time of purchase, so customer beware. George Sulivera

Question #46: I have just recently moved to New York and I'm not sure what the appropriate etiquette is for tipping a super who has been extraordinarily helpful during the move-in process. Should I just give him one large tip at Christmas, a smaller tip now, a small gift now and the Christmas tip? Help! I want to make sure he knows he's appreciated, but don't want to blunder. Thank you. Click here to post your answer to this question

Answer: Well as we all know tipping has become a monster on it's own. I suggest you use discretion when tipping because many supers and doormen discuss what you give them and will complain that you haven't tipped enough. As a super I know that many of my employees will dismiss some bad tippers and will be in no hurry to help them! So be very careful when you do!

Answer: Your concern about a very sensitive topic is shared by many. As a super, and as a person who also has reason to tip from time to time, I know how hard it is to feel certain that you're making the right decision each time. And I also remember how much harder it was when I first moved to New York City.

I think that if a certain person was extraordinarily helpful, it is quite appropriate to tip at the time of the service, or shortly thereafter. A thank you note with it would also be appreciated, but not absolutely necessary.

At the same time, many building support personnel rely on their holiday tips to get them through the season, so it is appropriate, as I understand things are widely done in NYC, to tip nicely during the holidays.

I would suggest a smaller tip now, and a larger one at Christmas.

Answer: Tip him now!

Question #45: I'm trying to enter the building maintenance industry; I would like to know how I would go about getting certified for boilers? Click here to post your answer to this question

Answer: If you have #2 or #4 boilers, then all you need is an air pollution certificate from the EPA. If you have #6 boilers, then you need air pollution and P-99 from the Fire Department.

Answer: Your question is unclear. Building maintenance industry covers a wide range of positions. As for getting certified for boilers, to the best of my knowledge the only certification for boilers in NYC would be for high pressure steam. In most buildings that certification is not required. Peter Grech

Answer: First you have to get a job (or at least a job offer) in a building. Only the building superintendent needs a boiler Certificate of Fitness for #6 boiler. Sometime the handyman is asked to get one but you need a letter from the building management to take the test.

Question #44: I live in a 45 unit rental building on the upper east side of Manhattan. We have 1 live-in super, 1 porter & 1 doorman - all Union. Where can I obtain basic job descriptions/expectancies for these positions? What are the Unions? Do they have websites? Can I make appointments with someone at the unions? Who? Thanks for your help... this is a great board. Click here to post your answer to this question


Answer: Your managing agent should have a job description for each employee. Superintendent, Handyman, Porter, Elevator Operator & Doorman.

Question #43: Are landlords allowed to install window theft-security guards at fire escape windows? Click here to post your answer to this question

Answer: Yes, Providing that the window/security guards are removable (such as a gate) when installed on a fire escape window. The tenant must be able to exit through the fire escape window.

Answer: Yes as long as they are Fire Department approved type guards. Peter Grech

Answer: For windows located at the fire escape, I went to the internet and found a Fire Department approved keyless fire escape gate at the following web site:

I would imagine that this type of gate would not be made unless it was legal to use. I hope this answers your question.
Gene Marabello

Answer: I've seen the keyless security gate, the purpose was to offer security as well as safety. The gate works with a spring activated latch, therefore no lock is needed.

The other gates were outlawed because people would lose the key, or worse, during a fire they would panic and #1: were unable to find the key, #2: were unable to get key into the lock's keyway, #3: would break key inside of lock .
Roberto Cardona

Question #42: I'm looking to replace my boiler maintenance company with one that is savvy about energy efficiency (tests for firing accuracy, uses modern combustion analyzers, etc.). Any suggestions for an honest and modern company? Click here to post your answer to this question

Answer: I can recommend three companies for you:

  • New York Heating- 718-782-3894
  • Marlande Heating- 718-993-4350
  • High Tech Combustion- 917-750-9357

    Jeff Eichenwald

Question #41: What do you need as far as licenses and credentials to become a superintendent of a building. And how do you go about getting these credentials? Click here to post your answer to this question

Answer: None. That is, there are no licenses for BEING a super generally, but some specific super jobs require certificates of fitness, boiler operating license, etc. It totally depends on the job.

Question #40: Do you as the Superintendent/Resident Manager let your staff clean the elevator pits? Click here to post your answer to this question

Answer: In most buildings, the elevator company you use, you must develop a relationship with the mechanic. Don't forget him around the holiday. Also take an interest in what he is doing. If he sees you take pride in your building, he will pick up on that and do the little extras like cleaning the pit. Chris Christensen

Answer: The elevator company that maintains your elevator service should be the ones that clean the pit. They are insured for that; keep in mind that there are always the possibilities of an accident.

Question #39: With the new recycling rules in place, the super in my building is concerned about the potential dangers of glass items being mixed with other trash in the compactor bags. He reports that, in the past, glass shards were a hazard, even though the trash had been compacted. Click here to post your answer to this question

Answer: I'm the super of a 10-floor residential building in Tribeca, with a compactor. This is what I have done: I bought an extra new container for each recycling spot (in my case, in the compactor/trash room on each floor), so I now have 3 (one for glass only, one for paper only, one for metal only), where before I had only 2 (1 for metal, glass and plastic recyclables, and 1 for paper).

In a form letter, I asked the residents NOT to put glass down the compactor chute, and have labeled all containers for the appropriate materials: Glass ONLY, Paper ONLY, Metal ONLY. I put black plastic liners in the "Glass ONLY" container, since that is now going to the regular garbage and substituted the blue recyclable bags in the old recyclable container for the clear recyclable bags (the same ones used for paper recycling), since that is what Sanitation is now calling for.

Question #38: I was told about a book used for USE and Occupancy inspections. The title of the book is The Book of Proper Maintenance and Code. Does anyone know where I could find out information about this book? Click here to post your answer to this question

Answer: I searched the web and couldn't find the book title you mentioned. However, I think you might be looking for the NYC Housing Maintenance Code and I have copied the link to the exact location on the net. I'm sure this publication is available in its whole form at the HPD offices. Here's the link: . I hope this can help you. Maybe my colleagues can help you further. Thanks for inquiring through the Club.
Gene Marabello

Answer: Bill, I'm not sure exactly what you are referring to. There is a book called the NYC Housing Maintenance Code. It is available on the website from Citybooks and costs about $15.00. You can also purchase a copy of the NYS multiple-dwelling law for about the same amount.
Jeff Eichenwald

Question #37: For an 85 foot feeder cable ,feeding a 125 amp panel what # wire is required? Click here to post your answer to this question

Answer: Assuming two things, 1.There will not be more than 3 current carrying conductors in this feeder conduit and 2. The wires have THHN or THW type thermoplastic insulation, then you can use AWG # 0 wire.
Jeff Eichenwald

Answer: According to NYC code that would be #2 wire AWG. The length doesn't really matter as long as the length is under 150 to 175 feet. Then there is a formula to size it after that point.

Question #36: My mother's co-op apartment building in Brooklyn is looking for a new superintendent and she wondered if there were general guidelines or directives for the job of a superintendent (to help the co-op locate a fully qualified person) and also if any certificates or licenses are needed by a superintendent in NYC. Her father had been a superintendent back in the 1940's and he needed to have certificates to work in buildings that had water towers, so she wondered if that sort of requirement still existed. Besides your organization, is there a union (or unions) for superintendents in the New York City area? Any information you could provide would be greatly appreciated. Thank you! Click here to post your answer to this question

Answer: Yes there are several other clubs for Superintendents / Resident Managers, New York Building Managers Association, Inc., Manhattan Resident Managers Club, Inc. and Metropolitan Building Managers of New York are all located in Manhattan. The union for supers, porters, handymen, and doormen is at:

Question #35: I have a problem with roof safety. I have a ladder entry to the roof and I currently have eyehooks holding down a roof cover. Does anyone know whether there is an approved roof cover which has an alarm which has a key and/or has a smoke sensitive release?? Please help- - with the summer months coming, it is a big problem. Click here to post your answer to this question


Question #34: What is better to use, mechanical seals versus packing? What is the new code for NYC? Click here to post your answer to this question

Answer: To my knowledge, there is no code issue on this, except for fire pumps, which must use packing, not mechanical seals. As to which is 'better', there is no easy answer. Packing is inexpensive and easy to install. Mechanical seals are more expensive and harder to install. Packing must leak, seals shouldn't. But a pump that is packed is not simply converted to seals--it must be sent out for conversion.
Denton Taylor

Question #33: I've got this drain I've done plunging, snaked it, even use liquid drain cleaner, but can't get it unclogged. Any suggestions? Click here to post your answer to this question

Answer: Yes you will need a plumber because you have something that is resisting the plunging, snaking and drain solvents; it may even be plastic, or a piece of pvc.
Roberto Cardona

Answer: If you did all that and the drain is still clogged, it's time to call a plumber.

Question #32: Tenant mixes recycling stuff with regular garbage, and landlord gets the notice and penalty to be paid, from the department of sanitation. Is landlord responsible to pay the fine? Click here to post your answer to this question

Answer: What I do is after I receive the summons, I send the copy of the summons and the no-recycling item(s) to management and they send the tenant a notice along with a bill added on to their maintenance bill.

Answer: Yes, the owner/management is responsible.

Answer: Unfortunately, unless sanitation personnel witnesses said tenant in the act, the owner will be held responsible.

Answer: It is the responsibility of the landlord to do the recycling. However, I have witnessed sanitation going through the garbage looking for addresses and when they find them they mail a summons to that person at that address.

Question #31: Do you know of any supers in the Brooklyn area whose landlord accepts Section 8 and if there are any available 2 bedroom apartments. I would truly appreciate it. Thank you have a nice day.
Click here to post your answer to this question

Answer: The Club does not get into issues such as rental subsidies, etc. Sorry.

Question #30: In the market for a new 1500 rpm burnisher. Which make do you use and are you happy with it? We use Generals which tend to need a lot repairs and seek a new brand. Opinions Welcome
Click here to post your answer to this question

Answer: We carry a full line of burnishers. The MERCURY LINE (All metal construction). These are the best American made machines. Steven Kroll THUNDERBOLT PRODUCTS (516) 785-7300

Question #29: I have a problem with mail box locks (they are easy to open.) Does anyone know of good, secure ones available in stores, etc. The boxes are rectangles, approx. 4"Wx12H" and 5"D. Click here to post your answer to this question


Question #28: What caused both boilers on my job to go on safety at the same time while they were both on pre-purged? Click here to post your answer to this question

Answer: I would need more information about the heating system before I could answer. Is this a steam or hot water heating system? What type of burners are these? If they have a pre-purge cycle then they must be fairly large. What is the model # of the flame safeguard control? Did the flame control lock out or did the temperature or pressure manual reset control trip?

Question #27: How do you remove graffiti from marble? Click here to post your answer to this question

Answer: Automotive rubbing compound works great and will not harm the marble.

Question #26: Could I get free NYC Electrical Code on-line? Click here to post your answer to this question

Answer: Go to on the Web. In search box, type "NYC Electrical Code." Note first item and click on it.

Question #25: Do you have an information sheet that is provided to tenants in order to get ready for pest control? Click here to post your answer to this question

Answer: Please provide specifics of your need. The question is too general.

Question #24: What is the law regarding a super having access to tenants' apartments. I am a superintendent of a 32 unit cooperative apartment building in Brooklyn. I have keys for most of the apartments, but a few tenants don't want me to have their key. Although our building is a "co-op", most of the tenants are not owners and are renting from an owner. Consequently, the culture is more like an apartment building. Obviously, access is important, to deal with emergency repairs or situations which could be said to create a nuisance for neighbors, i.e.. bleeping smoke alarms, loud alarm clocks left unattended.

During my tenure as super, I have had to deal with various emergencies and nuisances. In one instance, I had to break into two apartments in order to troubleshoot a very bad leak. However, I feel guilty, i.e.; that I did something wrong by trying to get into an apartment through a fire-escape window where the tenant did not want me to have a key, in order to 'quiet' a smoke alarm whose battery was low.

Thank you in advance. I look forward to getting to know you folks better. Click here to post your answer to this question

Answer: In such a case I would ask the board to send a letter to all shareholders informing them that a key should be given to the super in the event of an emergency. Just because a person is subletting doesn't mean that they are exempt from the rules and guidelines of the building. Always bear in mind that a person's rights ends where the next person's begins.

ANSWER: if you enter an apartment via the fire escape you would be trespassing and liable for such actions. The law states (Housing Maintenance Code 27 - 2008)

"no tenant shall refuse to permit the owner, or his / her agent or employee to enter such tenant's dwelling unit or other space under his/her control to make repairs or improvements as required by the code or other law or to inspect such apartment or other space to determine compliance with this code or any other provisions of law. The right of entry must be exercised in a reasonable time frame and with reasonable notice..."

To answer your question there is NO LAW. However, The LEASE may say that it is agreed that copies of the keys shall be left with the super, owner or agent. CHECK THE LEASE. It all depends on what is in the lease that both parties signed.

NEVER ENTER an apartment UNLESS there is AN EMERGENCY. NEVER break or pick locks to an apartment even if the emergency exists. In EMERGENCIES CALL 911.

Answer: Keys should be coded for labeling and not numbers of apartments. Having two signatures on a sealed envelope is the best way. There are special envelopes made for this purpose. Putting tape helps but is not the best solution because there still may be questions about you (the super) tampering with the tape. -Peter

Answer: Trust is an important element here. There is no system that cannot be defeated by a dishonest Super! I have keys to tenant's apartments in a locked key box that I keep in my apartment in a secure place. The keys are not labeled, but coded, with a system that only I know. At one site, there are two locks on the doors of my Tenants; one of which I have the master. At the other site, I have access (keys) to every apt. -

Answer: I will not put apt. #'s on extra apartment keys that the tenants request I hold for them. For security if I was robbed or a "guest" took them they would have a ball. The tenants purchase unusual key chains to suit their personality for me to identify them.

Answer: I'm a super of a 32 rental apt. building in the Bronx. I only keep a spare set of keys if the tenant requests them. We have had tenants accuse of robbing them and proved that we did not have a set of their keys. I will not use the keys without permission, I have emergency and work contact numbers.

Answer: In our building, when it is necessary to enter an apartment where the resident is not present, the police are called and the door is opened in their presence. In the case where there was no key available, a locksmith has been hired to gain entrance, with the police present, and the door re-locked while they are still present.

Question #23: I am a building superintendent located in Westchester County and a member of Local 32BJ. How do I obtain my #4 & 6 boiler license from the NYC Fire Department if I wanted to find a job in NYC. Does the Fire Department require a letter from your employer to obtain this license. My experience has been that employers like to see that you have this when applying for a job. I have experience on boilers and attended a course in commercial boilers and have certificate of completion from this course. How do I go about this? Click here to post your answer to this question

ANSWER: The course you are referring to is mandated by NYC's Department of Environmental Protection for those who attend NO. 6 oil boiler, but is open to all. The course is given free at certain high schools; one in the Bronx. I talked to the instructor, Al Arbuckle only last Friday and he says that because of a lack of enrollment, the courses are not running. I suggest that you call Al and ask him to call you when he knows when and where one will be running. His # is (201) 224-2041.

A second course is mandated by NYC Fire Dep. for all who attend #s 4 or 6 boilers. You will need to come here to Brooklyn, pay them a fee (about $35), get a booklet, study it while drinking coffee downstairs, then go up and take the exam. With your experience, you will pass without difficulty.

To take this exam, you need a letter from your employer (IN NYC) attesting to your sound mind and current employment. Ask Al Arbuckle how to get around this. For more info, go to, city agencies, fire dep., etc.
Dick Koral

ANSWER: Local 32BJ has a course where you can learn how to take the #6 boiler exam. There is no certificate for #4 -- only #6.

However, you do need a letter from your employer stating that your are of good character. The school at Local 32BJ can also supply that letter (they have in the past -- not sure if they do now). However, the #6 certificate of Fitness will only be issued to you if you have a #6 boiler currently at your building. If you do not, they usually will hold it (if you passed the exam) for about 6 months until you do get a building with one.

The test is a easy test, and you can get study material for it from the Fire Department by calling the NYFD Fire Prevention Unit in Brooklyn.

As far as I know you don't need formal training, you just need to pass the test and have a #6 boiler at work.

Question #22: Is there a NYC/NYS law concerning the hours available on site for superintendents in NYC residential buildings?

I am a new live-in Super in NYC of 3) 6 story walkup buildings dealing only with hallway lights/ fire detectors and cleaning (garbage, recycling and exterior cleaning of sidewalk, entrance way and garbage area). I am not responsible for painting, electrical, heat. Are there required hours a super must be available for tenants, inspectors, con ed meter readings, telephone and cable workers?

How often do hallways have to be mopped? I have another freelance job that often requires a lot of hours. I have people that can cover for me. What's the reasonable time per day or week a super should be available to the building?

Any idea what kind of salary a super in my position should be paid? (3 buildings-6 floors each, 1 with 36 units, the other 2 have 24 units each) My rent is paid for and an additional salary is paid. I've been given permission to hire outside help.

What amount of salary or hourly rate should these cleaning people get?
You answers would be greatly appreciated. GREAT SITE! Click here to post your answer to this question

Answer: I am the on site manager of a 22 unit walk up building in the Bronx. Our live out super is responsible for general maintenance, i.e., trash and recyclables, cleaning of interior and exterior including sweeping, mopping, polishing glassware and brassware 2 times per week, in addition to as-needed during the week. He is also responsible for contacting and acquiring 3 estimates from different contractors when there is a large job to be done. (apartment renovation or major plumbing or electrical job). He also meets and greets outside service people, exterminator, Con Ed, etc. He is required to be on the premises for his duties each day (Sunday is for emergencies only). He is on call 24/7/365. He responds daily to an answering service tenants call to. His salary, nonunion, is $1200/month paid bimonthly.

Answer: Housing regulations require a super to be available 24 hours, 7 days unless the owner lives in the building. Super can be up to 200 ft or one block away. In practice, I'm sure a lot of supers can get away if everyone has his cell phone number. If others are covering for you, they must be in the building or readily available to tenants.

All other questions, it's between you and the owner. However, you must obey Sanitation rules on when garbage (and what) has to be on sidewalk for pick up and in what bags (white, blue, etc.)

There are no salary guidelines (unless you belong to the union). Thanks for your comment on our site!
-Dick Koral

Question #21: How would I get a list of Superintendents and their building locations in Brooklyn? Click here to post your answer to this question

Answer: If such lists exist, they are at best representative of only a few types of buildings and in any case, are not divulged by the list owners. You might address mail to "Superintendent", then street address from telephone book, then ZIP from PO. You also might look up list companies and purchase. However, we do not know how good these lists are.

Question #20: I just got a job as a building resident super in NYC. I am looking for ideas for recycle separation containers. Click here to post your answer to this question

Answer: Call The Dept. of Sanitation (212-219-8090) in Manhattan and they will send a recycling booklet, as well as self sticking labels to affix to garbage cans. Other than that - what I do is prepare garbage for pickup the night before. Separate cans and bottles from paper and regular household garbage. Call Dept. of Sanitation for pick up of large items or appliances. Use Blue bags for recyclable items, clear bags for loose paper, black bags for household garbage. Flatten and tie up cardboard boxes. Ask Dept. of Sanitation for chart explaining exactly how to recycle; educate tenants about how this is accomplished and what days garbage is picked up.

Question #19: What licenses and/or certificates do I need to be a legal working super in a 75 unit building with a gas hot water heating system? Click here to post your answer to this question

Answer: None.

Question #18: Our building is 43 units including the super's apartment. The building is approximately 100 years old, located in the Gramercy Park neighborhood. I'm not sure if it is a class A or B building. What I am interested in learning is what a fair salary would be for a nonunion super which also included an apartment, utilities (gas and electric) and beeper. The skill set of the Super would have to included basic plumbing and electrical skills, custodial skills of cleaning the building, taking care of the garbage and sidewalk, plastering, painting, sheetrocking, tiling, knowledge of boiler and elevator maintenance, ability to deal with tenants and their maintenance requests.

I'm not sure I've listed everything so if there are responsibilities and skills to add please let me know. I also realize that the complete painting of tenant's apartments is additional. So any salary ideas? Click here to post your answer to this question

ANSWER: I would say, based on my experience working in several different buildings in the City, that you should pay your nonunion super in this size building with the skills you list, about $35-40,000 per year plus the apartment and utilities (forget the beeper - that's 20th century technology - pay for a cellphone for him).

ANSWER: $50,000 is an OK salary for that part of town. You should join the union -- it's better for every one -- you and the super.

Question #17: The PSI gauge at the top of a boiler is reading 4 lbs. What should be the reading of the vacuum pump gauge? Vacuum or PSI? Click here to post your answer to this question

ANSWER: The gauge on the vacuum pump should read either atmospheric pressure or vacuum. How much vacuum it reads would depend on the settings of the pump and the condition of the system. It shouldn't read in pressure because that would indicate that there was steam in the returns.
Dan Holohan

Question #16: I am a licensed real estate broker in NYC. Please help. How can I find a listing of available section 8 apartments? Click here to post your answer to this question


Question #15: What would be the union wage for a super of an 80 unit building? Click here to post your answer to this question

ANSWER: The answer to this question is not a simple one. The union contract for superintendents does not have a basic salary. The contract is split into three parts, or designations for superintendents, they are:
Working Super, None working Super and Resident Manager.

However, not knowing anything about the building in question, that is, are handy men? Or is the building a Class A or B Building, or even the Location of the building; my Best Educated Guess {based on experience } would be in the $40 K area. For a more qualified answer I would need more information.
Dick Koral

Question #14: NexTel just finished installing Cell Phone antennas, GPS's, and other equipment on the building in which I'm Superintendent. The tenants have health concerns, and a tenant has handed out data sheets to all the other tenants in the building. I don't know if the data is correct; but I do know it is frightening. How can I get accurate info on this topic? Click here to post your answer to this question

ANSWER: I have been searching for information on the danger of radiation from electronic devices on the room of your building, without success. I do believe, as a non-expert, that, with proper shielding on the roof, the transmission of radiation to tenants below would be zero.

If you have found out anything definitive about the problem, I would much appreciate it and relay it to the housing community.

Question #13: What is the proper way to tip a co-op building super during Christmas time? What is the reasonable amount per apartment? This is a 43 unit co-op. Do you have an article about the subject that you could share with us. Please feel free to email me. Thank you. Click here to post your answer to this question

ANSWER: There is no standard way to tip a super. It has a lot to do with how well you think he/she has performed in the past year. Bear in mind that the Xmas gratuity is considered a vital part of the super's income.

I live in a middle-income 250-unit Mitchell-Lama cooperative. For years, our procedure is to collect a suggested amount from each apartment, then dole it out to the super, handyperson, and porters. This year, the suggested donation is $40. If 200 apartments contribute at that rate, we collect about $8,000. If a third of that goes to the super, his share is about $2600.
Dick Koral

Question #12: I am getting so many conflicting answers to the question," is it legal to use Romex wiring in Queens? " I've heard "definitely no!" I've also heard "yes, but it must be inspected before the walls are put up", which is time consuming,... but when I called the DOB they said that it does not have to be inspected till everything is inspected. Please, does anyone know the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth? Click here to post your answer to this question

ANSWER: I am not sure of such details. However, I think you may be looking at the wrong end of this question. Installation of electrical cables MUST be done by a licensed electrician. If you go around this, and there is a fire, your insurance company will not pay off. There is a frequent compromise, where a licensed electrician will agree to inspect the work of a non-licensed installer (that's where the open walls idea you mentioned came from) for a fee, because the licensed guy is responsible. Idea: ask you insurance company. They know the rules upwards and downwards.
Dick Koral

Question #11: Can I get the study guide for the Boilers, Standpipe and Sprinkler test on-line? Click here to post your answer to this question

ANSWER: Go to Click on City Agencies. Select Fire Dept. Find hyperlink to Certificate of Fitness. There are many of them. I got as far as standpipe and sprinkler. Print it out. Be patient. It's slow. You will need to download free Adobe Acrobat Reader if you do not have it currently installed. If you need more help, email me. -
Dick Koral

ANSWER: Here's the link for all the Fire Dep.'s fitness certificates. Look em' over by scrolling down.

Question #10: I have an old model tube boiler. Water is leaking from the lower corner of the front plate. I received some complaints about not enough hot water. Seems like a coil leak to me. Any ideas, please! Click here to post your answer to this question

Answer: I'm not sure what you mean by a tube boiler, they all have tubes, but if it's the burner plate, then you have to have it welded. As far as a coil leak, the only thing that would happen is that depending on the size of the leak, your boiler, or even the heating pipes, would get flooded. Did you check your circulating pump? Do you have a circulating pump? Does the tenant have a washing machine or dish washer installed WITHOUT check valves? Feel free to e-mail me ( if you need any more help.

Answer: Seems to me that if it is a fire tube boiler then one or more of your tubes have sprung a leak.. As for the hot water circulation problem seems that it is not related to the tube leak. Poor circulations is due to many things.. pump failure, cold water mixing, poor heat exchange in the coil, air trapped in lines are a few.

Question #9: How can I get a book, booklet or anything to learn about the HPD. Housing Maintenance Code? Click here to post your answer to this question

Answer: HPD is located at 100 Gold St., NYC, 10038. I don't think they give it out easily, but it's worth a try. If you take either the Advanced Building Systems or Advanced Management classes (free) the book is (abbreviated version) one of the many they give you. If you're interested in the classes (or others) call 212-863-8830. Good luck, Jason

Answer: call City books (ask information for number) they have many books on codes such as Multiple dwelling law, Housing Maintenance code and fire codes etc.

Question #8: Do you know where to obtain certification for boiler systems in NYC? Click here to post your answer to this question

Answer: Contact the Fire Department (212-999-1986) You will need to fill out an application and submit a letter from your employer. They will send the application and study materials and tell you all you need to know. You then call for an exam date and pay $25 and pass the exam. I'm doing it myself soon. See you there.

Answer: Direct Link to Web Page

Question #7: I'm writing an article for the Aug. 13 Daily News "lifelines" section on renting in NYC. One thing every renter hears a lot in NYC is to ask supers about vacancies in their buildings. 

Does anyone out there have experience with tenants approaching you? Is it a worthwhile thing to do? As supers, how would you recommend a relative go about finding an affordable apartment in NYC, with no fee? Click here to post your answer to this question

Answer: There are few supers who have not been asked if there is a vacancy in his building. One savvy person told me that the way to find an apartment is to print up cards with name and telephone number and hand them to doormen, supers, etc. in every building in a neighborhood he/she is interested in. However, the method is really not "free" because if you are notified, you will be expected to offer a reward.
Dick Koral

Question #6: I need to run wiring for an intercom before the walls go up. I'm pretty sure I need bell wire, but want to be sure. Click here to post your answer to this question

Answer: You make me nervous. Please consult the NYC Electrical Code before running any wire through your building. It is not only a matter of the type of wire but how to run it and make sure that a short does not set the building on fire.
Dick Koral

Question #5: Does a super have to pay utilities, and rent? I know a super who pays light, gas, telephone and rent, his salary is $700.00 a month. How much should he be getting and, does he need a certificate of fitness? Click here to post your answer to this question

Answer: Salary depends on many things such as the size of the building and the total number of units, but if you are working in a small nonunion building, the salary and utilities paid depends on the owner of building. My ranges of salary are as follow: 20 units or less: salary is $250 a week, no health benefits, utilities paid half by the owner; painting and plumbing to be paid separate from salary.

Question #4: How do you keep track of maintenance that has taken place in the building and when services are interrupted? For example, when the water is turned off, when there is no hot water or if the electricity is turned off. Click here to post your answer to this question

Answer: Keep day to day maintenance log of all work in building including the turning off of water in building. 

Question #3: This is for my own personal use. Is it necessary to run your disposal for a matter of a few minutes when you dispose food particles. I never dispose of peelings or chunks, but only to rinse off dinnerware. My husbands insists I run it a full minute or so. Please help solve this argument.  Click here to post your answer to this question

Answer: As a preventive maintenance routine, once a week fill the sink with hot water then pull the stopper out. The hot water will help you with grease build-up, etc. I do it in peoples' apartments even if I am there to change a light bulb. BobbyD

Answer: Your husband is right on the one minute rinse of particles - the reason for this is that a clearing time is necessary for a full flush of particles. 

Question #2: For small brownstone buildings, under 10 units, how much responsibility should a super have regarding apartment keys? Would it be appropriate for the super to have access to the keys to let tenants in after business hours for a fee? Please consider that the super does not live in the building. Thank you. -Tony Click here to post your answer to this question

Answer: Many tenants don't want the super to have their key. When they do, the key is inserted in a small envelope, sealed, tenant signs over the seal, so that if there is a burglary, the super can show he is innocent. As for after hours, that's got to be a special arrangement between the tenants and the super. A tip of fee is may be called for, unless annual tips are generous. 
-Dick Koral

Answer: A super should always keep in mind the building owner/ board / policies. Therefore you should consult the owner or board or agent first, before you seek financial gain from any performance. It can avoid your being fired.

Answer: I think the Super should have access to the Tenant's apartment keys. In his apartment or secure place in the building (workshop or basement).

The keys should be coded so that only the Super or Management can tell where the keys fit. I don't think there should be a charge for this service.

Question #1: Could you compare the failure rate of high-quality single-ply roofing vs. a high-quality, thick and reinforced, liquid-applied membrane? This is going over asphalt roll roofing in fair shape. Are there any advantages to spraying polyurethane foam with a silicone coating over applying the membrane directly to the roll roofing, when in this situation there is already an R40 roof? Click here to post your answer to this question

Answer: The failure rate of both types of roofing is about 15 to 20 years for both but can be diminished considerably by the quality of the installation. Ask your building engineer to supervise installation and draw up specs. JMA Consultants in New Jersey are excellent and will save you thousands in the long run. Bellet Construction can install. Both are great and fair priced. Silicon coating will not last and will separate from the petrol base roofing.