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Porters, Handymen, and Doorman, or PHD's Blog
  Questions For Supers - 450 to 499  

"Knowledge is of two kinds. We know a subject ourselves, or we know where we can find information on it."  -- Samuel Johnson


frequently asked questions  ask a question  questions by category

  last update on Thursday January 31, 2008 09:44 PM PT  
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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. All answers sent in and published on these pages are the sole opinions of the authors and do not represent any legal, medical, or professional advice.

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 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 also include technical inaccuracies or typographical errors. From time to time changes will be made, without prior notice, to the content herein.

Do not construe any answers we give as legally binding in any way. We don't practice law and do NOT dispense legal advice.

  Question #499: I have been a Super in NYC for 8 years and I recently bought a house in PA. If I change my drivers license to PA would I have any trouble with my job or any future supers job that I apply for? Post your answer

Answer: I have my PA address on my check, it's my primary residence. When you are a superintendent, you don't pay rent and it's not your residence, its part of your job. I have never had a problem getting a position because of this. MikeMac

  Question #498: Do I need a license to work as a handyman for very small jobs, like light plumbing and electrical? Post your answer

Answer: For small jobs? According to the Department of Consumer Affairs, if you don't charge more than $200 you don't need a license. Plumbing and electrical is a different story. You'll have to check on plumbing, but according to the Code Section 27-3017, ALL electrical work needs to be done by, or under, a licensed master electrician. The exception is low voltage work.

Answer: If you are going to do normal repairs that involve repairing and replacing existing fixtures and switches etc., then no license is required, as long as you DO NOT go into or interfere with the trap in plumbing or the fuses in electrical. If you are doing it as a business or for money then you should check with the city if you need a contractors license. Furthermore you would need insurance. Maintenance repairs are excluded from the Codes as long as they are maintenance only and not NEW. PGrech,

  Question #497: Looking for input into how to get a small family-run maintenance company new jobs in the city. Looking to maintain multi-unit residential buildings, etc. Post your answer


  Question #496: Is the owner of a multi-family dwelling of say 6 floors required to have an electrical bell for each apartment or one that physically knocks. I am not talking about the intercom to get in the building, I am referring to each apartment door. Post your answer

Answer: To the best of my knowledge and after scanning both City and State Codes, there is no code requiring a doorbell. PGrech,

  Question #495: What do I need to be a certified, well paid super?  What courses or classes would I need to take? Post your answer

Answer: Come to our meetings and these kinds of questions will be answered.

  Question #494: I live in a prewar building that does not allow dishwashers. I know people in other buildings that have installed dishwashers without permission and have had no problems. What is the building management concerned about and how likely is a dishwasher to cause a problem? Post your answer

Answer: If your building doesn't have a general history of drainage problems, and your specific apartment has no glaring plumbing problems, you SHOULD be fine. That is, as long as you don't get caught doing something your lease agreement may specifically prohibit. Management is probably most concerned with the extra load that lots of washers - dish and otherwise - would bring to a building.

Answer: There are two areas that concern management when it comes to dishwashers and clothes washers. First is the drains. Keep in mind that the drains use gravity to remove water from your apartment. When it comes to washers, the water is pumped out, sending out a higher volume of water. At times, depending on how the drain system is configured, this water may go into your neighbor's sink or tub. Keep in mind the drains, when installed, were not calculated on having machine-moved water being dumped into the drainage system. Secondly, dishwashers usually use HOT WATER. The hot water generation system, when constructed, was not engineered and installed with calculations that included machine washer use. This creates extra demand on the hot water generation system. Now, one or two washers may not affect the system overall, but in time as more machines are installed you will see the problems occurring. PGrech,

  Question #493: How many radiators and heat pipes are required in a two bedroom apartment in New York City? Post your answer

Answer: There is no exact answer to this question. Is this a steam or hot water system? It really depends upon the heat requirements of the apartment. There is no legal requirement as to the number of radiators. The only real requirement is that there be enough heat to maintain the minimum apartment temperature required by the NYC housing maintenance code - 68 degrees. I have seen two bedroom apartments with as little as one radiator and only a riser in each bedroom and as many as five radiators - one in each bedroom, the living room, dining room and kitchen. Jeff Eichenwald

Answer: To the best of my understanding, the law doesn't specify what type nor how many heat-emitting devices are required. The law does specify what minimum indoor temperatures must be maintained. Dick Koral

  Question #492: I'm a super now for over a year here in Harlem. It's a non-union job with a low salary. I'm trying to move up to a better building and I've come across TCI's Building Maintenance Program. City Tech has a similar program as well. Will these certificate programs help me out in advancing my career and if not, what else should I consider? Post your answer

Answer: Put it this way: taking courses like the ones you mentioned can't hurt, and you should take what makes sense to you and what you can afford. Networking, however, is the best way to advance in this type of job - it's just as much (if not more) WHO you know as it is WHAT you know. So you need to network with other supers, who are often the first to know of a job opening up, either in their neighborhood or in their management company. The way to do that is to attend our monthly meetings, introduce yourself to the other supers in attendance as a super in the market for a step up, and listen and learn. Countless jobs have been gotten through this way of networking at our meetings. Not to mention that you will learn most of what you need to know to improve your skills as a super, from hands-on plumbing to communication skills, at our meetings - both in the regular monthly meetings and in our regularly scheduled workshops. Check out the jobs available, both on this site and in the local papers, and apply to those that are suitable to you. As a member of our association, you can also post your resume on our site - several members have obtained great jobs this way.

  Question #491: I live in a two level apartment in Brooklyn. My upstairs bath tub is leaking water into the downstairs ceiling. The landlord said that it is due to the fact that we have no overflow pipe or drain, but that he is not responsible for it and that we should not put so much water into the tub. What is the real law on this and where can I find information on it? Post your answer

Answer:  Your landlord is typically responsible for repairs to pipes inside the walls (whether or not it's a leak in the drain pipe or a nonexistent overflow pipe), and a typical lease / rental agreement will spell out the details, at least in general terms. Consult with a lawyer well-versed in landlord / tenant law to be certain who is responsible for what in your case.

  Question #490: Are items stored in a common hallway of a residential building a violation of the New York City fire codes? I have a problem neighbor who continually keeps items in the hallway. The landlord does not respond when I ask if it is a violation - does anyone know? Post your answer

Answer: Any items left in common hallways are considered a fire violation by the FDNY. This includes floor mats left on the outside of the door. The emergency stairwells in the building must be free of ladders and any other items as well. Roberto Cardona

  Question #489: How do I go about obtaining my black seal license in boiling? Post your answer

Answer: Black Seals are certifications in New Jersey where it is called Fireman's Black Seal. You would need to go to a community college in New Jersey. The two other seals offered in New Jersey are Engineer's Blue Seal and Engineer's Red Seal, black is the lowest, red is the highest. They are not city examinations but State examinations. Call Passaic County Tech Institute at 973 389 4101. PGrech,

  Question #488: Where can I take a course to prepare for the Certificate of Fitness? Post your answer

Answer: WHICH certificate of fitness? Read the pertinent Frequently Asked Questions and the categorized questions on Licenses and Certificates of fitness, and visit the FDNY website for much more info.

  Question #487: Some of the electrical outlets in my apartment have a light switch on top and plug on bottom. A friend of mine told me this is no longer code. Should these be converted to separate the light switch and the electrical plug? Post your answer

Answer: The type of switch you are referring to is called a stack switch. Yes, they are no longer to code. If your stack switch works fine, then it's ok to leave it as is; if you have to replace it because its broken, then you have to put in a GFI stack switch, that's to code. Furthermore, new renovations call for a separate line and switch for the light and a separate GFI outlet. I recommend replacing the old stack switchers with the new GFI stack switches because they do save lives. PGrech,

  Question #486: I have changed and serviced all the traps in the basement that I could, and I have one radiator (out of six on a riser) that is not getting hot. What I did today is turn off the main valve on the return line to the vacuum pump. After than I opened a valve that I have on top of the boiler to see if I would get any action in or out. I didn't get anything, so I don't know if I am having a problem with the vacuum pump? Post your answer

Answer: Not sure what you mean by opening and closing the valve on top of the boiler. You need to supply more information for me to give you a proper answer, such as outside temp, inches of vacuum at the time, settings on the motorized valve, etc.? PGrech,

Answer: My suggestion is to concentrate on the particular riser and the radiators, traps, return line and riser return associated with it. Change all traps on radiators attached to riser. Check for vacuum AT THE TRAP on the riser. If none, look for areas in the riser or return where water could collect and block the vacuum. After you spend too much time on it, call in a professional who can look at the system with a fresh prospective.  Joe Lambert

  Question #485: I live in a 30 story building. What certificate of fitness does my super need? Also does a super normally work weekends if he resides in my building rent free? Post your answer

Answer: The need or lack of need for certificates of fitness don't depend on how many floors your building consists of. It depends on  your building's mechanical equipment. For instance, if there is a sprinkler system in your building, or the boiler burns the heavy #6 oil, your super would need the respective certificates of fitness for those mechanicals. Most supers do NOT usually work weekends, but work a normal 40 hour week and some are on-call for emergencies the rest of the time. Supers often work many hours that you know nothing about, taking care of all sorts of emergencies, near emergencies and not even emergencies at all hours, any day and night of the week. All the supers I know are also human and need to get away regularly. Living at your place of work is often hard, and weekends away help tremendously to keep a good perspective and get rested up.

  Question #484: Our current porter would like to be considered as the building's next superintendent. Are there ways that he can prepare / increase his knowledge so that he may be a more viable candidate. Are there classes the union (32BJ) or this organization offers that we can refer him to? Post your answer

Answer: Your porter - if he is a union member - can go to the union school. Even if he had no intentions of becoming a super, he should go to the school as it is free to him and you never know, one day he may buy a house and put what he learned to good use. He can learn from our organization too, we are a not-for-profit and NON union organization interested in education for multifamily workers. Education is a continuing affair. PGrech,

Answer: We have plenty of upcoming classes (see our calendar) and so does the Union, as do some local institutions (see our Continuing Ed Page for links). But if your current porter has at least average intelligence and a cut above average communication skills, plus a willingness to learn all about managing a building and staff, he may be a better bet than many supers experienced in other buildings with years of experience, since he already has intimate knowledge of your building, the residents and the staff. Read what another super has to say about "super skills" on this page.

  Question #483: I rent an apartment in a 60-unit apartment building in Westchester County. Nowhere in my lease does it say that I must have carpeting. I have newly refinished hardwood floors and I have area rugs in the bedrooms and living room. The tenant downstairs is complaining that I don't have carpeting and claims it is a "New York State" law that you must have carpeting in your apartment. Is it a law? My super never explained that to me when I moved in. Post your answer

Answer: As far as I know it is not a New York State law that requires tenants to have their apartment carpeted. Remember a lease would only require 80% carpeting, so throw rugs that cover that percentage is accepted. I do not know your local laws, and as always this is my opinion and you should ask an attorney. PGrech,

Answer: Your super probably doesn't have to explain anything like that to you. The managing agent, or whoever you signed your lease with, could answer your questions about this.

  Question #482: How can I verify superintendent has necessary licenses / certificates to run building and boiler? Please name such certificates and where to obtain information. Post your answer

Answer: Only the managing agent, the building owner, or the board have the right to that information. I would ask one of them for verifications. PGrech,

Answer: The certificates of fitness needed vary depending on the mechanical equipment in your building. They are issued by the Fire Department. You can find a list of them on the FDNY website.

  Question #481: We live in a 47-unit self-managed co-op in Brooklyn. Our upstairs neighbor regularly engages in noise-making at night. This has been going on for years. We have been told that there is very little that can be done without conclusive evidence that the noise is coming from her apartment. Lately, she has taken to banging on a decorative balcony which is outside her master bedroom. Since the balcony is on the exterior of the building is this behavior subject to a different set of laws than the noise making in the interior of her apartment? I would imagine it should be illegal to bang on the exterior of a building since this could potentially lead to a hazardous condition. Post your answer

Answer: Noise and odor complaints are common in multi-family buildings. Just what can be done is a gray area. New York City has code that deals with noise pollution and quality of life issues. 311 is the number for complaints. The co-op or condo Offering Plan should also spell out quality of life and rights to quiet and enjoyment of your home. At times City agencies have their hands tied due to the noise level not exceeding the code. It's up to the board to begin proceedings against the owner or shareholder of the apartment. You may end up in civil court if their efforts are not sincere or useless. PGrech,

  Question #480: I want to know about my boyfriend's profession and I want to help him feel better about being a super. He thinks New York is better than New Jersey jobs. I want to know why. Post your answer

Answer: Come to our monthly meetings and bring your boyfriend with you. The pizza alone is worth the trip. New York jobs probably pay more for comparable work, but the residents just may be more demanding also.

  Question #479: I live in a co-op building, built in 1952 with 108 units. When I purchased the apartment I noticed that the apartment contained a fuse box instead of an updated circuit breaker. While installing ceiling fixtures I noticed that that the wires were very old. Since the wires are in the walls is the co-op responsible for updating the wiring or am I responsible? What's the average cost of upgrading wires in an 2 bedroom apartment?  Post your answer

Answer: You need to refer to your co-op offering plan to see who is responsible for replacing your wires. My guess is you are. Changing wires depends on whether the wires are in BX cables or in conduit. If they are in conduit then you are in luck because it is relatively inexpensive to do as compared to BX cable. In conduit the wires are just pulled out and new wires are pulled in. With BX cable the entire cable has to be removed which means disturbing the plaster and paint. In conduit, very little plaster and paint are disturbed. PGrech,

  Question #478: How do I fix a downdraft in the hot water heater so the fumes will go out instead of building up carbon monoxide. Post your answer

Answer: There could be a number of causes for a downdraft in a gas fired hot water heater.  The first thing to do is to check the flue for proper pitch or any obstructions.  The second cause, which we have seen many times, is a negative air pressure in the room where the hot water heater is.  You MUST have fresh air make-up into any room that has a burner (boiler, hot water heater, even a fireplace).  Without  a source of air in the room there is a chance that the combustion air is being pulled down the chimney causing the downdraft. Joe Lambert,

  Question #477: Sometimes my doorman (X) will need a day or two off and he will ask the other doorman if he can work for him on those specific days. I of course will have them write a note stating the exchange or the "I owe you" for those day. When I do the payroll the (X) doorman will appear that he worked those days. Is this legal to do? Post your answer

Answer: If you're the super, and your doormen are doing something they shouldn't be doing or that you don't like, why not just put a stop to it? Or at the least find out how and why they're doing what they're doing? If you are their supervisor then you do have a certain amount of control over the type of thing you allude to. Look, if a doorman is putting in for time that he really didn't work, although there may not be a specific law against it, at the very least it's unethical and dishonest, and he can be fired for cheating the company he works for. But there is more than one way for one doorman to fill in for another. One way is for X to take Y's shift, and get paid cash for that shift by the doorman he's filling in for. That happens in many buildings all the time and there's probably nothing wrong with it as long as everyone understands what's going on and it's okayed by their supervisor.

Answer: Swapping days off or "I work for you today to work for me later" goes on in many buildings. As long as management agrees to it then there is not much of a problem. However, consider this: I allowed my staff to do this many many years ago; it saved on overtime and was good for morale. However, the problem becomes how it is recorded on payroll. By putting the staff member on payroll for a full weeks work, when he only worked 4 days, and putting the second employee on payroll for 5 days when he worked 6, is in effect falsifying payroll. Also should one of them get injured, it ends up as a mess if workers compensation gets involved, because payroll will show that both were working a full week. If you want to stop this, then I just gave you valid legal reasons why putting an end to it might be the best way to deal with it. If you want to continue it to save on overtime or as a reward, then talk to the managing agent. It can get messy and while you had the best interests of the building in mind as I did, it could result in battles. PGrech,

  Question #476: There's construction behind my home, they are using a vibrating compactor that rattles my home through the day. Is there a law against the use of that type of compactor in Florida? It is only about 50 feet from my home all day long. Post your answer

Answer: You need to contact building/construction authorities in your area. We're based in New York City - laws on this type of thing vary greatly from municipality to municipality.

Answer: Also see the answer to Question #373.

  Question #475: I am going to be taking the Mechanical Aptitude Test for the elevators union in the City. Are there any books or websites that I can visit to study for the test. Post your answer

Answer: I would try to contact the Mechanics Institute in Manhattan. If any one would know, they would. P.S. Let us know their reply so we can post it here. PGrech,

  Question #474: In a small kitchen renovation, on the side with the sink, and refrigerator to the left of the sink, how best can the countertop and refrigerator be separated so that no water drips down between the two, and what fraction of an inch should there actually be between the two. Post your answer

Answer: The space between the refrigerator and the countertop can be as little as you want it to be. This is because most new refrigerators have the condensing coil at the bottom. Just make sure there is about an inch between the back of the refrigerator and the back wall. To stop water, you can either have the backsplash of the counter continue to make a right angle corner next to the refrigerator, or you can buy a plastic strip to go against the refrigerator and counter. Or you can use due diligence and not splash water. PGrech,

  Question #473: I have been a super for 13 years in New York and the landlord wants me out of a basement apartment which I paid $500.00 a moth for. What are my rights? Post your answer

Answer: Assuming you don't have a union contract to protect you, you are then hired "at will". This means that you can be terminated at will also. Unless the landlord is discriminating against you, you don't have much of a leg to stand on. See a lawyer. Also, note that if you are paying rent and have a lease, then you have protection on eviction. No lease, then you have to vacate the apartment. Also note that if you are paying money for the lease, you possibly have a tax write-off because you are required by law to live there so the rent is a cost of employment. Ask your accountant about that. In addition, when it's a union contract there must be due cause to be terminated, thus due process to be followed. When you are employed at will, no such due process or due cause is required unless the landlord breaks the laws of the Fair Employment Act. PGrech,

  Question #472: My boiler is steam and works with a vacuum system. One of the risers feeds about 6 radiators. I find that these 6 radiators only get half-way hot, the rest of the building is OK. I changed the radiator trap and also the supply and the return line from the first radiator. I cannot find the main trap because a lot of the pipes are in the wall, what I did was touch the pipe with my hand, before and after the trap and they both are hot - I didn't use the chalk or tester. What could be the problem? Post your answer

Answer: Your problem may be your steam trap. When a steam traps gets worn it doesn't allow heat to pass because they contain a little water inside them. Replace the trap (which is on the return side of your radiator) and your radiator should get fully heated. Roberto Cardona

Answer: In addition to the above, replace the parts to the main steam trap on the return riser in the basement. PGrech,

Answer: Hopefully, you replaced the traps on ALL 6 radiators on the riser. If so, look for a place where water will collect and block the vacuum on the return line. A quick check is: on the radiator, close the steam valve tightly and carefully remove the cover of the trap and the element inside. When the vacuum system is on, you should feel the vacuum on the orifice of the steam trap. Check all traps on the riser this way. If no vacuum, you will get partial heating. Then you must check where water may be blocking the vacuum on the return line. Joe Lambert

More on this question

  Question #471: Can someone give the names of the parts of a gun type burner? Post your answer

Answer: Main Parts: oil burner - gun type:

  • Main body
  • Transformer
  • Electrodes (one or two)
  • Cable from transformer to electrodes
  • Air or draft tube,
  • Fan or blower,
  • Nozzle (one or two)
  • Fuel pump, one or two stage type
  • Metering pump
  • Air damper
  • Air damper linkage
  • Air diffuser, fixed or adjustable,
  • Manufacturers name tag,
  • Burner drive coupling,
  • Safety devices such as oil interlocks and inspection interlocks (number depends on type of burner and code)

Not in order, and to the best of my memory; notwithstanding there are many different types of burners, so either the names would change or other equipment may be present. PGrech,

  Question #470: Can a super (who lives in our building during the week) legally be allowed to reside in another borough during the weekend. What does the law state requiring a super to be on premises. This is a co-op building with a weekend door staff and porter. Post your answer

Answer: People cannot go 24/7 with out some sort of break. The law states that the super must live in the building or within 200 feet or so. It does not state he must be at the property at all times or on a 24/7 schedule. Most supers go to a house that they may own or visit friends on weekends or on their days off. Unless your co-op is prepared to pay the super for the two days overtime to stay in the building, either find a substitute for his days off or just bear it. Most buildings don't have an issue with this. What would you do if your boss told you to work your days off without pay? Note: staying in the building on the days off even though are not spent working still constitutes overtime. PGrech,

  Question #469: How do you attach a plastic sink trap to the main line which is lead pipe? Post your answer

Answer: In New York City boroughs, you don't. It's illegal to use plastic or PVC piping. And by the way, anytime the trap is involved, then by code you must have a licensed plumber do the work. PGrech,

  Question #468: Is there anywhere on the net to take a trial test for the low pressure oil boiler (p-99) test? Post your answer

Answer: No there is not. However, February Meetings in Manhattan, Bronx and Brooklyn are devoted to Number 6 Certificate of Fitness aka (P-99). The workshop will walk attendees through what you need to know and how to qualify to take the test. It's a workshop and members will get a certificate for attending. Non-members can attend but will receive no certificate. Attendees can join at the workshop. See how to become a member on our website. PGrech,

  Question #467: What are the dangers of using white 1 1/4 " PVC pipe to carry hot water from an upstairs apartment to a downstairs apartment. The pipe is run through a closet in the upstairs apartment. This is in a senior housing complex in California. Does the PVC pipe put off harmful fumes? Post your answer

Answer: PVC is safe in the form of PVC pipe. You can drink water carried by it and it will last over 100 years. Europe is now using PVC piping. PVC is ONLY dangerous when it is burning - then it gives off a poisonous gas - but only when it's on fire. PGrech,

  Question #466: My home is very old and has one outlet in each room. I only have six breakers on the panel. I know its a fire hazard - if an inspector was to look at it he would agree. If it was confirmed as a fire hazard, is my landlord responsible to fix it, and if so would he have to pay for housing me in another spot while the problem was fixed? Post your answer

Answer: What might appear to you as a fire violation may not be one. It is not unusual that an old apartment still has fuses and only one outlet per room. If the fire hazard is in the fuse box, then once the violation is given out he is obliged to cure it. He is not required to give you more outlets. Also, assuming that the violation is in the fuse box, that can be replaced with circuit breakers in one day, so you would not have to vacate. PGrech,

  Question #465: Wanted to thank the people at STA for help in answering my questions. I would like to make a contribution to your cause, as I believe it's a good one. To whom and how do I make the contribution as a thank you? Post your answer

Answer: Thank you and you can send a check, payable to Supers Technical Assn, and mailed to Supers Technical Association, 300 Jay St - H4, Brooklyn, NY 11201. Dick Koral, Secretary-Treasurer

Answer: Thank you so much. As a not-for-profit organization we depend on donations and membership. Without your help we would not be able to have this website. Peter Grech, President STA

  Question #464: We are a 90 unit building and we will soon be in need of a superintendent. How do we ensure that we find the best super we can. What skills and abilities must we insist that this super have. Where is the best place to recruit this kind of "super" super? Post your answer

Answer: Best place to find a good super is from word of mouth. Second best is New York Times, and third is from our website. As for the interviewing process and making sure you get the best candidate, I have had good success in helping boards with this, from going over the resumes of candidates to being at the interviews with the board and/or manager. It's something I do well. PGrech,

Answer: For the larger multi-family buildings like yours, communications is the most important of skills the super needs in order for things to work smoothly. Without the ability to communicate quite well with your manager, your staff, your residents, your suppliers & the various mechanics and artisans who perform work in the building (plumbers, painters etc.) the super can quickly lose control of his/her staff and building, not to mention the respect of residents. (The presupposition is that your super will also have at least average intelligence.) Experience in the field isn't nearly as important as is the ability to communicate well - no matter the other previous work experience. If your candidate has these two attributes - at least average intelligence and the ability to communicate well - then half the battle is won already. A willingness to update skills on a regular basis is also quite important. Your candidate should also have the ability to follow directions or orders from superiors, and the willingness to do so. Good organizational skills help also. Computer skills, or the willingness to learn, also factor in more and more (and can help much with organization if learned and put to use correctly). Last, and maybe least, are the skills and experience in working with your hands: light plumbing, light electrical, etc., but are not nearly as necessary if your candidate already has a staff in place (handyman, porters etc.) who can take care of the day to day repairs that come up. Where do you find such a candidate? I may be just a bit prejudiced since I'm a member of this Association, but our members are all people who have the above traits, and by their association with our group show that they recognize the need to update their knowledge about their chosen field of endeavor on a regular basis. You could do much worse than to look at our Resumes page and interview and consider each of them. We only allow members to post their resumes. Glen Stoltz

  Question #463: Our building has exhaust vents in bathrooms and kitchens where there are no windows. How are these systems maintained and/or cleaned and is that something that should regularly be done? Post your answer

Answer: Basically there are three parts to this kind of vent system. The first is the roof exhaust fan: these fans need attention usually on a monthly basis. Lubrication and check of the belts for wear and tear are the most common maintenance. Second is the vent grill or louver in the kitchen and bath room: these need to be cleaned usually once a year unless the occupant is a heavy cook who uses grease, then more often. Best and quickest way to check whether the vent is working: use one sheet of two-ply toilet paper. Hold this to the vent flat and let go. The air draw from the vent should keep the sheet of toilet paper in place. The third part to this system is the duct itself: this should be mechanically cleaned every 5 years or so depending on usage. PGrech,

  Question #462: What does it mean when your heating pipes and your radiators in your home make extremely loud noise, such as clanking and banging almost as if it will break. Is there some flood in the boiler itself? Post your answer

Answer: The loud banging in steam system radiators and associated piping occurs when steam rises from the boiler after the boiler has been resting for a while. When the rising steam encounters a puddle of cold water (which should not be there) sitting in a section of sagging piping or the radiators, it suddenly implodes and creates an instant vacuum, which shakes things up. It's quite easily fixed. Dick Koral

Answer: In addition to the above answer, your boiler may have too much water in it and when it makes steam the water is carried over with the steam, making for wet steam. Steam is meant to be dry, very dry. PGrech,

  Question #461: Is there a sealant or goop that can be used between the metal faces of the radiator union in a one pipe steam system? I have a slight leak, and the union seems to be in good shape.  Post your answer

Answer: Try using Teflon tape on the threads. To use "goop" is a problem because the joints expand and contract with the heating and cooling of the pipe, therefore the goop will not hold. If the tape doesn't work, try more tape. If that doesn't work, then you will have to replace the union. PGrech,

  Question #460: I live with my boyfriend in a one bedroom apartment in Manhattan. He no longer wants to continue the relationship. Is he legally obligated to pay rent since his name is on the lease? I'm not choosing to leave. Post your answer

Answer: The fact almost certainly is that as long as his name is still on the lease he is legally obligated to pay rent, whether or not he is living in the apartment, and to be relieved of that obligation he must have his name formally removed from the lease.

Answer: Whatever the legalities, what is fair is that you assume the obligation of paying the rent. Buck this, and spend twice that in legal fees. Dick Koral

Answer: As always, our answers are just our opinions and answers to legal questions are better asked of attorneys. Yes he is responsible for the lease. If he vacates the apartment however, and surrenders his keys to management, that leaves you as illegally occupying the apartment - if your name is not on the lease. It seems you want a free ride off you ex-boyfriend's back. SHAME ON YOU. Why don't you just take over the lease or get another roommate to help you with the rent. PGrech,

  Question #459: How do I get a # 4 or #6 boiler license, NYFD standpipe and fire certificate? I would like to become a live-in super. Post your answer

Answer: In March Our monthly meetings are devoted to the topic of how to pass and how to obtain a #6 oil burner certificate. See you at that meeting. PGrech,

Answer: Peruse the FAQs and Exams pages.

  Question #458: I own a co-op and recently a heating pipe froze and burst in my bedroom, flooding and ruining carpeting. My insurance only covered $215 out of $803.00 bill to replace carpeting. Co-op officers say they do not have to reimburse me for any difference in loss. What should I do, go to small claims court? Post your answer

Answer: First check your proprietary lease. In many cases, you the shareholder are responsible for the "improvements," regardless of the cause of the damage. Improvements are carpeting, cabinets and even finishes like paint.

Answer: I agree with the above, but for a small filing fee, you can go to small claims court. I think that's possibly the best road to take. PGrech,

  Question #457: We live in a large pre-war Manhattan building. We have an ancient #6 oil burner and there is a 5000 gallon oil storage tank in the basement. It smells. The smell goes up the elevator shaft. It did not used to smell this much. My visitors complain because the elevator smells of gas. Something is up. What are your instincts? Post your answer

Answer: The oil tank has an air vent, venting out into the open air. The oil tank is a completely closed vessel. NO you should not be able to smell the oil fumes from inside the building. YES there is something wrong. You should call an oil tank company to look into it. You may have an oil leak, and pray that you don't. Or you may have a leak in the vent pipe. PGrech,

  Question #456: My landlord has asked that we remove the washing machine from our rent stabilized apartment. Ironically it was the super who installed the washing machine for us. Are there any laws that require a landlord to supply a laundry room or that there be a laundry a certain distance away? I live on the 5th floor of a building with no elevator and I have a bad back. Is there a law to protect me? Post your answer

Answer: As in all issues regarding your rights you need to refer to the lease and what it contains. Now, you may have a right in this case to keep the washer even if the lease says you can't. Here is why: your super installed it, and as agent for the owner he authorized its installment, giving you a waiver of that part of the lease that says you can't have a washer. (This is my opinion, you need to ask HUD or Rent Stabilization Association about it). No the owner is not required to have washers and dryers on the premises for tenants' use, its a convenience - not a requirement. PGrech,

Answer: How long have you had the washing machine? It may be that you have had it long enough so that you do not have to remove it. Another good place to ask this question is the Q & A "Forum" at Lou

  Question #455: I live in a 47-unit co-op building in Brooklyn. Our building is self-managed. A few years ago our super moved out and now lives in Nassau County. Our Board told us this was acceptable under the NYC law governing supers as long as a fill-in super resides within 200 feet of the building frontage. One of our elevator operators is in fact also the super of a nearby building, where he resides. Is this an acceptable arrangement under NYC law? Post your answer

Answer: The law is specific in that the person who is responsible for janitorial works needs to live within 200 feet or one block - which ever is greater - according to both State and City codes. This arrangement works for when the super is on vacation etc. However as an ongoing procedure, it is stretching the spirit in which it was written. Code also states that the name, address and phone number of the super be posted in the lobby. Now how do you get around that? Your building is stretching it thin. I would try having the building attorney put it in writing that it is legal and hold him responsible if something goes wrong. PGrech,

  Question #454: In New York State, living in a HUD senior housing project, how many years must pass before I can get my apartment painted? Post your answer

Answer:  A tenant is entitled to a paint job every three years. Note: the paint job must be performed in a workmanlike manner, and conform to lead paint laws. The color of the paint is to be a light color, such as white or off white. PGrech,

  Question #453: In my apartment building with over 35 apartments, the super's name and apartment number is clearly posted in the lobby. A building directory listing all the current tenants is mandatory, too. Is it mandatory to post the telephone number of the superintendent too? Can a summons be issued by an inspector if no telephone number appears? Post your answer

Answer: The Housing Maintenance Code, Article 3, section 27-2053-C states that the phone number, address and apartment number of the person responsible for "janitorial services" must be shown in the lobby of the building. A violation can be issued against the owner of the building for failing to provide the phone number of the superintendent along with the address and apartment number. The violation does not initially carry a monetary penalty but allows 30 or 60 days to cure the violation. If the violation is not cured, a monetary sum is placed on the violation for not having it cured in the time frame allowed. PGrech,

  Question #452: I live in a multiple condo building. I am an owner of one of the apartments and I live in the same apartment for five years now. People living right above me are tenants and they make a hell lot of noise everyday from 10:00 pm to 12:00 am, so much so that I cannot sleep. Moreover I have a child who is 11 years old and gets up for school every morning at 6:30 am. His sleep is also disrupted. I asked the super to talk with the tenants but he refuses to do so. Is that right? Isn't it one of the responsibilities of super? Post your answer

Answer: Supers have many responsibilities and tasks. They vary from building to building according to the building type as well as his job description as handed to him/her by the owner and management company. In your case refer to your offering plan and proprietary lease, and see what your rights are to quiet and enjoyment of your apartment. Once you have found that section, call the managing agent. The managing agent can enforce rules more effectively than the super. PGrech,

  Question #451:  I have a loud banging noise from the steam riser in my bedroom. I have been told that the system has a single pipe steam heating, but it might be the two-pipe. The landlord is procrastinating, and more or less claims that this cannot be fixed. The noise is quite loud. Would you advise on the possible treatments of the problem? Also, could you recommend a reliable and reasonable company dealing with heating problems? Post your answer

Answer: This banging is caused when steam hits cooler water in the pipes or radiator, and is called water hammer. There are many causes, such as the pitch of the pipe, a valve that is turned off or systemic problems in the steam distribution piping in the basement. Sometimes, in fact, the problem cannot be solved without changing some piping in the walls or floors, but in other cases there are easier fixes. The company I work for solves these problems on a daily basis, and there are others throughout the city that do the same. You need a professional to come look at the problem, diagnose the cause, and recommend solutions. Joe Lambert

  Question #450:  I've heard that washers and dryers can harm plumbing and cause building infrastructure problems. What is your recommendation on washing machine ownership by tenants, particularly in pre-war buildings? Post your answer

Answer: Washers and dryers cannot hurt the system. In some cases, washers have clogged the drain pipes. This won't happen if low-suds detergent is used. What is most important is that washing machines (both dish and clothes) be installed by one who knows the plumbing codes. Connections to both hot and cold water supply must be protected by backflow preventers. Dick Koral

Answer: To expand on the above answer, most buildings were not designed to handle the additional water load of a washer. When you run water in a sink it uses gravity to go down, but when a washer drains water, it is pumped. This can cause what I call the 5pm Long Island expressway effect. Too much water and no where to go. In this case the neighbors below will suffer. PGrech, 01122004