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Porters, Handymen, and Doorman, or PHD's Blog
 
  Questions For Supers - 650 to 699  
   

 

 
 

"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 09:39 PM PT

Fair Use Disclaimer

 
 

 

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.

 

 
     
   

QUESTIONS POSTED

 

 
 

Question #699:  Who is the Senator that represents Manhattan and who are the persons representing the New York's House of Representatives, New York's Assembly and New York City's Council. Post your answer

Answer: There are many websites that will help you find your elected representatives anywhere you are. Here is one of them: http://www.visi.com/juan/congress/ Glen Stoltz

 
 

Question #698: Why is it so hard for a superintendent to get help when the management is in the wrong? I have been fired for being Hispanic and for caring about my job. Please help me, there are days I feel like ending it all. We need a fair break. Post your answer

Answer: Do yourself a tremendous favor and come to our February meeting, where you will find other supers who will understand you 100%. There's no charge. Get there by 5:30 and join us for pizzas, cookies, sodas and socializing until 6, when we will hear a great talk from one of our fine supers, on security cameras. Dick Koral 718-552-1161

Answer: Without knowing all the facts, it is difficult to decide, BUT, being a superintendent often means to be responsible for almost everything that happens in your building, much like a captain of a ship. I am sure there are a lot of people that would disagree with me on this. Non the less, a super is responsible for his building. This means, when something goes wrong, it is the supers fault. Sorry to say, those that don't like or understand this, can always take up another vocation. Peter Grech, GBOC

 
 

Question #697: I live in a Bronx five-floor apartment building. I want to place a 75-gallon fish tank adjacent to what I believe is a load-bearing wall. Every apartment above me has the same floor plan. Is it safe to assume that all the interior walls are load-bearing? Post your answer

Answer: No. You can not assume that a wall is bearing or non-bearing from one floor to the next. The bearing wall or non-bearing wall has nothing to do with where you place the fish tank, as long as you don't plan to put it "in the wall". Check your lease first though, some leases do not allow fish tanks. Peter Grech, GBOC

 
 

Question #696: Is it allowed to install a window that juts out - like a bay window - from the wall above stairs? Post your answer

Answer: In most townships, yes. But there would be a minimum height clearance. You would have to check with your town planner. Also if the window faces the street you may require a permit. Peter Grech, GBOC

 
  Question #695: I am interested in training to be a super and would like to know what are the requirements to become a super. Please furnish me informational brochures if possible and schools to get certified. Post your answer

Answer: Look at our short list of schools here to get you started in your search. We don't have access to brochures for you but if you contact each school you're interested in they will be happy to furnish information to you about their programs.

 
  Question #694: I live in upstate NY, in a building with 4 apartments, and I have no lease. The tenants that live above me play their stereo loud, stomp, bang, slam, and whatever else they do, all hours of the day and night. When we have knocked on their door to ask for them to lower things they disrespect us with foul, abusive language; we have called the police, and now they have retaliated by destroying our personal property. And we have called the police in regards to that. If forced to move because of these conditions and the owner / landlord is aware of the situation, can the landlord be responsible for the cost of our move? Post your answer

Answer: The applicable laws may be slightly different in upstate New York than in New York City, which is our primary knowledge and reader base. Consult a real estate lawyer AND read the New York State Multiple Dwelling Law for more info, but if you have no lease you may have far fewer rights than a renter with a lease.

 
  Question #693: Will we use less oil to operate our boiler if residents close off radiators that are not needed? Post your answer

Answer: Anytime you use less heat in a building you will use less fuel. Be careful, however - IF you have a one pipe steam system you sometimes get water hammer (banging) if you shut a radiator off.  Joe Lambert, http://www.leonardpowers.com

 
 

Question #692: What is the temperature your landlord is supposed to maintain in your apartment, day and night? Post your answer

Answer: Straight from the horse's mouth, New York City Rent Guidelines Board

Heat (During the heating season, October 1 through May 31)

*  Between 6 a.m. and 10 p.m., heat must register at least 68 degrees Fahrenheit when the outside temperature falls below 55 degrees;

*  Between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m., heat must register at least 55 degrees Fahrenheit when the outside temperature falls below 40 degrees.

Hot Water (24 hours a day, 365 days a year)

*  Hot water must register at or above a constant temperature of 120 degrees at the tap.

*  If a tub or shower is equipped with an anti-scald valve that prevents the hot water temperature from exceeding 120 degrees, the minimum hot water temperature for that tub or shower is 110 degrees. Bill Aristovulos

 
  Question #691: Is there a test for Certificate of Fitness for #2 boiler? I have my letter from the owners of the building. Post your answer

Answer:  There is no city or state test for #2 or #4 oil burning equipment. There is no city or state certification or license for #2 or #4 oil burners. Peter Grech, GBOC

 
  Question #690: In an 8 floor concrete slab construction building with plaster and lathe walls and 10 apartments on each floor, what is the best way to combat a recent MOUSE infestation? Post your answer

Answer: The best defense is: Plugging all the holes you can find!  Pay particular attention to heat risers in the apartments. Also check, in kitchens and baths, around utility lines (Water, Gas and Electric ) where they emerge from the wall. Mice posses what seems to be an articulated skeletal design, that allows them squeeze through openings of only 1/2 inch high!  Poisons are also a way to deal with mice, however I strongly suggest using a professional company. (One of our vendor members in STA, are professional exterminators. You can scan for their ad in our newsletter, SUPER!) Bill Aristovulos

 
  Question #689: I have to try to take a small amount of dried oil-based paint (dark gray) off of a light colored carpet - any suggestions? Post your answer

Answer: Try Goof-Off. It's a paint remover in liquid form - you can also get in an aerosol can. Follow the directions on the package and use adequate ventilation. After that, rinse the spots with warm water and soap, then use a carpet cleaning machine over the entire area if you have access to one. Glen Stoltz

 
  Question #688: What information do employers want when they say "salary history" on their job postings, or "send salary requirements"? Post your answer

Answer: Salary History: The employer wants to know what your salary/wages have been for most, if not all jobs that you list on your resume. This is a way for the employer to see if you had salary/wage growth and to see if what salary they had in mind matches your salary history. Salary Requirements: is when an employer is asking you what is the salary you are seeking. Beware of how you answer this one because you may scare them off if you ask too much or too little. Peter Grech, GBOC

 
  Question #687: What requirement is there for discontinuing using an incinerator in an apartment house in New York City? Post your answer

Answer: I thought they were banned from New York City 20 years ago. Your best bet is to call an incinerator repair company and ask them. Controlled Combustion was a major repair company for incinerators, years ago. Peter Grech, GBOC

 
  Question #686: I'm interested in taking the HVAC training and am considering either taking it at New York City Tech or at the Mechanics Institute. Would I get just as much training and information from a free course like the one at Mechanics Institute or would I get more out of a paid one like at New York City Tech? Post your answer

Answer: While both schools you mentioned are excellent schools, Mechanics Institute, although free, has a more intense program. Free here does not mean cheap or low quality. The difference "MAY" be that at City Tech you will earn a degree and have transferable credits, while at the Mechanics Institute you will not earn a degree. Peter Grech, GBOC

 
  Question #685: A friend of mine hired an electrician to do some kitchen work in her Bay Ridge condo.  He charged her $1000 for the job.  A week later, when the electricity was still not working correctly, he told her to fix the job would cost her another $1400. Obviously, she wants nothing more to do with him. My question is: do you know of an electrician who is reliable and reasonable who does work in Bay Ridge?  Whatever leads you can provide will be much appreciated.  Post your answer

Answer: We are not in the habit of recommending contractors to our readers. Obviously, we hope that those contractors who advertise with us (see our monthly newsletter) are of the kind that you can trust to treat their customers well and do a good job, but we do not endorse them further than that unless we have extensive experience with them personally. Glen Stoltz

 
  Question #684: I live in a 70 apartment rental building in New York City. The landlord is painting the public areas. It appears the color scheme in the hallways will be a single color (yellow) for walls and apartment doors, which someone told me is against code, that doors should be readily distinguishable in a fire. Is this true? Post your answer

Answer: Not true. The code only says that the color should be a light color and contain no lead. That's it. Just be glad it's not going to be pink. Peter Grech, GBOC

 
  Question #683: I am a maintenance supervisor for an apartment complex. I have a second floor unit that is getting too hot in the winter - so hot that they have had to use their heat very little. It routinely gets into the upper 70's in the apartment when it is cold outside. Is it possible the duct work of the apartment below may be leaking hot air into the crawl space between the apartments thereby heating up their apartment?  (The heating and a/c for these apartments are controlled by individual heat pumps). Post your answer

Answer: Many things are possible. I ran into on similar situation in an overheated apartment with the valves shut to all the heaters. It turns out the risers in the wall were the cause. We found this out by actually measuring the temperature of the walls with a non-contact IR thermometer. You may wish to try this.  Joe Lambert, http://www.leonardpowers.com

Answer: I have seen once where the steam risers in a wall were overheating an apartment even with the valve shut to the fan unit, this rarely occurs with lower temperature hot water. I would first check temperatures of the walls to see where the heat is coming from. Joe Lambert, http://www.leonardpowers.com

 
  Question #682: A new company has recently started remodeling my building and there has been talk behind my back of a new owner coming to take over in 15 days. Since I am a non-union superintendent, what are my rights if they decide to get a new super without talking to me first or offering the job to me first? Do I have 30 days to leave? Post your answer

Answer: First of all, it's all talk. Second, if a new owner buys the building, he does not have to offer you the job. If you are non-union, your employment is at will, which means there is no contract. If there was a union, the contract was with the old owner and not the new one and therefore the new owner would have to agree to the union. Many non-union supers are in your position. In most cases you would have 30 days to vacate the apartment. I don't know what else to say. Peter Grech, GBOC

 
  Question #681: We have a new landlord and he has someone come every three to four days to take out the garbage - that's all. The landlord says he is not getting a super to clean the premises at all. My worry is what if there is a real emergency, water leak etc, he gave us a cell number to call. Meanwhile Con Edison or Keyspan or any other vendor has no access to read the meters or such. Nobody came to clean the sidewalk when we had snow, and of course the heat he gives us the minimal amount of heat, just that the pipes going through the building are hot and not the radiators. Post your answer

Answer: Without knowing how many apartments in the building and city the building is located, I can not answer the question. There are codes that only affect certain size buildings, and these codes vary for city to city within New York State. Peter Grech, GBOC

 
 

Question #680: I live in a three-family house. I have five children and I'm having problems with my hot water. The super shuts off the hot water when they go out, they turn the hot water on whenever they need to use it. I told the landlord one month ago and they still haven't done anything about it. I feel like they won't fix the problem or do anything about it because the super and the landlord are family. What should I do? Post your answer

Answer: If you have a lease, check the lease under what the landlords responsibilities are. The landlord could be in violation of the lease agreement under the Warranty of habitability. But again the lease is the answer, and ask an attorney also. We can only offer opinions. Peter Grech, GBOC

Answer: Unfortunately a 3 family house is not covered by New York City or New York State maintenance codes or dwelling laws. I suggest talking to an attorney as no city or state agency will have any authority over this issue. If you have a lease, check with in the lease under what the landlords responsibilities are. The landlord could be in violation of the lease agreement under Warranty of habitability. But again the lease is the answer, and an attorney also. We can only offer opinions. Peter Grech, GBOC

 
 

Question #679: I recently moved into a luxury apartment building where the heat and air conditioning is housed in a vent unit. I know that in New York City the landlord is responsible for heat in rentals. When I turn on my heat, I am charged by the electric company. My landlord states that I am responsible for the "blowers" to blow the heat. Is this legal? Post your answer

Answer: He is right. He is supplying the heat to a coil. The coil comes with a blower that is connected you your electricity. Keep in mind this blower is of low amperage and is quite efficient. It should not cost more then a few pennies a day to operate with moderation. Most newer buildings have this feature. Peter Grech, GBOC

 
  Question #678: What type of certification and/or licenses are required to operate a 150 ton chilled water air-conditioning system - if any at all? Post your answer

Answer: Different states, even different cities within the same states have different requirements for air conditioning and refrigeration license for operators. In New York City the codes states that any a/c or refrigeration unit 100 tons and over require a refrigeration operators license. For the record, 100 tons and up is for chillers using any type of compressor. If you have an absorption machine, which I doubt due to your small tonnage, then a license is NOT required for any absorption machine no matter how many tons. Peter Grech, GBOC

Answer: You will need to attend a school that teaches air conditioning refrigeration and learn basic refrigeration and acquire a "universal" certification in order to work with and purchase refrigerants. After that you will go to the next level and learn refrigeration licensing where you learn about reciprocating and centrifugal systems, as well as others. Once you passed that you must take a written test and if you pass that you must take a practical test and be grilled by two engineers on both machines, as well as on pumps and cooling towers and I know because I took and passed this test myself. Roberto Cardona

 
  Question #677: I am a tenant at a apartment complex. I and my husband and son are getting sick all the time, and we think there's mold or mildew growing in the AC unit, Is there any advice on what we should do? Post your answer

Answer:  You should have an air conditioning repair company look at your unit(s). In most cases they are dirty and this can be remedied by having the units thoroughly cleaned using chemicals that would neutralize any foreign matter. Peter Grech, GBOC

 
  Question #676: How can I get material for the boiler #6, to study for the license? Post your answer

Answer:  Please read the FAQs page before asking your question.

Answer:  This information has been answered several times before (Questions 629, 591) it is also on our Licenses, Exams and Certificates of Fitness page, and I will give you the direct link to the  NYFD (New York City Fire Department's) site here: http://nyc.gov/html/fdny/pdf/cof_study_material/csm_p_99.pdf Bill Aristovulos

 
  Question #675:  The landlord follows NYC Heat Guidelines. However, upper floors do not read 68 degrees 6am-10pm. Yesterday my apartment read 72 degrees @ 8:30pm. The apartment on the sixth floor read 60 degrees. I assume that there is not enough pressure or it's the pipes. Does the DOB get involved with this type of problem, or does it require an outside inspector? You can probably notice by my info that I am not familiar with boilers. Post your answer

Answer: This is a common problem in many buildings, commonly called heat balancing. Since the steam comes from the basement, the lower floors heat up before the upper ones. The solution is NOT to increase the pressure (actually decreasing the pressure often helps solve the problem). Your building may need to calibrate the heating controller, new zoning valves, or to install thermostatic radiator valves on the lower floors to allow the steam to get to the upper floors while not overheating the lower ones, or there could be a piping issue with some of the risers not draining properly. There are many steam specialty companies in the city (including the one I work for) that can diagnose the problem and give recommendations. It is not something that has a quick fix or can be solved on-line without looking at the exact situation in your building. Joe Lambert, http://www.leonardpowers.com

 
  Question #674: I am renovating a cooperative apartment bathroom and my contractor the bathtub water knobs (controls) which required going into the wall and change the connection to the pipe.  The co-op management is now saying since I touched the pipe, I will be responsible till eternity if something goes wrong with all the apartments on my line. Can they legally do this?  The existing pipes are 60 years old as it is and  I can't imagine I can be legally bound by this. I can never sell the apartment if this is the case. Post your answer

Answer: First of all, any legal questions should be asked to an attorney and answered by an attorney. We can only give you our opinions based on experienced and not law. That said, The pipes inside the wall from a riser to a shut of valve are owned by the building. Once an owner in an apartment touches these pipes with his own contractor the ownership of the pipes are automatically transferred from the building to the apartment / shareholder. This is called "betterment and improvement". What you should have done was called the super and have the building's plumber repair or replace the pipes to the valve, including the valve. Keep in mind that in most cases the shut-off valve does belong to the apartment. Now all the pipes do. I hope this helps. You should get an attorney to clarify this. Peter Grech, GBOC

 
  Question #673: Will having been convicted of a felony stop your chances of becoming a superintendent? Post your answer

Answer:  It's up to the management company more than anything else. See the answer to Question 606: Glen Stoltz

 
  Question #672: I reside in a  ---- story co-op with approximately ---- apartments in Yonkers. I recently wrote the Co-op Board a letter inquiring about some questions I had. They have not responded to me - their reason being they don't feel like answering my questions. Isn't the board supposed to answer any questions the owners have as long as they are not personal or incriminating? Post your answer

Answer: NO, a board does not have to answer your question, or provide a reason. Peter Grech, GBOC

Answer:  In my humble opinion, it probably behooves the co-op to try to answer your questions, but keep in mind that most co-op board positions are voluntary. They might not have the time or simply don't know the answer to your questions. Being a board member does not mean that you are an expert in building matters. More often, it is the Superintendent or even the managing company that is the most knowledgeable in the running of a building and associated issues. Bill Aristovulos

 
  Question #671: What skills and abilities must all supers possess?  I will be interviewing people for a super's job in a 90 unit building.  I have some ideas but would like some advice on specific questions I must get the answers to. Post your answer

Answer: Possibly the only skills consistently required by ALL supers in all buildings are good people & communication skills (effectively the same thing), and light repair / handyman skills and experience. The rest, in my opinion, depend almost entirely on the needs of the individual building in question, and what the management and/or board wants or expects from the super to be hired. Anyone you’re interested in hiring must of course be intelligent enough to pick up building-specific skills as needed, such as certificates of fitness, etc. If you’re about to interview prospects, it would be quite a worthwhile exercise for all involved to put down on paper as complete a list as possible of what you intend to expect from your next super. Glen Stoltz

Answer: The skills for a superintendent are many. More important is the bank of knowledge that he or she possesses. it won't do the building much good if a super knows everything about carpentry, electricity and plumbing, and little about supervision and no people skills: if the super is never going to do plumbing and electricity, yet he or she will be mainly supervising and dealing with people. It is up to the board and management to decide what the super's duties are going to be and seek out a person with those qualifications. The superintendent has evolved with the growth of co-ops and condos. Therefore a super's number-one skill has become "dealing with people" and technical skills secondary. This is a switch from 25 yrs ago. Should you have specific questions you would like answers to in interviewing a super click here >> Peter Grech, GBOC

 
  Question #670: I am new in the building maintenance field. I work as an apprentice (non-union) and I want to go to school to learn electrical, plumbing, etc. I am eager to learn and I want to learn as much as I can.  Can anyone recommend a few good schools - all the schools I have come across are garbage. My co-workers are a lot older than me and the classes they took no longer exist. Post your answer

Answer: See our Continuing Education Page http://www.nycsta.org/continuinged.htm for a short list of schools that are a good place to start your search. Glen Stoltz

Answer: Most of my technical skills I learned on the job and from those old guys. They are a wealth of knowledge and experience that NO school can replace. Begin by learning from them. The Mechanics institute is a good place to begin to look for a great school. Peter Grech, GBOC

 
  Question #669: Inside Paint Jobs:  I rent an apartment in a brownstone in Manhattan with two other rental units.  Is the landlord required to provide a paint job after a certain number of years even if the apartment is "habitable" (although with dirty, peeling walls)?  I've heard that there is such a duty but can't find it anywhere. Post your answer

Answer:  The answer to this question is in the lease. If it is a rent stabilized lease, and there are 5 or more apartments, then the landlord is required to paint in a professional manor the apartment ever 3 yrs. That is the code. It would seem that you live in a three family building, which has no requirements in the code to paint. Peter Grech, GBOC

 
  Question #668: I have a fire escape in my living room that is accessible via two side-by-side windows.  Can I have an air conditioner in ONE of the windows?  I've had one in for five years, now all of a sudden my landlord is claiming that I need to take it out.  NOTE:  It's permanently installed. Post your answer

Answer: Under normal circumstances you are permitted to place an a/c unit in a situation such as yours, PROVIDED that the ac unit does not interfere with the egress of the fire escape, i.e., it sticks out on to the fire escape causing a potential tripping or other hazard. Peter Grech, GBOC

 
  Question #667: I am thinking of renting my apartment. The circuit box and the oil burner is on their floor. Am I as a landlord allowed to enter their apartment if the lights go out or the oil burner goes off and they are not home? Post your answer

Answer: The answer to this is very simple. You make it a clause in the lease that you are permitted with little notice to enter the apartment to reset the circuit breakers and or to have boiler / boiler control work done. Also that you should have copies of the keys. NOTE: Normal leases give a landlord the right to enter an apartment upon 24 hour notice, unless its an emergency. Peter Grech, GBOC

Answer: I believe that the landlord is entitled to gain access to any apartment at a reasonable time and in a reasonable manner for inspections or repairs. But the landlord must give the tenant at least 24 hours written notice for an inspection and at least one week's written notice for improvements or repairs. In an emergency situation, however, no advance notice is required. Glen Stoltz

 
  Question #666: Anyone know how to avoid installing a standpipe system in a residential building. I got a violation, but is there anyway around it? Post your answer

Answer: Yes there is a way, and that would be to FULLY sprinkler the building. However, this answer should be verified by hiring a professional standpipe / sprinkler firm to confirm my answer. Peter Grech, GBOC

 
  Question #665: Does a tenant need to have permission from the landlord and/or super before installing an FDNY approved gate on a window facing a fire escape? Post your answer

Answer: To the best of my knowledge the answer is no, no permission is needed, but it couldn't hurt to ask first. Peter Grech, GBOC

 
  Question #664: A building resident is looking to combine apartments that are one on top of another in a concrete slab construction building.  What kind of professional needs to be consulted in order to determine where they can structurally put the stairwell between the two units that will be needed? Post your answer

Answer: I'd guess that you'd need an architect at a minimum, who can then hire a structural engineer and / or whoever else is needed. Glen Stoltz

Answer:  Correct on the above, especially the structural person, and in addition to all that, one has to have the blessing of the co-op.  There is a possibility that the resident's work would affect the C of O (Certificate of Occupancy ) of the building.  This apparently could create some weighty issues for the co-op with the tax/usage municipal departments of the city.  Bill Aristovulos 

 
  Question #663: Is having a rug or carpet in a building elevator a fire hazard? Post your answer

Answer: No it is not a fire hazard. Make sure the carpet has a fire rating of at least 2.5 hrs or more. Be warned, though carpets that are laid down in elevators get worn fast. In the long run its less costly to have a hard floor installed. Peter Grech, GBOC

Answer: No its not. In some buildings they put the carpet in elevators when its raining. In other elevator cars both passenger and service have permanent carpet installed. James Zammit

Answer: If you utilize temporary "Drop In" carpets during inclement weather, moves, etc, be sure your carpeting has a tapered leading edge along the door opening of the cab.  Otherwise be prepared for a trip hazard. Bill Aristovulos

 
  Question #662: I was recently burglarized and it appeared that the perpetrator came in through the window covering the fire escape.  Fearing for my safety, I had a window guard installed over that window, HOWEVER, the guard is a special guard that has a latch that allows me to open it up and easily escape in case of a fire.  Is this a violation of NYC Health Code sect. 131.15 and can I get my landlord to reimburse me?  (NOTE: The officers that responded to the burglary (as well as myself) believed that it was an inside job thus, my super was a suspect.  This is why I hired an independent contractor to install the fire guard/window guard and not the landlord). Post your answer

Answer: It is not a violation of the health code. The landlord is not responsible for having the gate installed, thus it's your cost. My experience has always been, conveniently blame the super when there is a robbery in a building. Police are often the first to FALSELY suspect the super. Peter Grech, GBOC

 
  Question #661: What tools are needed to snake a drain in order to find the pathway? Post your answer

Answer: Working under a kitchen sink you would need a plastic drop cloth beneath the sink, a channel lock to remove the waste line, a wrench to remove the "U" trap and a good flashlight or droplight to look inside the nipple. The "pathway" is only a few inches past the nipple and be sure to bend the head of the snake just a little in order to enter the pathway. Same goes for the bathroom. For best results use an electric snake. Roberto Cardona

 
  Question #660: My building recently lost our super who had been with the building for over 50 years.  The new super we have is a horror in comparison. He has not once washed the floors of the building since he started 3 months ago. The biggest problem as of late is that he only gets rid of the garbage once a week. Our garbage is in a gated area outside and this last week it was piled so high it filled the entire gated area and was being placed outside of the gate on the sidewalk! This is obviously a major fire hazard.  What are the requirements for a super?  Are they supposed to remove garbage say every 72 hours or so? We have already spoken with our management company but they don't seem to be doing anything about it. Post your answer

Answer: The management should respond as soon as possible as leftover garbage breeds bacteria and will attract rodents and roaches. Call management and insist on job description for your super ASAP. Roberto Cardona

Answer: The issue is not whether it's a fire hazard or a health hazard but an issue of what are the specific duties for your super. Your super should have been given a job description and a schedule. Perhaps he made a deal with the management company about taking out the garbage once a week and cleaning the building once a month. Without a job description and schedule, you can only assume he knows what to do and when. Common sense has nothing to do with scheduling. Peter Grech, GBOC

Answer: First of all your management company should take care of your problem promptly. The garbage should go out for pick up 3 times a week and when its stored it should not block any exits or any doors. The collection from one week to another in basements is considered a fire hazard, and action should be taken to clear it up. I can't specify my answer if I don't know what type of building you live in and what type of agreement you have with your management company and super. James Zammit

 
  Question #659: Can the treasurer and a few share holders from an 8 unit cooperative apartment building increase the maintenance cost in a meeting? Can a few shareholders from an 8-unit cooperative increase the late fees if we do not pay by the first of the month? Aren't we supposed to have at least 5 days grace period before they impose late fees? And how much is the maximum late fee?  They increased it from 20 to 50 dollars monthly late fees. Post your answer

Answer: I think it all depends on what your condo or co-op bylaws provide for. Get a copy of the bylaws and probably your questions will all be answered. Also, if you don't like what the board does, attend the meetings, get on the board and exert your influence for change. I know it's not quite that simple or easy but at some point if you complain you must be willing to get involved. Hopefully you are. Glen Stoltz

 
  Question #658: I live in a luxury low rise building, with a live-in super.  I got locked out, and the super told me the only way he would open my door was if I gave him $50. I said ok, but it would make me feel better if I could write a check out to the management. He then told me no, and said if I did not give the money to him, he would never open my door again. Is this a common practice for supers, and should I bring this issue to management? Post your answer

Answer: The super was supposed to make the very best effort to assist you with the lockout especially if he lives in the building he is there to respond to the needs of the tenants. Roberto Cardona

Answer: Sounds like extortion to me, but only you and he would know for sure. No it is not a common practice, nor should it be. Yes you should complain to management, in my opinion, if it happened as you say it did. Glen Stoltz

 
  Question #657: How do I join union 32BJ? Post your answer

Answer: If you are working in a 32BJ union building, you have to work 3 months on a full time basis. Then go to the union building (101 Avenue of Americas) with a pay slip from your weekly check and pay union dues. You also have to speak with your super and he will contact the management. This is the website for the 32BJ union members www.seiu32bj.org or call 800-551-3225 or 212-388-3500. James Zammit

 
  Question #656: I'm working at a 20 floor building, how do I go about cleaning a garbage chute? Post your answer

Answer: There are companies that can be hired to come in to clean and sanitize the chutes. One such company is a member of STA (Superintendents Technical Association) and I have used their services and was very pleased with the results. IES 718 824 6591. Ask for a free estimate. Peter Grech, GBOC

Answer: The best thing to do is purchase a product called EcoCatalyst, made and  sold by Bio-organic, Inc. (www.bio-organic.com). Follow directions on the container for the appropriate mix with water, and spray it onto the inside of the chute  every floor or two, sufficiently that it runs down the chute walls  slightly. This will help break up any solids adhering to the sides of the chute, get rid of odors and keep it clean. About once a month or a  bit less is enough. Glen Stoltz

 
  Question #655: I would like to know what HVAC means in commercial or residential buildings. Is there any license, I heard that the air conditioning license is considered as HVAC. Is the only way to get the license thru the 32BJ union or can I study at home an just take the exam ? Post your answer

Answer: Basically they mean the same. Heating, Ventilation and Air conditioning. The equipment may or may not be the same in commercial buildings versus residential, but the terms are identical. There are different code requirements for commercial buildings than there are for residential. This also depends of the type of building, i.e. fully enclosed glass buildings would need more fresh air then buildings that have windows that open, etc. Next question: No, the air conditioning license is not a HVAC license. The air conditioning license is actually called a refrigeration license. It does not cover ventilation, distribution of heat or even the distribution of conditioned air. That license only deals with the production of refrigeration and air conditioning and the safety that goes with the production. The license is very limited. Peter Grech, GBOC

Answer: 32BJ's Thomas Shortman Training Fund (School) has an excellent 2 year course to prepare you for the air conditioning license.  It is perhaps the finest training available in New York.  It is free for union members, call them at 212-388-3701  There are some private schools that offer the same course for a substantial tuition, like Turner School.  City Tech in Brooklyn (City  College) also has a very good non-matriculated program at reasonable cost.  Frankly, I do not think one can study on their own and pass the test successfully.  The test consists of two parts, a written (lots of AC theory) and a practical test at which two NYCFD examiners grill you in actual air conditioning motor rooms throughout the city, and boy you have to know your stuff and LOOK like you belong in a motor room, or you simply ain't passing.  Bill Aristovulos

 
  Question #654: I live in a 700 square foot co-op. It has two tiny bedrooms, one bathroom and a tiny kitchen that's probably more appropriate for a studio. I recently found out that someone else lives in the co-op that has a 1200 square foot apartment, two large bedrooms two bathrooms and an eat-in kitchen. I was shocked to find out that we pay the same maintenance charges.  Is this legal? I feel I have been cheated from my co-op? Are there any laws that divide the maintenance of a co-op in some equitable fashion? Post your answer

Answer: A typical co-op bases the maintenance fees on the total shares belonging to the apartment.  The shares a unit has assigned to it is based not only on size of the unit, but also how high it is in the building, desirable views and probably some other factors. It is conceivable that a larger apartment could pay the same maintenance as a smaller "more desirable apartment" based on the above factors. I also believe this share allocation has to be approved by the Attorney General of New York.  Bill Aristovulos

 
  Question #653: I live in an old 5 floor walk-up in Queens and the building is heated by old heat risers (in the bathroom), which get very hot during the heating season but they are uncovered. I have small children in the apartment, are there any requirements (NYC/NYS code) to have them covered? Post your answer

Answer:  No. There are no requirements by law. You can buy a 4 foot section of pipe insulation from Home Depot for a few bucks which works well. Peter Grech, GBOC

 
  Question #652:  I have been told that the room that houses the elevator machinery on the roof needs to be air conditioned to prevent deterioration of this equipment from the heat of New York summers. Is this accurate? Post your answer

Answer: For best results make a note in your planner to check, clean or replace air filters in your a/c. Roberto Cardona

Answer: This is correct, ONLY if you have computerized elevator equipment in the room. If you don't, the room should be vented by a mechanical vent and moving louvers to keep the equipment cool. This is a small cost. The vent can be controlled by either a timer or thermostat - or both. Two important items about elevator maintenance is dust free and DRY cool air when possible. Peter Grech, GBOC

Answer: Yes, this machinery always works better if it doesn't get overheated. The newer computerized elevator equipment is especially susceptible to heat, and should always be machine cooled in higher summer temperatures. Heat messes badly with computer equipment, which generates its own high temperatures. Glen Stoltz

 
  Question #651: I would like to know from where can I get a centrifugal license, and a lead painting license? I recently applied for a job and they mentioned these requirements. Post your answer

Answer: There is no such thing as a centrifugal license in NYC. I think you are referring to the refrigeration license which covers, among many things, centrifugal machines. That you have to go to Fire Department for. It takes an average of two years to study and prepare for the two tests to obtain it. The certificate for lead, or the Safe Work Practices for lead, can be obtained by taking a class at HPD. Peter Grech, GBOC

 
  Question #650: Can anyone tell me where to find replacement pins for a heat timer, it's an AMF Paragon timer. Post your answer

Answer: You can buy these through my company, we are a full service steam specialty company based here in New York City. However, these are standard parts offered by many electrical distributors (you can use G&G electrical at 212-243-0051). This is an older style controller and you may be interested in upgrading, if so give me a call.  Joe Lambert, http://www.leonardpowers.com

Answer: Those are tough pins to get. Try a good electrical contractor store. Or ask you boiler mechanic to get them for you. Peter Grech, GBOC