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Porters, Handymen, and Doorman, or PHD's Blog
Questions For Supers - 50 to 99


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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 #99: Where may I send my doormen for training? Any schools available? Local 32B 32J does not offer any training. Click here to post your answer to this question

Answer: Local 32BJ does offer some training in the form of communication and tenant relations skills. PGrech

Question #98: I own a two-family house that is heated with one furnace which has two circulating pumps - one for each unit. How can I install meters on the pumps to tell me how much heat each apartment is using? Where do I get these meters and how do they work? Click here to post your answer to this question

Answer: These meters are called BTU meters. They include a water meter which measures GPM and two temperature sensors- one one the supply and one on the return line for the heating system. In addition, there is an electronic calculating unit as well as a power supply. The complete package is offered by a company called ISTEC corp. and it can be ordered from Pronto Gas Heating supply, 181 Christie St., NY, NY 10002. phone 212-777-3366 Jeff Eichenwald

Question #97: I am having a problem on the roof of my building. Apparently, nesting birds are clogging the drain pipe, causing the rainwater to back up. This in turn makes the water flood all parts of my building. It has gotten so bad that water leaking from the ceiling got next to some lights. This can be extremely dangerous. The roof is pitched with slate covering, which makes it difficult to reach. Also, the roof is so high that no one can get up there to unclog the drainage. Any suggestions on how I can fix this problem? Click here to post your answer to this question

Answer: It would seem the heart of the problem is the birds. Call the exterminator on our vendor list. He was very helpful to me in getting rid of such problems. PGrech

Answer: I'm making the assumption that your problem is occurring in the gutter of the drain system and that there is a screen of some sort over the drain opening in the gutter and this is where the birds are nesting. If you have a gutter system, you might consider drain guards. I have used the plastic type that allow water to flow to the gutter but repel leaves and debris. If you have another situation that's not evident in your question please reply to the website.
Gene Marabello

Question #96: My husband has been the super of a 37 unit building on the upper west side for 20 years. Our two minor children were born here and attend school in the neighborhood. Does anyone know if there is a legal way that we can stay in our apartment even if he were to lose his job? Click here to post your answer to this question

Answer: If he was to lose his job, with due cause, and he is not in a union, there is not much chance of being allowed to stay in that building. Nonunion jobs are jobs that are hired at will, and as such they can be terminated at will. If it is a union position, and the owners followed protocol, there would be little chance of staying in the building once he lost his job also. If you are insecure about his job, start looking for another one in the neighborhood, or if he is well liked in the building, ask for a written contract. PGrech

Question #95: I own a co-op on a high floor of a 21-story building in Manhattan. When certain dishwashers or washing machines are operating on floors above me, water containing food particles and other debris, all not mine, back-up into my bathtub. Otherwise, all my drains flow clearly. I am very clean and conscientious regarding good drain preventive maintenance, i.e. no food residue, hair, or other debris is ever discarded down the drains. I do not have a dishwasher or washing machine.

A few months ago, the vent stack was snaked from the roof, and the problem was resolved. Now the back-up has returned with a vengeance! The super refuses to snake from the roof again. He wants to snake from the toilet waste line, but has made no provision for shutting off the water in the line, or releasing the tanks in toilets on the floor above. I am very concerned about flooding, because this has already occurred in the building under similar circumstances. My resistance to snaking via the toilet has made me "public enemy number 1". Thanks in advance for your prompt consideration. Click here to post your answer to this question

Answer: That's a tough question to answer with out knowing the plumbing lay out of your building. Usually when snaking out of the toilet there is little chance of flooding back in to your apartment. The better way might be to snake right into the stack itself via the sink drain. You might want to call Electric Sewer, they are very modestly priced, and are very good with such problems, Their phone number is 718 863 7144.
Question #94: I live in a tenement downtown. Our building does not have an intercom system. Residents of the 5 floor, 16 apartment building have asked the landlord for one but she says its too expensive to install. Approximately how much do these things cost to purchase and install? Click here to post your answer to this question

Answer: The intercom systems vary depending on the layout of your building. A simple 16 family building, without any existing intercom system would run at least $2,000 in parts from a local company. Figuring in planning for running risers, sheetrocking, stations, closing up holes and risers installed, with connections, strike, etc., and you're looking toward at least a $10,000 job.

Answer: Most intercom installation companies will give you a free estimate. There are too many variables to give you even an approximate estimate without visiting the building site.

Question #93: How does varying the cross-link density affect the elasticity of silicone elastomer? Click here to post your answer to this question

Answer: Varying the crosslinking density decreased smoothly over a distance of 18 microns from a maximum at the outer surface. In another case, the crosslinking density was uniform over a distance of 5 microns and then dropped abruptly. In either case, varying the cross link density effects the elasticity of the silicone elastomer by decreasing its smoothness as its spreads.

Answer: The cross link density affects the smoothness, but not the elasticity. The elasticity is more determined by the ratio of polymer and fumed silica in the rubber base.
Peter Grech

Question #92: I am the Superintendent of a 37 unit building. My elevator floor is a black rubber and has dirt and salt trapped in it and around the corners. I've tried everything to get the floor back to a beautiful black shine but it won't come back, it leaves white spots that look like water stains or salt stains. What can I do to get this floor back to the way it used to be? Click here to post your answer to this question

Answer: Is it possible that you haven't thoroughly stripped the floor before applying a new coat of floor finish? Use a good commercial grade stripper and make sure that all the dirt is removed by mopping after that, then let it dry and maybe, if the dirt is thick, use the stripper a second time before applying your floor finish.

Question #91: Is it legal for the building maintenance person to go through wrapped garbage to find recyclable items such as tins, juice cartons? Click here to post your answer to this question

Answer: Maintenance is supposed to exercise due diligence in ensuring that tenants' recyclable waste is segregated for pickup. (By the way, juice cartons are not recyclable, but the tins are.) I would so much appreciate knowing what it is that bothers you. There might be a solution. Dick Koral

Question #90: Re: exit signs in New York City locations, I have been told by our safety section that we need to install exit signs in our unmanned 12x12 pumping stations, with one door in and out. My questions are as follows: 1) does an unmanned location 12x12 and smaller with one door need a sign? 2)Now that we follow the 1999 NEC does the letters still have to be 8" as per the old City code or can they be 6"? Is there a city building code not allowing just an EXIT sticker placed near the door with an emergency light shinning on it? as per OSHA that would work, but how about the building code or fire code? Can anyone find or help me track in print where I can find these answers. If not just tell me what you think. Thanks in advance. Click here to post your answer to this question

Answer: Check out the Department of Buildings website at: We cover multi-family residential building questions.

Answer: Your question is very complex as it crosses over many government agencies. Your question may better be answered by an architect or engineer. You might also ask the Department of Buildings. PGrech

Question #89: I am a board member for an 80+ unit co-op in Brooklyn. The management company has an adversarial relationship with the super. They often ask the super to do certain repair jobs during their time, which he will refuse to do, saying that they are too big and require additional compensation. Last weekend a pipe burst behind a unit wall. The super shut off the water but has done nothing since then (it is now during the normal work week). The management has asked him to fix it and repair the wall (which is a gaping hole in it now) but he says that it's too big a job and that he should be paid extra for it. The management says that he should do what they ask him to do when it's during the work week, and he is certainly up to the task of fixing the wall. Prior to moving into this building, I have never had a super before, and I don't know what is appropriate for him to do or not to do in the building. Is there a place where this is defined? I don't believe that he is a part of any union. Click here to post your answer to this question

Answer: Housing and Building Codes state that anytime a repair is needed inside the wall, a licensed plumber is to do the work. Your insurance company would also insist on that, should the repair fail and cause more damage.

We are all human. Think about you and your work with extra work loads? Would you be happy to have to do more work than you are hired to do without fair compensation? I don't know the conditions that the super was hired under, nor the terms of his "contract" and his Job Description. Seems to me you need to communicate to the super what has to be done, and when he can get extra compensation.
Question #88: I live in a big old pre-war co-op. Recently there has been hot water in one toilet that eventually becomes cool, but this is not normal. The super ignores my requests (he does not really know what the problem is but won't admit such) but I have talked to some plumbers and they say it is a backup of some kind - that there is this hot water in the cold water line. Previously there was a nonstop running water noise under the rear of this same toilet (water now low or any visible movement in the bowl) and the super said it was in all the apartments above though I spoke with the residents and they denied this. Help! Also, should a super be fixing a shutoff valve inside the wall? Isn't this a city violation? The building has him do fairly major plumbing to save money but he has no license and does sloppy work. Thanks. Click here to post your answer to this question

Answer: There may be a apartment in the same line that has a handheld shower head with hose. Sometimes the person using the device shuts off the water after taking a shower by shutting off the water at the showerhead instead of shutting off the faucet handles. By doing this the hot and cold water will continue to mix and then the entire line will get hot water in the cold water line. This has happened to me a couple of times in two different buildings. Mike MacGowan

Question #87: What kind of commercial gas water heater(s) should you install in the building for business purposes like the sauna/spa where people use hot water in the shower constantly? Click here to post your answer to this question

Answer: As a designer of heating systems, I am constantly counseling clients and students alike to avoid, whenever possible the use of commercial hot water heaters. They are not only expensive, difficult to install and inefficient, but also they are guaranteed to require replacement in three to five years. In a situation of extremely heavy usage, they have been known to fail in a year! If there is a heating boiler of sufficient size, then an indirect water heater can be connected to the boiler which will make domestic hot water. If there is no heating boiler, then I would recommend a copper heat exchanger water heater with a stainless steel storage tank. If you would like more details, call me at 212-982-4803. Jeff Eichenwald

Question #86: How can I get the licenses required for a super position? Click here to post your answer to this question

Answer: There are no licenses required to become a superintendent. However there may be some Certificates of Fitness (licenses), issued by the Fire Department for specific buildings. If you would like a certificate that proves that you have some educational background in real estate management, contact IREM, at 212 944-9445, talk to Sheila Still. Tell her Peter Grech told you to call. Another source is City Tech, at 718 260 5160, they have a Building Superintendent technology degree. PGrech

Question #85: I live in a co-op environment. On two occasions the sewer line got clogged, causing the basement to have a flood of feces, urine etc. The building had a strong odor. I call the super and reported it to him. He fixed the problem, but the board members got together and wrote me a note. It stated that the next time the sewer line gets clogged that they are not going to pay for it. I hope it doesn't get clogged again, but if it does who is responsible for getting the problem fixed? Click here to post your answer to this question

Answer: If you're the owner of the co-op, you may be responsible to pay for it.

Question #84: What type of permits or licensing does a person need to become a super? Where can that information be found? Click here to post your answer to this question

Answer: See the answer to Question #86.

Question #83: RE: Resident Manager or Superintendent. If the Board of a cooperative or condominium building wants their present manager to leave because they want a change, and he is not at fault for any reason, when this person starts interviewing for another position, what would be a reasonable reason to give the prospective employer as to why you are leaving your present job? Does anyone have some suggestions? Click here to post your answer to this question

Answer: My suggestion for your next Superintendents position would be to treat every tenant as a future board president. It sounds like you might have gotten caught up in some politics. Chris Christenson

Answer: I cannot believe that you are being let go for "no reason," although you may not be in the wrong. I suggest that you try to collect some letters of praise from individual members of the cooperative, then be open with your prospective employer. If you lie, you will eventually be found out and fired, once again. Dick Koral

Question #82: Is there a list or document of all condos with live-in supers somewhere? I am doing research and just need to know which buildings have a super living on the premises. Click here to post your answer to this question

Answer: Call Yale Robbins in Manhattan. They are the publishers of the Co-op/Condo Directory. They sell the list on a CD. From the list, you will have to winnow out what you need.
Dick Koral
Question #81: Hi, I am a home owner in Staten Island. I need to place overhead lighting in a bedroom (a ceiling light). To run BX I would have rip open two walls. Someone told that there was a January 2003 New York City Code change and I should use ROMEX NM-B 12/3. Is this correct? Click here to post your answer to this question

Answer: You should just install surface wire molding that you can purchase at any hardware store. It is much easier to install this than BX cable. If you should have to change the wiring in the future, it is easy to pull in new wires in the molding. Mike MacGowan

Question #80: I am paying $1,650 per month for a 2 1/2 bedroom apartment in Bayridge, Brooklyn in a two family house. The rent is premium but many facilities in the apartment are not. The windows are really old and there is cold air coming in when there is wind, most of the doors in the rooms do not close, there is little or no water pressure in the bathtub, and there is no way to open the front door from within the apartment unless we go down stairs and open it. I have spoken to the owner several times and he ignores us. What can I do? Click here to post your answer to this question

Answer: Your problem is a legal one, and would best be discussed with an attorney. Two-family houses don't fall under many City Government agencies. However your landlord may or may not be in violation of the lease pertaining to the Warranty of Habitability or to repairs. See your lease. Pgrech

The following is taken from in reference to the Warranty of Habitability:

Warranty Of Habitability
Tenants have the right to reside in a comfortable, safe, and sanitary apartment. Landlords must provide heat and hot water on a regular basis. They also must control insect/pest infestation. If a landlord breaches this agreement, the tenant may sue for a rent reduction. The tenant may also withhold rent for recurring conditions, but in response, the landlord may sue the tenant for nonpayment of rent. In such a case, the tenant may counter sue for breach of the warranty. Any adverse condition caused by the tenant or other persons under the tenant's direction or control does not constitute a breach of the warranty of habitability by the landlord. In such a case, it is the responsibility of the tenant to remedy the condition. Rent reductions may be ordered if a court finds that the landlord violated the warranty of habitability. The reduction is computed by subtracting from the actual rent, the estimated value of the apartment without the essential services. A landlord's liability for damages may be limited when the failure to provide services is the result of circumstances beyond the landlord's control. For example, a water main break or workers' strike. In cases of emergency or neglect by the landlord, tenants may make necessary repairs and deduct the reasonable repair costs from rent when due. For example, when a landlord has been notified that a sink is leaking and willfully neglects to repair it, the tenant may hire a plumber and deduct the cost from the rent. Tenants should obtain receipts for the repairs and present them to the landlord along with a written explanation of the deduction from the rent.

Question #79: I have been a live in superintendent in a 20 unit Manhattan apartment building for 22 years now. The building just switched management and the new manager insists on charging me the average amount of rent paid by the other tenants, although I have not paid rent for 22 years. My financial compensation for being the Super has been rent free living. I cannot afford to the exorbitant amount of rent imposed by the new management and have been offered only a $200 a month compensation for my duties as the super.

Do I have any tenant rights to object to this abrupt rent increase or do I have any labor rights to protest the $200 per month wages being offered to me? I am a nonunion Super. Click here to post your answer to this question

Answer: Your employment is under what is called "hire at will". You have no recourse. It is my opinion that the new management company wants you to leave and that is why they are doing this. Talk to the owner of the building directly and see what is going on. PGrech

Question #78: I live on the 5th floor of a 30 unit apartment building in Manhattan and I have two questions:

1) Whenever I shower, the water temperature goes from boiling hot to freeze cold in a matter of milliseconds, making it very hard to shower. Why does this happen and is there anything I or the Super can do?

2) Our boiler is broken at least twice a week, and my apartment is left freezing cold. I have lived here for a year and its the same thing. Can I do anything? Click here to post your answer to this question

Answer: The problems you relate translate into serious violations of the city's department of Housing Preservation and Development's (HPD) Housing Maintenance Code. Don't blame the super. The owner probably will not pay for repairs that needs be done by an outside mechanic. Do call the HPD emergency heating number (you can dial 311) and once an inspector finds the apartment cold, he will give the owner a short time to fix, otherwise HPD will fix and bill the owner. Dick Koral

Question #77: How do I and my wife go about finding a job as a Superintendent / Building Manager in Brooklyn New York. I have experience. Click here to post your answer to this question

Answer: 1. Look for ads for positions wanted in local papers. 2. Make some appointments with management companies in Brooklyn. Look in the yellow pages. 3. Go to some buildings and talk to the supers and ask for the management companies name and number. 4. Check the ads on this website (click here). PGrech

Question #76: How can I find a list of available section 8 apartments? I heard your website had it, but couldn't find it. Any help would be greatly appreciated. Click here to post your answer to this question

Answer: Go to Google ( and put in your search parameters. I found 696,000 sites searching for "section 8 apartment". This site is more for questions related to building maintenance.

Question #75: I just bought a condo in Manhattan and found this site very helpful regarding many questions about supers. Is there a similar site for Doormen of condos and co-ops where I can see similar answers to questions like tipping rules when you move in, etc... Click here to post your answer to this question

Answer: No site exists that I know of. Ask your question on this page, maybe we can answer it for you.
Question #74: I purchased a condo and moved in 3 months ago (September). There is no doorman, but there is a super, and a super's assistant. They also take care of accepting packages. Having been in the building for only 3 months, what is an appropriate tip for Christmas? I gave the super a $60 tip on the day of my move for coming in on the weekend to watch the door, and for helping me to remove some old closet doors. I'm not sure what the appropriate tip is now for Christmas for either the super or his assistant. Click here to post your answer to this question

Answer: Tipping has always been a personal subject. The answer is simple. Tip the super and his assistant within your means. $25 and up is usually a nice holiday gift. It also depends if you plan on tipping during the year for work done by them that is not a building covered job.
Peter Grech
Question #73: I was wondering if anyone could shed light upon the super's duties concerning pest control. Basically, I have mice, lots of them, crawling around my apartment and eating my dog's food. My dog has a self feeder and that is the ONLY food that is not refrigerated in my house. I addressed the situation with my superintendent and they told me that I have to wait a month until the exterminator comes again (I was never informed that he comes monthly. They told me that there's a posting of this in the trash room of the apartment building, which I later found. It was about the size of a post-it.) Anyway, they sort of gave me this 'there's nothing we can do' song and dance aside from suggesting I get glue traps and other devices that I'm afraid my dog might get into. Is it MY responsibility as a tenant to keep the building pest-free or the super's? Any information will be greatly appreciated. I want to be a little more informed before I talk with my super again tomorrow. Click here to post your answer to this question

Answer: It is really both YOUR responsibility to keep your apartment relatively free of pests, AND your landlord's. You must do what you can (and there are lots of things you can do) to be pest-free, and your landlord has an obligation to treat for pests at least once a month IF you ask for it.

So the first thing you can do is ask for it. It is your right. The second most important thing you can do is take ALL food away from the pests, thus giving them a disincentive to pay you a visit. Yes, that means the dog food also. Figure out another way, because they will seek you out if you give them a reason.

The super is correct, he doesn't have to do more than the one monthly extermination. What is ethical to do is another thing, but you probably can't demand more of him without looking like the bad guy. You could ask him to come by and close all the holes where the mice can enter and exit. Some supers are open to that, others aren't, but it is well within their scope of duties.

Many people do very well with a hungry cat, although if you already have a dog you may not want a cat also. Good luck.

Question #72: Could you give me a job description of a hotel doorman. Click here to post your answer to this question

Answer: A hotel doorman greets and admits guests to the property, directing them, their vehicles, and luggage to their proper destination. The doorman also arranges transportation (cabs, limos, etc). He is the face of the hotel, and may also assist in security (screening out "undesirables"). Finally, he is an ambassador - he knows the hotel, the neighborhood, and the city inside out. Philip Martin

Answer: This website is geared toward multi-family residential buildings. Job descriptions are the duties of the person that hires you. No one job description can be used as a universal job description because each hotel, and even each building for that matter, have special needs. Ask a few doormen of hotels about their job descriptions. PGrech

Question #71: Where do I learn who in New York City needs a Certificate of Fitness? Click here to post your answer to this question

Answer: Certificates of Fitness are issued by the New York City Fire Department for various task, like attending a burner that uses heavy oil. Go to the City's Web site ( and follow instructions to get to the Fire Department, then look it up. If you post here more precise questions, you will get more precise answers. Dick Koral

Question #70: I moved into a building in NY in September. The current superintendent started only a month ago. The building has a handyman, 5 or 6 doormen, and 5 or 6 porters. Who do I tip and how much? Click here to post your answer to this question

Answer: It's a fair question, but the answer is very subjective and lies within you. GOOD supers, doormen & handymen/porters will appreciate WHATEVER you give them. For a super that just started a month ago, $100 is probably quite enough.

I think a good holiday tip, in a luxury building, for the year, is $200 and up for full time personnel, possibly a bit higher for the super who is responsible for all.

But this is all very subjective -- numbers are just that, numbers -- and of course should depend on your own preferences, income, debts, how much you request (or demand!) their individual help at Holiday time and throughout the year, etc. And there's nothing wrong with playing favorites, meaning tipping more to those who've helped you specifically, and have done so with respect and caring, throughout your stay.

Answer: Ask the other occupants of the building. There are no rules other than your conscience.
Dick Koral
Question #69: I am a new member and I was at the last meeting we had in Brooklyn about removing lead. It was very informative and I enjoyed it and am looking forward to the next meeting. My question is: What is the rule on superintendents having to reside at the place that they work? I work in a 125 unit condo but I do not reside there. Does the landlord have to provide me with an apartment by law? I heard if it's more then 16 units, by law there has to be a live-in super. Do you have an answer? What happens if the employer does not provide an apartment even though he has to by law? What can be done? Click here to post your answer to this question

Answer: First of all lets get it right. If you are in a condo or co-op, there is no landlord but there is a board of directors. Second: the first law you are misquoting is the Housing Maintenance Code. Article 13, which states "a building of 9 apartment or more" and the second law you misquoted is the Multiple Dwelling Law Article 3/title 83, which states "a dwelling with thirteen or more tenants." Both articles state either/or... a 24 hour janitor or housekeeper or a janitor residing in the building or a janitor residing within 200 feet of the building, or the agent or owner lives in the building. Since you building is a CONDO, that means most people who live there own the apartment and building, which satisfies both articles of the law. Peter Grech

Question #68: When a tenant is locked out of his/her apartment. who's responsible to get the door open - the super or the tenant? Click here to post your answer to this question

Answer: The policies vary from building to building. In some buildings the residents are asked to leave a key with the superintendent. The super then places the key in a tamper proof envelope with a number that responds to the apartment. The key would be used in the event of an emergency: medical, gas leak, floods or fire or lockout. If this is not the case then the resident may have to call a locksmith. Some supers know certain alternate entrance procedures on getting doors open, and while some residents appreciate it, others frown on the idea.
Roberto Cardona

Answer: It also depends on who claims ownership of the lock, and whether or not the lock failed to operate or did the owner of the lock just lose/not have the keys.
Peter Grech
Question #67: I have a hot water boiler that give heat and hot water. Could I just run a line from the boiler to two a/c units that have a coil for heating to feed a space, could you advise me on what I should do, thanks. Click here to post your answer to this question

Answer: Yes. It's easier if it's a boiler that sends hot water to heat the building instead of sending steam, but it can be done in both cases. If it's hot water heat you can run lines and a pump, and wire the pump to turn on whenever one of the two areas need heat, and also wire the zone valve for that heater to open at the same time. If the AC unit does not already have a zone valve it's easier and probably cheaper to buy two pumps instead of a pump and two zone valves. You also have to accommodate eliminating air from the new piping, and have to have some way of preventing the AC from blowing cold air or not making heat when the boiler isn't making heat. How you do this depends on how the boiler is controlled.

Question #66: While working the vacuum pump for the boiler was pulling air from the system into the tank and then released through the vent pipe. After 1 LB. of psi this action was reversed, with air being sucked through the vent pipe into the tank. Is this how the system should work? Click here to post your answer to this question

Answer: No. There should be a check valve that prevents air from flowing back into the heating system piping when the pump cycles off. Look for the check valve and bang on it with a channellocks; otherwise, shut the system down, wait for the piping to cool off, unscrew the top of the valve and see what sort of gook is holding it open; then, close it up again. If all else fails, change the check valve.

Question #65: I am running an electrical service in my pole building. I am going to run an auxiliary box off my main box in my house. I will put a 100 amp box in my building. (Probably will never use over 40 to 50 amps at one time.) How heavy a gage underground wire should I install? I am running approx. 150 to 175 feet to the building. Click here to post your answer to this question

Answer: You should be calling a licensed electrician to perform this kind of work. You don't know where any lines are underneath the ground.
Mike MacGowan
Question #64: Does anybody know of where to get or perhaps could email me a practice exam for sprinkler/standpipe C.o.F.? Thanks. Click here to post your answer to this question

Answer: Do a search at

Question #63: When does a multiple dwelling building require that a Super must be a full time paid employee. Where do I find that law that covers that. Thank in advance for the help. Click here to post your answer to this question

Answer: The multiple dwelling law requires that a building have 24 hour maintenance if there are 13 or more apartments. The super must either live in the building or within 200 feet of the front door.
Jeff Eichenwald

Answer: There is also a Housing Maintenance Code that states 9 apartment or more (Article 3 title 3 sec 83). The Multiple Dwelling code is Article 13. You may obtain both from City Books, either online or call information.
Peter Grech
Question #62: My apartment had a renovation 3 years ago and now the building told me my contractor didn't give the electrical sign-offs on the apt. Can someone explain to me what exactly I have to do to get the sign-offs? I'm unable to get any answers from the building manager & the super from the building. Thanks very much in advance! Click here to post your answer to this question

Answer: You need to go back to your contractor and talk to him. You need the name of the electrical contractor who did the work. Unfortunately an electrical permit is only good for one year. So you may need to get the job refiled and schedule an inspection for the final sign off. Check with your architect.
Jeff Eichenwald
Question #61: What happens when a super becomes ill and tries to conceal the illness from the management company and has a friend of hers come to the building to clean the halls? Super is a retired woman in her 60's who is recovering from a stroke. The tenants were asked to keep their knowledge of her illness a secret. Click here to post your answer to this question

Answer: There is a code of ethics that a person must conform to. Asking someone to cover for a super with out approval is a breach of that code, and keep in mind should the person covering for the super without being compensated get hurt, there is a large liability question.
Peter Grech
Question #60: Is there a standard contract for building supers? If so, where could I find one? Click here to post your answer to this question

Answer: No, there is no standard contract for a superintendent's duties, etc.
Peter Grech
Question #59: I would like to know what kind of sprinkler system is used in libraries. Because I will think that the water system to extinguish a fire will damaged the books. I truly appreciate your help. Click here to post your answer to this question

Answer: A combination wet and dry system. In this system the pipes in the library have no water. In the event of a fire the smoke from the fire would set off the smoke detector, the smoke detector would send an electrical signal that would allow the clapper to open (the clapper is the metal trap door that restricts the water from entering the sprinkler system in the library), the fire melts the solder on the sprinkler heads and the system does battle with the fire. Be aware of the fact that the sprinkler system stays on until the fire department turns it off and resets it, for the simple reason that if the fire is too overwhelming they have to turn the system off and battle it themselves. (If the fire is too overwhelming, then the water from the sprinkler will vaporize and cause severe heat burns to the firemen). This is the reason the emergency shut off is located outside on the sidewalk with a sign indicating its location and function.
Roberto Cardona

Answer: Fires extinguished by sprinkler systems consume, on average, one-sixth the water of fires extinguished by hoses. There are several reasons for this other than the usual blame for macho firemen: Sprinklers respond faster, so the fire gets put out before it spreads very far. Water damaged books can be restored, while smoke and soot and fire damaged books cannot. Therefore, a sprinkler system is the best protection for a library.

Answer: I think that you are right. A sprinkler system would be inappropriate for a library. And I know that there are some very fine special fire protection systems for this situation which use a gas that smothers the fire, rather than water.

Since you have access to the Internet, set your browser to, the City's Web site, look on the left and see "City Agencies" and click on it. A drop-down menu will allow you to find Fire Department, click on that, then search the FD pages. If you cannot find the answer, you will find someplace on that site a way to ask them, either by phone or email.

It may be much easier, however, to drop by a public library and ask to speak to the custodian / superintendent. He will probably have the answer to your question.

Question #58: I have two windows in my apartment that are a potential security problem. One goes out onto a common patio area, and another to the fire escape. This makes both windows accessible to other tenants of the building. Is my landlord required to put window gates/bars on these windows for my safety, or is this the tenant's responsibility. Thanks in advance! Click here to post your answer to this question

Answer: Your landlord is not required to supply window gates. Only latch locks on the windows or window guards if there are children less than 10 years old in the apartment. If you choose to put in window gates yourself, you must use a fire department approved gate on the fire escape window. These gates do not have key locks but use a restricted access latch.

Question #57: I live in a brownstone with seven apartments. The building entrance consists of two sets of doors. A double street door that opens to a 6' x 5' vestibule in which are located the mailboxes and apartment bells. There is another set of double doors that are usually locked and one is required to use a key or be buzzed in. I noticed that all other buildings that do not have a doorman in my neighborhood have the outer street doors locked with the bells located on the outside. Does anyone know what the code or regulation is that would require this? Click here to post your answer to this question

Answer: In NYC it is against the building code to have both sets of doors locked. Only the "inner door can be locked". However, you are correct most buildings ignore this law, because it is a minor violation. You can have the intercom relocated to the outer doors and a special Post Office lock box for the front door key for lettercarrier use only.
Peter Grech
Question #56: Is it required to have all garbage cans covered? Click here to post your answer to this question

Answer: Yes it is, in New York City. Whether or not it's enforceable - that's another matter. You can learn everything you want to know about sanitation at

Question #55: Painting of interior walls of occupied apartments: Plainsview Apartments (Wilkes-Barre, PA) is starting some painting of a few of the apartments here with a new outside painter who is moonlighting from his real job as a school bus driver, I'm told. He has experience in painting of private homes and he has painted an empty apartment prior to new tenant moving in. He has never before painted an occupied residential unit and now he'll be moving furniture and belongings of the current tenant. (Our residents are always home, since they are disabled.)

Our concern here is if, in the course of this repainting of the walls, some personal property of the tenant is damaged or marred accidentally. Is the rental office management responsible for these damages that may arise in the process of shifting furniture, etc.? This painter has no commercial insurance, since he is painting as a freelance moonlighter. Click here to post your answer to this question

Answer: Yes, the management company is responsible for any one they hire to do work in the building. Since there are usually no laws in most municipalities requiring licensing of painters, there is no legal reason why an uninsured painter could not be hired. However, it would be especially risky to use him to paint occupied apartments since there are possible theft and damage issues involved.

Question #54: Help! I have a big problem! I live in a cooperative building and my flushometer burst/exploded while I was at work. I have called a few plumbing companies, and they have not provide me with an answer as to what would cause this flushometer to burst with out any warning? I have now extensive damage done to my neighbors below my unit, which I am being made responsible for. The board will/refuse to advise me. They insist it is my problem, I have to pay for all the repairs. This is very sad, because I did nothing to cause this flushometer to burst. If anyone has any idea, please let me know. Click here to post your answer to this question

Answer: Your "flush valve" (Flushometer is a trade name for one brand of flush valve) burst because of water hammer. Water hammer occurs when someone lets air into the water piping, and then someone opens a faucet and the air rushes out faster than water can, and then suddenly the water gets to the end of the run and then, boom!!! It's analogous to the difference between placing an encyclopedia on your foot and dropping an encyclopedia on your foot. Probably a plumber had been working on the piping and drained a pipe to work on it and then either filled the pipe too quickly by opening a valve too quickly, or didn't go to an upper floor to slowly let the air out. If it's a top floor, the air can accumulate because it comes out of solution as the pressure in the water pipe decreases at higher levels. Air vent valves are sometimes installed in tall buildings to take care of this, and yours might have an air valve that failed. One good way to determine if you have a failed air valve is to see if the flush valve explodes again.

Answer: Yes, as the owner of your apartment, it IS your problem.

Answer: If this were a condominium then the responsibility would definitely be yours. However, as you indicated that this is a cooperative, then technically you are a tenant of the cooperative corporation. The details of responsibility would normally be specified in your proprietary lease. You should read it, and in additi
on you may need to have a lawyer look at it. However, in most cases, the courts usually consider the cooperative corporation ultimately responsible unless someone can prove negligence on your part.
Question #53: What does PSI mean for a dish washing machine (restaurant)? How does it hinder getting the dishes clean? Click here to post your answer to this question

Answer: Restaurant dishwashers use water pressure to scour the food off the dishes. If your pressure is insufficient, the dishes won't get clean. If it's too high, you'll use more hot water than the water heater can make, and the electric booster in the dishwasher can cost over $1,000/day for electricity. I suggest reading the instructions that came with the dishwasher and installing a permanent pressure gauge ($30) on the hot water pipe and another one on the cold water pipe near the dishwasher. If the pressures are too high (possible in NYC) you can add a pressure-reducing valve. If the pressures are too low you can add a pump, or better yet, a spray nozzle from the dishwasher factory that accommodates lower pressure. If the pressure is OK but the machine isn't working well, I'd suspect worn spray nozzles, something no "professional" contractor will check for because it's a special order part and just too much trouble to make the phone calls to track it down.

Answer: PSI stands for pounds per square inch and, in this case, the pressure of the water supply. I guess that insufficient supply water pressure (hot and/or cold) would result in failure to be able to fill the machine as designed. Normal PSI, I think, is about 15. Higher would be OK. If, when you open the tap you get a good flow in sink or lavatory, you're OK.
Dick Koral
Question #52: I am a psychotherapist with boxes of sensitive and confidential client papers and notes. Shredding 8 pages at a time has worn down the goodwill of neighbors and my digits. Is there any way I can pay to incinerate this material? Any one know of such a company in New York City? Most appreciate a response. Click here to post your answer to this question

Answer: There is at least one company that sells a service consisting of sending a big garbage truck with a shredder on the back. You call, they come and shred in front of you, and mix the shreds up with a truckload of other shreds.

Answer: There is a document shredding company called U.S. Document Security (USDS), which I believe is in Brooklyn. There are at least three others serving the New York city area. You can find them on the internet. Hanna Edwards

Answer: I note your connection to NYU. I'm sure the University has a ton of shredders and a few, at least, that you could use. Why not inquire at the Business Office? I do not know about private incineration services, but the shredder would save you a bundle, I'm sure!

Answer: If, in fact you are working at NYU then I would definitely contact the university business office. They may have bulk shredded services available. If not then check out the yellow pages as there are several licensed and bonded companies which will do this for you and guarantee security.

Question #51: Are sprinklers permitted in electric closets in the City of New York? Click here to post your answer to this question

Answer: The answer to your question is no. (I am a firefighter and a building superintendent).

Answer: Not only are sprinklers not permitted in electrical closets but the electrical closet must be CLEARLY signed on the door... " Electrical Closet. USE NO WATER. NO STORAGE PERMITTED"
Peter Grech
Question #50: I have a friend who is a superintendent for a 185 family cooperative complex in Westchester County. As a live-in super, he works Monday-Friday and is "On Call" Saturday & Sunday. How is that possible? Federal Law states that anyone who works more than 40 hrs. per week is to be compensated with overtime. How can he possibly be expected to stay in one place 24/7? He is a member of local 32BJ and judging from his contract, he is only obligated to provide emergency service "During his/her work week" which makes sense to me, because why would anyone want to be at the beck and call of 185 families 24/7 for 35K a year! Also, what is the difference between a Super, non working super and a Resident Manager? Thanks for the help! You have a great site that I hope my friend will learn to use and take advantage from! Click here to post your answer to this question

Answer: The reason why a superintendent is always on call is that he or she may be the only one that knows the location of all the main water valves, gas mains, and main electrical panels as well as the boiler in the event of an emergency. To be on call means that the super can be reached by phone or beeper. He or she may not need to be present; it may be that the emergency could be handled by other personnel on site, via instruction by phone, until the super arrives.

The super must deal, day in and day out, with the residents, the board , management, as well as the employees, contractors, electricians, plumbers and so on. The super’s position also carries power; with great power comes great responsibility. Some buildings require the super to perform such specific chores as repair of leaking faucets. The resident manager, on the other hand, doesn't make repairs. He just makes sure the building is running smoothly, for instance, that building materials are bought, personnel are performing, and listening to the complaints of the shareholders.