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Porters, Handymen, and Doorman, or PHD's Blog
  Questions For Supers - 1001 to 1050  


last update on Thursday July 10, 2008 12:46 PM PT


"There are two kinds of light--the glow that illuminates, and the glare that obscures.   -James Thurber


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  last update on Thursday July 10, 2008 12:46 PM PT

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  Question #1050: What ages of children must an apartment have to require window guards.  For example: does an apartment with a brand new born need them.  If not, at what age must they be installed.  And at what age can they be removed? Post your answer

Answer/Comment: The window guard law, which is in the Health Code, Section 131.15, requires owners of multifamily buildings (those with 3 or more apartments) to pay for and install window guards on all windows including first floor bathroom and windows leading onto a balcony or terrace in an apartment "where a child (or children) 10 years of age or younger reside and in each hallway window, if any, in such buildings." I take that to mean that from newborn to ten years of age they must be in place. In addition, any tenant who requests them in writing, whether or not they have children under the age of ten living in the apartment, must be provided with window guards. Here is a quick PDF fact sheet about window guards from DHCR; good lawyerly info on the subject here also.

Question #1049: After having been hired two years ago as a part time super in a non-union, no benefits co-op building (live in), I have been asked to do more but no mention of a pay hike. Should I wait for them to mention or should I ask since it just recently came up? Post your answer

Answer/Comment: When asking for a raise, you should have a list of issues and things you have accomplished while you have been there. The list is more effective if you have on it things you have done that are above and beyond what you get paid for. Otherwise make the list of the accomplishments and add the new stuff they are giving you and the fact the normal people get a 3 -5% cost of living increase. DO IT VERY SOON as now is budget season. If you wait too long your answer will be, ok we did the budget for 2008 and it's too late. Peter Grech, GBOC

Answer/Comment: They'll probably not offer more without your asking, so ask.

Question #1048: I was told that in order to get your boiler and standpipe license you have to get sponsored first, is that correct? Post your answer

Answer/Comment: No. Peter Grech, GBOC

  Question #1047: Who is responsible for the cleaning of the air ducts in my apartment, me or the owner? Post your answer

Answer/Comment: The owner of the building or corporation has the responsibility of cleaning air ducts. These ducts should be cleaned about once every 5 to10 years, but are rarely cleaned at all. The actual vent cover in your apartment, also known as the diffuser, is cleaned by the occupant of the apartment. In most cases all that needs to be done is vacuum the vent cover and clean with warm water and a mild solution like watered down fantastic. Too strong and you may remove the paint. Peter Grech, GBOC

  Question #1046: Does anyone know where on the upper east side I can get No. 2 oil boiler supplies and parts, i.e., filters, nozzles, etc. Post your answer 

Answer/Comment: Boiler parts should be replaced by qualified technicians. You can find parts at: Official Oil Burner Parts Supply Corp. 718-823-8840, 2333 Westchester Avenue, Bx., NY 10462.  Peter Grech, GBOC

  Question #1045: Where can I obtain information about the "quiet enjoyment" rule of a shareholder in a New York State co-op set-up. I'm also interested in information about the business corporation law portions which deals with rights of shareholders in a NYS co-op. Post your answer 

Answer/Comment: I posted your question to the American Bar Association and this is the answer I received from them: "What does "right of quiet enjoyment" of the premises mean? That legal phrase does not refer to noise; it refers to the tenant's legal right to occupy the apartment. The landlord would violate the right by renting the same apartment to two different tenants or by removing the tenant's belongings." My assumption - and I could very well be wrong - is that if the resident is complaining about noise that renders his/her apartment unlivable, then New York State Real Property Law 235-b, the Warranty of Habitability may be the relevant law, but it's up to a judge to decide if the noise is illegal. New York City also recently passed a new noise control ordinance that took effect July 2007, but I don't know the formal name. Finally, New York State business corporation law is important for co-ops, but I think they literally constitute volumes so I can't pinpoint which sections are most relevant because I'm not a lawyer. Peter Grech, GBOC

Question #1044: What perks are live-in supers entitled to?  What should the co-op be paying for, i.e., cell phone, pager, etc? Post your answer 

Answer/Comment: You and others may call them perks, but I assure you that a good or great super has earned these so-called perks. Apartment is included with salary, phone for business use, Con Ed (gas and electric), cable, garage (not always), use of company jet. Peter Grech, GBOC

Answer/Comment: They aren't really entitlements either. These additions to the salary (apartment, cell phone (used to be pager, which has gone the way of all old technology), computer, gas/electric, etc.) are part of the pay structure because of the unique arrangement a super has with the building, which is to be "on call" for emergencies 24/7, or at least 24/5.

  Question #1043: I had a tiler clean his grout bucket out in the tub, and now of course the tub is clogged. I have access to the trap on the back; is there any way to remove this hardened grout - someone suggested sulphuric acid?  Post your answer 

Answer/Comment: Sulphuric acid might do the job, with time, but it could also eat through your pipes in that same time. Your best bet may be to remove the whole section of pipe and replace it, since you have access to it. Sulphuric acid is not something you should be thinking of putting into your pipes, ever, except in the most dire of circumstances.

  Question #1042: In our building we have air vents in those kitchens and baths without windows.  These appear to be operational, however, many spew dirt at times. I am a board member and have inquired with the super and he says these air shafts are not cleaned. My question is - can they be? Do these systems require cleaning? Are there companies that do this type of work? Post your answer 

Answer/Comment: Yes these vents can be cleaned - and should be periodically. You can call Maria at Indoor Environmental Solutions, 718-824-6591. They are very good at what they do, and this is a large part of what they do all the time.

  Question #1041: I would like to know what are the super's duties of a two man 116 apartment co-op building. When the porter is on his day off, is the super responsible to do the porters job for that day? (for example: do the recycling in the building and change the bags in the compactors, sweep the sidewalk in the morning). Also what are the super's every day duties? Post your answer 

Answer/Comment: Your question is too general and almost at the same time too specific. What do I mean by that? I mean the duties of a super vary as much from building to building as their height, so you cannot determine what the duties of a super in one building are or should be, based on what is the case in another building. It just doesn't work that way. It depends a lot on what the building required in the past, and a lot on what the specific needs of the building are in the present. There are no truly hard and fast rules here. The everyday duties of a super are dictated both by what the building's needs are today and by historical evidence, so to speak. Glen Stoltz

Question #1040: I am on the board in my building. We just recently hired our first live-in super. I was wondering if there were any contracts that supers sign for their apartment? Are they legally lessees even if they don't pay rent? Post your answer 

Answer/Comment: Supers and their families who live in an apartment that is provided for by a building are subject to the same house rules as all residents of that building. People seem to misunderstand the free rent. The free rent is not free per se. If supers didn't have the apartment, then most likely they would earn more money hence it's a tradeoff - not to mention to satisfy housing codes. While we do not give opinions on legal matters there is no lessee / landlord relationship - only employer / employee relationship, and when that relationship ends, so does the apartment use. (with 30-60 days to move out). Hope this answers the question. Peter Grech, GBOC

  Question #1039: Where can I find a porter job? All I see is supers, handyman, etc., positions. Any specific contact? Post your answer 

Answer/Comment:  If you can read, try the jobs page. There is at least one there right now that is asking for porter applications. And keep checking back, they come up a lot. Also try any management company, or go directly to a building and ask for the super. You can also try coming to our monthly meetings and asking around (often called networking), someone may know a building currently looking for a porter. Glen Stoltz

  Question #1038:  Why do we need superintendents? They do absolutely nothing! Post your answer 

Answer/Comment: I am a Super. I have dedicated myself to my residents and the building I watch over. I work a 40 hour week, which really consists of 8-12 hour days, weekends, nights. When I'm off duty I get stopped by residents with questions about things that could wait until the next day. I get phone calls at all hours. My 3 year old thinks I'm always on duty. I wish sometimes I did nothing..., but then I wouldn't love my job. Ken Botte

Answer/Comment: Yes, I agree below and them some. Perhaps your super is lazy or perhaps you (person asking this question) are the jerk, and more. Peter Grech, GBOC

Answer/Comment: If "they" do absolutely nothing, then why am I so tired after working from 7:30 AM to 8 PM today? All I did was make sure the doorman had what he needed this morning, installed a couple of light switches, an electric damper motor at the boiler, sweated some joints on a hot water heater, dealt with some landlord / tenant issues both in person and over the phone, took several calls from tenants, returned a few messages, helped the porter unclog then clean the compactor machine, then after that shampooed some carpets and swept the rear courtyard, cleaned out a room in the basement, changed a few light bulbs for a tenant who's afraid to climb a stepladder, helped to settle a dispute between two people, swept the front sidewalk 3 times, once with the porter twice alone, listened to lots of complaints about the hot weather in October, fixed a dishwasher. Then in the afternoon... I could go on, but this is a typical day for me and you must get the picture if you're not completely thick. You're probably angry with your super about something and just want to vent, huh? Nothing wrong with that, but don't ever say that supers do nothing. That's just stupid and shows your ignorance - either that or you're just a troll. We're all individuals and don't like to be painted with the same broad brush as a bad super on a bad day or even a good super on a bad day. Maybe yours is lazy, or a jerk - or worse, so complain to someone who has some influence over him. Glen Stoltz

Answer/Comment: Because with-out supers there would be no heat, no hot water no rubbish removal.  Most service persons would be clueless with-out the guidance of the superintendent.  Also, being ready (24hrs) to stop what your doing and race to your building at a drop of a hat, when an emergency arises is something you should try.  It is very easy for someone to ask such a question, since our duty's are mostly behind the scenes. Anyway, that's why you need a Superintendent.  Way to go Ken! Edward Rios

  Question #1037: The landlord has locked the trash compactor rooms on each floor (for no particular reason). Are tenants now obligated to take their trash to the basement? This is causing great friction between tenants and super. Post your answer 

Answer/Comment: If the building is rent stabilized and / or rent controlled, and the landlord has locked the compactor rooms so that these types of leaseholders are not able to use them and have to take garbage, etc., to the basement or street, then this would be a reduction in services and most likely be eligible for a rent decrease. Again, only for rent stabilized tenants and rent controlled tenants. You would have to contact the Rent Stabilization Board of New York City. Peter Grech, GBOC

  Question #1036: What are the rules regarding moving the super from one apartment to another? For example moving the super from the sixth floor to the first. Post your answer 

Answer/Comment: Ample time needs to be given for the super to be relocated - about 30 days. Also, packing and moving expenses need to be paid for the super. The super should not incur any expense for the relocation. Peter Grech, GBOC

  Question #1035: How can I add my husband's name to my Con Edison account? Post your answer 

Answer/Comment: Try calling ConEd at the number on the bill and speak to a representative (212-243-1900 or 800-752-6633), or go to their website to find out how to do it (click on my account then enter your account number). Glen Stoltz

  Question #1034: How does a steam trap work on a hot steam radiator, and do you have a steam trap on a one- and two-pipe steam radiator system. Post your answer 


Answer/Comment: First of all steam traps are designed for two pipe systems. This is not to say that one pipe systems don't have them, just that they don't need them. There are different types of traps and different sizes of traps but all do the same thing at the end of the day. A stream trap is a device on the condensate return line that separates steam from the air and condensate. The trap keeps steam on the steam end, and evacuates the water and air outside of it. That's it, in a nut shell. Peter Grech, GBOC

  Question #1033: In a high-rise apartment building does someone have to have a black seal certificate posted? Post your answer 

Answer/Comment: Black seals are required only in certain residential buildings in New Jersey and not in New York City. Peter Grech, GBOC

  Question #1032: What are the legal rights after a superintendent is terminated from his job? Post your answer 

Answer/Comment: Your question is too general; if you need a specific answer you will need to provide specific facts. Even then, probably the best any of us can give you is what we know to have occurred in similar cases in the past, which is not necessarily the same as what should be done or what could or would happen in your case. Glen Stoltz

  Question #1031: Our building has received a mass mailing from a company offering winterizing services for through-the-wall air conditioners which covers removing the units and "servicing" them as well as storing them for the winter and a few other "services". My question is, is this even needed? Is their any benefit to this type of service? Post your answer 

Answer/Comment: Servicing A/C units is very important. By servicing the through-the-wall units, you save money by keeping them clean and efficient, also less breakdowns. As for storage, this is NOT necessary as through-the-wall units are designed to stay there, especially if their fan is used to move air for your heating. Peter Grech, GBOC

  Question #1030: Can anyone recommend a reputable elevator company or companies? Post your answer

Answer/Comment: Elevator companies seem to all have something wrong with them. I like and use Transel. I am sure others don't like them, for whatever reason. Usually it is one bad experience which probably was not the elevator company's fault. If you ask 20 supers about 20 elevator companies, they will not agree one or two. I like Transel. The only number I have is for the maintenance supervisor, as I don't talk to the sales people. Call Richard Petracca, 646 486 4621. Peter Grech, GBOC

  Question #1029: With heating season approaching, what preparations should I ask my super to make to my 95 unit apartment building. We have a two pipe steam system and burn #6 oil. Post your answer

Answer/Comment: Here's a fairly generic prep list you could have him start with. Glen Stoltz

  Question #1028: I am the super in a pre-war co-op building and we had some roof problems over some time. The ceiling under the roof began to show some water damage and eventually began to crack and flake and drop into pieces on the floor. Now the question is, is there any chance that there could be asbestos in the ceiling that is crumbling, cracking, peeling and falling down? Post your answer

Answer/Comment: Pre-war construction plaster had asbestos in its composition in some cases. Rare but it did happen. Whether your building does or not is a 50-50 chance. To find out for sure you would have to hire a environmental company to come and sample the material and have it tested. Cost is about $400 or so. Now if it is a small area, say 2 foot square, you are allowed to work on it. If the area is much larger then you are not. A bigger issue is lead paint. If children are present in the apartment, then lead paint is more of an issue for you. Peter Grech, GBOC

Question #1027: I am a super in a co-op and I have a older lady who wants me to help her out a half hour everyday this week, and I have helped her out in the past where I spent up to two hours in her apartment, and she said that she will take care of me and still hasn't. So you can see I am hesitant in helping her out. What's a good way to approach this - any suggestions? Post your answer

Answer/Comment: Little old ladies, I tell you are a pain. But at the same time you would have to imagine if that little old lady was your mom, and wouldn't you feel at ease knowing that the super of her building helped her and it was not all about money? I know, I have been there. Just limit your visit to the 1/2 hour. While we love to help people, there is a point (a line in the sand) where it becomes us helping and them taking great advantage. It is your conscience. Peter Grech, GBOC

Answer/Comment: This is truly an easy answer. First, the previous answer is correct. Second, set your cell phone alarm for 15 to 30 minutes each time you are going to her apartment. That way you will get a "call" and have an excuse to leave. Be sure and have a limited conversation for your call so that you need not explain. Be sure to use differing amounts of time so she won't notice.

  Question #1026: I recently purchased a co-op apartment and now have a roommate to help with the expenses. I would like to wall off a portion of the living room to make an additional room. The management company has said this may be in violation of the department of buildings and has to be reviewed by the building's architect first. Can you comment on this? Is this correct? Is it possible that I will not be allowed to do this? Post your answer

Answer/Comment: Your management company is right. You cannot building a wall without permission. But there is a way around management and the buildings department, and that is to erect a temporary wall that is not screwed into any wall, floor or ceiling. It uses a clamp like device. You either rent or purchase the temp partition (wall). Peter Grech, GBOC

  Question #1025: I live on the top floor of a co-op building. Recently the management company had work done to replace valves in the ceiling of all the apartments on my floor that they said affect the water service for the whole line of apartments beneath. They indicated that these valves had been inoperable for many years and have been causing a whole host of problems in the building. Is this common and can anyone comment on the types of valves. Post your answer

Answer/Comment:  This situation is common in old buildings. The valves of risers are located in the highest apartments. New and newer buildings have these valves in the hallways. As to what type of valves? Mostly these valves are gate valves and the new ones most likely would be either ball valves or gate valves. They last a good 20 years if good valves are purchased rather than cheap ones. These valves control the flow of hot and cold water through a pipe called a riser, one or two sets of risers for every apartment line. A line, B line for example. Peter Grech, GBOC

Question #1024: I'm a co-op owner, and my neighbor is a heavy cigar smoker. What are my rights due to the smoke entering my apartment through the wall? I have two small kids and I'm very concerned. Post your answer

Answer/Comment: What you are smelling is the smell and not the smoke. The smoke is filtered when it goes through the cracks, etc., of walls, leaving only the odor. What you can do is: Check the wall that is between you and the smoker for cracks and or gaps, especially at the baseboard. Use caulking to seal these gaps. The outlets and switches, if any, on that wall need to be better insulated as most likely 70% of the smell is coming from them. Lastly, an air purifier works well and is a good idea and  investment as New York City air quality sucks anyway. Peter Grech, GBOC

  Question #1023: What rate per square foot should be charged for stripping and 3 coats of sealer and 3 coats of wax on a VCT floor? Post your answer



  Question #1022: What is number 2 fuel? Post your answer
Answer/Comment: 1.;
  Question #1021: I used to be a super but I got fired and now they want me out of the building in three weeks. I want to know can they do that. Post your answer

Answer/Comment: Yes. Peter Grech, GBOC

Answer/Comment: When the law is unclear, as in this case, people will often try to do whatever they can get away with that is in their own short term selfish interests. Meaning they can get pushy and make demands or threats, and that's what often happens in these cases. They might attempt to frighten you into doing what they want, when they want. That doesn't mean they're right, or even that they have the power to get what they want, or that you have to jump to fulfill their fantasies. Obviously you will need some time to find another place to live. So take some time. If you really think you may need legal advice though, consult a lawyer. This is not legal advice. Glen Stoltz

  Question #1020: I'm the resident manager of a small ($100,000 budget) church-owned residence (13-room SRO) in Manhattan. My job comprises the usual maintenance mayhem, as well as overseeing a series of major renovation projects, and doing bookkeeping and fundraising. Can you give me your idea of appropriate compensation, or how one would go about figuring that out? Post your answer



  Question #1019: Does anyone know of a good software program that can be used to track packages, dry cleaning, work requests, etc? The building where I work is planning on installing a computer in the lobby for the staff to use as well as the residents. Post your answer

Answer/Comment: All the good programs that I know of for this purpose are not for sale. Meaning that you can't buy them but you have to lease them. Peter Grech, GBOC

Answer/Comment: You have a variety to choose from, starting at the low end with programs that sometimes come already loaded on your computer, that reside on your computer and that you can adapt to your needs if you're not too choosy, such as Outlook or Outlook Express or a database program like Alpha Five. At the high end you have internet-based software where you log in at their website to use it and you're charged a monthly fee on a per-apartment unit basis for use, for support and for upgrades when they come out, such as BuildingLink. This kind typically has modules that you can use or not use depending on your needs, allowing you to expand and grow with it as your needs change. Between these two kinds there are many, like SmartMaintenance that you can work with on your handheld computer or desktop, that you may want to look at also. You can Google something like "maintenance tracking software" or "building maintenance request software" to find many choices. Many of the PC-based programs will allow you to download a free trial of the software to help you check it out and see if it will be suitable for your needs, the web-based ones not so much.

Answer/Comment: See also the answer to this question.

  Question #1018: What is the exact ordinance for removal of hallway mats in residential properties. Post your answer

Answer/Comment: If you can take the time to read and research, check out our Building Codes page where we have links to all the current building codes for multifamily housing.

Answer/Comment: There is NO law, code or anything else on New York City or New York State books from any department on mats outside the front door of an apartment - PERIOD. There may be, however, insurance policy requirements stating that mats are not permitted due to potential tripping hazards. Furthermore, rental leases and proprietary leases (for co-ops and condos) as well as "house rules" may prohibit mats in a particular building.

  Question #1017: Is the super obligated to pay for electricity in the apartment given to the super by the landlord. Post your answer

Answer/Comment: In most cases, no. Electricity is a perk. However, it all depends on the agreement made by super and employer at time of hiring. Peter Grech, GBOC

  Question #1016: I live in a 40 unit condo and found out that the newly hired super is not licensed at all, he does not even have a boiler #6, and was the reason that the entire building had no hot water for 3 days because he was tinkering with the steam and didn't know what he was doing. It also seems he's rubbing elbows with management being it was brought to their attention. What could be done? Is there any building inspector or anyone I can contact? Post your answer

Answer/Comment: Your best bet, at least initially, is to leave it to building management to deal with the problem, if there is one. Presumably they are the responsible professionals, not you. At any rate, they hired him and it's their responsibility to see that whatever situation there is, is rectified, and that he performs up to expectations. For a super to be "not licensed at all" means nothing in and of itself. He can obtain all the licenses (certificates of fitness) he needs, given a little time (which by the way, are not transferable from another building to yours anyway). He will also get the experience he needs to deal with the steam system, with time. If he ends up being a really bad actor and isn't dealt with properly, THEN would be the time for the condo owners to step in and demand further, appropriate action from management. There is really no one at the City, no inspection agency or otherwise, to adequately deal with this type of problem anyway.

  Question #1015: I have a tenant who cut the wall beams between two windows so that he may fit his large air conditioner. He tells me that I told him it was okay to do it, but I never said that -- I told him that I'm doing work on the outside of the building and might look into getting air conditioners that install in the wall, but never told him to cut a beam and do it himself. What should I do? Do I take him to court? Or ask him to fix the problem and remove the air conditioner? Post your answer

Answer/Comment: Of course we are NOT legal advisors in any way, so don't construe anything written here as advice of a legal nature. It appears, from the little you've written about this situation, that it's your word against his. You may not get very far in a "he said/he said" situation in court where it's simply your word against the other person's. If you have some proof of who said what in writing - that's something else altogether. Your best bet may be to try to talk it out with the tenant without letting emotions get the better of you, if he's open to that, and try to work it out between the two of you. For another perspective or two you could also try asking your question in the advice forum at


Answer/Comment: You have given very little information really. The issue is not who said what. The issue is that "cutting a beam" requires a permit in most cases and probably an engineers stamp and structural calculations and or new structural members. The lease, contract or rules of an association are usually in writing and cover these issues, not any verbal responses, regardless who from. If you are not able to get things worked out with the person, then I suggest a quiet phone call to the building inspectors, provided your contracts and rules are in order. If that member was structural you may have severe problems coming unless repaired.
  Question #1014: We purchased a co-op in New Rochelle, closed on 8/7/2007 and moved in 8/11/2007. That night we had trouble getting into the apartment as the lock was broken. We left several messages for the super around 8:30pm on Saturday night, but no one responded (we also called on Sunday). We had to call a locksmith, who came around 9:30pm. He had to break the cylinder and change the lock and we were charged over $300 for this. I contacted the managing office Monday and was told they don't reimburse to change the lock. i explained we called a locksmith because no one returned our call. They said they won't pay. I want to know if I am entitled to get that money back, and how? Post your answer

Answer/Comment: That would depend on what your offering plan and house rules say. After hours, supers are for emergencies. Being locked out of your apartment is not an emergency that is normally covered under super duties, unless it is specified. No heat, no hot water, leaks, etc., are covered. Also, who owns the bottom lock? Many times a building owns the bottom lock, other times all locks are owned by the shareholder. "We are not going to pay" is not an answer. You have to ask management: Why? Then you can always try appealing to the board's sense of fairness, then small claims court. Peter Grech, GBOC

  Question #1013: Is there such thing as a fuel oil burner license? Post your answer

Answer/Comment: Yes, for New York City there is, only for number 6 oil burner. Numbers 2 and 4 do not require a permit. Permits are obtained by taking a test at the fire department in Brooklyn. Peter Grech, GBOC

Question #1012: I live in a rent stabilized apartment. We have had a washing machine for years. The landlord put in the new lease, no washing machines. He did add a laundry room but point blank told us we can't use our machine because of our "ridiculously low rent we pay." What can we do? Post your answer

Answer/Comment: That depends if you are under the Rent Stabilization laws or not. If you are you can file for rent decrease with DCHR. If you are not under rent stabilization, then the landlord can do what he did, but ONLY when your current lease came up for renewal. Again, we are not attorneys. Although this advice / opinion is based on years of experience, only an attorney can answer legal questions. Peter Grech, GBOC

  Question #1011: I am a super of a co-op for the past seven years. Who is responsible for changing the radiator valves -- the co-op or the shareholder? I work with a one-pipe system. Post your answer

Answer/Comment: In co-ops or condos, the standard rule is, if a control device (valve) isolates the apartment from the system, then it is the apartment owner's expense to replace or repair. If the control device isolates more than one space, therefore making it common, then the building pays for it. The main issue is "who has exclusive use" of it. Since the radiator valve only services that radiator or apartment, then it is exclusive use. Keep in mind some co-ops or condos just pay for the replacement or repair as a proactive measure. Peter Grech, GBOC

  Question #1010: I am told that my building needs a backflow preventer installed. Not being well versed on this topic, can anyone advise as to what this is, why this is generally needed, and who does such work.  Do I need to hire an engineer, a plumber etc. Post your answer

Answer/Comment: Yes, you need to hire a plumber. A back flow preventer is a device that prevents water from your building flowing back through the city water meter into the city mains. This prevents cross contamination of water. You would need one on your boiler and one just after the meter. No engineer is needed, but a licensed plumber is. Peter Grech, GBOC

  Question #1009: I have no experience working in building management but want to become a superintendent (sooner or later):  What is the FIRST course that I should take? Post your answer

Answer/Comment: You will want to have a Masters Degree in People Skills.

  Question #1008: Is there any class you can take online about electricity, courses that gives you a certificate but not a long course, just something basic? Post your answer

Answer/Comment: If you Google something like: "online electrical course AND nyc" (don't include the quotes), you'll get a selection of websites that you can peruse for the kind of electric courses you're looking for.

Question #1007: What does a porter do in terms with the super? Post your answer

Answer/Comment: It's difficult to know from your question what specifically you'd like to learn, but just generally, the job description of the porter will vary tremendously from building to building, depending greatly on the number of staff in place and the needs of the building. A porter usually works under the super's guidance, and is normally charged with the chores of keeping the common areas of the building clean, including shampooing carpets, sweeping sidewalks, cleaning windows, polishing floors, and removing garbage from receptacles and moving it to a temporary area before depositing it on the sidewalk for pick up, as well as attending to the garbage compactor(s). A porter will often assist with, depending on the size of the building (and thus the size of the staff), all kinds of odd jobs besides the day-to-day cleaning and garbage removal chores.

Question #1006: My father has been the super of a 16 unit building for the past 15 years. He moved in as the super of the building with no lease signing. He has recently passed away and I would like to take over his position as super. However I suspect the landlord has someone else in mind. I very much like to live in the apartment for free as before and willing to work. 1. Do I have any leverage in this matter due to seniority or am I simply at the landlord’s will? 2. Also, if I am not chosen to be the super, how long do I have before I am charged for rent, and how is the rent determined in my case? Post your answer

Answer/Comment: You have no seniority. You have no rights. You do have 30 days to vacate the apartment if/when the landlord decides to terminate the relationship. Even if your father was union, you would have no rights to his job. Peter Grech, GBOC

  Question #1005: Does anyone know anything about "Lisa Management". Are they a reputable company? Do they handle many buildings. Please advise. Post your answer


  Question #1004: I’m a handyman in Lower Manhattan. My concern is about the garbage compactor. He wants the compactor’s top sliding door closed all the time and wants the compactor cleaned out every two days and because he doesn’t clean in out when it’s his turn, three days have gone by before I get to it. Garbage reaches up to the first floor and sometimes, on holidays, almost up to the second floor! As much as I have told him about the dangers of this, worst of all, fire hazard, he just doesn’t listen. My question, is there a garbage compactor building code that I can get information and show it to the Super? Thank you very much for your help. By the way, the manager directed me to this site. Post your answer

Answer/Comment: You say the garbage builds up that high! Well you should be aware that the building is in danger in the event that someone should throw a lit cigarette down the chute. Please also bear in mind that stagnant garbage breeds harmful bacteria. The garbage chute should be constantly monitored and cleaned. Roberto Cardona

Answer/Comment: The New York City Fire Department requires all compactor chutes to be thoroughly cleaned out once a day. Furthermore, NYC health codes confirm this also, I believe. Peter Grech, GBOC

Answer/Comment: Your best bet would be to look at, or Google "The build-up of trash in the compactor chute is a fire hazard". If the trash is left in the compactor, doesn't it smell? Don't residents complain? My opinion is that it should be cleared out every few hours. Ken
  Question #1003: I am a building superintendent and have just completed my first year. The board now wants to offer me a contract for significantly less pay and also require me to pay for my utilities, as well as remain on the property while in a non-working status (off-duty). I have not moved my family into the apartment because the provisions have not been met in the original contract. Are building superintendents required to remain on the premises during non-work hours / personal time? Post your answer

Answer/Comment: President Lincoln freed the slaves, tell your boss. A super does NOT have to be on the property while he/she is off duty - but must respond to an emergency within a reasonable time. Now, I know some supers that are required to be at the building all the time, but they make a [whole lot] of money for being on standby. Peter Grech, GBOC

  Question #1002: Is it possible to obtain a list of the members of the New York Superintendents Technical Association? Post your answer

Answer/Comment: No, that isn't something that's normally public information.

  Question #1001: Is it legal to have a wash machine set up in a bathroom? Electrical, plumbing requirements, if any?  Post your answer

Answer/Comment: No, it is not legal. Washer and dryer, if permissible in a building, must have their own location. NOT in a bathroom or kitchen. A closet near by is fine. Peter Grech, GBOC

Question #1000: I have a problem with an ice cap type wall unit freezing the heating coil that lays on top, so that the coil bursts. I have an apartment that had the coil burst 3 times in the past 3 summer months. All three times it was cool out. The last time was Friday night when it was 57 degrees out. Has anyone else come across this problem with their heating coils bursting in the Summer? Post your answer

Answer/Comment: I have a question of my own about your problem: is there per chance any water in your heating coil? Because if your shut-off valve to your heating coil is not holding then your coil would freeze. Hot water freezes faster than cold water because the molecules in hot water expand. There should be no water in your coil when the a\c is on. It could also be that your return line is not pulling down all of the water out of your line -- check your steam trap, it may be faulty. Roberto Cardona

Answer/Comment: In my 35 years of experience I have never heard of a steam coil freezing in summer. Actually I never heard of a coil freezing when the outdoor temperature was not at least 30 degrees or less outside. Peter Grech, GBOC