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Porters, Handymen, and Doorman, or PHD's Blog
 
  Questions For Supers - 350 to 399  
       
 

 
"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

09222004

 
 

last update on Thursday January 31, 2008 09:45 PM PT

 
 

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  The information given on these question and answer pages has been carefully checked and is believed to be accurate; however, no responsibility is assumed for inaccuracies. All answers sent in and published on these pages are the sole opinions of the authors and do not represent any legal, medical, or professional advice.

The Supers Technical Association reserves the right to make changes to any and all content without notice, and to edit all questions and answers received for accuracy or clarity, or for any other purpose.

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

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

 
     
  QUESTIONS POSTED  
     
  Question #399: I live in a ground-floor front apartment located at street level with a large bedroom, a tiny bedroom probably illegally carved out of the living room, and a small kitchen. I demanded that exterior burglar bars be installed on the exterior of the three windows of the tiny new bedroom (for my child) and management complied, with one window containing an emergency fire exit that opens from the inside. In the other bedroom, however, there are permanent exterior bars on the two windows that do not open or release. And in the tiny kitchen on the rear alley, there are interior bars that do not open or release either. Hence, in case of a fire, I could exit the apartment only from my daughter's bedroom directly to the sidewalk. If the fire trapped me in my own bedroom or in the kitchen, I'd be roasted alive. Surely these are fire law violations, but I cannot locate them. Can anyone help me? Post your answer

Answer:  Wait, first you demanded that the owner put burglar proof bars on the windows and now you are complaining that the bars will prevent your exit in the event of a fire? Make up your mind. You can not have burglar proof bars and then have a way out. You wont find it in the Fire Code because the Fire Code only requires one other means of egress from your type of apartment, and the landlord met that requirement. As for the illegal carved out extra room? Sounds like you're just not happy where you live. Pgrech, Gboc.net

Answer: You have your two means of egress as required by the New York City Building Code. The landlord is not required to add another. A good idea might be to have occasional fire drill activities with your family. Also, make a plan on what to do in case there is ever a fire. You can find help and info about fire safety education on the New York City Fire Department's website -- FDNY.gov --good luck to you and your family. Richard B. Gum

Answer: I think what the guys are trying to point out is that: the way in which your apartment is laid out now provides two means of egress. Which is up to code and not unlike any above-floor apartment with a fire- escape. But if you're still not fully comfortable with that, you could always change one of the permanent gates in your room to a hinged opening type. Paul Kelly


 
 
  Question #398: I just moved into my apartment 2 months ago, a co-op, and noticed the heater pipes in the bathroom that run from floor to ceiling have a covering halfway up that seems to be fiberglass or something like that with a paper type outer layer. It prevents one from getting burned (the previous owner had small children) but I am wondering if this covering is safe and the best way to handle the hot pipes. Post your answer

Answer: Not sure what you mean by "is it safe?" The insulation you are describing seems to be a standard fiberglass pipe insulation. It is common to use this type in kitchens and bathrooms to cover half the steam riser, to prevent children from minor burns. I have seen some very imaginative ways to solve the protection part while keeping the riser pretty. Try inventing a stainless steel mesh wrap, its looks great and serves the purpose.  Pgrech, Gboc.net


 
  Question #397: The other day my manager was talking to the board president about installing co-generation. They turned to me and asked me what did I think about co-generation. I said we need to study it more before making a decision. Now I have NO idea what co-generation is. I tied to look it up but really couldn't find anything. So please what is it, is it a good idea, what can I say to make them think I am smart and know about this subject. Can you have a free workshop on co-generation and visit a building with it? Post your answer

Answer: Cogeneration simply means combined heat and power (CHP). Cogeneration systems either convert waste heat into power or generate heat and power from a single energy input, usually using either reciprocating engines or a turbine. Turbines are normally powered by steam or hot air. Combustion turbines have a compressor, combustor, and hot air turbine in a single unit. One common method is to use the waste heat from an engine or combustion turbine to generate steam, which is then used to power a steam turbine. CHP allows a more total use of energy than conventional generation, potentially reaching an efficiency of 70-90%, compared with approximately 50% for conventional plants. This means that less fuel needs to be consumed to produce the same amount of energy. (I don't know how you can say you tried to look it up but couldn't find anything - there's more online than you could read in many weeks). Here is a pretty good site on the subject. Google "cogeneration" for lots more info.

Answer: To answer the rest of your question, it is possible that in the near future we would have a trip to a building with cogeneration. We have had similar trips to green buildings. Your emphasis on FREE is bothersome. Seems many want to get everything for free and fast. It has taken most of us a lifetime to learn what we have learned, and we are glad to share our knowledge with people who ask. As for free, the saying here is "forget about it". Pgrech, Gboc.net

Answer: To find out if cogeneration is applicable to your building, go to www.nyserda.org, the state energy office, and ask for expert assistance. In general, cogeneration systems are feasible only for large apartment buildings or building complexes.


 
  Question #396: In my apartment you can access the fire escape from the living room window, and from the bedroom window. My apartment is the only one in the building that doesn't have security gates protecting these windows. I asked the landlord and he said he doesn't have to install them, and that he couldn't anyway because they would block the fire escape. But all the other apartments have them - the gates that swing open from the inside. Is he obligated to install them? Is there anyway I could use NYC Health Code 131.15 to my advantage? Post your answer

Answer: No the landlord is not obligated to use them. You can buy, and have installed, Fire Department approved window gates. But it would be at your expense. Abbey Locksmith is experienced and a well noted locksmith in New York City. 212-353-2285, ask for Little John. Tell him Peter Grech sent ya. Pgrech, Gboc.net


 
  Question #395: Are PVC pipes and/or tubing permitted in the installation of central vacuums in New York City in a multiple dwelling? If it is allowed where can I get copies of such confirmation. Post your answer

Answer: According to the 1991 Amended Building Code for the City of New York, when referring to dwellings as per section four of the Multiple Dwelling Law, there is no mention of a central vacuum system what so ever. The PVC rule is only applied to plumbing. Ergo one can deduce that PVC is allowed for central vacuum systems only because there is no rule against it. And I know that plumbers would agree on this issue. Your best bet would be to call Department of Buildings or an architect. Please let us know what you find out. Pgrech, Gboc.net


 
  Question #394: I live in a 9 floor apartment house. I've live here for 4 years. I just received a notice from my landlord referring to: "Pursuant to 27-2046.1 New Local Law 7 of 2004" - he states that I am to pay 25 dollars for the installment for a Carbon Monoxide detector. It also states that I have one year to pay this amount. He's adding it in the following months rent. Is it legal for him to charge me this fee? Post your answer

Answer: Yes it is. We should all learn to read (research) a little before asking our questions.


 
  Question #393: I live in a Manhattan apartment with a gas stove; the stove is probably 2-3 years old and has pilot lights. Frequently the pilot lights go out and the apartment becomes very rank with the smell of gas. I have reported this to the management and to the super; the super re-lit the pilots and said there would be no further problems. That was more than a year ago and still the problem persists. I feel unsafe and have to keep a window open in the kitchen to manage the smell. Please help me. Post your answer

Answer: Your problem is not too uncommon. The super needs to increase the pilot light flame just a tad to compensate. Also cleaning the burners and pilot light orifice will help. Remember only have it increased just a tad. If it is increased too much then there you have other problems. Pgrech, Gboc.net


 
  Question #392: Is the landlord or tenant responsible for building (painting and fixing things) maintenance and outside maintenance (mowing shoveling etc.)? Post your answer

Answer: Once again: it depends on the kind of building you're living in, and even more on the lease agreement you have for your apartment. Take out your lease and read what it has to say about the things you're asking about. The answers should all be there. If not, ask your building management or landlord to explain.


 
  Question #391: Can you please tell me whether New York City has standard or building code requirements (steel or cast iron) for bathtubs in a 16 unit building? Post your answer

Answer: New York City codes allows the use of both steel and cast iron tubs. It also allows Americast which is similar to Fiberglas. The best to use is cast iron as it lasts longer, but it does cost more. Pgrech, Gboc.net


 
  Question #390: I have been living in a rental apartment on the Upper West Side for 7 years. My bathtub needs to be reglazed, and my living room ceiling needs to be repainted. I want to know if the landlord is responsible to cover the costs for the repairs as well as supply the services. Post your answer

Answer: Your lease should determine this. If it is a normal lease, then the landlord is required to paint your apartment every three years. The landlord is also required to make reasonable repairs to your apartment to keep it habitable. Reglazing your tub, even though the cost is about $300.00, may or may not be the landlords duty to do, depending on why the tub needs to be reglazed. If it's only normal wear and tear the landlord needs to reglaze, but damage due to tenant neglect and or misuse is then the tenants responsibility. Pgrech, Gboc.net


 
  Question #389: Where can I get an OSHA color chart? What I mean is a chart where I find out which colors to paint the pipes in garage area, so it can help identify what is in the pipe. I can't find one on the net. Post your answer

Answer: Not certain about it, but this may be what you're looking for.

Answer: Here in NYC there are many different colors for the same fluids, depending on the type of building.  For residential and commercial (excluding schools, hospitals or hotels), the colors for pipes that are accepted by New York City and New York State are:

  • White - low pressure steam
  • Yellow - high pressure steam
  • Orange - low pressure condensate
  • Purple - high pressure condensate
  • Dark brown - waste and drain lines
  • Silver - electrical lines
  • Dark green - sprinklers
  • Bright red - standpipe
  • Yellow - standpipe/sprinkler combination
  • Dark blue - domestic cold water
  • Pale blue - domestic hot water.

Pgrech, Gboc.net


 
  Question #388: My upstairs neighbor has let her washing machine overflow at least twice in the last month and 5 times in 2 1/2 years. The super told management and they sent her a letter stating that they are responsible for any damages and the super told me I would have to sue them myself. Is this true? Each time I have had to mop up and clean my counters and cabinets. Isn't management supposed to see to it that the neighbors are not negligent? Post your answer

Answer: Always refer to your lease, it is your road map to your rights. If there are no washers permitted in the lease then its up to the landlord to remove her washer and possibly pay your damages. If it is in the lease, your home owner's insurance should take care of it. All apartment owners and renters SHOULD carry home owner's insurance. Small Claims court is where you would have to sue if it comes to that. Make sure you have photos and you would need the super to testify as a witness. Pgrech, Gboc.net


 
  Question #387: I have a tenant who claims the top of a Delaney flushometer flew off without notice or any recent service, obviously causing significant water damage before the valve was shut. Has anyone had a similar incident? It doesn't seem possible but thought I'd ask. Post your answer

Answer: With close to 30 years experience in this field I have seen almost all. (I have seen the spindle and handle fly off the hot water valve that connects the washing machine.) Yes this can happen in two ways. First the head may not have been screwed on correctly (cross threaded), secondly the thread could be worn. Usually it's the worn threads. Pgrech, Gboc.net

Answer: If you heard any water hammer in the flush unit, this could also be the cause. Water hammer is powerful enough to drive the cap off the flush unit over a period of time.


 
  Question #386: What are the measurements for an egress window in a basement sleeping room, and all the requirements please? Post your answer

Answer: Without knowing where you live and the age of the building, I can not provide an answer. I suggest you call the Department of Buildings in your area. Pgrech, Gboc.net


 
  Question #385: Can a super's wife be a part of the building's staff, handling the clerical work? Is this uncommon and unorthodox? Who usually takes care of logging in work orders and keep track of supplies and such matters? Are there any software programs that allow you to do such work on computer that contains templates? My husband is soon to get a position as a super in Manhattan and I wanted to be prepared, help and support him. I've been a receptionist for years and would love the opportunity to be as close to home as I can be and work with him.  Post your answer

Answer: Yes a superintendent's wife can help her husband in that area. She may or may not be paid, that would have to be worked out with the building management. I know several supers whose wife works and gets paid. It is not unorthodox nor unethical. The administrative element of a super's job sucks, as the things you mentioned are usually performed by the superintendent himself. Nothing is stopping your helping him to organize his files and logs etc. Good luck. Pgrech, Gboc.net


 
  Question #384: Is the landlord responsible for providing water, is the tenant required to pay the water bill if it is not in the tenant's name? If so is it legal for the landlord to use this water for other reasons not for the tenant's benefit. Post your answer

Answer: Your lease should provide the answer to this question. In NYC in buildings of 4 apartments and over, the water is included in the rent. In a one family house the water may or may NOT be included in the rent. 2 family to 4 family houses - I do not know. Again the lease will tell you what you are responsible for. If the water is not being used by you exclusively, then you have a recourse for reimbursement. When it comes to legal issues its always best to ask a lawyer. Our answers are based on our experience and our limited knowledge of the law. Pgrech

Answer: Try asking your question at tenant.net.


 
 
Question #383: I am not a member but was at this week's meeting. Can you make a one day workshop on heating? Can you make workshops on electrical and plumbing or on general building repairs, etc? I want to learn as much as I can but I don't want to be a member as I can't afford the $45.00 per year. Jeff seemed so knowledgeable about the subject. The club president, Peter I think was so knowledgeable also. Post your answer

Answer:  Let me get this straight: you can't invest $45 for an annual membership that will help in furthering your knowledge, your supering skills and education, which will help you do your job better? Yet you're willing to pay, as a non-member, for each workshop we give? Are you kidding yourself? Because, although our workshops (those that are given outside of the monthly meetings) are usually free to members, we do charge non-members a fee to participate. We are a Technical Society, workshops are what we do continually, but participants pay at least a nominal fee for day long workshops with us, as they would anywhere else. Either it comes as part of the membership fee or you will pay individually for the workshops at a higher price. Meaning that if you take two or more workshops per year, you'll be paying more out-of-pocket that if you just paid the membership fee. Your choice. My suggestion: be smart about it, pay the membership fee and be a part of a growing brotherhood of supers and other building maintenance workers who care about themselves and each other and are willing to grow together and help each other realize our dreams. Glen Stoltz


 
  Question #382: Why do some buildings have exterior fire escapes and others do not? Post your answer

Answer: Modern buildings don't have external fire escapes of sorts if they are a large building. Smaller buildings are still permitted to have them. In landmark districts you will find that most buildings don't have external fire escapes on the avenue where they can be seen from the street. They would have then in the back. Therefore it always depends on the architect, the budget, the zoning code and the Landmarks Commission. Remember internal stairs take up space that would be otherwise rentable or sellable. Pgrech, gboc.net


 
  Question #381: We'd like to know the pros and cons of installing in-sink garbage disposals in a 20 story, early 1960s Manhattan apartment building. What impact might there be on the plumbing? Post your answer

Answer: While it is legal to put garbage disposals in sinks in Manhattan, it is not a good idea to put them in apartment buildings, especially old buildings. The drains in old buildings are hard to keep clean as it is. I spoke to two plumbing outfits and they love the garbage disposals, as they are about 10 percent of their business problems. Pgrech, GBOC.net

Answer: The above answer is correct, not to mention that a lot of the buildings in Manhattan are cooperatives or condominiums and the boards are dead set against installing them because of the problems stated above with the drains.


 
  Question #380: What kind of paint would you use to refinish a fiberglass bathtub or shower and what would the procedure be? Post your answer

Answer: I would use Dupont Imron or Sherwin Williams Sunfire, which are both polyurethane enamels - I would not use epoxy. I would spray it on using a good quality, 3 or 4 stage, HVLP sprayer and I would wear a full fresh air mask while spraying, as the isocyinates from these paints cannot be filtered by charcoal filter masks. I would prep the surface by sanding it with 220 wet sandpaper -jw


 
  Question #379: Can you a install a fourth meter in a two-family house? Post your answer

Answer: No you cannot, without getting the proper permits. A two family house is only entitled to three meters as long as the owner is not in one of the units. The third meter is to be used for electricity that would run lights outside and inside the dwelling and for heating, etc. It is NOT intended to be used for a third apartment, or in your case possibly a fourth apartment. If you get a variance from your township to make the two-family into a legal three-family, then you may apply for the fourth meter. Peter Grech, gboc.net


 
  Question #378: When does a super's inspections of alterations turn into harassment? He seems to be just wasting my contractor's time with idiotic questions. Post your answer

Answer: Your super SHOULD know what goes on in his building, including any work going on in your apartment - it is, in general, part of his job to be on top of that type of information. If you didn't supply him and management with a set of drawings and specs for the work being done, along with insurance paperwork, you've made a big mistake and should rectify it immediately. He has a right to ask whatever questions he needs to ask in order to understand the scope of work, and whether or not you and your contractor are sticking to it. As the super of the building, he is a part of management, being in a sense the eyes and ears of management and is there to inform them of what they need to know. (As for when his questions turn into harassment, who knows? I thought that's what lawyers get paid to determine). If you think he is overstepping his bounds and you have complaints about his behavior, however, you have a right to complain to management and try to sort it all out. Glen Stoltz


 
  Question #377: In NYC by law, are landlords supposed to supply tenants with smoke and carbon monoxide alarms by law. I also rent, and my landlord supplies all of his tenants with both alarms. I'd like to know if my mother should request the same service. We both leave in Queens and we are both in rent controlled apartments. Post your answer

Answer: Yes. Landlords are required to install smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors in every dwelling unit. They are also allowed to receive from tenants monies to cover the cost of the purchase of the detectors: $10 per smoke detector and $25 per carbon monoxide detector. Read more about the new law here. Pgrech


 
  Question #376: What are the steps involved when a co-op building is considering upgrading it's heating plant (boiler, burner, oil tank, timers) etc. Who determines what is needed and then how does the contractor get hired, monitored etc. Post your answer

Answer: First step is to hire an engineer or a heating specialist. Jeff Eichenwald of this Technical Association is just such a specialist. Pgrech


 
  Question #375: We are an 80 unit co-op that will need a superintendent after our current one retires in a year. What is the best way to attract and retain a good super that can serve our building for many years to come. Post your answer

Answer: Salary is one way to attract the kind of super you are seeking. Bonus, an apartment that meets his/her family needs as well as respect and dignity for his/her position. I recommend that you make up a job description of what you require of your new super as well as the traits you're looking for. If you need more info or any help email me at Pgrech4214@aol.com. Pgrech

Answer: Be VERY careful to check his background. Our cooperative hired a super who had been fired by his previous building but was given a good recommendation as part of an arbitration settlement. He also lied about having a no. 6 license on his resume. Check very carefully.


 
  Question #374: I am a super of a non-union multi-dwelling building. I got hurt on the job and got surgery 2 and a half months ago. A workers compensation case has been established. Can the management take me out of the apartment for not being able to return to work in a time frame? If the answer is yes please advise on the procedures. Post your answer

Answer: I was diagnosed with intestinal cancer and was out for 4 months. I was fired for taking a leave of absence even though I was on disability. I have a discrimination case pending.


 
  Question #373: I'm writing from Toronto, Canada with a question about building stress. Construction has just begun directly behind our building of a 56 storey office and condominium complex. They are drilling then hammering in cement tubes (for lack of a better word) then filling the tubes with cement. My question would be just how much stress can a building take. We have cracked windows and the vibration will literally shake objects from desks and book shelves to the floor. The noise is intolerable. How safe is this for our building and the tenants and staff in it? Anyone else had this experience? Thank you. We're all shook up in Toronto! Post your answer

Answer: Your question is best answered by an engineer; an on-site visit would be required to investigate what is going on. Cracked windows, cracks in plaster and heavy vibrations are normal. See if you have any cracks in the foundation walls of the basement. (They are pouring concrete - not cement. Consider yourself lucky that they don't have to blast.) Again, get an engineer. Pgrech


 
  Question #372: I live in a building that has about 30 apartments in it, should we have a building security. Post your answer

Answer: Go to the community officer of your local police station. He or she will have all the information you can use. Dick Koral

Answer: Security is a group tenant effort. Yes, you should have security, what kind and what level can only be determined after canvassing the building by a professional to see your vulnerable spots. The cheapest forms of security are good outdoor lighting, good front door locks and diligence by the tenants. And, if you can afford one, a good intercom system. Pgrech


 
  Question #371: We live in a 90-unit cooperative in Manhattan. Recently the Board hired the Superintendent to renovate a "bike room" for about $4,200. This entailed removing three walls, removing a bathroom and the appliances in it and installing new electrical and switch. There were no permits obtained and the Super does not have an electric or contractor's license. He also hired some people, who clearly were not licensed, to help out. This all seems like a bad idea. Can you advise? Post your answer

Answer:  Bad idea? Not really. As along as no one who is working for the super gets hurt, as long as no building inspectors came by, as long as there is no electrical fire, as long as no resident gets hurt - to name a few - it should work out ok. There comes a time when Boards have to weigh the up-front cost versus the possible hidden cost when things go wrong. A better idea would have been to not have the super be the contractor but an employee of the building, and have him and a temp helper build the room. This way everything would have been covered properly by building insurance. The electrical, as long as NO NEW installation was being done and only Old fixtures were being replaced ,sounds like it's within the electrical code. It's good to give the super and staff extra money for extra work; you just have to consider is he acting as worker or contractor. Pgrech

Answer:  You answered your own question. If the Buildings Department gets wind of this, you are all in trouble. If a fire breaks out or other thing you think you are insured for, the insurance company will find out what you did and refuse to pay. Dick Koral


 
 
Question #370: I live in an upscale co-op building on Park Avenue. Since we have installed automated elevators we have a full time doorman who just sits at a pulpit and does absolutely nothing. What is the doorman responsible for? Does he have to stand and greet the guests and open the door. Is the building required to give him a seat? Does he have to help carry packages? Post your answer

Answer:  To have any staff member, union or not, without a written job description is like having to go through a jungle without a compass. Basically a doorman's duties are whatever the board wants - without his duties going into another classification. Furthermore, it seems you need to have the super and managing agent learn how to supervise and motivate staff. This condition is the fault of either super or management. Proper training and motivation are key aspects for good employee performance. Pgrech

Answer: Your co-op board or property manager is responsible for defining what he does while on the job, and the super is responsible for seeing that it gets done. If he doesn't have a written job description, then your Board probably isn't doing its job. If his written job description isn't being enforced, then your super or property manager probably isn't doing his/her job.


 
  Question #369: I would like to know if a proprietary license can be transferred to another individual who is a partner. What paperwork would be needed to do this. Post your answer

Answer: Read the offering plan. This book is the bible of your co-op or condo. If no help is found in it then ask the managing agent, they are there to help and facilitate your co-op/condo experience.

Answer: Without knowing exactly what license you're referring to, it's impossible to answer that question.


 
  Question #368: In reference to Question #336: Part of your answer was: "The code also states that one super can only serve up to 65 apartments." My question is, Where can I find this code exactly, and will it apply to a co-op as well as a rental building? I have endured 2 buildings with 109 co-op units for 3 years, and the board keeps asking for more of me. I do not want to be fired because of my wife and 2 small children, 11 months, and 4 year old, but I'm burning out, injuring my back often and with no hope in sight. Although I am in NJ, any answer even if related to New York State will give me a running start towards the solution. Post your answer

Answer: Although we try to assist building service employees everywhere, the Codes referred to above are strictly New York City and New York State Codes. If you do just a little research before asking your questions, you will find that these Codes referred to often are NOT referring to any place other than New York City/State. The Multiple Dwelling Law only covers New York State. The Housing Maintenance Code is a New York City code or set of laws. Also check here for further research.


 
  Question #367: I am the super of a non-union 72 family building. Is it true that by law I should have at the least a part time helper to help around the building. Post your answer

Answer: What does "by law" mean? Depends where you building is located. Assistance all depends on your work load. I am sure you would agree that all buildings with 70 to 75 apartments are not the same. The work load may differ. I suggest you keep a accurate log and just see what do you do over the course of a month, noting hours you work and all the things you do, no matter how minor. Then you can approach the owner or management with this information and discuss a solution. Pgrech

Answer:  What you must ask yourself is did the previous super have a helper. I worked in a non-union building and knew what I was getting into. On your next job its important to interview the owner or managing agent, the same as you are being interviewed. My guess is you will never receive help. Note: the building that I worked at 4 years ago has gone through 3 supers. Chris


 
  Question #366: What does a Super do when his wife wants a divorce but she won't leave the apartment? What legal rights does he have to get her out? After all, this is his job and if he leaves he loses his job too. Post your answer

Answer: Tough question. Ask a lawyer is my first thought. I know of one super years ago who was in a similar situation and he was told by the court to leave. His wife ended up being the super and the building lived happily ever after. Pgrech


 
  Question #365: Can a building that burns oil to make steam heat realistically purchase steam from Con Edison that can be distributed throughout the heating system, in effect, rendering the boiler obsolete (except for possible heating of hot water). If so, what are pros and cons? Post your answer

Answer: The short answer is yes. For your building, steam is steam, it makes no difference how it is made. Many buildings have changed from boiler to Con-Ed steam. A new pressure reducing station must be installed (often costing more than a new boiler, depending on the size of the building). The old boiler can be left in place or removed to create new usable space. The pro's are there is no fuel in building, no boiler maintenance or operation. The con's are that Con Ed steam is probably more expensive - depending on the efficiency of your existing boiler, and there is maintenance on the pressure reducing equipment. Con-Ed on its site gives some sales points at: http://www.coned.com/steam/whysteam.asp.   Ultimately, it will be a cost/benefit analysis that will differ for each individual building. Joe Lambert


 
  Question #364: If you fail your refrigeration onsite do you have to do the course all over again or is there a refresher course you can take to brush up? Post your answer

Answer: Try asking your question where you took your onsite test.

Answer: NO you do not have to take the course over. However, I do suggest that you take a course that concentrates on passing the onsite test. Pgrech


 
  Question #363: Do I need a certificate of fitness to conduct fire drills in the state of New Jersey? Post your answer

Answer: Start your search here.

Answer: That depends on whether you are a commercial building, a residential building, a hospital or school, etc. Pgrech


 
  Question #362: Is there a major difference in job description and pay (benefits) for a Resident Manager as compared to a Super, or are they both the same jobs but with different titles? Post your answer

Answer: Essentially it's the same job. Titles are interchangeable. The substance of the job depends more on the class of building and responsibilities involved than on the title.

Answer: The titles are interchangeable at a low level. Those of us resident managers who make over $90K per year would take issue with someone saying the title is completely interchangeable as well as the job descriptions being the same. A true resident manager would not be in uniform. Suit & tie would be the dress code. Secondly staff size would also be a major difference, as is the size of the building and number of apartments. The higher the salary a resident manager makes the more a part of management he becomes, not to mention the more stress that goes with it. I can tell you stories the would blow your mind. At times I say to myself, I wish I was a simple handyman with a nine to five job and go home when the day is done. Pgrech


 
  Question #361: I'm a super who needs to get a Certificate of Fitness for standpipe and sprinkler systems. I have been to the Fire Department web page and found that I need to complete and notarize a Preapplication Questionnaire. Can I have it notarized at the Center or do I have to leave, have it notarized and come back, which would seem to be very time consuming? Post your answer

Answer: You should call the department and ask them that question for a definitive answer, but IF I understand your question correctly and IF my memory serves, when I took the test less than 6 months ago they were not enforcing that requirement, the notarization part of the paperwork was ignored and left blank - signed in their presence and showing them your state ID card.

Answer: Usually what they're looking for is a letter from your employer, stating that they are sending you down for this certificate and you are qualified to take the test. Paul Kelly


 
  Question #360: Is it legal and our right to install a wet bar (countertop with plumbed bar sink) with a under-the-counter wine cooler and on-to-the-counter microwave in the cellar of our Queens County 1-family home? We seriously need it for when we host cocktails downstairs. Post your answer

Answer: Yes to the under-the-counter wine cooler, yes to the microwave. For the bar sink with drains and water, you would need a licensed plumber and make him responsible for any permits that may be needed. When it's all done, don't forget to invite me over. Pgrech


 
  Question #359: I am currently working for New York city as a firefighter, and am also interested in a career as a part time building superintendent. I have spoken to a couple supers about my interests and they told me that I should get a low-pressure #6 certificate. I am currently enrolled. Are there any other avenues to pursue? Post your answer

Answer: It is probable that a small building (say, 15 family co-op) would be interested in a firefighter who wants to be a part-time super. But you should learn supers skills beside the certificate that you are seeking, which may be useless because so many of the small building use gas, not oil. Check out Continuing Studies at New York City College of Technology. Dick Koral


 
  Question #358: To become a member of local union of superintendent / maintenance would I have to be a super already and what does the dues cover, does the union help with live in supers, etc. Post your answer

Answer: You do not have to be anything to get a job in a union building. Of course, the employer will look for technical skills and character references. After you are in the job for six months, you must join the union and start paying dues. Dick Koral

Answer: Your dues cover only the working expenses of the union. Your dues DO NOT cover any medical, legal, dental etc. The owner pays into the funds for those items. In most cases the union will NOT help you in finding a job. It's not their function. The function of a union is to make sure all its members are being treated fairly and within the terms of the contract, to name one function. Finding employment is not a real union function - although at times they may. Pgrech


 
  Question #357: I recently moved into a co-op in a six story elevator building built in 1955. The building construction appears solid but I am not an expert in this area. However, we have parquet floors that are nice looking but very creaky and the neighbors below us have complained that when we walk it is too loud. We plan on getting carpets which will hopefully minimize the noise. We do not hear anything from the neighbors next to us, but we can hear the people upstairs walking around as well. Is there something wrong with these floors or is this typical in buildings of this construction type? Is it naive to assume you will not hear your neighbors walking? Post your answer

Answer: Yours is a common problem. Good carpets solves most of it. After you get yours, ask the people upstairs to do the same. If they won't, take them to court. Dick Koral

Answer: In most leases in rental apartments, and in proprietary leases in condos and co-ops, there are provisions that state that the apartment must be at least 80% covered in carpeting or rugs. That is your recourse for your neighbor, not court. Pgrech


 
  Question #356: My husband is a super in an 80 unit building for the last several years. This is a private building and the owner does not require any certificates but we thinking about the future and a better position. My husband would like to take some courses to obtain certificates for boilers, sprinklers and standpipes. Where can he do that? Post your answer

Answer: Call 718-552-1170 and ask for the Continuing Studies bulletin of New York City College of Technology, in downtown Brooklyn. In it, all the courses you need. Dick Koral


 
  Question #355: Is it legal to have a vibrating equipment (jacuzzi, washer / dryer, etc) in an old co-op apartment building. Post your answer

Answer:


 
  Question #354: I understand it is illegal in New York City for unlicensed plumbers, such as supers without a license, to do plumbing work contained within a building's walls, but they can legally fix faucets, etc.? Post your answer

Answer: Remember now with the lead paint laws, making holes in certain buildings requires a certified person to do this. Furthermore, while some types of repairs can be made by handyman or super, there are many that can not be made without a licensed plumber and a permit, or at least a plumber signing off on the repair. Pgrech


 
  Question #353: What is the description of a handyman, and what jobs is he legally able to perform without a professional license? Post your answer

Answer: A handyman description depends on the handyman history in your building and on how the job has been defined and redefined down through the years by management, a board if any, and the super.


 
  Question #352: If your base salary is 28,000 per year and you get free rent -which is considered a taxable benefit - can the employer add the market value of $1,000 per month of rent to your salary? Post your answer

Answer: About 20 years ago building owners did put the cost of the apartment as additional income on the super's W2 forms. Then there came a ruling that disallowed this but gave the owner another choice, which is that the cost of the apartment could go under general expenses. Pgrech


 
  Question #351: What causes "brown water"? Is it just like oxidation or rust in pipes. What can be done to remedy this, in a building that already has a water filtration system in place. Post your answer

Answer: Brown water can come from the pipes or from the water supply. If you have a WORKING filter system on the incoming water, then the 'brown' must be from the pipes.

One source is the hot water system. These have return lines that circulate the hot water around the building and there is more chance of picking up deposits in this system. We have been successful putting in small centrifugal separators on this recirculating line to remove this type of debris. Joe Lambert www.leonardpowers.com


 
  Question #350: My local building inspector will not give me an OC because he says that the faucet I am using in my shower is not rated for anti-scalding. The faucet is built by American Standard and the model is from 2003. The faucet also conforms to ASME A112.18.1M. I will like to know what are the New York City codes and regulations controlling this inspector's call. Post your answer

Answer: The inspector's calls are covered by state and city laws. You can challenge his "call" at HPD. But you better be armed to the teeth with information and answers. Furthermore, it would be wise to have a licensed plumber there, only because if you are not one, then you don't quality as an expert. Pgrech