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  Questions For Supers - 400 to 449  
"Knowledge is of two kinds. We know a subject ourselves, or we know where we can find information on it."  -- Samuel Johnson

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last update on Thursday January 31, 2008 09:44 PM PT


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

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

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

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

  Question #449: Do all NYC apartments need two means of egress? How is that determined, is it the height of the building? Post your answer


Answer:  All New York City apartments - no matter how short or tall the building - require two means of egress. The first one is the apartment front door. The second one is a fire escape outside one of the apartment windows in those buildings that are not fireproof. Buildings that are built to fire proof standards require two means of egress from the hallways in enclosed stairs (i.e. two sets of stairs accessible from each floor to the ground level).

  Question #448: I am a property manager. How do I determine a fair price to pay for a live-in superintendent that would have to operate a #6 oil boiler, in a 54 unit, six story building? Would it be a good idea to be competitive with similar buildings in the neighborhood? Post your answer

Answer: While matching or being competitive in the neighborhood on salary is good, is it not better to pay 15 percent more and get a good super rather than an average super? Salary always depends on what is required of the super and how much experience is had. One thing for sure, good supers are hard to find. Good supers save money and are a very valuable asset to any building. Pgrech,

  Question #447: I live in a high-rise co-op apartment in Queens. I would like to remodel my kitchen and would like to know what codes there are concerning the placement of a gas stove. I plan to place the stove in a corner and extend the gas line underneath the base cabinets to reach the new stove. The walls are constructed from hard plaster and concrete blocks. Any help is greatly appreciated. Post your answer

Answer: The House Rules notwithstanding, building code is quite clear here. A licensed plumber must file for a permit to do any gas work. So have the plumber do the filing. Pgrech

  Question #446: I am a stationary engineer in Brooklyn, dual license (high pressure steam & refrigerating machine operator). Is there a list of other states that will honor our New York City licenses? I was thinking of moving and do not want to start over with testing. Post your answer

Answer: You may get other good answers, but in the meantime quite possibly a good place to start might be the entity or entities which originally issued your license(s). They may have the answer or may know where to search. Or try searching the and the official websites of the states you're thinking of moving to.

  Question #445: What are the ingredients to WD-40? Post your answer

Answer: Read this article written about WD-40, and visit their website.

  Question #444: Is there a good source of supply for replacement knobs for an old shower / tub? Fit-all knobs don't work well for long. Post your answer

Answer: New York Replacement Parts, 456 Lexington Avenue at 94th Street,
212-534-0818 is one. George Taylor Specialties, 76 Franklin Street near Broadway in lower Manhattan, 212-226-5369 may be another, but try NYRP first.

  Question #443: I have three sets of radiators (old, clanking steam heat) in my apartment, which gets too hot. I can turn off one of them completely, but I can't manage to turn the others off, even when the wheel valve is as far "off" as it can go. What may be preventing me from turning it off? Any other valves to check, or do I need to replace the wheel valve? Suggestions? Post your answer

Answer: Radiator valves are not meant to be turned off or on, but rather used for maintenance purposes. It seems that your radiator valve is broken and needs to be replaced. In the mean time if you have a one pipe radiator, on the other end of the radiator from the valve end you will find an air vent. Turning this vent upside down will prevent most of the steam from entering the radiator. Note: the air vent may leak water in the upside down position, so keep something under it just in case, and keep your eye on it. Pgrech

Answer: Chances are that the radiator valves need to be re-packed. New packing (a rope-like substance) is available in the hardware store. The problem may be that your valve stem and bonnet is rusted so that, even with a wrench, you will not be able to open it. In that case, call a plumber. Dick Koral

Answer: Because turned-off valves sometimes cause hammer (banging), some valves, even when they are turned off, have a small flow rate through them that will still heat up the radiator. Also, in a two-pipe system you could have a failed steam trap on the return side that is letting in hot steam / condensate. Joe Lambert

  Question #442: I’m a working super in central New Jersey. The new management company orders me to rent vacant apartments from the date of moving out. Each last day of the month I have 2-3 move outs. I must rent all apartments from first day of the month. It means I have absolutely no time for preparations. Painting is my responsibility. Management is pushing me to find prospective tenants who are able to sign the lease from the first day of the month & move in 5-10-15 days later when apartment will be rented & inspected by the township. The Super from the next door property which is under the same management was fired for losing about 3 weeks of rent for a period of six months in a 75 unit building. Maybe some of you know how to save the job and not break the law? Post your answer

Answer: I am a real estate professional. The answer is rather simple. Every bank and every owner knows that there is a standard 5% vacancy rate for ALL rentals. The fact is that your owner wants the "extra" income and to increase his NOI (net operating income). I would make it clear when being hired that anything less than or equal to a 5% vacancy rate is acceptable. Part of this equation IS the rental rates. If you are asking too little you will always be filled. If you ask too much then you will have too much vacancy. This means for a 75 unit apartment building there should ALWAYS be 3.5 empty units. This should allow time for repairs and upgrades and for you to try to raise rents a little at a time (easier to do with a well maintained unit). So my answer to all the supers out there is to be sure and get your average vacancy expectation in writing! Use these reasons and examples as to why this is necessary. The largest apartment conglomerates use 5% as a REQUIREMENT average number, this is to assure that they have high enough rents as well as maintenance.

Answer: From what you write, it looks like management is expecting the impossible or almost-impossible from you, and to agree to do this may be just setting yourself up for failure. Have a talk with your immediate superior and explain the situation to him. Ask him whether you can hire some help at the owner's expense, or can management provide some help to you.

  Question #441: This is my first supers job (51 family co-op) and during the interview I was told my hours will be Mon-Fri 9-5. I was also told there will be a little garbage to go out on Sundays. I have never had a LITTLE garbage on Sundays. The building generates more garbage over the weekends and it is my recycle day. I do not have a porter and I have no backup coverage at all on Saturday or Sunday. I have asked the management if they could supply someone to work the weekend, but they have not complied. I see the recycle area grow all weekend long and the compactor chute is always filled past the lobby level where I have my apartment and one other 1-bedroom apartment. Is there anything I can do? Post your answer

Answer: Just one idea possibly worth a try: maybe your management company would be open to the suggestion of doing the recyclables work on Sundays in exchange for the same amount of time off on another day, especially if you give them the choice of which weekday for which to give you the time in exchange.

Answer: This may be a good time to remind all supers - and everyone else who is applying for a job for that matter - to "read the fine print" before taking a job. Ask lots of questions and get as much as possible in writing. It is much easier sometimes to negotiate that raise or benefit BEFORE taking the job than it is after the deal is done. If you are desperate for a job, any job (which is understandable and does happen sometimes, and who hasn't been there at least once in life) and really just need the job no questions asked, then don't be surprised when you are pressured to do more than you thought was expected of you. You will then have to take it like a man or learn the delicate art of negotiation after the fact. Changes can sometimes be made, but it's often tougher.

  Question #440: Is my landlord responsible for a fire escape on my second and third floor New Jersey apartment? Post your answer

Answer: Probably, yes. But do check with your local fire department. Tell them what your problem is. They will probably send an inspector who will demand that the owner install the fire escapes. Don't procrastinate. Your lives are in danger. Dick Koral

  Question #439: Please explain the process of double glazing. Post your answer

Answer: I'm not sure what you want to know about the "process" of double glazing, but put very simply, double glazing in windows is the use of two panes of glass with dead air space between them. This creates a certain insulating quality and will increase energy efficiency, along with other performance benefits.

  Question #438: How many 12 gauge thhm wires can I safely put in a 1/2" conduit? Post your answer

Answer: See the answer to Question #419.

  Question #437: How is water hammer resolved in a building? Post your answer

Answer: Water hammer can be easily taken care of, if your building has what is termed as "air chambers." These are installed at the top of the bathroom water lines and a valve is closed off and you are allowed to remove the excess water from the system, thus removing the water hammer. Check your lines on the top floor, they can be located in hallways and sometimes inside the apartment, behind medicine cabinets. If you can't find them you may need a plumber to help you locate them, or have them installed. Roberto Cardona

Answer: The other type of water hammer is in the heating system and there are many causes, but it is usually steam and water mixing where it should not. (For more info see the answer to Question #427). Joe Lambert

  Question #436: Who is responsible for maintaining lobby mailboxes in a co-op. My key is not working, and there is no way for me to get my mail. My super is trying to charge me for the repairs and a new cylinder. Post your answer

Answer: The owner of the apartment, in either a condo or co-op situation, is usually responsible for paying to have the lock cylinder changed. Ask someone on the board for the details if you don't have access to the offering plan or other existing written materials.

  Question #435: We had hot water problems since we moved into our apartment 2 1/2 years ago. We had sent multiple email and as many calls, but only called 311 when we lost all hot water for 3 weeks. The problem has now been repaired. We withheld 1/2 our rent last month. My questions are: 1. Are we eligible for back compensation living in an apartment that frequently did not have hot water? 2. Should we hire a lawyer?

Also the valve in our radiator came off while the super was trying to fix it. Our bedroom filled with steam and many things were ruined, including a prized painting. They said they are not liable. Our renter's insurance said they are, regardless of the lease. Can you tell me what is the law on this? Do I have any rights? Post your answer

Answer: We are not in a position to give legal opinions. These questions should be asked of an attorney. You can also call the Rent Stabilization Association at 212-214-9200 or check out their website, and they can answer these questions as long as you have a rent stabilized lease. Sorry we can't help more - we are geared more toward maintenance and operation questions than legal ones. Pgrech

Answer: We are supers, not lawyers. Hire a competent attorney and ask someone who has been through this to tell you their experiences.

  Question #434: I was the poster with the question regarding the noisy furnace / sump pump below me. After calling the Super, the owner of the building called me. He himself is going to go and check it, but apparently he doesn't think there is anything that can be done except installing a rug. He has offered to reimburse me for whatever I spend on carpet and padding. Does anyone know what kind of padding product is best at insulating against sound? Thanks very much in advance, your advice was very helpful. Post your answer

Answer: First of all I am glad we were of some help. Its nice to get a thank you from people we try to help. And I'm glad to hear the landlord is reasonable in this manner. Carpeting will help reduce the noise. Which carpet padding I don't know, it's best to ask the carpet store that question. Keep in mind that while carpeting will help reduce noise it may not be eliminated altogether. If it isn't eliminated, I suggest some sound proofing over the ceiling in the boiler room, making sure the sound proofing is fire resistant and conforms to New York City fire codes. Now, the noise will be reduced but not the vibrations. To reduce or eliminate vibrations on the sump pump as you said, vibration eliminators can be installed for a reasonable cost. A plumber would install the eliminators. Pgrech,

  Question #433: I live in a 5 story building with 12 units. The railroad apartments only have two windows leading to the outside, one to the fire escape, the other used for an air conditioner. There are children under 10 present in some of these apartments. Under these circumstances can a parent refuse window guards? Post your answer

Answer: If the window has an air conditioner, and the air conditioner is permanently installed, then that window does not get a widow guard. The fire escape also DOES NOT get a window guard as it would violate Fire Codes. Make sure this window locks and make sure the locks are somewhat childproof. Pgrech

  Question #432: I live in a 5 story walk up, on the ground floor apartment. There is a furnace below me which constantly turns on and off, creating a loud vibrating noise. It feels like I am riding a city bus. How do I address this issue? Do I have any protection from this? Post your answer

Answer: While it is not uncommon for noise and vibrations to come from a boiler and or other mechanical devices, there is a limit allowable by law. Your remedy is in you lease, where it guarantees reasonable quiet and enjoyment of your apartment. I would approach the owners in a nice manner and see if this can be resolved. The DEP or EPA can be called to take a noise level test and if the noise goes over what is allowable, a violation will be issued to the owner. But try the nice way first. PGrech

  Question #431: I own a building in New York City that has store and 2 apartments. I would like to replace the entry door to the hallway leading to the apartment, but am told it can be a sold steel door. Please if you can what are the codes for this door? Post your answer

Answer: The door must be made of metal, with a fire rating of 2.5 hours. Pgrech

  Question #430: We just bought a co-op apartment that we would like to remodel. Some of the work my husband will do himself. Are we allowed having any amount (bags) of construction garbage to put in a compactor room by law of New York City? Post your answer

Answer: By the "law of New York City" you are not allowed to put ANY construction debris/garbage out with the regular (household) garbage. What happens in real life, however, in the case of garbage at least, is sometimes governed more by the rules of your building. Be honest with your super (you will gain nothing by trying to deceive him - and have a lot to lose if you attempt deception and he finds out), let him know what you're planning and ask him for his advice and assistance, if not his blessing. Obviously, you should be on good terms with him and try to work with him as much as possible, and he will work with you, if he's like 99% of the really good supers out there. Do not in any case put construction debris down the compactor chute. It should be bagged in the thickest bags you can find, double bagged if necessary, being sure not to make the bags very heavy to handle, and put out with the regular garbage a little at a time. This is NOT a solution for any contractor - only for a resident.

Answer: First of all the question was about putting construction debris in compactor ROOM. While there is NO "city" code preventing you from doing this, there should be a co-op house rule preventing this. Secondly, "City Code" if you will, forbid any construction material from being put out for city pick up. Sanitation exists only for household refuse, and not construction material. the cost of a mini bin is about 40 bucks a yard. They are cheap enough to rent one or two. Pgrech

  Question #429: Anyone know where I can buy the pins for the heat-timer? And do you know can I buy an ON pin that is not designed for the morning? I know the ON pin for the morning will make the boiler stay on longer than its normal cycle. i want to turn off my boiler at noon and then turn it back on at 3 in the afternoon, but do not want it set for that same-type "first morning cycle". right now i have the heat-timer set at its lowest settings but the building is way too warm with very few tenants home during weekdays. Any ideas? Post your answer

Answer: Heat-Timer's website, where they have all their contact information. Also see the answer to Question #230.

Answer:  Please be aware that it is ILLEGAL to put any amount of pins or devices on the heat timer other than two, one for day one for night. You will receive a severe violation and fine if HPD inspectors find more than two pins or other devices on the heat timer. Having more than two is a violation of the Administrative Code that governs heating in multiple dwelling buildings. Pgrech,

Answer: While it is true that it is a violation of the New York City housing maintenance code to have more than one night setback pin on a heat timer, your reference to overheating despite your attempts to change the heat adjustment setting indicates that you probably have other problems with your system. Check the location and the setting for the indoor element for the heat timer. If the yellow light is not going on at some point, then the heat timer will let the boiler run constantly regardless of the outdoor temperature. This is a common problem with heat timers which have never been properly adjusted to the building. Also note, there should be enough air vents in the heating system to deliver the steam to the most remote radiator in under two minutes! If not, then add additional vents in the basement and at the top of every steam riser in the building. JEichenwald

  Question #428: Moen single handle kitchen faucet Model 67315, no cold water, even when handle is all the way to the right! Hot water is extremely hot. New installation. Post your answer

Answer: Contact whoever installed it, obviously it wasn't done correctly, and they owe you a job done right. It may be just a simple thing like a loose handle or stem.

Answer: It also could be the speedy connector is kinked or blocked. Dumb as it sounds, check the valve under the sink, it may be shut, or broken. Lastly is the faucet itself may be defective. Pgrech,

  Question #427: Can you please explain the importance of steam trap maintenance in a two pipe steam system and what the results of poor trap maintenance can be? Post your answer

Answer: Two bad things can happen to steam traps. They can fail closed - not letting any water (condensate) through. In this case the radiator will get cold, the tenant will call the super, and someone will fix the trap. The other case is that the trap fails in the open position - blowing live steam into the return system. This is a huge waste of steam and has other effects. The live steam goes into the return line, affecting other radiators on that return. It may cause these other radiators not to heat up, it may cause water hammer (banging in the pipes), and it may cause other problems in the distribution system. It is always my first recommendation for buildings that have not done trap maintenance to get repair capsules for ALL of the steam traps in the building and install them, riser by riser. The pay-back will always be INCREDIBLE, and the entire system will be more balanced and work better. Joe Lambert

  Question #426: I am looking for software to track / tickle maintenance in a high rise. Any suggestions? Post your answer

Answer: If you're good with Windows software, any spreadsheet ( Excel, Alpha 5, etc.) will allow you to set up a system fairly easily where you can track the activities you want to move along.

Answer: Cool-Ware is one found online, but I don't know if it's a good application, either for your particular situation or in general.

  Question #425: I  am the super of a 19 family building. One of the tenants left a 1 year old child on a bed which was pushed up against a cast iron radiator. The baby put his hand on the radiator and got badly burned. The tenant has lived here over 3 years, and never asked for them until their baby got burned. They are now suing the owner. My question: Is there a New York City law for radiator covers? Post your answer

Answer: Read the Multiple Dwelling Law (NYS) and the Housing Maintenance Code (NYC) for possible answers.

Answer: No law requires covers. Torts - No Common Law or Statutory Duty of Landlord to Install Radiator Covers in an Apartment Where Children Live Rivera v. Nelson Realty LLC, 7 N.Y.3d 530, 825 N.Y.S.2d 422 (2006). The Court of Appeals affirms the First Department which had held that there is no duty imposed on a landlord either by virtue of the Multiple Dwelling Law or the Administrative Code to require installation of radiator covers in apartments where they know that small children reside. The court takes the opportunity to expound on the meaning of Basso v. Miller (40 N.Y.2d 233 (1976)) which abolished the distinction between an invitee, a licensee, or a trespasser insofar as the duty that is owed. The standard of "reasonable care under the circumstances" is deceptively simple and not so broadly interpreted. A landlord is still not liable to a tenant unless a duty to repair is imposed by statute, by regulation, or by contract. In this case, as in the case where there was no duty to install window guards (Ramos v. 600 West 183rd Street, 155 A.D.2d 333), the Multiple Dwelling Law, Section 78 does not mandate a duty to install radiator covers, nor does the City's Administrative Code, Section 27-809, which applies only to insulating exposed piping.

  Question #424: I moved out of my apartment and left some scratches on the wall. My landlord is charging me $250 to fix it, which I think is too high. Do I have a right to do it on my own or hire a professional to do it for cheaper? Post your answer

Answer: In most leases, there is a clause stating that upon vacating the apartment, it must be left in a "broom swept" condition. Your lease also normally states that the walls are to be left in the same color and condition as when the apartment was moved into, less normal wear and tear. Since you already moved out of the apartment, and IF you surrendered the keys, it is too late to cure this. If you have moved out but not yet surrendered the keys, then you still have the right to correct the condition. Pgrech,

  Question #423: I live on the top floor of a commercial building, which is a hair solon. Above the hair solon is the first floor, which is an office, then I am on the top floor. Is the landlord required to supply the carbon monoxide detector in this building? Post your answer

Answer: Yes, as long as you have a residential lease and a gas stove. However, you will find that the cost the landlord will charge you ($25 allowed under the law), you might be able to find one for less money. Pgrech,

  Question #422: I would like to know what is the average salary for a Super working in an office building for a private firm, with or without certifications? More specifically, what can one expect to make as a part-time super who is not a member of a union? Post your answer

Answer: There is no "average" salary for a super, not even when you break it down to a part-time non-union super. The variables are just too many (size of the building, previous super's salary, etc.), to state a categorical average that would be helpful. For further information read the categorized questions under Supers and Management, as well as the other Categorized FAQs.

  Question #421: I recently drained a hot water heating system of unknown age. The boiler is about 15 years old but runs fine and produces great heat. The water was in terrible shape, it was filthy. At the end of the draining, black water was coming out of the drain and left a sediment trail to the basement drain. Is there an inline filter I can install in a hot water system to get the impurities out, or at least a really good website about hot water heat systems? Post your answer

Answer: The water in a hot water heating system should be drained only when absolutely necessary. When you feed fresh water into the system, the fresh oxygen introduced will increase the rate of corrosion of the system. The black you saw was normal, the water you drained was okay - and inert - and you would not have had a problem leaving it in the system. Eugene Marabello

Answer: To expand on Gene's answer: Boiler valves such as bottom, surface, column, and low water cutoff should be blown regularly (say once a week), for a few seconds. This will prevent what you experienced. Boiler water should be completely drained once a year with a chemical, blown down to clean the mineral build up from the water side of the tubes. Pgrech,

  Question #420: Are there contractors that specialize in steam trap repair / maintenance? If so, can you list some. Post your answer

Answer: Our Company does many steam trap services (as well as other steam related work). We are Leonard Powers here in New York City.

  Question #419: How many 12 gauge cables can I put into a half inch and a one inch EMT conduit? Post your answer

Answer: By cables I assume you mean conductors, commonly called electrical wires. This answer refers only to single/solid wire not tw or stranded wire. 1/2 inch: 5 wires at #12; 1 inch: 13 wires at #12. Keep in mind that all boxes have limits on how many wires in them. Basically, on a 1/2 inch emt or bmt, it doesn't matter the formula, is 40% of the totals area of the diameter or 0.122 sq. inches. for 1 inch it would be 40% or 0.346 sq. inches. Pgrech, Gboc.Net

  Question #418: I live in a rent stabilized building. My question is: are laundry washing machines allowed in rent stabilized apartments. The tenant above my apartment has a washing machine and it overflowed and leaked into my apartment causing damage to my ceiling and wall in my apartment. My landlord recently purchased the property I live in and he was wondering if he has the right to notify the tenant above me to remove the laundry washing machine from the premises. Post your answer

Answer: The answer to this depends on the rental/lease agreement you signed.  Read it to find out whether or not the use of washing machines is spelled out. Whether or not your apartment is rent stabilized has little or nothing to do with it. Your landlord or the landlord's managing agent needs to get up to speed on this before making a move either way.

Answer: To expand on the answer above, your lease has nothing to do with your upstairs neighbor. Its the upstairs neighbor's lease that counts here. Pgrech, Gboc.Net

  Question #417: What are the rights of an owner of a two family dwelling, who rents the basement level to a family member, on a month to month basis? How can a owner legally evict a tenant with children (one with a handicap) from a two family dwelling? Post your answer

Answer: This is best answered by an attorney. However, note, that a month to month renter does not have to be evicted. The month to month agreement simply is not renewed. Eviction only comes into play if the renter does not pay the rent or refuses to surrender the apartment. Pgrech

  Question #416: I need help identifying a strange noise to communicate to building management and the super.  The sound is like a cross between the sound of shaking sheet metal or furniture being scraped across the floor upstairs (which is impossible because the apartments above are all vacant). I suspect it may have to do with the heating system because there is also severe water hammer, but not at the same time. It is difficult to pinpoint the exact location of where the sound is coming from. It is very puzzling. Post your answer

Answer: Get the super involved in finding and identifying it.

  Question #415: I live in a NYC prewar co-op and the noise from the steam radiators is really loud at times throughout the night. Is there anything I can do to fix it? Post your answer

Answer: There are many causes of water hammer in a heating system. For a steam radiator, it may be the pitch of the piping, the steam trap on a two pipe system or the vent on a one pipe system, or even a problem with the riser originating in the basement. You must get a steam professional to diagnose the problem before it gets fixed. One common problem with steam radiators is that people may close the radiator valve trying to get less heat and this very often causes the banging. Joe Lambert

  Question #414: I am looking to get my boilers license. Would you know by any chance how I can go about getting it. I live in the Bronx. Post your answer

Answer: See the answers to Questions #269 and #283, and answers to similar questions on the same page.

Answer: Coming in Feb 2005 there will be a mini workshop on #6 oil certificate of fitness and how to obtain one, as well as how to maintain a #6 boiler. pgrech

  Question #413: My building is a new apartment which opened in the end of September this year, and I moved in when it opened. I've had leaks from my bedroom ceiling twice. The building super told me that they have had some people fixed the ceiling right after when it happened for the first time, however, it happened again yesterday. It leaked from the same place, and it was even worse than the last time. I did not have much damage on my furniture, however, I had to remove everything out to the living room and was not able to leave the house and ruined my whole day. I've reported to the management office, and they say that they've already arranged some people to fix it, however, that's the only thing they can do. Is it possible for reducing my rent? Post your answer

Answer: Probably not.

  Question #412: My mom wants to do renovations (kitchen update, new bathroom sink and vanity and painting of entire apartment) in her studio in an Upper West Side co-op. How can we find a reputable contractor to do the renovations and how can we check out contractors we talk to? Post your answer

Answer: I think the best way is to actually speak to people who have themselves used a contractor, and ask them what their experiences were with their contractor, and whether or not they can recommend him. Ask plenty of questions of those who have had recent renovations done. You should get an earful on who to hire/who not to hire. Any contractor you initially interview should be willing to furnish you with a short list of their previous clients, which you can also try to contact to get feedback.

  Question #411: Does a two-family house with a store downstairs need a fire escape or other emergency exit to leave the building - other than through the front door? Post your answer

Answer: Read the Multiple Dwelling Law (NYS) and the Housing Maintenance Code (NYC) for possible answers.

  Question #410: Where do I go to take the boilers test and how can I get a training manual to study for it as well as the standpipe and sprinklers test? Post your answer

Answer: Read the relevant questions and answers in the Licenses, Exams, Certificates of Fitness section of our Frequently Asked Questions. Also, coming in Feb 2005 there will be a mini workshop on #6 oil certificate of fitness and how to obtain one, as well as how to maintain a #6 boiler. pgrech

  Question #409: Can I get some suggestions on a good key coding system for supers? Post your answer

Answer: First you will need a key cabinet. Next, you will buy key envelopes that lock tight and cannot be opened unless envelope is ripped open. Write a number on the envelope. Next, have a notebook and log in number on envelope with the apartment number the key corresponds to. The only people allowed to look in log book is the super or the handyman. Look up number and have tenant sign out the key, if key is not returned the tenant should be informed in the event of an emergency. If you wish to see the type of envelope to store the key please e-mail me I would be glad to help if you have any questions. Roberto Cardona

Answer: Try It is a computerized key system. Especially good for larger buildings.

  Question #408: I live in a pre-war building and I have problems with noise from the upstairs apartment. I hear conversations, my entire apartment vibrates when someone walks around upstairs, there is little or no sound-proofing. Is this normal? If not, is my landlord responsible for making my apartment more sound-resistant and if so, how do I go about enforcing this?  Post your answer

Answer: Your lease holds the key. You have the right to quiet enjoyment of your apartment. In most leases, carpeting of at least 80% of the apartment must be done by the tenant. It is the landlords duty to enforce this, assuming it is in the lease. Carpeting eliminates a lot of the noise from an apartment above. PGrech,

  Question #407: Is there a web-site or book that I can find out about computer application software for monitoring/gauging a gas boiler? Post your answer

Answer: There is none that I know of. I have asked around and it seems no one else knows of such a book or program either. This is not to say that one doesn't exist. IF you find one let us know. PGrech,

  Question #406: Where can I find information such as building codes, requirements, material, structure, etc., on fire escapes for a 42 unit brick building in Queens? Post your answer

Answer: Check out the New York State Multiple Dwelling Law and the New York City Housing Maintenance Code.

  Question #405: At the level my landlord keeps the temperature, only two radiators in the apartment ever get hot. The radiator in my room does not turn on unless the landlord raises the heat to 75 degrees. Therefore the temperature in my room when the door is closed, falls below 68 degrees. The only way I can heat it is to constantly leave the door open. Is this legal under the heating codes? Post your answer

Answer: The real question you need to answer is not whether it's legal, but why that radiator doesn't heat up as fast as the others. Best bet is that there may be some air trapped in the radiator, which means that the air vent on the radiator is either not working properly or not at all, or doesn't exist. Talk to your super or a good plumber and they should be able to figure out what you need to get it working properly.

  Question #404: Are gas dryers allowed to be vented through a panel in the top of a window in New York City? Post your answer

Answer: No. PGrech,

  Question #403: I live in an old 5 story converted factory building in New York City. Occasionally on the 5th floor we smell very noxious odors coming from the floor boards, similar to spray paint. Is it illegal to use such chemicals in a residential building? Post your answer

Answer: Your building is not the only building that has these kinds of problems (where the building was first used as a factory then converted to a residence). I know of a building that once was a dye factory, and when there was a leak, the dye would ooze out of the floor into the apartment below - not to mention the dye smell. "Is it illegal to use chemicals" is not the question, as these are old chemicals imbedded into the floors of the building - as opposed to someone using chemicals today. Your Board would have to look into this as I can't find any City Codes that really answer your question. Pgrech,

  Question #402: What rooms are counted as "rooms" under the New York City Multiple Dwelling Law? Post your answer

Answer: This does not have a simple answer. There are some gray areas to it. The following are rooms: Bed room, Living room, Dining room, Kitchen. Foyers and halls are not counted as rooms. Bathrooms are not counted as rooms. That was the simple part; not so simple is if you have two bathrooms or two foyers or a few hallways. Pgrech,

Question #401: What is the minimum temperature for heat and hot water that a landlord must provide in NYC? Post your answer
  Question #400: This is not a question but I wanted to take advantage of being the 400th milestone question. Thank you to all of you that have contributed in answering questions listed on this website. Thank you to those persons who send in the questions. We make every effort to answer every question as soon as possible. 400 questions asked and answered is a marvelous thing and just wanted to share this moment with you all. Thank you on behalf of the board at STA. Peter Grech President, STA  Post your answer