Important NYC Heating Regulation changes

CHANGE TO HEAT REGULATIONS BEGINNING OCTOBER 1, 2017

Beginning October 1, 2017, pursuant to Local Law 86 of 2017 , the regulations regarding the provision of heat during the nighttime hours have changed. During the Heat Season (October 1 – May 31), property owners must maintain an indoor temperature of 62 degrees. THERE IS NO LONGER A NIGHTTIME OUTDOOR TRIGGER TEMPERATURE. This means that heat needs to be provided as needed to maintain an indoor temperature of 62 degrees. If the inside temperature falls below 62 degrees, tenants may file a complaint about inadequate heat with 311. Please take necessary action to ensure that your heating system will be provide heat according to the law beginning October 1st. Daytime heat must still be provided at a minimum of 68 degrees once it is below 55 degrees outside and hot water must be maintained at 120 degrees.

Jobs in Progress - West 88th Street - Update - more pictures to come

We are continuing our conversion from an electric heating system to a gas hydronic heating system in a brownstone on West 88th Street. To see the boiler portion of this project please check out our blog post - http://www.absolutemechanicalcoinc.com/blog/2016/8/3/jobs-in-progress-west-88th-street. 

We installed the boiler while we waited for the utility to bring gas into the building. Once we had gas and a meter we began the installation of the heating system throughout the house. We are removing the existing electric baseboards and installing cast iron radiators. We were able to do this in the winter by making the boiler go live before the heating system installation began. As each radiator was installed, it was turned on. Construction was performed while the apartment was occupied. Below are pictures of the protection of the property which was removed every evening and replaced every morning. 

Some of the pipes are capped because we are waiting for the next phase to begin. The next phase is bringing the pipes to the top floor.

We will be updating this post with pictures as the installation progresses. 

East 51st Street - COMPLETED

We are very excited to announce that we have completed our oil to gas conversion for a 39 unit steam building in Manhattan. Details about the building and project are in our "Steam Heating Projects" section of the website - http://www.absolutemechanicalcoinc.com/east-51st-street-steam-boiler/

This project had to occur in phases because the utility required an upgrade of the gas line. Upgrade of gas service is a long process that can take about 6 - 12 months. Depending on the space available, this can extend the project completion even longer because the building can not be left without heat or hot water. Absolute Mechanical works within the space and capacity confines to either install a boiler alongside the old one so we can be ready for a switch over as soon as gas is available. 

Phase 1 of an installation of this size is to install TRVs and Master Vents throughout the building. This way the building begins saving on their fuel bills as soon as possible. Phase 2 is to install domestic hot water system. Phase 3 is to install the new boiler. Phase 4 is to connect to the new gas line and turn on the new heating system. 

Images below: Viessmann with tanks for domestic hot water and HB Smith boiler for domestic steam heating. 

New Regulations for Gas Work in NYC

Pipecaster is a great source of information for regulation changes and updates. Recently there have been some modifications to the gas regulations which building owners should be aware of.

Original newsletter at http://www.plumbingfoundation.org/archives/1139. Link for signup below. 

NEW LAWS ON GAS SAFETY IN NYC

On November 15, 2016, the New York City Council passed the package of 10 gas-related bills the Foundation supported in the hopes of increasing public safety. The two most important and impactful to the licensed plumbing community are Intro. 1088-A and Intro. 738-A. The Mayor signed the bills into law on December 6th.

Intro. 1088-A will now require the periodic safety inspection of gas piping systems inside buildings by licensed master plumbing firms, exempting R-3 classified occupancies (single-family homes) in New York City, at least every five years. According to Con Edison and National Grid, a universe of over 195,000 buildings will be covered by this law. Passage of 1088-A signals an important shift in the regulatory landscape of the Department of Buildings in New York City towards a “proactive” rather than “reactive” one. It will require a building owner to submit a report to the Department of Buildings that includes the inspection results of a licensed master plumber. The inspection process is:

At each inspection. in addition to the requirements prescribed by this article or by the commissioner. all exposed gas lines from point of entry of gas piping into a building, including building service meters, up to individual tenant spaces shall be inspected for evidence of excessive atmospheric corrosion or piping deterioration that has resulted in a dangerous condition, illegal connections, and non-code compliant installations. The inspection entity shall also test public spaces, hallways, corridors, and mechanical and boiler rooms with a portable combustible gas detector to determine if there is any gas leak, provided that such testing need only include public spaces, hallways and corridors on floors that contain gas piping or gas utilization equipment.

Gas piping systems will now be subject to the same type of regulatory guidelines that boilers, sprinkler systems, facades, and water tanks have all been subject to for years. If this law was in effect a few years ago, the illegal gas work that caused the deadly explosion in March of 2015 in the Lower East Side may have never occurred, as the routine periodic inspection could have detected the tampering of gas.

Throughout the past 18 months, the Foundation’s efforts to communicate the importance of 1088-A’s passage always centered on the need for proactive safety inspections of gas piping systems, which–barring some major problem arising–would have never been inspected for damage, illegal hookups, etc. The tragic explosion in the East Village in 2015 was the direct result of illegal activity–illegal activity that possibly could have been detected if the system had been subject to periodic safety inspection And while explosions are rare, issues with gas piping systems are not.

It was the robust dialogue between New York utilities and plumbing firms, City agencies, and elected officials that resulted in 1088-A’s passage.

Because of these open lines of communication, we can all look forward to a healthier, safer New York City, and we look forward to further dialogue with the same parties as these laws are implemented over the coming years. Effective date January 1, 2019. The Foundation is already working with National Gas Association, Utilities and other parties to provide training in inspection procedures.

Another bill that passed was Intro. 738-A, which requires individuals in the employ of licensed master plumbers to be tested and registered to have the ability to perform gas work. With the passage of 738-A, all gas work performed in New York City must be performed by a licensed master plumber or a person working under the direct and continuing supervision of a licensed master plumber. This qualification requirement will further ensure the public’s safety, as only qualified professionals who have undergone the proper training will be permitted to perform gas work. This requirement will go into effect January 2020.

For further details of Intro. 1088-A or 738-A, please visit the Plumbing Foundation’s website to read both bills in their entirety.

NO GAS SELF-CERT IN MANHATTAN

On November 22nd, the Department of Buildings (DOB) ended the ability for gas test and gas finish to be self-certified in Manhattan by licensed master plumbers, meaning that physical inspections are now required and must be witnessed by a DOB inspector. The Plumbing Foundation applauds this change by the Administration and considers it to be a vital step in combatting illegal gas work and the small amount of licensed gas work that is of an inferior quality. The Department has indicated that this change in policy, requiring physical inspections of all gas tests and gas finishes, should be going citywide sometime in 2017, but no specific date has been issued at this time. The Plumbing Foundation will continue to provide updates on this important change to the inspection process as more information becomes available from DOB.

NEWS FROM DOB ON EWN GAS WORK

DOB issued a service notice, in late November, regarding Gas Emergency Work Notifications (EWN) affecting Manhattan only (see the content of the service notice below).

Also, the Plumbing Foundation has yet to fully review or comment on the update, and are not sure how the EWN process works outside of Manhattan. The Foundation will provide further updates and guidance as we learn more. PLEASE NOTE: We have been informed by DOB that this notice will be amended due to errors.

“This will also apply to all emergency work requiring gas finish inspections in Manhattan. All other emergency work will continue to be accepted as a self-certification in DOB NOW: Inspections.

How to report and File a Gas Emergency Work Notification

A Licensed Master Plumber (LMP) must submit a gas Emergency Work Notification (EWN) to the LAA Unit by emailing DOBEWN@buildings.nyc.gov. The appropriate utility should also be notified per the instructions below. The sender will receive an auto-reply email response from the Department and can commence emergency work. The auto-reply email must be posted at the site until the LAA Unit provides an Emergency Work Issuance Notice.

The EWN email must include:

  • Subject Line
    • Address of the emergency
    • Licensee’s name and license number
    • A brief description of the emergency
  • The body of the email should note:
    • What system is affected
    • Description of the emergency condition

Utility Notification

  • National Grid – EWN submission to the LAA Unit should include nationalgrid-newyork@mailca.custhelp.com in the ‘To’ section of the email
  • Con Edison – The DOB EWN auto-reply must be uploaded to the Con Edison Project Center

The LAA Unit will provide an Emergency Work Issuance Notice, which includes the EWN number within 24 hours of the next normal business day The Emergency Work Issuance Notice must then be posted at the site.

Subsequent Filing Requirements

An LAA application for a permit must be filed with the Department in accordance with Section 28-105.4.1 after receiving the Emergency Work Issuance Notice but before the expiration date of the notice.

Final Inspection Request in DOB NOW: Inspections

When LMP is ready for a Gas Finish inspection, the Department requires the inspection request be submitted through DOB NOW· Inspections using the LAA application number related to the EWN.

The request for the Gas Finish inspection must include the following to avoid rejections or failed inspections:

  • In the comments section, include ‘emergency work gas leak EWN#’
  • Upload a scanned copy of the EWN approval from the LAA Unit and a sealed Statement of Emergency Work completed on the licensee’s letter head with a statement that there was a gas test performed by the utility and that the utility has re-energized the gas.
  • Email the appropriate borough Plumbing Unit.

Sign-Off Request in DOB NOW: Inspections

After the Department has performed the Gas Finish inspection, the Licensed Master Plumber must submit the sign-off request.

The request for sign-off must include the following to avoid rejections:

  • Select the Emergency Work checkbox on the sign-off request form
  • Enter the EWN number in the EWN# field.

Sign-Off Approval

The LAA will be signed off upon approval by the Plumbing Unit

PLUMBING FOUNDATION E-BLAST

SIGN UP NOW TO BE ON THE PLUMBING FOUNDATION E-BLAST LIST!

  • Do you want to stay current with information that comes out of DOB, DEP, the Health Department and others?
  • Do you want to stay current on what the Foundation is doing to make the plumbing industry safer and more efficient?

IF SO, THEN SIGN UP TO RECEIVE OUR E-BLAST.

IT’S FREE!!!

The Plumbing Foundation’s E-Biast list is used to keep working professionals, businesses, and others in the plumbing industry aware of new regulations, laws, rules, and other events that affect them. City rules and regulations change all the time and signing up for the E-Biast helps the Foundation stay in touch with everyone who may be affected by legislative and regulatory changes.

PLEASE SEND YOUR EMAIL TO:

 

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TO JOIN THE PLUMBING FOUDATION’S E-BLAST LIST-SERVE.

Importance of Preseason Maintenance

Preseason maintenance is extremely important for your heating system. It is the first defense against premature failure. Each year we recommend flushing the boiler, checking and cleaning all devices, adding proper chemicals, etc. Below is a picture of a LWCO. Because of dirty water and sediments it was found non operational. The owners of this building were fortunate to have done proper maintenance in time and prevented dry fire. 

More pictures to come. 

Follow Gennady on Brownstoner

Brownstoner.com is a fantastic forum for homeowners and contractors to get and give information. Gennady is a frequent commentator for heating related questions. Below is a link to his feed so you can follow his answers. 

http://www.brownstoner.com/forum/#!/@brownstoner:121754

Jobs in Progress - West 88th Street

One of our current projects is a conversion from an electric heating system to a hydronic heating system in a two unit brownstone in Manhattan. Currently each apartment has their own electric baseboards and are paying a fortune for heating. We are installing one Viessmann Vitodens boiler for the building for heating and domestic hot water as well as baseboard radiators. Phase one of the project is to install the boiler in the basement. 

How to Start Looking for a Boiler Installer

The process of finding a contractor can be very overwhelming. You may not even know where to start. You can start with asking friends and neighbors about who installed their boiler and were they happy with the installation. You can look online for boiler installers in your area or on your local blogs. Once you find one or two installers you like, keep up communication with them. Perhaps you are not ready to invest right now or the price seems higher than expected. Continue communicating and asking questions, even questions like "why is the price so high" or "why are you offering this instead of that". As the customer, you should not be ashamed to question the contractor. Asking questions will lead you to a better understanding of the product you are getting and the type of company you may decide to work with. Sometimes the way a contractor handles your questions is a good indication of how they will handle your project, house, and future complications if they arise. 

Heatinghelp.com and brownstoner.com are two great sources in the NY area for references and answers to any questions you may have about the process. 

Here is a blog post where Gennady describes the best way to go about finding an installer.- http://www.brownstoner.com/forum/#!/general-discussion:boiler-installer-recommenda

"Do the search on internet. Use keywords like “boiler installer in brooklyn”. Do not look at advertisements results, look at natural search results. Also visit heatinghelp.com “find contractor” section. Look at local boiler installer companies websites. Then go to dob website, a810-bisweb.nyc.gov/…/icenseTypeServlet?vlfirst=Y check if contractor on the website is licenced. Then do the search on candidates, see how many boiler jobs they did recently. Boiler work is a specialty, so you must find contractor who does boilers exclusively. See LAA and permits information regarding clients. Contact clients and ask them about their experiences with contractor and job in general. Make sure contractor offers heat loss calculations and EDR survey. Do not rely on size of existing boiler. You don't know if original installer did not do mistake in sizing of the boiler years ago. Another consideration: do you want just to replace boiler or upgrade it to better one, more efficient, do you consider upgrade heating system in general."

Follow Gennady's comments on forums

Brownstoner.com and heatinghelp.com are fantastic sources of information for home owners and contractors. These are great tools to get information from knowledgeable contractors or experienced homeowners. Gennady is a frequent contributor to postings on both forums. Below are some recent posts that he's commented on. 

http://forum.heatinghelp.com/discussion/157347/manifold-versus-trvs#latest

http://forum.heatinghelp.com/discussion/157488/thread-sealer-for-2600-psi#latest

http://www.brownstoner.com/forum/#!/general-discussion:boiler-installer-recommenda - Great question and answer about how to start looking for a contractor

Installation of Master Vents

This is an issue we see in so many buildings. We come to a building where the bills are very high and yet half the building has no heat. When we walk through the building we find that the headers are being vented with one tiny radiator air vent. Venting is a science like any other aspect of heating. There are calculations that need to be performed to figure out how much venting is required and correct locations for these air vents to be placed. Below are a few pictures of vents in a building. 

Venting Headers:

Park Place - Job in progress - Viessmann CU3A-35 installation with Radiant

We are currently in the process of installing a new Viessmann CU3A-35 boiler with a radiant heating system in Brooklyn. This is Viessmann's latest residential boiler. We are very excited to be installing it along with Caleffi Manifolds and Ultra Fin radiant tubing with copper supply and return lines to all pex and manifolds. 

The importance of CO detectors - A story

Our installations come with a CO detector interlocked with the boiler. This is extremely important as the boiler will shut down if CO is detected. About 2 years ago we installed a boiler in a loft in Manhattan (apartment 5R). As a precaution we installed two CO detectors, one inside the boiler room and one outside the boiler room. There were also 2 CO detectors installed in the loft as additional precaution by the owner. 

Recently the tenant in the apartment claimed that the CO detector outside of the boiler room had been going off and he was very worried that the system was producing dangerous levels of CO. We came out and checked our heating system and didn't find any evidence of CO in the boiler room. A few weeks later, the CO detector went off again. This time he became very nervous and moved out of the space until the issue was resolved. The apartment owner purchased a CO monitoring device which records levels of CO and keeps the highest one in memory. On a warm day when our system was not operating and the tenant was not in the space using hot water, the CO levels reach 89. The owner of the property called in a very knowledgeable building investigator who went through our system and all the systems in the condo building. What they found was extremely disturbing.

Below is an excerpt from their report:

"After thorough examination of apartment 5R's heating system, a high efficiency condensing hot water boiler with a tankless domestic hot water component. This system has a carbon monoxide detector in the equipment room. The system was found to be in good operating condition, there were no observable signs of combustion gas leakage. 

... The first issues I observed was that the direct vent gas boiler for apartment 3R boiler has a cracked exhaust vent, this is leaking combustion gases into the building and is a source of the carbon monoxide. "

The report also found that every other boiler in the building was being vented illegally and incorrectly. 

"With the use of a smoke stick, I found that the combustion gases were being blown back into both the apartments for both apartments 3R and 4R. These water heaters were not installed as per manufacturer's instruction or per New York City code..."

The only reason that any of this was found out was because we had installed CO detectors as part of our installation. This instance goes to show that you can do everything right and still get into an issue because of someone else's incompetence. Buildings are required to have smoke alarms as well as CO detectors installed, yet very few of them do. The residents of this building were very fortunate to have this issue found out before any casualties occurred. 

 

Stories from the field - missing valves and drains

We often see boilers that are missing very important valves and drains which would prohibit proper maintenance from being performed. Many times the owners tell us that the boiler has had maintenance performed every year like clockwork. However, when we look at the boiler they are missing key components that would allow for maintenance to be performed.  Below is just one example. We were requested to replace a leaking coil in the boiler and noticed there were no drains installed on the boiler. 

We wondered, how does the maintenance company blow down low points to remove sediments from boiler if there is no portal for this to be done. After we opened the boiler to replace the coil and saw what was inside we realized the simple answer was, they didn't.

This is what was found on the water side of the boiler. This layer effectively isolates flame from the water and reduces boiler efficiency drastically. 

The poetry of the installation of a steam system - Absolute Mechanical

When we install a new boiler we diagnose the entire system. This includes the production of heat and distribution of heat. 

We want to make sure that each stage of the heating process is done correctly and efficiently. This includes the boiler (sizing, cleaning, installation, supports, etc); near boiler piping (all the piping within 15' of the boiler will be completely brand new, in the proper configuration, and insulated); boiler controls and devices (all the controls will be brand new and the latest technology); production of hot water in a manner that makes sure there is no loss of energy; installation of master vents to make sure that the boiler is not operating to produce pressure to push steam but that steam flows through the system entering each radiator at the exact same time; TRVS on all the radiators to dynamically adjust their output based on the conditions of the room; and the redlink to determine the buildings indoor conditions (if the coldest area is satisfied then no more heat is needed). 

Our steam systems are unlike any in New York. An installation by Absolute Mechanical ensures that there will be no more steam hammer noise, no more over heating or dips in temperature, and no more dry air.