NY Cooperator November 2019
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November 2019                                  COOPERATOR.COM  Any time you have hundreds or even   thousands of people living in close quar-  ters – in a multifamily co-op or condo   building, say – certain challenges inevi-  tably will arise. One of the bigger ones is   how to maintain the flow of fresh, hygien-  ic air into the building and provide for the   out-venting of stale air, fumes, and odors.   Poor air quality is at best a nuisance   and at worst a bona fide health hazard –   so it’s crucial for boards and managers to   stay on top of regular maintenance; take   complaints about odors, fumes, and stale   air seriously; and do what’s necessary to   address these disturbances when they   come wafting up.   Pinpoint the Cause  Pet odors, cooking smells, and second-  hand smoke top the list of odor-related   complaints in multifamily buildings and   associations nationwide, but it’s not just   about olfactory  offenses; allergens and   pathogens also can build up in vents and   ducts and, in the worst case scenario,   can contribute to some very real health   problems for people living in an affected   building.  In its most extreme forms, poor indoor   air quality can lead to what is known as   “sick building syndrome.” While it is most   often associated with commercial build-  ings,  sick building  syndrome  can be  a   concern for residential dwellings, too. The   Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)   defines sick building syndrome as “situa-  tions in which building occupants expe-  rience acute health and comfort effects   that appear to be linked to time spent in   a building, but no specific illness or cause   can be identified.” The problems may be   felt in one particular room or area, or   may manifest themselves throughout the   continued on page 10   No matter how well constructed and carefully maintained, no mechanical system   lasts forever – and that goes for elevator cabs and equipment just as much as it ap-  plies to roofs or boilers. At some point, your building’s vertical transportation comes   to the end of its useful life, and the inconvenience of refurbishment and replacement   becomes a reality for residents. If you live on a lower floor – say the first, second, or   even the third story – the inconvenience may not be too severe. If you live in a build-  ing with multiple elevators, it’s unlikely that more than one will be taken out of service   for upgrading at a time. But if you live in a building with a single elevator and reside   above the first few floors, or if you have trouble climbing stairs at all, let alone carrying   packages up or down, an elevator upgrade can become a real nightmare.  “Single-elevator buildings are a challenge,” says Joe Caracoppa, an elevator consul-  tant with Sierra Consulting Group, a New York City–based elevator consulting firm.   “The question is: how do you get the people up and down for six to eight weeks while   the work is being done and completed? \[The answer\] is usually walking up and down.   When the elevator is out, it’s out. It can’t be used temporarily.” On the other hand,   Caracoppa continues, “Multi-elevator buildings are easy. You always have another car   – a freight car or the other passenger elevator. But if it’s just a single elevator, well, no   one can use the elevator during the process, and it must be tested by the city before it   can be put back into operation.”  Planning for the Inevitable  Jacqueline Duggin is a building manager with Gumley-Haft, a Manhattan-based   residential property management firm. She manages a seven-story single-elevator   building on Manhattan’s East Side that recently underwent a total refurbishment.   The property was built at the turn of the twentieth century, and so is over 100 years   Some lucky New Yorkers can come   home from work on a cold winter’s night   and warm their feet by a roaring fire while   drinking a hot toddy. A working fireplace is   a coveted amenity for many, adding a dash   of vintage charm to prewar apartments or   a touch of luxury in sleek newer buildings.   But hot toddies aside, maintaining a fire-  place in your apartment is no small task.   From regular cleaning to proper venting,   taking care of a working fireplace is a seri-  ous responsibility – and crucial for the safe-  ty of both people and property.   Maintaining a Relic  While fireplaces  may  be  considered a   nice touch today, at one time they were nec-  essary components in every home, warming   the house and providing a place to cook. But   that was a century-and-a-half ago. Today,   approximately 16 percent of apartments in   New York City have working wood or gas   fireplaces. Wood-burners most commonly   are found in converted townhouses built in   the second half of the 19th century and in   upper-floor and penthouse apartments in   prewar luxury buildings, while newer con-  struction generally features gas-powered   or  electric  hearths. And wood-burning   models are now officially collectors’ items;   in 2014, Mayor Bill De Blasio signed an or-  dinance that prohibits the construction of   wood-burning fireplaces in new buildings   and  renovations. (Gas-fired  and  electric   models are still okay.)  Eddie Delgardo is the sales manager of   Westchester Fireplace and BBQ, located in   Elmsford, New York. “Maintenance require-  ments for a fireplace in an apartment build-  ing are no different than for a single-family   home,” he says. “A wood-  burning fireplace   requires a regularly scheduled brush and   vacuum, a chimney sweep inspection, and   an inspection of all safety components. In-  spection should be done annually and by a   properly licensed expert.”  Gas-burning fireplace  maintenance  is   similar to that of any gas-fired furnace, says   Delgardo, and he adds that such fireplaces   also should be inspected once a year.  “Gas   fireplace units require the same inspection   of the flue and of its components by a li-  censed chimney sweep, as well as mainte-  old. The single elevator required modernization and refurbish-  ing. “The board really had to think a lot about the project, and   about this problem,” Duggin says. “We had people in the build-  ing, one family in particular, where someone was disabled and   used a wheelchair. There was no way this resident could go up   and down the stairs. Another resident had two very large dogs,   and they couldn’t go up and down numerous times a day either.   Elevator Refurbishment   Managing a Major Service Disruption  BY  A J SIDRANSKY  Maintaining Air   Quality  Managing the Indoor    Environment  BY COOPER SMITH  Fireplace   Safety and   Maintenance   A Valuable Amenity   Shouldn’t Be a Liability  BY A J SIDRANSKY  205 Lexington Avenue, NY, NY 10016 • CHANGE SERVICE REQUESTED  continued on page 8   continued on page 12 

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