Council of New York Cooperatives & Condominiums
CNYC Newsletter

Published: Winter 2003

After the wettest spring in memory, the city Department of Health and Mental Hygiene warns that mosquitoes prevention should be a strong priority this year. Mosquito larvae thrive in standing water. And the experience of recent years has shown that mosquitoes are more than just pests; they occasionally are carriers of West Nile virus.

The Department of Health recommends regular and careful inspection of all courtyards, terraces and rooftops, sidewalks, gardens, and park or playground areas to make sure that there are no puddles or swampy areas. For additional information about West Nile virus or other health issues, visit the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene website at

New York City has developed a telephone line for “one-stop shopping” for city services. If you have questions or seek information about any aspect of city government, you can now dial 311, where trained operators will field your questions and refer you to the appropriate city agency. 911 continues to be the number to call for serious emergency help. To report possible suspicious security situations, you can dial 1-888-NYC SAFE.

The Department of Sanitation provides free curbside removal of large non-commercial "bulk" items from residential buildings. Sanitation will collect up to six items from one address. Regular bulk items (those that are not predominantly metal) must be placed on curbside between 6 PM and midnight the night before your regular garbage collection day. Included are items such as mattresses, microwaves, televisions, sofas or armchairs, wood tables, etc., old carpets (which must be free of nails and staples and securely tied in bales no more than 2 feet high and 4 feet long). Metal bulk (100% metal or predominantly metal) must be placed on curbside between 6 PM and midnight the night before your regular recycling collection day. Included are items such as metal furniture, washer, dryers, refrigerators and air conditioners. When discarding freezers, refrigerators, air conditioners, water coolers or dehumidifiers, the law requires that you arrange for the recovery of CFC/Freon. For safety reasons, the law requires that doors be removed from refrigerators before they are placed on curbside.

The following article is abstracted from a more detailed presentation by Peter Grech, president of the Superintendents Club of New York in the club’s newsletter SUPER! Mr. Grech will present a workshop at CNYC’s 23rd annual Housing Conference on Sunday, November 16th on How Your Building Works. To learn more about the Superintendent’s Club or to help your super enroll, consult the Super’s Club website at

Good maintenance is good management, pure and simple, but, an aggressive, realistic preventive maintenance plan and a motivated staff are essential.

Step 1: Aggressive Approach. The superintendent must be aggressive and vigilant in keeping to a carefully established schedule.

Step 2: Knowledge. A proper understanding of how the systems and equipment in our building work is vital to a successful maintenance program.

A good way to learn about building systems is to ask questions of the persons who perform repairs; by learning more about the system, the super can learn to prevent breakdowns.

Another way to learn is to go to school. The Thomas Shortman school at the Union provides free classes in may aspects of building management for members of Local 32B-32J. To learn about classes available in September, contact the Union at (212) 388-3800 or visit their website at New York City Technical College also teaches many classes in building maintenance and superintendency skills. Contact CUNY Tech at (718) 260-5500 or visit their website at
A third path to knowledge is to teach those who perform maintenance what to do. For instance, just how much grease should a pump get? Too much will overheat the pump; not enough will wear out the bearings. And, just what kind of grease should one use? Its not so simple if one does not understand the machine. But the pump should have come with an owner’s manual. The answer is most probably there. When new equipment is installed, make sure to get the manual and to keep it in a safe place. If the manual has been lost, contact the manufacturer, either to get a new manual or the information you need.

Step 3: Scheduling. When one understands how a system or piece of equipment works, one has a good idea of what needs to be done to maintain it. A schedule of maintenance should be created. Again, an owner’s manual is the preferred reference, because it spells out the where’s, when’s and how’s.

Step 4: Record Keeping. Keeping records of individual pieces of equipment and of systems, including when they were serviced, whether routine maintenance or repair, what was done and by whom, is a must.

Step 5: Money and Time. Without having budgeted for a maintenance program, one cannot expect to carry it out. Money is needed for tools and materials necessary to a maintenance program. It’s much cheaper to budget for maintenance than to have to spend money on repairs or replacement.
Finally, we need to schedule staff time to perform the maintenance tasks adequately and completely in accordance with the schedule established for each building system.

CNYC thanks Maria Vizzi, president of Indoor Environmental Solutions for the following information. IES offers inspection of ducts, chutes, compactor units, fans, hoods, exhausts and ranges as well as consultation on environmental safety.

Every year, there are over 20,000 clothes dryer fires, says the Consumer Products Safety Commission. The usual culprits are highly flammable lint coupled with restricted air flow or improper ventilation. The frequent use to which dryers in building laundry rooms are subjected increases the likelihood that lint will accumulate and that venting may become blocked. When a dryer is not venting properly, it is less efficient and costs more to operate. Fortunately, dryer fire is a risk easily avoided with preventive maintenance.
To prevent laundry room fires, include dryer vent cleaning in your regular building maintenance schedule. Be sure to remove all the particles which can easily ignite due to the combination of trapped airways and heat. While the dryer is operating, check the outside exhaust to make sure the air is escaping normally. If too much lint or debris has accumulated, or if the exhaust system is difficult to reach, schedule a cleaning with a company specializing in this service. Related rooftop fans should also be cleaned and maintained.


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