New England Condominium November 2019
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November 2019       NEWENGLANDCONDO.COM  Anytime you have hundreds, or even   thousands of people living in close quar-  ters – in a multifamily co-op or condo   building, say – certain challenges will   inevitably arise. One of the bigger ones   is how to maintain the flow of fresh, hy-  gienic 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 them when they come wafting   up.   Pinpoint the Cause  Pet odors, cooking smells, and sec-  ondhand smoke top the list of odor-re-  lated complaints in multifamily  build-  ings and associations nationwide, but   it’s not just about olfactory offenses – al-  lergens and pathogens can also build up   in vents and ducts, and in the worst case   scenario,  contribute  to  some  very  real   health problems for people living in an   affected building.  In its most extreme forms, poor in-  door air quality can lead to what is   known as “sick building syndrome.”   While most often associated with com-  mercial buildings, it can be a concern for   residential dwellings too. The Environ-  mental Protection Agency (EPA) defines   sick building syndrome as ‘situations in   which  building  occupants  experience   acute health and comfort effects that ap-  pear to be linked to time spent in a build-  ing, but no specific illness or cause can   be identified.’ The problems may be felt   continued on page 8   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 applies   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   Some lucky apartment owners 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 fireplace in your apartment   is no small task. From regular cleaning to   proper venting, taking care of a working   fireplace is a serious responsibility – and   crucial for the safety of both people and   property.   Maintaining a Relic  While fireplaces may be considered a   nice touch today, at one time they were   necessary components  in every home,   warming the house and providing a place   to cook.  But that was a century-and-a-  half ago.  Today, wood-burners are most   commonly  found  in  converted town-  houses built in the second half of the 19th   century and in upper-floor and penthouse   apartments in prewar luxury buildings,   while newer construction generally fea-  tures  gas-powered or  electric hearths.   They are also very common in townhous-  es, reports David Levy of Sterling Man-  agement Services located in Holliston,   Massachusetts.  Some units may even fea-  ture multiple fireplaces.   John White is the sales manager of   Boston-based Billy Sweet Chimney   Sweeps, which serves Boston, the North   Shore, and Portland.  “Maintenance re-  quirements for a fireplace in an apart-  ment building are no different than for a   single-family home,” he says. “Solid fuel   fireplaces should be swept and inspected   once a year.  That recommendation is   made by the Chimneysweep Safety Insti-  tute of America (CSIA). They are the most   accepted certification in the industry.”  “If you use it, it needs to be swept,”   White stresses. “Additionally, throughout   the entire year, thanks to heat and snow,   freezing and thaw, a chimney’s masonry   can become damaged, and can deterio-  rate over time. Annual inspections are not   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   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 6   continued on page 10   THE CONDO, HOA & CO-OP RESOURCE  CONDOMINIUM  NEW ENGLAND

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