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Planning for A Potential Gas Shutdown

Getting ahead of the curve. When it comes to the periodic inspection of your building’s gas piping systems, it’s understandable if boards don’t want to think about this until their inspection is actually coming up. But planning in advance is a better course of action. Presumably a board has a professional, typically a plumber who’s familiar with the building’s infrastructure, and you should ask, “Are we going to pass this inspection? If not, where are we going to fail? And what repair projects should we start contemplating?” 


Deciding factors. The answer depends on whether your gas is just for cooking or also for the boiler and hot water and whether the pipes are exposed and accessible so you won’t have to rip out your whole infrastructure. If you don’t pass and Con Edison shuts down your gas entirely, the whole building is going to have to be pressure-tested and checked for leaks. In the meantime, there are minor issues — like providing hot plates to residents — and major ones if the gas provides heat and hot water, because you’re going to have to put a temporary boiler on the street, file for permits and make other arrangements to minimize the impact on residents. And you want to look at your operating budget and reserves, because you’re potentially facing a very expensive capital project that may require an assessment. 

Personally speaking. My own building had a shutdown for more than a year after someone smelled gas, and we ended up installing a dedicated gas meter room and new gas lines into the units with their own shutoff valves. We even had to swap out the gas-powered dryers in the laundry room with electric ones. There’s a domino effect, and it’s a major inconvenience. So even if your inspection is four years down the line, you need to start thinking about it now so you don’t get caught by surprise.

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