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Habitat Magazine Insider Guide



Gas Pains

A yearlong headache.Back in 2016, after several fatal gas explosions, the city implemented Local Law 152, which requires inspection of gas lines every four years by a licensed master plumber. Our first move was to educate our boards on what law was and its importance. Then we solicited bids to make sure that we could get competitive pricing from master plumbers to get these tests done.

We manage a 21-unit co-op in Harlem that had a gas shutdown maybe a year after the law went into place. It wasn’t the result of the inspection. We just had a gas smell in the building, so there was a full shutdown, and we had to re-pipe the entire building. From the shutdown time to soliciting bids, pulling permits with the Department of Buildings and actually getting the work done, you’re looking at a yearlong process, depending on the size of the building.

Inspect the inspectors.If there is repair work that’s needed, do the full repair because that’s going to benefit you when the time comes to do the mandatory inspection. Also, Con Edison sends random teams of inspectors out to check on things. When that happens, you want to make sure your super is your first line of defense. If the Con Edison inspectors say something needs to be done, you want to bring in your own third party or master plumber to take a look. 

I experienced that a couple of months back at a building in the Bronx where Con Edison came out and said that we had to re-pipe a section of piping that was connected to the gas meter. When we brought in our master plumber to take a look, it turned out that it was actually Con Edison’s responsibility, so it was something we didn’t even have to take care of. We were able to bounce that back to them.

Repairs without a shutdown. There’s a way to perform minor repairs without interrupting gas service to the whole building called bottle gas. It’s a temporary gas supply that gives the plumbers time to perform the repair. When the repair is complete, they restore the regular gas service.

Not the place to cut corners. Inspections and testing can get pricey—not to mention the repairs themselves—but if you don’t do the scheduled inspection, it’s a $10,000 civil penalty for not filing it. And if you don’t do the inspection for a couple more years, the fines are going to accrue. So you want to be sure that when you’re doing this work, you’re using a master plumber, you’re getting the work done properly, and you’re not cutting any corners. That’s the only way to stay in compliance with Local Law 152.

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