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For Immediate Release
May 21, 2009


Homeowners Encouraged to Check Condition of Outdoor Structures & Air Conditioners

Buildings Commissioner Robert LiMandri today reminded all New Yorkers about the importance of preparing their homes for summer so they can reduce energy costs and ensure household safety throughout the season. As temperatures begin to rise, residents will be spending more time outside on their decks and porches, as well as in their pools and using cooling devices, such as air conditioners. Therefore, it’s a great opportunity for residents to inspect their homes for potential hazards before it’s too late.

Homeowners can follow some simple steps to prevent accidents and conserve energy during the summer months, and the Department has created several guides with easy-to-follow tips to assist New Yorkers in “summerizing” their homes. These guides are available online and at the Department’s five borough offices, and Department staff will be distributing them during weekly homeowner’s nights in each borough.

“Summer should be a fun and relaxing season for every New Yorker, but if a homeowner fails to check their deck, porch or pool for damage, it could lead to a potential nightmare for everyone,” said Commissioner LiMandri. “By planning ahead and making necessary repairs in and around the home, residents can save themselves a lot of time and money and make sure their families enjoy a safe summer season.”

The Department suggests the following tips for residents to “summerize” their homes:

  • Examine decks & porches.  Check the stability of outdoor structures. Take notice of any leaning or unsteadiness. Examine railings, guardrails, support beams, anchors, nails and screws for loose, rotting, missing or damaged pieces. Note any water saturation or pest infestation, such as termites or carpenter ants, and check for cracked or chipped masonry or rusted metal connections.

  • Make sure pools are ready for use.  Pools should be watertight and free of open cracks and joints. All pools must be enclosed by a four-foot high fence that has a childproof, self-closing gate. No overhead electrical conductors should be installed within 15 feet of the pool.

  • Check air conditioner units. Proper maintenance of an air conditioning unit is important to maximize efficiency and ensure safe operation. Periodically check the position of the unit to make sure it is secure and installed in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions. Examine the condition of the window and its frame to ensure it can continue to support the unit safely. Before using, check the filter and coils to see if they need cleaning or replacement.

  • Reduce drafts and energy loss. Check your home’s insulation to prevent unnecessary drafts and conserve energy. Windows and doors can be major source of energy loss. Provide weather-stripping and weatherproofing materials around the edges. Try to set air conditioner thermostats no lower than 78 degrees and turn off air conditioner units when the room is not being used. A one-degree change in your thermostat can cut energy costs.

  • Hire licensed professionals. The freeze-and-thaw cycle from winter can lead to deterioration of homes and outdoor structures. If any structures require maintenance, consult with a licensed professional who can perform a full assessment and offer advice about repairs. If you hire a contractor, confirm that the individual has obtained a Home Improvement Contractor license from the City’s Department of Consumer Affairs.

Additional tips for decks, porches and pools can be found on the Department’s website at

Contact:     Tony Sclafani/Kate Lindquist (212) 566-3473