For Immediate Release: December 15, 2022
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PREPARING YOUR PROPERTY FOR THE WINTER SEASON
Winterizing Tips to Ensure a Warmer, Safer, and More Cost-Effective Winter Season
New York, NY – Winter is just a week away New York, and in recognition of the challenges our City’s buildings face, the Department of Buildings and our agency partners are providing tips to homeowners, property managers and contractors on simple steps they can take to help see them through the season. Freezing temperatures and winter storms can cause serious maintenance issues for our City’s built environment and taking proper steps to winterize is essential to promote public safety, prevent weather-related damage, improve energy efficiency, and pressure on your wallet.
“The winter months can cause serious maintenance issues for properties and construction sites, but with proper preparation these issues can be minimized if not avoided altogether,” said Acting Department of Buildings Commissioner Kazimir Vilenchik P.E. “These tips provide practical steps toward winter preparation for properties, and we hope that New Yorkers will find them helpful for the colder months ahead.”
“Each year, from October through May, landlords are required by New York City’s Heat Season law to ensure every apartment has sufficient heat and hot water. However, as temperatures drop, malfunctions are more common, leading to inadequate heat, hot water, and other dangerous conditions. We encourage property owners to use the information and resources provided by the City to proactively ensure buildings are safe, warm, and up to code to keep New Yorkers safe,” said NYC Department of Housing Preservation & Development Commissioner Adolfo Carrión Jr.
“The winter months are the busiest time of the year for fires, and sadly when we see the most serious injuries and fatalities,” said FDNY Commissioner Laura Kavanagh. “I strongly urge all New Yorkers to have a working smoke alarm on every floor of their home. Property owners must have working alarms in their properties. Simply put, working smoke alarms save lives.”
“Making buildings and homes winter-proof is essential to health and safety, as well as keeping maintenance costs down. HCR’s Weatherization Assistance Program, works with a network of local organizations and government entities to make 740,000 homes across the state more energy-efficient, affordable, and warm since the program’s inception,” said New York State Homes and Community Renewal Commissioner RuthAnne Visnauskas. “Winterizing safely is the only way to do it -- I urge everyone to follow professional advice and where necessary, work with licensed contractors to lower the risk of fire and carbon monoxide poisoning. Stay safe while you stay warm."
Homes without proper insulation and regularly serviced heating equipment can result in high out-of-pocket costs as well as potential hazards for residents. Our winterizing tips for homeowners and property managers include simple, low-cost solutions that can make a big difference in saving you money and keeping your family safe.
Tips for homeowners and property managers to winterize their buildings:
- Reduce drafts: Loose-fitting windows and doors can be major sources of heat loss in a building. Properly seal them with weatherproofing materials. Adding weather stripping around the edges of doors and windows will help keep the heat in. Removing all window ACs and covering any permanently installed through-the-wall mechanical equipment with a well fitted cover will also greatly reduce heat loss.
- Check attic insulation: Heat rises, and the majority of heat that escapes from a home is through the roof. Proper insulation, at least six inches thick, in your home’s attic will help prevent this heat loss.
- Maintain heating equipment: Properly maintain boilers and hot water heaters to ensure maximum efficiency and reduce the risk of costly malfunctions. Having equipment cleaned and serviced yearly by a qualified individual can keep this equipment running longer, with fewer service interruptions.
- Clean your chimney: Have your chimney cleaned and checked once a year. A lack of proper care can create blockages which can become hazardous.
- Protect water meters and pipes from freezing: Pipes and meters located in unheated areas of a building can freeze in colder temperatures. This can create cracks and breaks in the system, requiring expensive repairs. Ensure there is proper insulation around the plumbing pipes inside the home. Also, remember to turn off water and drain the pipes leading to any faucets outside the home.
- Use proper precautions when thawing pipes and meters: If the pipes and meters at your property are already frozen, take precautions when attempting to thaw them. Never use a flame when thawing a pipe, which could ignite a fire or cause a steam explosion.
- Prevent snow, ice and water accumulation: Snow and rain that collect on top of a building can cause leaks or even compromise the roof’s structural integrity. Snow and ice accumulated on fire escapes can also obstruct egress routes that might be necessary during an emergency. Removing snow, water and ice from your building can prevent damage, and save you serious money. Regularly cleaning your gutters and roof drains can prevent clogs.
- Check smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors: These inexpensive pieces of equipment can save your life, make sure that the smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors in your home are working properly. There should be one installed where you sleep and on every level of your home, including basements. You should be checking the batteries of these devices twice a year and testing them regularly.
- Avoid fire hazards: If you are using space heaters in your home, keep them at least three feet away from curtains, linens, and any other flammable materials. If you are using candles, never leave a lit candle unattended. For more fire safety tips visit FDNYSmart.
- Check contractor qualifications: Make sure that the people inspecting your boilers and chimneys, or performing any other type of work in your home, have the proper qualifications from the Department of Buildings and Department of Consumer and Worker Protection.
- Ask For Help: The Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP), assisted by NYS Homes and Community Renewal, is a federally funded program that assists eligible owners of single-family and multifamily homes by reducing their energy costs by more than 20% on average, while improving the energy efficiency, health, and safety of their homes. For more information, please contact one of the WAP providers in your region on the NYS NCR website.
Proper winterizing is particularly important on active construction sites, where snow and ice accumulation can cause injury risk to both construction workers and the public. Contractors should be advised that they are required to keep their work sites in a safe, Code-compliant condition at all times. That also means winterizing.
Tips for contractors to winterize their construction sites:
- Housekeeping: Clean up debris from the site each day and remove any ice and snow from the site which can cause tripping hazards. Secure any material, netting, ladders, chutes and other items that may be affected by windy winter storms.
- Temporary heat: Ensure that any piece of temporary heating equipment used at the construction site complies with the relevant regulations in the NYC Construction Codes and NYC Fire Code.
- Pipe safety: Protect all sprinkler and standpipe lines from freezing, and follow all requirements sets forth in the applicable National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) regulations.
- Scaffolds and Sidewalk Sheds: Slips and worker falls are the leading cause of worker fatalities and critical injuries in New York, you should not be working on scaffolding and sidewalk sheds that are covered in snow, ice or slush, except to remove the slip hazards.
- Cranes & derricks: If you have a crane on your site that isn’t going to be used during the holidays, make sure that it is properly stored. Cranes that are scheduled to be inactive for more than 30 days should be stored properly, inspected and maintained – including positioning and set up for inclement weather.
As winter progresses it is now more important than ever to stay ahead of Jack Frost and the potentially hazardous conditions they bring. Subscribe to our Weather Advisories to receive email alerts about breaking weather conditions.
Be advised that this year winter in New York City also means compliance time for elevator and boiler related annual inspections. If you own or manage a property with an elevator or boiler and property owners are reminded to complete upcoming deadlines for compliance inspections.
Upcoming Compliance Inspection Deadlines:
- Boiler devices are required to be inspected by December 31, 2022. The inspection report needs to be filed by a licensed professional or insurance agency inspector in DOB NOW: Safety within 14 days from the date of the inspection. Owners are subject to civil penalties of $1000 per boiler for failure to file the inspection report For more information about these requirements check out 1 RCNY §103-01, 1 RCNY §103-05 and visit DOB’s Boiler Compliance page.
- Elevators are required to have both a Category 1 test and a periodic inspection by December 31, 2022. The Category 1 test report has to be filed with DOB within 21 days from the date of the test, and the periodic inspection report has to be filed within 14 days after the date of the inspection. An elevator agency files the test and inspection reports in DOB NOW: Safety. Owners are subject to civil penalties of $1000 per elevator for non-compliance. For more information, see 1 RCNY §103-02 and visit DOB’s Elevator page.
- If you have any questions about compliance deadlines or other building inspections we want to hear from you! Submit an inquiry at www.nyc.gov/dobhelp.