2010-06-18 / Community

Buildings: ‘Summerize’ Your Home This Season

Buildings Commissioner Robert LiMandri today reminds all New Yorkers to take extra precautions and make basic repairs to their homes in order to stay safe throughout this summer season. As temperatures increase, millions of New Yorkers are spending more time outdoors and running their air-conditioning units indoors, and therefore, it is important to have all building facades and outdoor structures secured in a safe and lawful manner. Before the official start of summer, property owners should carefully examine the conditions of all porches, decks, balconies and pools, checking for proper installation or any signs of instability. Simple repairs and home improvements can often prevent accidents during extended periods of use during the summer season. Any residents who are concerned about the stability of any structure can call 311, and a Department inspector will perform an inspection.

During the hot days of summer, there also are a number of ways to conserve energy, including checking insulation to reduce drafts, replacing filters in air-conditioning units and coating a building’s rooftop with reflective, white coating under the NYC °Cool Roofs Program. Led by the Department of Buildings and NYC Service, this innovative program is designed to cool 1 million square of rooftop in 2010. By joining the initiative, property owners can obtain coating at reduced rates and receive help from volunteers for the coating work. A cool roof can reduce air conditioning costs by 50 percent in a one-story building, 25 percent in a two-story building, and by 10 percent in a fivestory building.

The Department has created several easy-to-follow guides and brochures with tips on how to “summerize” homes so accidents can be prevented and energy can be conserved. These guides and brochures are available on the Department’s website at www.nyc.gov/ buildings, in the Department’s borough offices and are distributed at the Department’s weekly homeowner’s nights which are held in each borough to answer questions about the Department.

The Department suggests the following tips to “summerize” your home:

Check all outdoor structures, including decks, porches, facades and balconies. Check the stability of all outdoor structures. Examine railings, guardrails, concrete, support beams, anchors, nails and screws for loose, rotting, missing or damaged pieces and take notice of any leaning or unsteadiness. 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 in good condition. 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 condition and installation of air-conditioning 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 replaced.

Check windows and doors for drafts. Check your home’s insulation to prevent unnecessary drafts and conserve energy. Windows and doors can be a major source of energy loss. To help reduce the loss of energy, install weather-stripping and weatherproofing materials around the edges of all windows and doors. 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.

Make sure to hire a licensed professional. 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 www.nyc.gov/ buildings.

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