May 2014 Newsletter

The following is the latest edition of the Sullivan Engineering newsletter. This newsletter is being provided as a courtesy, based on our professional relationship. As always, your feedback and suggestions regarding this newsletter as well as requests for future topics are appreciated. Please feel free to email us at newsletter@sullivanengineeringllc.com.

Also, check out Sullivan Engineering featured in Habitat Magazine’s “Projects Around Town”!

Window Mounted Air Conditioner Brackets

By: Brian Sullivan

Now is a great time to evaluate the condition of window mounted air conditioning units. As residents/occupants begin to re-inspect a/c units in their windows, this is the most convenient time to install these brackets. Improperly secured window a/c units may damage the window frame, can result in unnecessary air and/or water infiltration or at worse, can create a potentially catastrophic unsafe condition.

Additionally, all window mounted a/c units left in over the winter (particularly this past winter) should be inspected to see if the harsh winter weather and significant snow accumulation damaged the unit or caused it to shift or settle. When these units are now turned on and begin to vibrate due to standard operation, damage from the winter may result in loose panels and pieces falling from the unit.

Facade Inspection Program

As part of any comprehensive facade inspection program, window mounted a/c units should be evaluated thoroughly. All suspect units should be immediately removed or properly secured. Building Owners/Managers should perform this task at least once per season and before any required facade inspections.

Under the NYC Department of Building’s FISP (Facade Inspection and Safety Program), formerly Local Law 11/98, inspectors are required to list window mounted air conditioners as an unsafe condition if they are not supported by proper exterior diagonal brackets or interior angles attached to the structure of the building.

Exterior brackets must be properly installed, centered under the heaviest portion of the unit, typically the motor (which is not always in the center) and resting on a solid substrate (not on glass as shown in the photo below).

Interior brackets must be attached to the structure of the building, not simply fastened to the window frame. Please keep in mind that all units secured to the interior will have to be inspected from the interior during each FISP (Local Law 11) inspection.

There are several types of approved exterior diagonal brackets that work well. The most common are the flat plate brackets that are installed from the interior by fastening the brackets to the sill and have a diagonal leg that is braced off of the wall by the pressure from the weight of the a/c unit. These brackets can be found in most “Do It Yourself” home improvement centers for around $40+/- and take 10 to 15 minutes to properly install.

If a building has through-wall a/c sleeves, it should be mandatory that these be used in lieu of window brackets as window sleeves are typically much more secure, should provide better protection against air/water infiltration and prevent damage to other building elements.

Regardless of whether or not a building is governed by the aforementioned requirements; it is good practice to follow the NYC DOB guidelines of window-mounted air condition installation.

These tips were provided as a courtesy to our friends and colleagues in the industry. Proper safety plans and building maintenance schedules should be in place for all buildings. For more information on this topic or to discuss any issue further, please feel free to contact me at bsullivan@sullivanengineeringllc.com

Rooftop Water Tanks

Maintaining an Old Rooftop Feature & Creating a 2014 New York City Art Project

By: Adam McManus

In New York City, what usually draws our eyes skyward? In the winter months, the Swarovski crystal snowflake glistens above 57th Street. The lights atop the Empire State Building change color year-round to represent events, causes and holidays. In lower Manhattan, the height of the new World Trade Center is stealing the skyline from vantage points all over the metro area. This spring however, there will be a new reason to look up. One hundred water tanks across the 5 boroughs are slated to serve as canvases for the 2014 New York Citywide Art Project. The tanks will be wrapped in artwork printed on vinyl canvas. Organizers of the project hope that by making these ubiquitous tanks beautiful and eye-catching, it will draw public attention to the global water crisis. Many roof-mounted water tanks are not visible and therefore not candidates to become artwork; however their usefulness and maintenance are still important.

Due to the amount of pressure required to pump water to the upper floors, the rooftop water tank was created to gravity feed water to buildings that were typically six (6) stories or higher. The tanks are typically supported by a steel structure. There are companies in New York that still repair, maintain and build water tanks, such as American Pipe & Tank Lining Co. Though the tanks are typically elevated and independent from roof systems, there is a need to waterproof around the irregular shapes (i.e. steel I-beam) and hard access areas beneath the tank. Fluid applied waterproofing systems are particularly well-suited to make the drain basin area watertight. Whether the rooftop water tank remains a hidden feature on the building or becomes a new canvas for the upcoming New York City art project, it is necessary to maintain the waterproofing membrane integral to the roof system.

For more information on this topic or to discuss any issue further please feel free to contact me at amcmanus@sullivanengineeringllc.com.

Photo of the Month

View of lower Manhattan from a sailing cruise out of Chelsea Piers
Fall 2013

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