See you April McIver
Plumbing systems and the New York City Licensed Master Plumbers who wait for them have always been vital to maintaining public health and fighting the scourge of infectious diseases.
As New York City continues to reopen, the New York City of the Plumbing Foundation is reminding our colleagues in the real estate industry of important public health and safety guidelines to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 and other infectious diseases. Tackling this unprecedented public health crisis requires the best technicians to tackle not only the disease but its transmission as well.
The plumbing standards and protections in the city’s building code don’t just apply to commercial property owners and tenants who may consider changes to plumbing and upgrading the building water system to help their tenants adhere to new social distancing standards, including adding extra bathrooms and hand washing stations. They also affect owners of apartments and buildings who regularly perform work and maintenance on plumbing fixtures connected to plumbing water pipes.
Serious public health implications are at stake with regard to drinking water systems and sanitary drainage systems in buildings. We know that COVID-19 can be transmitted through human waste and that other dangerous organisms such as Legionella can also be spread through building water systems.
Therefore, the basic rule must be taken into account that only licensed master plumbers who are licensed and certified by the New York Department of Buildings can legally carry out work and maintenance work on plumbing systems in the five districts.
Owners who carry out unlicensed plumbing themselves or who allow unlicensed craftsmen to carry out plumbing work not only pose a danger to their residents and customers, but can also pose a health and safety risk to the neighbors in the same building.
Known dangers of untrained, unlicensed plumbing work include: spread of viral or bacterial infection, including COVID-19, Legionnaires’ disease, from improperly installed or maintained water heaters; unlocked devices that could expose toxic or noxious gases; improperly installed facilities that do not properly contain sewage and hazardous gases; and the failure to prevent dangerous backflow and cross-contamination.
According to a survey of the city’s top employers, routine maintenance of water systems is especially important for large commercial buildings that are left, as only a third of New York office workers are expected to return to their desks by the end of the year, mostly while dormant the current pandemic.
Regular service checks and commercial building maintenance should be performed by licensed installers who are familiar with complex water and cooling systems that can sometimes extend hundreds of kilometers along the interiors of large buildings.
Routine service with relatively low maintenance costs can help keep building systems in good condition and avoid costly repairs down the line. Most importantly, regular maintenance by licensed installers ensures the health and safety of building residents and tenants.
Plumbers have helped New York City overcome the widespread spread of disease. We work together, abide by the law and some reasonable public health measures, and stand ready to do our part again.
April McIver is the executive director of the Plumbing Foundation City of New York, Inc., a nonprofit association of licensed plumbing companies, engineering firms, manufacturers, and suppliers whose mission is to help ensure public health through the adoption and enforcement of safe plumbing codes.
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