Boiler Room Flood Damage Repairs
Throughout the night of September 1st, 2021, New York City was hit with record-breaking rainfall and heavy winds. The rainstorm was the remnants of Hurricane Ida and caused devastating floods and damage across the city. It was the first time that New York City had issued a flash flood emergency warning. New York officials stated the cause of the extensive flooding was the high volume of rainfall in a short period. Manhattan experienced a record of 3.15 inches of rainfall in one hour on that Wednesday night and a total of almost 8 inches the entire night.
The fast-paced accumulation of rain resulted in many flooded basements and boiler rooms throughout New York City. Controlled Combustion was contacted and serviced almost 50 buildings for flood damage in the days following the rainstorm, including several buildings we have never previously performed work for. Some buildings that are not current customers hired other heating contractors immediately after the flooding but eventually contacted Controlled Combustion to perform the repairs or rent a Mobile Boiler. The location of the buildings we serviced ranged from Yonkers to Queens, Manhattan, Brooklyn, and the Bronx. Many of these buildings dealt with severe flooding ranging from 3 inches to 30 feet, resulting in fully submerged and critically damaged equipment in their boiler room. Although the damage was undoubtedly catastrophic, it could have been even worse had it not been freshwater in the flooded boiler rooms due to the nature of seawater’s corrosive properties. Once the flooding subsided and the floodwaters were removed, Controlled Combustion technicians arrived at the buildings to check and test boiler and burner components to diagnose any significant issues. We worked to get our customer’s units back online just days and even hours after the rainstorm, restoring basic services swiftly and efficiently. Our technicians provided imperative communication to our office with pictures, and full descriptions of the heating equipment failures they were finding so that recommendations could be provided to our customers for repairs and the necessary parts could be located and ordered as soon as possible. We also provided our customers with detailed information on FEMA funding and eligibility requirements in response to the natural disaster.
Many of the buildings that contacted Controlled Combustion for flood damage repairs are current customers. Management companies such as Brown, Harris, and Stevens, FirstService Residential, AKAM Associates, Metro Management, Douglas Elliman, and even Manhattan College are current customers for whom we regularly perform annual maintenance and service. However, some buildings initially hired a different heating contractor or plumber to repair their equipment and called Controlled Combustion to take over where their other contractor failed.
With the heating season a month away, our primary goal was to ensure our customer’s heating equipment was safely and reliably producing domestic hot water. Our secondary goal was to restore the heating equipment to an efficient, safe, and reliable operation so no secondary damage would arise as the colder weather arrived. Even electrical devices and motors submerged in floodwater but appeared to be working were recommended to be replaced. The functional electrical components will only be operational temporarily and will generate many future service issues and costly repairs if not replaced now. Our team worked on finding repair parts for a diverse range of heating equipment manufacturers and models, from Industrial Combustion, ST Johnson, Iron Fireman, and Powerflame burners to Federal, Rockmills, Eastmond, and Weil-McLain boilers. We serviced oil burners and gas burners, steam boilers, scotch marine boilers, firetube boilers, and cast iron sectional boilers while rebuilding electrical panels and repairing oil tanks. The necessary parts needed for our customer’s equipment came from manufacturers and suppliers such as Heat-Timer, Tekmar, Honeywell, Fireye, Siemens Combustion Controls, McDonnell & Miller, and Auto Flame.
To ensure our customer’s equipment was ready for the heating season and returned to full operation, we performed the services in the following areas:
- Boiler Combustion Operation: We checked and restored the boiler’s gas and oil operation. If applicable, we checked the primary flame safeguard control, ignition components, combustion air damper and motor, fuel oil valves, metering pumps and motors, fuel oil atomizing air compressor and motor, natural gas valves and motors. We also replaced connected contactors, overloads, and relays.
- Boiler Controls: We checked and restored boiler controls such as aquastat/digispan, draft, electronic mixing valve, low water cut off, pressuretrols, and the smoke alarm to ensure proper operation.
- Heating Systems Weather and Lead Lag Control (Heat-Timer): We checked the customer’s weather control (Heat-Timer, Tekmar, etc.) or lead lag boiler control (Heat-Timer Multi Mod, Preferred Lead Lag). These electrical controls regulate the heat and steam output during the winter months and lead lag operation of boilers. The heating control zone valves were also checked.
- Boiler Water Feed, Condensate, Make Up Water, Sump, and Vacuum Pumps and Motors: We checked the pumps control switches and floats, electrical motors, or their protective line starters and relays in the boiler rooms. The boilers began producing steam in the weeks following the floods and required condensate and feed water. We also checked the boiler room sump pumps.
- Boiler Room Electrical Panels and Emergency Boiler Shut Off Switch: We tested the boiler room’s circuit panel.
- Fuel Oil Storage Tank: We checked the fuel oil storage tanks as they may have taken in water, causing them to float or shift.
- Domestic Hot Water Heaters: We checked the domestic hot water heaters for proper operation after the floods. If excessive repairs were needed, we recommended the hot water heater be replaced.
The record-breaking rainfall and floods in New York City created a huge spike in demand for heating equipment repair and replacement parts. However, supply chain issues have recently soared due to various reasons, including the flooding and Covid-19. Our team worked with a wide range of vendors and equipment manufacturers to source the parts needed for our customers while also utilizing our 30,000 square foot inventory supply warehouse. While Covid-19 has certainly impacted the supply chain for all business sectors, the local spike in demand for parts due to flood-related repairs decimated the heating industry’s local suppliers and vendors’ inventory. Normally available parts and materials were no longer readily available, causing delivery lead times to surge. One of the most significant impacts the shortage of parts and materials has caused is a drastic increase in prices. Our team had to come up constantly with new solutions to service our customer’s needs. If an exact replacement part wasn’t readily available, a substitution had to be made. It takes experienced and knowledgeable people to select the substitution parts.
Unfortunately, a couple of our customer’s heating equipment was either damaged beyond repair or had replacement and substitution parts with several months as the delivery lead time. With the heating season approaching quickly and extremely long lead times projecting well into November and December for specific parts and heating units to deliver, in these rare cases, the buildings chose to rent a Mobile Boiler from Controlled Combustion.
Mobile Boilers are a perfect choice for long-term renovations or, in this case, an emergency. A Phipps House Services property in Queens that we had not previously performed any work for contacted us a week after the floods to provide two Mobile Boilers to their building after both of their Cleaver-Brooks units were damaged beyond repair from flood damage. We first surveyed this property and the properties of the other customers we supplied Mobile Boilers to, so the necessary work permits could be obtained and required materials ordered. Upon delivering and connecting the Mobile Boiler, we have been providing maintenance and 24-hour emergency service. Another property in Queens rented a Mobile Boiler from another contractor and was given a high pressure steam boiler that was not approved for use in New York City. In order to legally operate this Mobile Boiler, it would first have to be derated to a low pressure boiler by the manufacturer, then filed and inspected by the NYC Department of Buildings Boiler division for use in NYC. This process would have added several weeks or months in delays. Within days after being contacted, Controlled Combustion was able to deliver, connect, and fire two low pressure NYC DOB approved Mobile Boilers.
Some of the Property Managers at the buildings we serviced had this to say in response to our team’s efforts:
“I want to thank Controlled Combustion and your excellent staff, who have been more than gracious and accommodating during the major floods from the recent storms in getting our equipment operational. I have been in Property Management over 20 years and have worked with many boiler service providers. This team always leaves a positive impression in both their service repair and customer service they go above and beyond. I highly recommend controlled combustion to my fellow property managers.”– Patricia Fuentes, Property Manager | Metro Management, Inc.
“As a property manager in NYC, we need all the help we can get. Thank goodness for Controlled Combustion. The team at Controlled Combustion has restored heat to buildings in emergency situations and done it in a pinch and efficiently. Their response is quick, and they have saved me from angry calls, texts and emails on many occasions. They’re also great when responding to non-emergency situations. I have called them several times for advice on handling anything from loud, vibrating booster pumps to ordinary wear and tear items and they’ve always taken the time to discuss the matter and to take care of the issue in a reliable and reasonable way. I can’t thank the team at Controlled Combustion enough for always being there when needed, whether it’s an emergency or non-emergency situation. In a tough business such as property management, they provide an invaluable service.”– George Alderdice | Grogan & Associates, Inc.
As an agent for Fairview Owners Corp.
“Big thanks to the ENTIRE Controlled Combustion team and everything they did to get the boilers in 7 of our buildings running after the flooding from Hurricane Ida! Their team was AMAZING!!!”– Barry Timmons | The Woodner Company