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Top 10 Tips to prepare your boiler system for the heating season


October 1st, 2022 is the official start of the heating season in New York City. Heating season last from October 1st to May 31st of every year. All residential building owners are required to maintain indoor temperature at a minimum of 68 degrees when the outside temperature falls below 55 degrees during the day. During the nighttime, indoor temperatures must be a minimum of 62 degrees regardless of the outside temperature. The Department of Housing Preservation and Development is responsible for inspections and enforcement of these ordinances.  

Cost of heating

Building owners and property management companies must ensure the boiler system is tuned and operating at peak efficiency during the heating season. The average cost of heating oil has gone up from $3.2 per gallon to $4.7 per gallon over the past year. This is a 46% increase in the heating oil cost and will be a significant increase in the property maintenance cost for this year.

Safety issues

Every boiler system must have thorough annual maintenance before the heating season and periodic maintenance throughout the heating season. Any major to moderate repairs must be completed prior to the heating season since they take time to fix and the boiler may have to be shut down during the repair. If these repairs were done during the heating season and the boiler is shut off for an extended period, the tenants may not have alternative heating equipment like a space heater for a temporary time period which will leave them very cold and unlivable in their apartments. Space heaters are notorious for causing fires and burning down buildings. A malfunctioning space heater killed 17 people in Bronx, NY last year.

boiler repair
Boiler system

Boiler maintenance

The annual boiler maintenance must be performed by a professional boiler maintenance company. The periodic maintenance must be addressed by the building’s maintenance staff or the superintendent.  

Annual Maintenance Checklist

    • Inspect and clean fireside surfaces.
    • Inspect all burner refractory material.
    • Inspect all manhole gaskets for leaks.
    • Inspect and test all system valves.
    • Inspect and test all safety valves.
    • Clean and rebuild low water cut-off.
    • Recalibrate all operating controls.
    • Overhaul feed water pumps.
    • Clean condensate receiver.
    • Inspect electrical terminals.
    • Switch boiler automation to summer mode.
    • Check fuel oil levels.
    • Clean and inspect chimneys.
    • Clean and tune boiler and components. 


Periodic Maintenance Checklist

For the periodic maintenance, below is the checklist of items that must be checked to ensure the boiler system is operating properly by your building maintenance staff.

    • Check and maintain proper oil level in compressor lube tank (daily). Use SAE 20/30 oil.
    • Clean oil filters at least twice a week:
      – Shut off power to pump motor.
      – Close the shut-off valve.
      – Pull out filter. Clean the filter and re-insert it into the housing.
      – Place strainer cap into proper position, restart pump motor, and check vacuum.
      – Vacuum reading must be high; if not, check the seal on the cap. If the reading is high, then open the oil valve.
      – Check the oil pressure reading at the burners.
    • Keep sight glasses clean. This allows for a clear view of the burner flame and any carbon build-up on the boiler’s combustion chamber (as needed).
    • Keep air filters clean. A clogged air filter can lead to poor air/oil mixture and carbon build-up (as needed).
    • Check oil circulation temperature at sidearm pre-heaters. Inlet temperature should be 110° F to 120° F, and outlet temperature should be 140° F to 150° F for No. 6 oil (daily).
    • Flush drain low water cut-offs/sidearm oil pre-heater (twice a week).
    • Flush drain low water cut-offs while the burner is on and a flame is present in the boiler’s combustion chamber. When the unit is flushed, the flame should turn off. Allow the burner to start before checking other low-water cut-offs.
    • Flush down the water-line heater, shut off the lower isolation valve, open the drain valve to flush the unit, shut the drain off valve, and reopen the isolation valve. 
    • Conduct boiler bottom blowdown to clear sludge and sediment, control high water, and control chemical treatment concentrations (monthly or as needed).
    • Monitor the make-up water that is being added to the boiler and/or the boiler feed unit. Since the system operates via a closed loop, an excess amount of fresh (untreated, oxygenated) water supply is detrimental to boiler components and is often a sign of a leak in the system. 
    • Monitor smoke alarm on a weekly basis:
      – Wipe light source and receiver.
      – Smoke alarm unit should not be set at its highest point.
      – Unit should be set in accordance with NYC Buildings Department standards.
    • Maintain a rigorous boiler chemical feedwater treatment program. 
    • Maintain a boiler room log to record any problems and routine maintenance.
    • Check combustion, inspect burner controls, and inspect burner operation.
    • Conduct trap inspection program with replacement of trap elements in apartment units and steam traps within the cellar.
    • Conduct a pipe inspection program to ensure all pipes are pitched in the direction of steam source (one-pipe steam systems) or condensate drainage (two-pipe systems).


If you are a building owner or a property management company looking to get your building boiler system checked for the upcoming heating season, Call Neo Plumbing & Heating Corp today or schedule a plumber online and one of our technicians will come and ensure the boiler is operating safely and efficiently.

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