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Gas Pipes: Create an Ongoing Testing Program

Mark Levine




High standard. Local Law 152 has really raised the bar when it comes to gas-line inspections. Starting in 2020, the Department of Buildings began requiring that buildings have their gas piping systems inspected every four years by a licensed master plumber and file the report within 60 days — or face a $10,000 fine. The important thing to know is that it’s a sensor test to detect leaks in any common-area gas piping, like a basement or laundry room. You’re not going into people’s apartments. 


Costly fix. If there is a major leak, the utility company will red-tag your building, which means it shuts off all access to gas. That’s a very expensive proposition because then you have to do pressure tests — which are harder to pass than sensor tests — through the entire building and all the branch cooking-gas lines leading into people’s apartments. On average, it costs between $4,000 and $6,000 per apartment to do the plumbing repairs, not including extra work afterward like closing walls. And it’s time-consuming. I’ve seen gas projects that have gone on for more than a year. 

Be proactive. The good news is that red-tag shutdowns are very rare; I’ve only seen them in about 2% to 3% of inspections. Still, boards need to have an ongoing testing protocol, not just in the year your building is scheduled. You should factor in the inspection costs as part of your normal operating budget. And if you are red-tagged and have to do pressure tests and extensive repairs, you’ll have to decide whether you need to assess — if not now, then later.

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