Boiler Maintenance - What You Need to Know About New York City's No 6 And No 4 Oil Phase Out

Almost 10,000 buildings in New York City are running on Number 6 and Number 4 oils. Number 6 and Number 4 oils create a black and very sooty smoke that irritates lungs and asthma, and increases the rates of heart attacks and death. Number 6 and Number 4 oils are most commonly reserved as fuel for giant cargo ships due to fact that they will be polluting air far out at sea where it's not populated. As you can see, the law enforcing this phase out is way overdue in New York.

If you are a building owner, property manager or co-op board member, you need to be aware of the cut off dates and other requirements recently mandated by the city. Basically, by June 30, 2012, all buildings in New York need to be running on, at the very least, Number 4 oil. After this date, the city will not renew any certificates of operation for any boiler still burning No. 6 fuel. If you're building's finances cannot afford a full boiler replacement (which is usually required in order to burn No. 2 oil) you can convert your boiler to burn No. 4 oil for about $15,000 compared to $250,000 for a replacement.

This solution could get you through to the final deadline date of June 30, 2030 when the phase out is complete and all boilers across the city will cease burning No. 4 oil as well.

While converting your Number 6 oil-burning boiler may sound like an easier solution, it's not as simple as it seems. First you need to file with the city, retain the services of an engineer, draw up plans and pay all fees to city agencies. Then you need to complete the job by fulfilling a multi-step tank cleaning procedure and lastly the tanks themselves need to be mechanically modified to handle the Number 4 oil. You also need to procure the correct permits and remove any existing boiler violations that may be discovered during this process. A permit expediter is a great resource to have in your back pocket while converting your boiler because they can help you with filing, permits, violations and even find a reputable engineer for your conversion.

What the Bloomberg administration is hoping you'll do though, is to go ahead and spring for a new boiler now. Number 4 is only slightly better than Number 6, with Number 2 oil being the cleanest option out there and one that the rest of the city (and country) is using for boiler fuel. If you decide to replace your entire boiler you'll still need to file much of the same paperwork as a conversion, so don't forget your permit expediter.

There is one last option available to you if you're New York City building is burning Number 6 oil--natural gas. Converting your building to gas is more complicated than replacing or converting your boiler because you need to be sure there is a gas line going to or near your building. If there isn't, it can take months to years to have one linked up to your building. However, if you decide to go this route a New York City permit expediter can guide you through this process as well.

Good luck and great job on making the choice to make your building a greener place to live.

Mercedes Hernandez is President and Owner of S & M Expediting, a New York City expediting service based in Brooklyn, NY. You can visit their website at for more information.

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