Heating Failures In Low-Rent High-Rise Apartments: Locating The Source Of The Problem

Justin Ross

Low-rent high-rise apartments help house hundreds of low-income individuals and families across the U.S. Originally, they were a government experiment in housing, but "the projects" were not abandoned after the federal government finished its studies. The apartment buildings often have problems with their heating systems and plumbing, and if you are the manager of one or more of these buildings, you know firsthand the problems the buildings have. When you discover that you have a few select apartments without heat, an HVAC contractor from a company like Scott's Heating & Air Conditioning Services is what you need.

What the Contractor Will Need to Know

Some of these government-funded and government-built apartment buildings had/have separate ducts, heating systems for each floor, etc. Depending on the height and when the building was constructed, any one of these factors could affect the distribution of heat. Additionally, some thermostats in the apartments may all be connected to a single electrical box and a blown fuse could be the cause of the frigid temperatures in the affected units. You can help narrow it down by having the following information ready for the technician:

  • number of apartments affected
  • location of affected apartments, e.g., which floor, which apartment numbers, etc.
  • location of the electrical box for these apartments
  • whether or not the entire building's heating and ventilation systems are connected
  • what furnace, boiler or other heating source heats the affected apartments

The technician will need to enter each of the affected apartments to check out the thermostats and the wiring. Give your tenants enough time to clear the space from their doors to the heating controls so that the technician can enter the apartments safely.

What the HVAC Technician Will Look for

One of the first things a technician will look for are blockages in the ventilation system. Then he or she will check out the electrical wiring and how it registers with the heating systems in the building. Since every tenant wants his or her apartment a slightly different temperature, the thermostats give them control over how much heat is pumped into their units. A complete lack of heat could mean something is wrong with the boiler or furnace that feeds these apartments, or that the signals sent from the thermostats are not reaching the heat sources. The first is something the HVAC technician can handle, while the second may require an electrical contractor's expertise.

Once the Problem Is Identified

The problem could be related to the electrical system, the heating system, the ventilation system and sometimes even the plumbing system. When the specific source of the problem is identified, the correct contractor or contractors can fix it and your tenants can return to a warm and comfortable apartment. It could take several hours to ascertain what the problem is and fix it, so have a back-up plan ready to keep the affected tenants warm.


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