Archive for March, 2013

Oil-to-Gas Conversion Update: Be Sure to Choose the Right Professionals

New York City’s Clean Heat initiative bans the use of No. 4 and No. 6 heating oil, which are responsible for 85 percent of all the soot pollution from buildings. The 10,000 buildings in the City currently using these “heavy” oils must convert to a cleaner form of heating fuel by the middle of 2015.

Many buildings are switching to dual fuel or natural gas boilers, a change that will not only help reduce pollution, but will result in significant fuel savings as well. Choosing the right professionals to help your building make these changes will help you avoid some potential pitfalls and unexpected expenses.

Running New Gas Lines

First, in order to accommodate the influx of natural gas, buildings need to re-pipe the supply line from under the street into the basement, or create new gas lines if there are none in place.  The work from the city gas main to the building will be done by Con Ed crews, but the gas line from the basement to the boiler must be done by a licensed plumber. We strongly suggest using someone who has years of gas line experience and has worked with the other trades that need to be consulted. These might include excavating companies, asphalt and sidewalk re-pavers, and companies that specialize in repairing sub-basement walls.

As you can imagine, this can be tricky work, involving digging up the pavement or sidewalk, excavating below street level, drilling through the basement walls of a building, and connecting underground pipes. Be sure you choose your plumbing contractor carefully. At Varsity we handle these jobs for large and small buildings alike, and you can feel comfortable—and safe—when you assign these jobs to us.

Since most buildings have gas for stoves or other appliances already run to the building, many people assume that they can just connect those lines to the boiler. This is usually not the case.  The line that Con Ed will bring to the building will be a high-pressure line, and in most cases, will not interrupt or affect a property’s original gas service.

It’s important to note that the gas lines that run throughout the property for laundry machines or for stoves use low-pressure service, and that is not sufficient for bringing gas into the building to use as heating fuel.

Dual Fuel

Many buildings are choosing to install burners that can burn either No. 2 oil or natural gas. This gives you the option to switch from one fuel source to the other, if price or supply becomes an issue. Of course, this means you still have to install and maintain a large fuel tank, but it gives you tremendous flexibility in the future, and is probably a wise move.

Gas conversions are a way for buildings to save hundreds of thousands of dollars in fuel costs over the years, reduce pollution, and meet the City’s new regulations.  We applaud all of you who are moving in that direction ahead of next year’s deadline. Just be careful when you choose a plumbing contractor to do the work.

As always, I encourage you to contact me at anytime to discuss how Varsity can help with the conversion from oil to gas in your building. Whether you choose us to do the work or not, I’m happy to go over the details of your project with you to help you make an informed decision.

Converting from "heavy" oil to gas or dual fuel can save thousands of dollars annual, reduce pollution, ad comply with NYC Clean Heat regulations.

Converting from “heavy” oil to gas or dual fuel can save thousands of dollars annually, reduce pollution, and comply with NYC Clean Heat regulations.


Bobby Bellini, President of Varsity Plumbing and Heating, Inc.

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