Archive for the 'Water Quality' Category

Varsity Plumbing and Heating of Flushing, Queens on Backflow Prevention Devices: Are you in compliance?

As seen in the July 16, 2013 issue of New York Real Estate Journal:

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

Back in 2010, New York City initiated a vigorous enforcement campaign to ensure that all buildings requiring Backflow Prevention Devices have them properly installed and operational. Since then, thousands of properties have begun the long and sometimes very costly process of meeting the City’s requirements. Many have successfully completed their installations and testing, and have received the stamp of approval from the City’s Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), yet tens of thousands, and possibly as many as 100,000 buildings have yet to finish—or even start—meeting their compliance requirements.

Backflow preventers, which are designed to prevent contaminated water or chemicals from flowing back into the public drinking water system, are required in a vast number of NYC buildings. At the start of the enforcement campaign, the City began mailing out compliance letters to buildings, giving them 30 days to initiate the process of installation, which requires the services of a licensed professional engineer or registered architect. In a recent conversation with the DEP’s Cross-Connection Control Unit (CCCU), which oversees the Backflow Prevention Outreach Program, we were told that at this point, nearly three years into the enforcement campaign, the DEP is guessing that over 200,000 buildings will need some sort of backflow preventer to safeguard the city’s water supply, and only a fraction of those have been finished as we write this in June 2013.

Act Now, Don’t Wait

            CCCU inspectors are currently flagging each building that needs a backflow preventer, as they go about their business and see issues. Once a building is flagged, a 30-Day Notice will be generated and mailed out to the owner or manager. Whether you have begun the process at your building yet, whether you have received a 30-Day Notice from the City or not, all property owners and managers should be working on meeting the City’s backflow prevention requirements NOW. Once you’ve received a 30-Day Notice, your building MUST respond to the CCCU with a progress report within those 30 days, proving that you have secured the services of a Licensed Master Plumber (LMP), a Licensed Professional Engineer (PE) or a Registered Architect (RA) to begin the process of installation. We at Varsity have a complete turnkey system to help our clients handle this process, from Day One, with just one simple phone call to 877-VARSITY.

Avoid Surprises: Hire the Right Team

We have heard horror stories from managers who came to us after working with other contractors only to discover that their 30-Day Notices were never responded to and they were now facing violations. Or their engineer and plumber disagreed on what work had to get done and what it might cost. Our team of Licensed Engineers and Master Plumbers has seen thousands of properties since the DEP started the Backflow Prevention Outreach Program. We respond to your needs quickly and professionally, and tell you exactly what is needed to satisfy the CCCU and exactly how much it will cost.

Varsity’s fully licensed team includes an engineer and master plumber to do the analysis, file the plans, install and test the required devices and complete the follow-up paperwork, ensuring that all City codes and regulations are met. At Varsity we provide a one-call solution to this issue, from engineering to installation to compliance to DEP sign-off, simplifying a very complex process for building owners. If your building has already received a 30-Day Notice before you request a proposal from us, we will send out an immediate request for a 30-day compliance extension from DEP. Next, we prepare a specifications proposal based on your building’s needs and configuration. Once the proposal has been accepted by the building, our engineer sends a follow-up letter to the DEP explaining that his services have been retained, the process of compliance is under way, and requesting 90 days more to file the plans and applications. Once the plans are filed and approved by the DEP, the installation can be done. When the installation is complete, Varsity’s Licensed Master Plumber and Professional Engineer perform the required testing and inspection, and file the required reports with DEP and the New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH), which oversees the entire Backflow Prevention program, for final approval. Once this process has been completed, your building is in full compliance with the State and City backflow prevention regulations.

Failure to Comply Can Be Costly

Failure to comply can lead to fines of up to $2,000 and, if ignored, the City can shut off the water supply to the building. According to the DEP, the cost of installation ranges from $3,000 for a one-story building to around $35,000 for high-rises. Buildings with more complicated situations, such as elevated building drains or roof tanks that will require more powerful pumps after backflow prevention devices are installed, can face even higher costs. Because Backflow Preventers cost thousands of dollars, don’t be forced to rush into paying more then you need to just to avoid or cure a DEP violation. By calling Varsity, you will know exactly how much the job will cost you, and can plan those figures into your budget. Then, when you get your 30-day letter, and are on the DEP time clock, you will be ready to start the job and be prepared to pay for it.

Hundreds of co-op and condo buildings, managers and owners have chosen  

Varsity Plumbing to handle their backflow prevention needs because they know we care about their properties, and that we honor our founding principles, established by my father, Bob Bellini, who founded Varsity way back in 1962: do a good job; charge a fair price; stand behind your work; and always keep your word.

For more information on hiring licensed professionals to be sure your building is in compliance, or to request as proposal, contact me, President of Varsity Plumbing, at (718) 358-5400 or email your request to To view our informational video, go to or scan the QR code below.

Scan the QR code to view our video on Backflow Prevention.

Scan the QR code to view our video on Backflow Prevention.

Bobby Bellini explains how a Backflow Preventer stops contaminants from flowing out of a building's water system and into the public drinking water supply.

Bobby Bellini explains how a Backflow Preventer stops contaminants from flowing out of a building’s water system and into the public drinking water supply.

Year-End Reflections

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

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

As our 50th Anniversary year draws to a close, we have lots to reflect on and many more things to plan for in the coming year.

We hope you took advantage of our 50th Anniversary discounts of $50 off, advertised on our Website and our Facebook pages. Our Anniversary celebrations also included educational events and recreational events for our customers.

For 50 years, we have honored our founding principles, established by my dad, Bob Bellini, way back in 1962:

• Do a Good Job • Charge a Fair Price
• Stand Behind Your Work • Always Keep Your Word

And we will continue to honor those principles as we move forward into the New Year and beyond. We want to make sure you know what we stand for, and that we know without our customers—old and new—there would be no Varsity Plumbing and Heating.  Thank you for trusting us with your homes, offices and properties.

With 2013 comes plenty to think about and be aware of regarding your property. Following is a round-up of some of the important issues facing property owners:

Backflow Preventers: This is a huge issue for building owners and managers now and into the future. Only about one-quarter of the 128,000 buildings the DEP has designated as needing backflow prevention devices have done the necessary installations.  When you get your 30-day notice, contact us immediately. We have a complete one-call turnkey program that takes you from filing an extension to examining your premises and choosing the correct device to having an engineer design the system to installation and compliance. This issue will not be going away any time soon, and we encourage you to take it seriously.

Water Filtration: More and more people are coming to the realization that our drinking water is not entirely safe.  From the lack of filtration at most of our reservoirs, to chemicals being added by many water departments, to water running through old corroded pipes, more and more people are concerned about the quality of their drinking water. The EPA has identified more than 84,000 potential contaminants, but requires municipalities to test drinking water for the presence of only 90.  We have installed under-the-kitchen-counter reverse osmosis systems for many clients, as well as whole building filtration systems to protect everyone in the buildings you are responsible for.

Lunch & Learn Seminars: Many managing agents and owners have had us come talk to them—in their office—about plumbing issues their buildings face. From backflow prevention devices to water filtration, we have helped many of our clients understand the regulations they face and how to operate under the rules simply and at a reasonable cost.

Building-Wide Pipe De-Scaling: Our building-wide electronic de-scaling systems keep your pipes, boilers and hot water heaters running at the peak of efficiency while removing mineral “hardness” from your entire water supply. Instead of spending thousands of dollars a year on salt, which can cause health problems, these systems use a low voltage electronic vibration that shakes deposits loose over time, preventing future build-up. Water hardness is reduced to the point where it actually extends the life of water heaters and boilers.

Hurricane Sandy: Superstorm Sandy taught us all the hard lesson of how important it is to have back-up generators ready to pump water out of basements—and even higher floors—and boiler rooms, and up to residents for drinking water and flushing during power outages. We know how to install these generators so they won’t get flooded when water fills the basement, and we also know how to design pumping systems to prevent those basements from filling up with water. Let us do a walk-through of your property to help you improve your building’s preparedness and prevent future long-term damage when another big storm hits.

Please call us at 877-VARSITY to schedule an on-site analysis, a Lunch & Learn session, or to address any of your plumbing, heating, cooling, or water quality needs. We are available 24/7 and eager to help.

From our family to yours, Happy Holidays and here’s wishing you and your family a healthy and prosperous New Year!fireworks

Varsity’s Lunch & Learn Seminars Bring Valuable Information to Your Office

Varsity’s new Lunch & Learn program brings a wealth of information right into your conference room. Whether your managers want more information about the City’s mandatory Backflow Prevention campaign, protecting the quality of your buildings’ drinking water, or increasing the efficiency and longevity of pipes, boilers, hot water heaters and other building-wide systems, we can custom design a program to meet your needs.

Over a delicious lunch, which we’ll bring right to your office, I’ll go over important life-saving, health-protecting, and money-saving issues from fire suppression to water quality to avoiding fines for non-compliance with City regulations. I’ll even explain how to reduce the cost of ordinary plumbing work like leaky faucets and running toilets.

Our Lunch & Learn program can be as brief as one hour, or can be a series of two-hour presentations to keep your managers up-to-date in the ever-changing landscape of City regulations, water conservation, and energy efficiency.

Last week in Brooklyn we presented a Lunch & Learn session to a group of managers, maintenance supervisors and maintenance staff members at the Ridgewood Bushwick Senior Citizens Council in Bushwick, Brooklyn. The RBSCC owns and manages over 2,000 residential units in 120 buildings throughout Brooklyn and Queens.

One of their main concerns was when to call in a Licensed professional. In many situations, their experienced maintenance crew is capable of doing the work, but the managers are aware that certain jobs require the work be done and signed-off by a Licensed Master Plumber or Fire Suppression Contractor. In making such decisions, it’s vital to consider that if a problem arises after a repair or installation is done, insurance and warranty are invalidated if the task has been done by a non-Licensed professional. This could expose owners and managers to huge expenses, which could be avoided by a simple phone to Varsity to see if the job in question can be handled in-house. While the cost of the job may be higher initially, it could save the building a lot of money in the long run.

As past President of the Master Plumbers Council of the City of New York and President of Varsity Plumbing and Heating, Inc., I have a wealth of knowledge that I want to share with property managers and building owners in our region. My father, Bob Bellini, founded Varsity Plumbing 50 years ago, and today my brothers and I strive to carry on the tradition by providing the best in plumbing services to all our customers. Recently, we partnered with Easy Water to bring more water quality products to the New York region, including under-the-counter Reverse Osmosis filtration systems, building-wide filtration systems and building-wide electronic de-scaling systems that remove minerals from your building’s water, improving the efficiency and life-expectancy of all your plumbing systems, and providing safer, better tasting drinking water.

In addition, we can give you tips on how to get the best plumbing service possible at the best rates, with the personal attention you deserve. We welcome everything from ordinary plumbing jobs like leaks to building-wide jobs like fire suppression inspections and installations.

Call or email us today to set up a Lunch & Learn presentation in your office. 877-VARSITY or


While some plumbing job can easily be done in-house, there are other tasks that require a Licensed plumber. A quick call to Varsity can save you from making the wrong decision, which could invalidate your insurance and/or warranty.

Concerned About Your Drinking Water? Filtration Systems Protect You from a Host of Hazards

As seen in the September issue of the Mann Management Report:

“Water, water, everywhere, nor any drop to drink.”

Samuel Taylor Coleridge

Rime of the Ancient Mariner, 1798

Safe and healthy drinking water is crucial to human life. New York City has long heralded its  “world-renowned” drinking water, delivering a billion gallons a day from pristine upstate reservoirs to the taps of nine million thirsty customers. But a lot can happen in the 100-plus miles of travel it takes that water to get to your drinking glass. Many New Yorkers have experienced water problems from bad odor to poor taste to discoloration that have led them to take action.


New York City’s water flows from a series of pristine reservoirs, like the Ashokan Reservoir in the Catskills, above, at the rate of a billion gallons a day, traveling 100 miles or more to reach your tap.
Photo By Chester Karwatowski

The city’s ongoing backflow prevention campaign is designed to prevent any hazardous materials from flowing into the drinking water supply. But what is protecting the water supply within your building? Many property managers have received complaints of dirty water, bad tasting water, and mineral-laden “hard” water from boards and residents, problems that can affect the health and safety of residents, as well as the efficiency and life expectancy of building systems. All of these problems can be addressed with under-the-sink filtration systems, building-wide filtration systems, pipe de-scaling systems, or all three.

While many people have turned to bottled water as a solution, in some ways it is also part of the problem. Plastic water bottles have become a major environmental concern in this country. Americans buy more than 30 billion bottles of water each year; of those, about two million tons end up in landfills. The oil needed to produce all those bottles is enough to keep a million cars on the road for an entire year. On top of that, the water inside those bottles is often nothing more than filtered tap water or chemically treated spring water, neither of which is necessarily good for your health. The bottled water industry is loosely regulated, with no guarantee of water quality. In a four-year study, the National Resources Defense Council (NRDC) found that nearly a quarter of the water tested contained contaminants exceeding state health limits, some of which leaches in from the plastic bottles themselves.

Plus, buying bottled water is expensive. New York City officials estimate that New Yorkers can spend up to $1,400 per year by drinking bottled water instead of tap water. For a fraction of that, you could install an under-the-sink reverse osmosis system that will provide you and your family with safe, filtered drinking water every day.

Filtration Systems Protect People and Property

            “The EPA has identified more than 84,000 contaminants, but requires municipalities to test drinking water for the presence of only 90,” says Bobby Bellini, past President of the Master Plumbers Council of the City of New York and President of Varsity Plumbing. “Often ‘legal’ levels of toxins are higher than those considered ‘safe,’” he adds. “With the right filtration system, you can remove contaminants and restore beneficial minerals, resulting in safe, great-tasting drinking water.”

Many people routinely use pitcher style or faucet-mounted filters to “purify” their drinking water. But these types of filters remove only some of the potential toxins in your water, such as chlorine and fluoride. A reverse osmosis system such as the Easy Water Revitalife system, removes or reduces most contaminants, while restoring beneficial minerals to your drinking water.

When it comes to the building as a whole, “Lime, calcium and magnesium in the water can build up inside pipes, heaters and boilers, and reduce efficiency by up to 35 percent,” says Bellini. An electronic de-scaling system installed in the building sends electronic frequencies through the pipes, physically changing the minerals that form scale into a state that resists adhering to surfaces. Over time, existing scale is removed, while new scale build-up is prevented. These de-scaling systems are unlike salt conditioners in several ways: the salt in salt systems needs ongoing replenishment, which can cost up to $4,000 per year. In addition, high doses of sodium, absorbed through drinking or washing, can be a health hazard, especially for those with high blood pressure.

Building-wide filtration systems can also be installed to remove contaminants from the entire water supply in multi-family buildings. While 20 percent of personal water usage is for drinking, most is used for showering and bathing, and washing food, clothes and dishes. Toxins and disinfecting agents such as chlorine can be absorbed through the skin, inhalation or by eating foods washed or cooked in untreated water, and can pose health risks. Building-wide filtration systems ensure that all the water you use is safe.

According to the EPA, the average American family of four uses close to 300 gallons of water inside their home every day. Protect your family, your clients and your properties from dangerous toxins and contaminants by getting the right water filtration and treatment systems in all your buildings. For more information or to view videos on how to ensure that your building and your clients’ buildings have healthy water, visit or or Or call 718-358-5400.


An under-the-counter filtration system can provide you with safe drinking water at a fraction of the cost of bottled water, and without the negative environmental impact of using plastic bottles.

Concerned About Your Drinking Water? You Should Be!

How much money do you normally spend a week on drinking bottled water? Did you know that most bottled water is either chemically treated tap or ground water? The bottled water industry is loosely regulated, with no guarantees the the water you buy is good for you. The enormous number of plastic bottles being produced is causing damage to our environment, both on land and at sea. And it can cost you quite a bit of money—up to 900 times what it would cost to have an under-sink Reverse Osmosis water filter installed in your kitchen for a lifetime of pure, great-tasting, safe and healthy drinking water.

Consider these facts about your tap water:

• Treated with fluoride and chlorine, known contaminants
• Unfiltered as it travels through miles of century-old pipes
• EPA required tests reveal the presence of numerous toxins
There are 84,000 EPA identified contaminants to our drinking
water—but only 90 of those are required to be tested
• Of the 90 contaminants requiring testing only 14 require treatment
under current regulations
• NYS Dept. of Health requires Backflow Preventers in all multi-family
buildings to protect the City’s water supply. What’s protecting yours?

If you want to save money while drinking safe, good-tasting drinking water right from your own sink tap, you need the Easy Water RevitaLife Drinking Water System installed under your kitchen sink. The RevitaLife system will help keep your water full of healthy minerals, keep a balanced pH and help improve your taste. This system will get rid of nitrates, arsenic, chromium 6, fluoride and sodium. Also, there is a non-electric pump inside of the drinking system that will help boost water pressure and reduce your water usage by 80 percent.

If you are interested in getting more out of your drinking water, saving money and making a healthier choice, give us a call at 877-VARSITY so we can talk to you about installing the RevitaLife Drinking Water System today! Varsity Plumbing is proud to be a regional partner dealer for Easy Water products. Call us today for a fully installed and warranteed Reverse Osmosis filtration system for your home.

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

50th anniversary