Archive Page 2

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.

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

Working to Help Victims of Hurricane Sandy

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

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

We are doing everything we possibly can to help restore heat and hot water to our local residents. More than two weeks after this unprecedented storm the situation remains dire for hundreds of thousands of people in the metropolitan area facing devastating damage and still without gas, electricity, water, sewer and heat. We are continuing to add trucks and vans to our fleet and have staffed up with more technicians, phone operators and equipment. When our trucks pull up, residents are running up to us begging for service. We are there to help, and will continue to work round the clock in the face of dropping temperatures and the coming winter.

Many people don’t realize how bad it is on the South Shore of Long Island in Nassau, Queens and Brooklyn. Roads are covered with up to eight feet of sand, making it impossible for repair crews to reach gas lines. With darkness falling by 5 pm and temperatures dropping, people are huddled in the dark, afraid to go outside in many neighborhoods, freezing. Many people have no plumbing, no heat, no gas, no food, no water. The devastation is enormous, and many homes are beyond repair.

Don’t forget: you must act now to make your claims to FEMA and your insurance company. If your Heating Equipment was submerged with seawater, it must be completely replaced. This is also true of your outdoor Air Conditioning Condensers. A/C season may be a long way off, but you must make your claims now. Don’t leave it till next spring only to find that the equipment has seized up and is useless.

Also: If power lines or gas lines were submerged and filled with seawater, they must be dried out and blown out before the utility can turn them back on. Varsity can do the work and issue the certification that the utilities require so you can get your heat, hot water and gas restored.

We are working to help as many people as we can get their heat and power back on. Beyond that, there are the longer term needs to assess and address. Varsity can install emergency back-up generators, sump pumps and water removal equipment, boilers, and all heating, plumbing and air conditioning parts and systems. Call us today at 877-VARSITY and we’ll do everything we can to get there.

Many people don’t realize how bad it still is for hundreds of thousands of people all over the Metro area in the wake of Hurricane Sandy. Varsity is trying as hard as we can to help people get their water, power and gas restored.

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 info@varsityplumbing.com.

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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.

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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 http://bit.ly/S4ZkTe or http://bit.ly/OO5dnb or http://bit.ly/P8d2YO. Or call 718-358-5400.

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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.

Varsity and the Mets Celebrate 50 Years

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

It was a great pleasure to celebrate Varsity’s 50th Anniversary among friends, family and clients at a Mets game on July 25th. Varsity rented a suite between home plate and first base at the new Citifield where our group of about 30 people were able to watch the Mets play the Nationals in comfort and style. With a full kitchen, sofas and tables on the inside, and ball park seats with counters outside, we had great views along with a delicious lunch and drinks for everyone.

I want to thank all our guests for joining us for the game and helping us celebrate 50 years in business. My father, my brother Rick and I went down to the field before the game where we were greeted by the Varsity logo displayed on the enormous field screen. My father, Bob Bellini, has great stories about how he got started in the plumbing business back in 1962. It was a thrill for him to be there on the field with us 50 years later, enjoying the success of all his hard work.

We had a few special visitors stop by the Varsity suite during the game, in addition to our guests. Mr. Met came by to shake hands and pose with us all. And Craig Carton of WFAN spent a few innings hanging out, talking and enjoying lunch.

Bobby and Rick Bellini with Craig Carton, center, host of Boomer and Carton Radio Show on Sports Radio 66 WFAN, at the Varsity suite at Citifield.

It has been our family’s great pride to carry on the Bellini tradition of top quality plumbing, heating, cooling and water quality services for all our customers. We thank all of you for celebrating with us at Citifield, and we look forward to many more years of serving our clients.

Thank you!

Varsity founder Bob Bellini flanked by sons Rick and Bobby at Citifield, with the Varsity 50th Anniversary logo on the big screen behind them.

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