February 22, 2017

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Roof Tank Cleaning: A Word About Compliance

The cleanliness of NYC’s rooftop water tanks has garnered some disturbing press of late (NY Times 1/27/14). Many building owners, managers, supers, and cooperative boards are unsure of the regulatory requirements governing rooftop water tanks.

There are actually two NYC agencies that regulate these tanks: the Department of Health, and the Department of Buildings. It is vitally important that your building is in compliance with both agencies.

The NYC Health Code requires annual inspections for all water tanks. The inspection must include:

  • A visual examination of the general condition and integrity of the tank (overflow pipes, air vents, access ladder, roof hatches, and screens)
  • A visual inspection of the sanitary conditions in and around the tank (signs of sediment, biological growth, floatable debris, insects, rodent or bird activity)
  • A water sample to verify that the “bacteriological quality” is in compliance with NYS Sanitary Code.

While the Health Code does not require annual cleaning if the tank passes the inspection, the Plumbing Code does.

The NYC Plumbing Code states that “tanks shall be drained and cleaned at least annually.” The code also provides a specific tank cleaning procedure:

  • Drain the tank.
  • Using a hypochlorite solution containing 100 or more parts per

million of available chlorine, clean the underside, top, bottom, and walls of the tank.

  • After cleaning, refill the tank with water and a hypochlorite solution that brings the treated water to a level of 10 parts per million.
  • Let the treated water sit in the tank for two hours.
  • Drain the tank and refill with fresh water.

The Plumbing Code does not require any official paperwork to be filed on the annual cleaning. But the Health Code does require a written report for the inspection. This report must be maintained by the owner of the building for at least five years and made available to the Department of Health, upon request, within five business days. Additionally, the owner of the building must post a notice for residents that the inspection results are available on request.

Bottom line: to be in compliance with both agencies, water tanks must be cleaned and inspected every year!

by Philip Kraus

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