Story by Jeff Lipton.
One of the critical fallouts in the Hurricane Sandy aftermath has kept plumbing supply companies knee-deep in demands for boiler replacements in Long Beach and surrounding communities.
The powerful storm surge that hit the region three weeks ago obliterated, among other things, boilers in area homes. And with the colder months approaching, plumbing supply companies have been scrambling to keep up with demand for the heat-producing machines.
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These companies have back-ordered boilers for homeowners desperate to stay warm.
“We have a major problem: These people don’t have heat,” said John Cilento, owner of
Cilento Pipeline Plumbing and Heating in Oceanside.
He said in recent days his workers have replaced an average of two boilers a day, which is far shy of the 10 requests a day he has been receiving for boiler replacement. It takes his workers a day to a day and a half to install each boiler.
Most of the boilers that were knocked out by the storm surge were located in the basement of homes, but some were damaged on the ground-floor, even though they were raised three feet off the ground, Cilento said.
His five crews have installed about 30 boilers since the late-October superstorm hit, and he has received about 40 additional requests for boilers in Long Beach alone. He has received another roughly 40 requests from Oceanside homeowners and he expects many others from Island Park to come forward once they are able to. Homeowners that were still without power may not have known if they needed a new boiler until their electricity was restored.
“Once the boiler is under water, the components must be replaced,” Cilento said. “It’s a safety issue. Some people are in desperate need of boiler replacement.
“It’s a major issue for everybody,” he added. “All of Island Park was under water and they need boilers. All of Long Beach was under water and they need boilers.”
However, many plumbing supply stores, including one in Brooklyn and Oceanside, where he gets his parts, also were hit hard by Sandy and hundreds of boilers were ruined, he noted. In addition, even though they have the machines, controls for the boilers are in short supply and there are not nearly enough to go around.
“We have 15 boilers at our shop, but we need the parts to install them,” Cilento said.
To complicate matters, Cilento said he had ordered eight boilers for customers three weeks ago and the wrong ones were sent to him.
“It has really been a challenge,” he said, “when you get a deposit and you order boilers that we don’t have in stock.”
He believes Gov. Andrew Cuomo probably should get involved and receive funding for temporary heating devices, such as electric space heaters, to be installed in the neediest of homes. He added that New York and New Jersey may have to call upon plumbing suppliers in other states to fill the boiler void.
In addition for the need to heat homes during the colder November nights, the fear is rising that once there is two consecutive days of 32 degrees or below, the pipes in these homes could freeze and eventually burst, Cilento said. That would cause even more of an expense for storm-weary homeowners.
To replace a boiler costs an average of between $8,000 and $12,000, said Cilento.
According to their website, Federal Emergency Management Agency officials are going door-to-door urging people with property damage to register for assistance by calling 1-800-621-FEMA, or visiting the disaster recovery center at the Long Beach Recreation Center and Ice Arena, 700 Magnolia Blvd., 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. from Monday-Sunday.