FOURTH STREET EAST.
Appeal granted with regard to the electrical outlet. Appeal denied with regard to the
heater. Owner was granted until March 1 to have heaters installed that are compliant
with City Code.
Also in attendance: Greg Lehman, property owner
Marcia Moermond, Legislative Hearing Officer: This from a complaint based inspection
of Unit 1 of the building. The initial complaint was due to things like unsanitary
conditions, no heat, and smoke alarm problems. When the inspector was out, there
was a large set of orders. The only two that are under appeal are:
- An electrical outlet not being installed outside of code
- A radiator being installed vertically and outside of code
Looking at the photographs of the outlet, we have an outlet installed in the floor. This
is an unusual situation, and also involves a nearby door where the swing of the door
just barely clears the outlet. This type of outlet and cover plate is not something you
would normally see. The inspector thought this might have been surplus product from a
commercial job done in the 70s. In talking with the electrical inspector, there is not an
evident code violation without taking apart the outlet. He did not see anything there that
is obviously a violation. So in this specific order, I am recommending that the council
grant the appeal.
With respect to the radiators, there is a requirement in code that baseboard heaters
need to have covers. What we are looking at here are the exposed fins of a radiator.
The property owner indicates that he has numerous inspections where this has not
been called out over the years, and that he bought the property about 30 years ago
with the radiator existing in this way. He said the issue is that the tenant took the cover
off. The inspector saw this and shared photos with a mechanical inspection team for
their input. It was called out as being installed without a permit and not installed per
manufacturer instructions. The issue is that these exposed fins are sharp and
extremely hot. The owner suggested that he could cut the fins off, but that would leave
the copper pipe underneath exposed, which is also extremely hot. I would like to show
you a standard cover for a baseboard heater along with a picture of the elements
inside. They are intended to function horizontally, so that the cold air from the floor
goes through the radiator and by a convection process heats the room. That is how the
manufacturer intended it to work. Given a vertical installation, it would not work the
same way, and might connect to the tenant complaining of a lack of heat. It is
unfortunately if it has been this way for 30 years and not been called out. The photo,
though, shows a clear code violation both in my own estimation and that of the fire
inspector consulting with the mechanical inspection staff. I consulted with the senior
mechanical inspectors to go through this.
The correction would be to install a heating fixture like a radiator that is code
compliant. If it is baseboard heat, it should not be installed in this particular fashion.
In the inspector's view, this fix would require a mechanical permit to be pulled, although
someone with a mechanical, heating, or plumbing license may have the skills to be
able to pull the permit. My recommendation is that you deny the appeal on this matter,
that this is a code violation, and grant until March 1 for its correction. This is taking
into consideration that he is pursuing eviction of the tenant and he may not have
occupancy for part of this time.
Councilmember Prince: To be clear, you are recommending we grant the appeal on the
electrical outlet and deny the appeal on the heater?
Lehman: I live in Unit 2 of this building, and have owned it for over 30 years. The
correct name of the heater is a hydroponic baseboard element, and it has been there