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Boiler Crisis May Be Next in Long Beach

Lack of heat a concern in Sandy’s aftermath.

Domestic boiler (Credit: Wikimedia Commons)
Domestic boiler (Credit: Wikimedia Commons)
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.

water guy November 19, 2012 at 10:52 AM
10 years ago I replaces my boiler and hot water tank with a unit that mounts on the wall, the size of a 3x5 box that takes care of both heat and hot water. the units are call NTI, they cut your usage more than half and being mounted on the wall was above the flood water(thank god) and is natural gas only. If anyone out there would like to get one I have the source and plumbers to install them but they are getting harder and harder to get, they cost a little more but so worth it, please if you need one contact me @ elliot@surf2live.com or call me 347-231-6866 and I will pass this info to the rep.they get installed in a few hours depending on your home. Hope all is safe and remember we will get thru this. Elliot
paul.d.spellman November 19, 2012 at 10:57 AM
"It takes his workers a day to a day and a half to install each boiler." What does that include? Got to be least a half a day sitting on a 5 gallon bucket running up the charge for the customer
E November 19, 2012 at 11:40 AM
Boilers and wire. My management company tells me I can't have power restored until they replace the wires that run from the ground to my unit on the 4th floor and there's no wire to be found. Is anyone else experiencing this?
wikyjalo November 19, 2012 at 12:03 PM
I could have told you two weeks ago this was a problem as that is how long we have been waiting for a boiler AND hot water heater. Hot water heaters are also non existent. Our plumber says if we can find the same model he can install which is ridiculous because we can't afford to be picky. If we could get a hot water heater I can do with portable electric heaters until a boiler comes through.
wikyjalo November 19, 2012 at 12:11 PM
Elliot do these work with steam heat and a two family house?
jhart626 November 19, 2012 at 12:37 PM
Cliento pipeline is the best! They were able to get us a compact high efficiency unit and mount it on high up on the basement wall. It about the size of a small suitcase. The bottom of the new boiler is about 24 inches higher than the top of my old boiler was so I shouldn't have to worry about losing heat and hot water in another storm. We picked up tons of space, increased efficiency, unlimited hot water and best of all we were able to move back in! Definitely look into and consider the wall hung boilers and hot water systems. You shouldn't have to worry if we get more water and they have a plug in feature so if the power is out they can be plugged right into a generator. Thank you Cilento Pipeline!
Eddie November 19, 2012 at 03:58 PM
wall hung boilers won't work with a steam heating system. Hot water heaters and some boilers are available from Green Art Plumbing Supplies. I was there today and they have many.
A&E Builders November 20, 2012 at 07:21 AM
I can get and deliver boilers and parts. My family is staying in Albany and I have been going bAck and forth every few days. I drove 1 uhaul down already to get people what they need. If you need something email me at aandebuilders@gmail.com please be specific with what you need. Make sure you leave contact info. I will deliver to you show you the price list and add a freight and delivery fee. I am a local contractor.
Kevin McAvoy November 22, 2012 at 07:58 AM
Thank you John for explaining the situation.Everyone needs to understand the severity of this crisis! Homeowners and non professional plumbers should not think they can install a boiler!Be patient and realize this is a marathon not a sprint! We will get thru this but we all need to be safe.
Erica November 25, 2012 at 01:12 AM
On Wisconsin street. Has anyone else lost electric and gas again???? Had it all back on and out again!!!
Rosemarie November 29, 2012 at 08:26 AM
Cilento Pipeline and John Cilento personally are the best people ever. Their hard-working, innovative, thorough and simply empathetic to all those in need. I have been using John's company exclusively for over 10 years and I have NEVER been disappointed or found them"sitting on buckets" as someone commented. As far as I'm concerned, they have saved me after Sandy: they talked me through and delivered and installed a type of wall-hung "insta-hot" boiler/heater/hot water and it is so queit and efficient - I love Cilento pipeline and all their personnel. The gold standard in plumbing and people skills. Rosemarie

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