General Maintenance Information
 

DISCLAIMER

Every effort has been made to provide timely and accurate information on this page. However, it is impossible to guarantee 100% accuracy. Users are strongly advised to confirm any critical information on which they may rely. Obviously, there is no attempt to endorse any particular products or vendors, and any such mention of a specific product or vendor is intended only for convenience purposes and to save homeowners' time. If you find an error, please report it.


On-Line Service-Requests

You may now submit a service-request on-line, through this WEB site. The request will be routed to the appropriate individuals for completion and you will receive e-mail of its status. Use this system for all your buildings, grounds, and administrative service requests.

Submit a service-request. Check the status of your existing service-requests.

Service-request system administrative interface.


Water Heater

Water Heaters

Unit owners are responsible for maintaining their water heaters, and they are also responsible for damage caused to other units by their leaking or malfunctioning water heater! Therefore, keep an eye on the thing and consider getting it replaced before a small drip turns into a large leak and thousands of dollars in damage. The Board of Trustees recently passed a resolution on this matter that you should review and follow. The condo units have 40 gallon water heaters. There are also "tankless" hot water heaters that may be worth considering. They generally last longer, are more energy efficient, and are much smaller (mount on the wall), however they are more expensive initially.


Washing Machine Hoses

In the same resolution requiring the replacement of expired water heaters, the Board also addressed the replacement of washing machine hoses. All unit owners are required to replace aged washing machine hoses with "Floodchek" (page will open in a new window - may take several seconds) or equivalent washer hoses. In the past, the Association has purchased these hoses in bulk and offered them to residents at a discount price of $26.95 per pair. Please contact the Management Office at 732-463-3434 for additional information. An apparently similar hose is available from Lowe's, Item "100402 SS FITS ALL 5' WAS", for $10.87 each (you'll need to buy two). Product is the "Fluidmaster", Washing Machine No-Burst Connector, 60" length, 3/4" hose connectors on both ends, manufacturer part #9WM60-2. They lack the 20 year guarantee of the Floodchek hose though.

Washing Machine Hoses

Storm Doors

All homeowners, both condos and townhomes, are permitted to have a storm door installed on the front entrance of their unit. The storm door MUST match the color of the your front door and must conform to Association standards. The pre-approved screen-door manufacturer is Rainbow Doors of Hamilton NJ, 609-586-8680, and the style is either Double Provincial or High Lite. Additional options on your door such as grills, striping, doorettes and brass fixtures are NOT permitted without the written approval of the Board of Trustees (you will need to submit a Property Modification Request form). If you install an un-approved screen door, you will be responsible for changing it to conform to the Association's standards.


Front Door

Front Doors

Front entry doors are considered part of the limited common element, and therefore the owners' responsibility to maintain. This would include paint, numbers, doorbell, and door knob.

The doorbells are made by Auth-Chimes and believe it or not are still available - the exact same ones. They can be ordered on-line at www.Mailbox-Mailbox.com. It's the Model 686, and the color is either Dark Bronze or Anodized Gold, we're not entirely sure yet.

If you replace your front door, you must replace it with the same type and style. All doors are 3' wide and 6'8" high. The original doors were made by Therma-Tru and appear to still be available. The condo buildings must have 90 minute fire-rated doors, which are probably the Model 510-22, and the townhouses probably have the Model TS296. The townhouses do not need 90 minute fire-rated doors, which is why they can have the two glass panels. There are no 90 minute fire-rated doors with glass panels. Lowe's can special order Therma-Tru products.

If you replace the front door, you must also paint it the right color. The easiest way is to take a paint sample from the original door and bring it to Lowe's or Home Depot and have them match it. We are still trying to determine the original color codes for the doors.


Patio Door Window

Windows and Patio Doors

All windows and patio doors and screens are part of the limited common element, and therefore the owners' responsibility to repair, replace, and maintain. If you decide to replace any of your windows or patio door, remember that it must match the original color and style. New windows and doors can make a considerable difference in air infiltration and heating/cooling costs.

There are a variety of choices when it comes to replacement windows and patio doors and companies that install them. The original windows and patio doors were made by SilverLine, which is actually still in business, however no longer makes these particular windows and patio doors - although they may have something similar.

Some of the replacement window/door companies use Thermal Industries products.

Pella also makes a very similar door and window, aluminum-clad wood (so it can be painted on the inside), if you want something a little fancier. The ProLine series patio door comes in dark brown contemporary, as does the Designer Series door. The dark brown windows are only available in the Designer Series. All Designer Series doors and windows accept internal between-the-glass blinds. Lowe's carries Pella, however they can't order Designer Series products due to a no-compete agreement with the Pella retail stores. They can order Pro Line products, however you have to know to tell them that the 3 panel patio doors need to be ordered as a 2 panel door and a seperate 1 panel fixed door with a mulling kit. The 3 panel doors are a total of 9' wide, and the 2 panel doors on the affordable units are 5' wide.

Andersen does not make a compatible door or window (as of 2006), however it appears they recently acquired SilverLine, so through SilverLine they may. Marvin also makes winodows and door, however as yet no one has investigated to determine if they have a model compatible with Society Hill requirements.

The cost of replacement windows and doors can vary considerably depending on the product and installer. The Pella ProLine 3-panel patio door is about $1,600 just for the door (as of 2006). The Designer Series windows are about $600 each (this does not include any internal blinds option). Realize that the wider 6' windows are actually two 3' windows "mulled" together, so multiply by 2 on the cost for that unit. The materials cost for a market-rate condo would therefore be around $4,800. The less expensive windows and doors, with installation, are between $5,000 and $7,000 for a market-rate condo unit. There is no "official window/door contractor" for Society Hill, so don't be mislead by any sales pitches to that effect. By the way, there is nothing prohibiting you from intalling the windows and doors yourself, however you will need tools and experience, and realize the installation is usually not a major component of the cost. Also, there is nothing preventing you from purchasing windows and doors yourself, and then hiring a general contractor to install them. Be aware, however, that in this situation you will likely be responsible for ordering or sizing errors, and custom-made windows are generally not returnable.

Important Note: Most window manufacturers make some of their windows in "standard sizes", however few if any happen to be the sizes used in Society Hill. Nevertheless, some window installers will use the next standard size smaller, and then fill in the gap around the sides with wood and aluminum flashing. This will reduce the size of your window somewhat, and not look as good on the outside. Often a lot of caulking is required, which is not good in the longer-run. Standard sized windows, even with the additional installation work, are cheaper, so be aware of this, especially if the price seems too good to be true.


Clothes Dryer Lint Screen

Although most residents are aware of the dryer lint screens, there has been at least one fire in the community resulting from a clogged dryer lint screen and/or exhaust duct. The lint screen is usually located on top and near the back of the dryer. Its purpose is to prevent lint from your clothing from clogging the vent duct that exhausts dryer air to the outside of your unit. A clogged dryer exhaust duct could easily lead to a fire. Therefore, DO NOT OPERATE YOUR DRYER WITH THE LINT SCREEN REMOVED!.

The lint screen MUST BE CLEANED FREQUENTLY!! Preferably every load, or at least every other load and certainly never more than every third load. Failure to properly clean the lint screen could easily lead to a fire! If your clothes have a burnt smell, or they take an unusually long time to dry, this is a warning sign that you have a lint buildup somewhere in the vent path!

One other point worth mentioning concerning the clothes dryer - lint from the dryer will "leak" into the room or closet housing the dryer while it is operating. If your furnace is in the same enclosure, lint from the dryer will pass through and collect in the furnace's heat exchanger. Over a number of years, this lint will accumulate to the point where it will be necessary to have the inside or your furnace cleaned. Therefore, it is best, but not essential, to not operate your furnace (turn down the thermostat temporarily) when the dryer is running.

Dryer Lint Screen
Dryer Lint Screen Clogged Dryer Vent
Clogged Dryer Vent

Furnace Filters

Please be aware that your furnace contains an air filter that must be replaced periodically. Its service life will vary depending on how much you use your furnace and air conditioner, but in general figure on replacing the filter at least every year. A clogged filter can seriously degrade the efficiency of your furnace or air conditioner resulting in higher than necessary gas and electric bills for your unit. In the heat mode, it can lead to a potentially hazardous condition in which the furnace's heat exchanger gets too hot, leaving you at the mercy of the furnace's safety mechanisms. In the air conditioning mode, the evaporator coil (the thing on top of the furnace) can "freeze up", literally into a solid block of ice. This in turn will limit the evaporation of refrigerant in the evaporator, and quite possibly return liquid refrigerant back to the compressor. The compressor is designed to compress a gas, not a liquid, and will be quickly and permanently damaged as a result. Older air conditioning systems with "fixed orifice" type evaporators are more susceptible to this problem, and suffer a far greater efficiency loss when operated under these conditions, as compared to the newer "TXV" type evaporators. Note also that a clogged condenser coil (the big thing outside) can have a significant impact on efficiency as well, especially again in the older systems.

There are several different sizes of filters, so be sure to check what size your furnace requires. The furnaces in the condo units use a 16" by 25" filter. Filters are available from many of the local home improvement or department stores. The filter is usually located in the bottom compartment of the furnace behind a removable front panel. Filters must be installed in the right direction. The air-flow is in from the side of the furnace and up, through the heat exchanger, and out the top. Make sure the flow arrow on the filter is properly pointing into the furnace.

If the pilot light on your furnace tends to burn out and is difficult to re-light, it is possible that the thermocouple needs to be replaced. This is a "wear item" that isn't expected to last forever.

If you notice very little air flow at the outlet vents of your heating and air conditioning system, despite replacing your furnace filter, and your furnace is unusually noisy while it is running, there is a chance the fire damper in the main output duct has failed in the closed position. This will totally block airflow through the system. You will have to get it fixed.

Furnace Filter

Decorating and Remodeling

Unlike in an apartment complex, unit owners in a condominium association have control over the interior of their units. They can paint and decorate as desired, and even re-model and renovate within the constraints of the Association's By-laws and Master Deed. In general, non-structural changes to the restricted-use common element are allowed. Structural changes, and changes to the common element and the limited-use common element must be approved by the Board of Trustees (see the Property Modification application form).

Also, it is very important to realize that local Piscataway Township building codes and ordinances apply to all work done in your unit. Building, Electrical, Plumbing, and/or other permits may be required! Check with the Township Building Department at 732-562-2325 if you are unsure. Illegal or improperly done work can be very dangerous to yourself and your neighbors! Here are copies of the Construction Permit Application, and copies of the Electrical, Plumbing, Fire, and Zoning permits, so you can get an idea of what they look like. You will need to get the original forms from the township which are multiple carbon-copy sheets. They will not accept a copy. The copies here on the WEB site are just so you can see what the permits look like. By the way, we are Use Group R2, when you see that blank on the form. It is very important to specify this.

Building and Construction code in force in the Township of Piscataway as of Summer 2004 are as follows:

  • Electrical - National Electrical Code - NEC (applies to all of New Jersey)
  • Building - 2000 International Building Code, New Jersey Edition
  • Plumbing - 2000 International Plumbing Code
  • Mechanical - 2000 International Mechanical Code

Here are some floor plans to help you with your decorating or remodeling project, and property modification and building permit applications:

WARNING: Dimensions vary slightly from unit to unit. Measure your rooms to confirm the exact dimensions.

WARNING: Dimensions vary slightly from unit to unit. Measure your rooms to confirm the exact dimensions.


Fireplace Maintenance and Safety

Since the fireplaces and their chimneys are considered exclusive-use common element, the unit owners are responsible for maintaining them. This means that you are responsible for keeping the chimney clean. The Board of Trustees recommends that chimney flues be inspected and/or cleaned a minimum of every three years. Unit owners may be required to prove to the Association that chimney inspection and cleaning was performed as required, so save those receipts!

It is recommended that you avoid burning soft woods, wood with a high pitch content such as pine, and "green" (not fully dried) wood, as these wood types can cause a build-up of creosote in the flue that can lead to a chimney fire.

All firewood must be kept a minimum of 6 inches from the building in a raised holder. Firewood may not be stored on the balconies or in the breezeways. Fresh-cut firewood needs time to dry - at least 3 months - before it is ready to burn in the fireplace.

Be careful when disposing of ashes!! Embers can remain burning in the ashes for several hours after your fire is out. It is best to clean the ashes after the fireplace has not had a fire for a few days. If you must clean it before then, be sure to put the ashes in a METAL bucket or container, and place the bucket or container away from the building and away from any combustible materials.


Bathroom Sinks

Many of the originally installed bathroom sinks are rusting out causing the paint to chip away. There are replacements available from the local home improvement stores. One particular model that fits well in the existing hole is the American Standard "20x17 cadetbn", Home Depot stock number 033056552728, about $67.00. Apparently it is also available at Lowes. The color matches well and the design is similar, although not identical. The sink is ceramic, so it won't rust like the original metal design. Another option is the Crane 1280V08, color Bone, Lowe's stock number 165598. It has to be special ordered, but it is ceramic and an almost exact match to what was there in size, color, and appearance. Cost is around $96. Moen makes a faucet that is very similar to the original, Lowe's stock number 27369, LAV FCT 1HDL CHROME 84521, about $58.

Chipped Sink

Toilet Valve

Toilets

Many of the valves in the toilet tank are springing leaks and causing water to squirt out of the tank when you flush the toilet. It is easly to replace the original valve with a new one. Both Lowe's and Home Depot sell replacement values such as the one shown on the left. Cost is around $7. It is also easy to replace the original copper water supply line with a flexible one. The fittings are 3/8" compression on one end, and 7/8" toilet on the other. There are a couple of different fitting types, so make sure you get the right ones. If you can't find exactly the right length, just buy the 20" version and put a curly-q in it as shown to the right. Cost is around $4. Be sure not to overtighten the couplings on flexible supply lines!!! Since they have rubber gaskets, they don't need to be very tight, and overtightening them will damage the gasket and cause future leaks. Hand tighten, then at most turn 1/4 of a rotation more with a wrench.

Although replacing the valve is easy (about 10 minutes if you know what you're doing), get assistance if you are not comfortable with this, as a leak can be very damaging and expensive. If your toilet leaks, you will be responsible for the damage it does, NOT the association!

Toilet Supply Line

Outdoor Water Faucet

All the two-story townhomes have an outdoor water faucet made by Mansfield Plumbing. The plastic handles on some of these faucets has deterioriated and broken off. In 2007 Mansfield sold this portion of their product line to a company called Prier Products. Despite this, an exact replacement is still available from www.lockeplumbing.com. If the direct link doesn't work, it's item code MAN-630-7965. The manufacturer's part number on the box is 630-7965, and the description is Wall Hydrant Handle Kit. The minimum quantity is two pieces, which will cost you about $18 by the time you add shipping charges, but it's a lot cheaper than replacing the entire faucet.

If your faucet is leaking around the plastic disk just above the handle, it probably has a broken "vacuum breaker". There is a repair kit available for this also from Locke Plumbing. If the direct link doesn't work, it's item code MAN-630-7500, and manufacturer part number 630-7500. Cost is about $5 (Summer 2008), plus about $9 of shipping/handling. The replacement installs easily with common tools, unless the old one has snapped off, in which case it can be difficult to unscrew the remaining body. A 5/8" piece of metal (or a really big regular screwdriver) will do the trick. Anything else and you risk damaging the threads which could require a whole new valve (not easy).

Outside Faucet Handle

Copyright © 2008 Society Hill at Piscataway Condominium Association, Inc.
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Last modified: 7/14/08. Rev 2. Administer this page.