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History Q: NYC Heating Laws and the 'Fresh Air Movement'

Hello all. With the recent cold snap a topic has come up on on a vintage appliance site I belong to. I'm trying to find the exact wording of the law in question. Many people in NYC are aware that there were laws enacted in response (at least in part) to the Spanish Flu epidemic of 1918. Basically they stated that a heating system had to be able to maintain all rooms at least 'X' degrees Fahrenheit with one window open 'Y' inches down to an outside temperature of 'Z' degrees. This is actually common knowledge in NYC among people with even a passing interest in steam heating.

What I'm trying to locate are the exact values of 'X', 'Y', & 'Z'. A citeable source would be great, but not required. Even better would be info on how I could locate a copy of the exact law.

I've tried to research this myself but have gotten nowhere. Suggestions as to where I might look would also be greatly appreciated.

Thanks in advance.

Comments

  • ShalomShalom Posts: 115Member
    edited January 2018
    New York City Administrative Code 27-2029 is the section you're looking for.

    As of 2017, it was amended to remove the minimum outside temp requirement, but it used to be:

    (1) between the hours of six a. m. and ten p. m., a temperature of at least sixty-eight degrees Fahrenheit whenever the outside temperature falls below fifty-five degrees; and

    (2) between the hours of ten p. m. and six a. m., a temperature of at least fifty-five degrees Fahrenheit whenever the outside temperature falls below forty degrees.


    Nothing in that edition of windows open Y inches, only X and Z degrees, but the citation I found only goes back to 2013. If you can find older versions of that law, you can probably get that requirement as well, assuming it existed.

    edit: "New York City Charter and Administrative Code, Annotated: A Complete Text of the New York City Charter and the New York City Administrative Code with Court Decisions from the Time of the Enactment of the Code and Charter, Volumes 1-10" from Williams Press, 1990 probably has what you're looking for. See if you can find a big library, maybe NYPL's main branch, or a law school's library.

    edit: Google Books finds numerous old publications of the New York City Building Code going back to 1901, but the later ones aren't scanned. The 1901 edition doesn't mention this; the 1925 and 1937 editions might, but I can't get a full text on them. Check a library.
  • DanHolohanDanHolohan Posts: 14,676Member, Moderator, Administrator
    edited January 2018
    The Board of Health told people to leave bedroom windows open to prevent flu and other diseases. See attached pic.
    I first spotted this trend while researching for The Lost Art of Steam Heating in the early '90s. The engineering books written during the 1920s referred to "The Fresh-Air Movement," and the need to size for open windows. I had no idea what they were talking about, which led me to reach deeper into social history and the Spanish Influenza. I know of no formalized mandates. There was only the practice of sizing for the worst conditions, which made sense considering what was going on. This was a time of great shifts in heating engineering.
    Retired and loving it.
  • Jamie HallJamie Hall Posts: 10,548Member
    One of the things about all that -- the Spanish 'flu was a great killer indeed, but TB was dismayingly common, and not just in tenements or other "lower class" places. Not only are there at least two wonderful operas (if you like that sort of thing!) about it (Traviata and La Boheme) but almost any family could name at least one relative who died of "consumption". And no one really knew then what it was, never mind what to do about it -- except that people noticed that it was (or at least seemed to be) less common in rural and farming areas, so the natural thought was -- more fresh air.
    Jamie



    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England.



    Hoffman Equipped System (all original except boiler), Weil-Mclain 580, 2.75 gph Carlin, Vapourstat 0.5 -- 6.0 ounces per square inch
  • DanHolohanDanHolohan Posts: 14,676Member, Moderator, Administrator
    edited January 2018
    Our daughter, Meghan, is working worldwide to keep TB out of the U.S. We're supposed to be done with this horrible disease, but it is forever as close as the next international flight. I love her for all that she does for all of us, but she drives me nuts when it comes to things hydronic:

    https://heatinghelp.com/blog/fathers-be-good-to-your-daughters/
    Retired and loving it.
  • ShalomShalom Posts: 115Member
    edited January 2018
    There's actually a vaccine for TB, but it's not used here for the most part unless a person is expecting to be exposed to the disease in the future. Main reason for this is, anyone who's gotten the BCG vaccine will react positively - sometimes dangerously so - to the standard TB test, which is often mandatory for employment in some fields.

    We had one student in my class in pharmacy school who was a guest student from Taiwan, where BCG is routinely given, and he wasn't able to take the TB test. He eventually had to go for a chest x-ray to prove he didn't have latent TB.

    As someone in the health professions myself, I have the utmost respect for what your daughter is doing for the world.
    Even if she doesn't know what a radiator vent is...
  • DanHolohanDanHolohan Posts: 14,676Member, Moderator, Administrator
    Thanks!
    Retired and loving it.
  • BillWBillW Posts: 198Member
    edited January 2018
    Much of the tourism in the Adirondack Mountains had its beginnings in the search for a cure for TB. As was mentioned, TB didn't care if you were wealthy or poor, it made anybody exposed very sick. Dr. Trudeau came to the Adirondacks in the 1870's, suffering from TB. He found that the cold, dry and unpolluted mountain air lessened his symptoms greatly. He began a research center, and soon sufferers were crowding into Saranac Lake to take the cure. They reclined outdoors on chaise-lounge like cure chairs, covered with buffalo robes and heavy wool blankets in even the coldest weather on open air "cure porches" some of which are still there on the older homes. Robert Louis Stevenson was just one of many. The cure didn't always work, but was good enough that it made the Trudeau Institute one of the premier respiratory disease research centers in the world. Antibiotics replaced the outdoor cure in the 1940's.

    It worked in part because the air in New York City was polluted heavily from cooking fires, heating and factory smoke and locomotive and maritime smoke. Everything burned coal or wood, usually the bituminous or "soft" coal which was notoriously smokey. Particulate load was high, sulphur dioxide was high, all of which aggravated any respiratory diseases. Add to that the manure of thousands of horses, the effluent from slaughterhouses and you can see that the "good old days" weren't. "Doonesbury" cartoonist Gary Trudeau is Dr. Trudeau's great grandson.
  • Sal SantamauraSal Santamaura Posts: 280Member
    A side note to this discussion. ASHRAE hasn't used the term "fresh air" for many years. Current, more accurate term is "outdoor air." :)
  • HomerJSmithHomerJSmith Posts: 524Member
    TB is becoming a super bug resistant to antibiotics. Edgar Cayce cured his wife of TB using a special process. Details can be seen at EdgarCayce.org or the ARE (Association for Research & Enlightenment). Pure Apple Brandy, not apple jack, can be purchased from Clear Creek Distillery in Hood River, OR.
  • topaztopaz Posts: 9Member
    edited December 2018
    A good way of getting fresh air is a heat recovery ventilator or "HRV". As somebody who needs fresh air to sleep soundly they seem to me to both keep the air fresher and save a lot of money on both heat and AC.

    (Basically an HRV is just a balanced pair of fans with a heat exchanging surface between the two airflows, so I often wonder if somebody could build one themselves, I bet one could.)

    The core is the critical part.

    The typical configuration is x-shaped with the two airflows perpendicular to one another and the core separating them but exposing a lot of surface area for heat transfer.
  • Jamie HallJamie Hall Posts: 10,548Member
    A brief note on heat recovery ventilators: they come in two flavours. Sensible heat recovery, such as the one @topaz mentioned, and latent heat recovery, which use a moving medium to recover both sensible heat and latent heat, the latter being related to the humidity. The former is good -- assuming that the outside air quality really is better than the inside air quality (which isn't always the case!). The latter is a little dubious, since in the process of recovering the water vapour, it will also recover a long and somewhat dismaying list of indoor air pollutants and bugs (bacteria, virus, etc.). It's efficiency is much better than the sensible heat ones, and so it tends to be popular among the very green set -- but I, at least, can't recommend using it.
    Jamie



    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England.



    Hoffman Equipped System (all original except boiler), Weil-Mclain 580, 2.75 gph Carlin, Vapourstat 0.5 -- 6.0 ounces per square inch
  • topaztopaz Posts: 9Member
    edited December 2018
    Indeed.

    I came to the same conclusion. An HRV with an aluminum core, despite the claims that an ERV is superior in very warm humid climates, it seems, still saves a lot of energy, in my slightly more temperate climate (Mid Atlantic area) both in winter and in summer. I hardly ever need to use AC.
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