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Ballston High-Rise Without Heat Since Monday

The Avalon Ballston Square apartment building(Updated at 2:45 p.m. Sunday) A 22-story apartment building in Ballston has been without heat all week, including today, the coldest Feb. 20 on record in D.C.

Residents in the East tower of Avalon Ballston Square, at 850 N. Randolph Street, have been forced to bundle up indoors while the building’s management has said crews are working on the issue, but no solution is in sight.

One resident, who declined to be identified, told ARLnow.com the temperature in her apartment has “hovered between 50 and 60 degrees since Tuesday morning.”

“Management has made no efforts to put us in a hotel or another apartment building with working heat,” she wrote in an email at about noon today. “Their only solution has been to pass out space heaters, which are dangerous to leave on all day or night. The D.C. area is going through record breaking cold temperatures and I cannot get a response from the management on site or corporate management.”

At least one other resident has reached out on social media about the heat, with no response from Avalon’s parent company, Ballston-based Avalon Bay.

Avalon Bay is in the midst of a trying time as a company after a large luxury apartment complex in New Jersey went up in flames last month, causing massive damage and displacing hundreds of residents. The fire caused Avalon Bay to add more fire sprinklers and protections to its planned developments in New Jersey, and has sparked a discussion about more stringent fire code requirements at the state and local level.

When ARLnow.com spoke to a building employee, he simply said the heat was still off and they can’t say when it will be restored. The building’s management declined to comment, and a message left for Avalon Bay’s corporate public relations official has not been returned.

Below is the full text of the last email address Avalon Ballston Square has sent to its residents, according to our source, sent at 6:00 p.m. Thursday.

Hello,

We wanted to keep you as updated as possible regarding the heat in the East Tower. Our maintenance team is continuing to work with several contractors on returning heat to the building as soon as we can. We are constantly monitoring all temperature levels. We will keep you updated as soon as there are any changes.

Please let us know if there is anything we can do to make you more comfortable. Thanks again for your patience.

Update Sunday, Feb. 22 at 2:15 p.m. — Power was fully restored to the East Tower at about 10:00 p.m. on Friday night, Avalon Bay spokesman Richard Wolff told ARLnow.com. One hundred units had been with “diminished” heat since Monday, out of 714 in the community, Wolff said. Avalon Bay offered on Friday to place residents in hotels. 

After the jump, the full explanation Avalon Bay sent to residents Saturday morning for the origin of the heat malfunction.

Dear Residents,

The heating has been fully restored to the East Tower. Full heat was restored at approximately 10PM Friday evening and we have monitored the system throughout the night. The temperatures have stabilized where they should be for the entire building.

If your home is still cold, blowing cool or if the heat is off altogether, you should be able to simply reset your unit and get heat. The best way to fully reset your heating unit is to turn off the thermostat first, then go to your fuse box, turn off the breaker for your HVAC (they are labelled but typically it’s the double breaker switch at the bottom right), wait about 30 seconds and then turn the breaker and the thermostat back on. Our maintenance team is here and can provide assistance if needed. Please do not hesitate to stop by the office or call for assistance. If you had a space heater in your apartment, please return it to the office or call us to come pick it up.

We want to thank you for your patience and understanding while we were working to resolve this issue. Please either visit our office or call 703-243-7368 if you have any additional questions or concerns or if we can help in any way. We hope you have an enjoyable and relaxing weekend. To start it off, please join us in the lobby this morning for a light breakfast.

In addition, this is an internal memo, sent Friday night, Avalon Bay shared with ARLnow.com explaining the problem:

We have been receiving an increased amount of heating calls since Monday afternoon. Approximately 100 apartments are getting reduced heat from the boiler system. The apartments are all in the East Tower, but are not in one tier or floor; the distribution is random throughout the tower. The North Tower is operating normally. The root of the issue is that we are not able to maintain the correct water temperature in the loop. Since Monday afternoon the maintenance team has had three different contractors on-site; none have been able to identify the cause of the loop’s low and irregular temperature. Each day since Tuesday, the loop temperature has increased to normal or close to normal levels, giving the impression of a solution, but each night the temperature drops again. We now have the original mechanic that installed the system at the property and working to find the issue/fix.

At this moment, we have made an adjustment to the balancing valve between the two towers and the loop temperature is rapidly rising to normal; higher and faster than any of the temperatures we experienced this week. We are optimistic that the issue has been resolved but are going to check in periodically and return tomorrow morning to confirm.

In the interim for residents, we notified the East Tower residents to contact us if they are affected and need assistance with temporary solutions. The team and I have been in the lobby all evening greeting these residents and offering them space heaters or stays in the Residence Inn. Most residents are choosing to stay in their homes as the apartment temperatures are 55 – 60 degrees.

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