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Hidden steam leak between floors
I’m in a 1929 house with a one-pipe steam system in central Connecticut. We have what appears to be a steam leak from just underneath a radiator on the third floor, which is kind of a partially-finished attic. The only sign of the leak is a pat-pat-pat on the ceiling in the master bedroom below, on the 2nd floor, which is heard only during a steam cycle. In the room with the rad, there is no sign or sound of the leak, although its vent makes enough noise that it may cover the sound. I presume there is steam leaking just below the 3rd floor, and the condensate drips on the ceiling below. I program our thermostat to kick the temp up by 4 degF before we get up, and that’s when the pat-pat-pat gets intense (it wakes me up every morning). That 3rd floor rad is usually closed. When it is open, there is noticeably more dripping, but it drips plenty when closed.
The sound comes from the very corner of the master bedroom ceiling. I can’t see any water damage—yet. Closets wrap around that corner, so if I have to cut into walls (which by the way are plaster) at least there’s a fairly inconspicuous place to do it. But the sound comes from outside the closets, right at the corner of the bedroom ceiling.
I don’t know what would be causing this or how to go about fixing this thing. That 3rd floor room has an asbestos tile floor that I really don’t want to have to cut. Not that I’m eager to tear up walls and ceilings from below, either.
I’d appreciate any advice!