Click here to Find a Contractor in your area.
Welcome! Here are the website rules, as well as some tips for using this forum.
Need to contact us? Visit https://heatinghelp.com/contact-us/.

Water Hammer and high PItched Whine - 2 pipe steam heat

Hi all,



I just moved into a pre-war building with 2-pipe steam heat. Since moving in I have suffered from water hammer every 60-90 minutes and extremely loud steam lasting between 10-30 minutes. It is preceded with a high pitched whine that lasts for about 15 minutes. Needless to say I am spending most of my time praying for quiet.



After doing a bunch of research I gave my super a list of items to try from this website. It included checking the radiator pitch, piping, boiler pressure, and valves. My pipes and radiator were pitched by the super and all my valves AND radiator replaced. Nevertheless, I am still experiencing all of the above symptoms.



I do not know what plans my super has in mind, but can anyone provide me with recommendations? Should I have him be sure the pitch is accurate? Could the fact that my pipes make an 'L' shape into the corner of my room before entering the wall affect this?



Secondly, is there anything I can do in the short-term to rid myself of the high-pitched whine? It is beginning to hurt my ears.



Thank you kindly for your responses.



Best wishes,

Michael

Comments

  • loud whine

    could it be the steam trap reacting to super high pressure? what valves were replaced-do you have pictures?

    of all the things on your super's list, regulating the pressure is perhaps the most important for the occupants comfort; and making sure the least amount of fuel is burned, for the building. does he have a copy of "the lost art of steam heating"?--nbc
  • jpf321
    jpf321 Member Posts: 1,567
    where from?

    where r you located? 
    1-pipe Homeowner - Queens, NYC

    NEW: SlantFin Intrepid TR-30 + Tankless + Riello 40-F5 @ 0.85gph | OLD: Fitzgibbons 402 boiler + Beckett "SR" Oil Gun @ 1.75gph

    installed: 0-20oz/si gauge | vaporstat | hour-meter | gortons on all rads | 1pc G#2 + 1pc G#1 on each of 2 mains

    Connected EDR load: 371 sf venting load: 2.95cfm vent capacity: 4.62cfm
    my NEW system pics | my OLD system pics
  • halfwayglad
    halfwayglad Member Posts: 13
    edited March 2010
    Still problematic...follow up

    could it be the steam trap reacting to super high pressure? what valves were replaced-do you have pictures?

    of all the things on your super's list, regulating the pressure is perhaps the most important for the occupants comfort; and making sure the least amount of fuel is burned, for the

    building. does he have a copy of "the lost art of steam heating"?--nbc



    ------------------------



    According to my super they replaced all the valves, including the steam trap and the steam vent.



    After 3 weeks, I am still having long periods of loud steam (15+ minutes, preceded by hammering and what sounds like rocks colliding in the ceiling and walls).



    Pictures are attached as well as a sample of what I hear (this occurrence has less clanging and more banging and was taken from about 20 feet away from the radiator):



    http://www.2shared.com/file/12041507/df5c052f/steamnoise.html
  • halfwayglad
    halfwayglad Member Posts: 13
    i am in

    NYC
  • JStar
    JStar Member Posts: 2,752
    ...

    Is this a two-pipe air-vent system that doesn't need steam traps?
  • halfwayglad
    halfwayglad Member Posts: 13
    ...

    It's a two pipe steam system.
  • JStar
    JStar Member Posts: 2,752
    Two pipe.

    And a radiator vent? Do all of the other radiators in the building have an air vent on them?
  • halfwayglad
    halfwayglad Member Posts: 13
    ...

    I apologize. I think I used the incorrect term. When I say steam vent, I mean the bullet shaped thing on the top left where the steam shoots out. By steam trap I mean the thing on the bottom left.
  • JStar
    JStar Member Posts: 2,752
    ...

    Your terminology is correct. So, are the other radiators piped with both a trap and a vent?
  • halfwayglad
    halfwayglad Member Posts: 13
    ...

    Yes, all the radiators (judging on the two other units I've seen) have the same setup.
  • JStar
    JStar Member Posts: 2,752
    I would try...

    ...plugging the air vent tapping (1/8"). The steam trap is an air vent until it's filled with water. I'm imagining the air vent is what's causing your noise. 
  • halfwayglad
    halfwayglad Member Posts: 13
    ..

    When the noise happens, it appears to come from the corner of the room where the pipes angle at 90 degrees and go into the wall. I've never observed noise coming from the actual radiator. I was also told by my super that the bullet shaped valve (steam release valve/air vent?) was there so the radiator didn't explode.
  • JStar
    JStar Member Posts: 2,752
    Hahaha.

    So the radiator wouldn't explode? I'm sorry. That is incorrect. Steam should never come out of an air vent. Unless it's broken. Ask him if he added vents to all the radiators and if they had them before.
  • halfwayglad
    halfwayglad Member Posts: 13
    ..

    Thanks for the replies. I will bring this up with the super and ask him if they all had air vents or if they were added. I know mine has always had one.



    Is an air valve/vent normal on a steam heating system? Is it's purpose to let the air out as steam fills the radiator?
  • halfwayglad
    halfwayglad Member Posts: 13
    ..

    I do not mean to be contrarian, I merely wish to make sure I am 100% sure of what I say when speaking to my super so I don't look foolish and feeble.



    Some initial research online shows that it is part of the operation of a steam heating system to release steam from the radiator. They use the term 'steam release valve.'



    http://www.naturalhandyman.com/qa/qasteamheat.html



    "The pressure release valves are designed to keep the steam moving

    throughout

    the system. The "hissing" is a normal function and, generally

    speaking, the

    more steam that is released, the quicker the radiator heats up."



    If this is normal operation, my only conclusion is that my problem comes from too high a pressure.
  • JStar
    JStar Member Posts: 2,752
    Normal operation.

    It's not really a steam vent, because it's never supposed to vent steam. It's an air vent. All it does is vent out atmospheric air so steam can fill the radiator. Steam should never come out of the vent. Typically, you would never have these vents on a two pipe system. That's what the steam trap is for. It's an air vent first, and then a return pipe second. You can either have a trap, or a vent, not both. 
  • Charlie from wmass
    Charlie from wmass Member Posts: 4,195
    Not quite right

    The vents are there to release air not steam. some old 2 pipes used vents. Modern ones with traps do not as a rule use vents. Dan has systems explained at the top of the page. Handy man he is not, But reputable heating knowledge purveyor he is.
    Cost is what you spend , value is what you get.

    cell # 413-841-6726
    https://heatinghelp.com/find-a-contractor/detail/charles-garrity-plumbing-and-heating
  • halfwayglad
    halfwayglad Member Posts: 13
    ...

    So i just checked the air valve as it is blasting air/moisture.



    The air coming out is cool enough for me to put finger over the hole, but warm and wet enough to feel like steam. Pockets of water are also coming out and condensing on the radiator cover.



    The takeaway from this is that this is abnormal?
  • JStar
    JStar Member Posts: 2,752
    Prior suggestion.

    I would get rid of the air vent entirely by plugging it , and keep the steam trap. I would also like to see some close up pictures of where the older (white) pipe meets the newer (black) pipe.
  • halfwayglad
    halfwayglad Member Posts: 13
    ...

    Here you go:
  • nicholas bonham-carter
    nicholas bonham-carter Member Posts: 8,510
    turning off the vents

    rotate the vents, so that the point is down, and that will accomplish the same as removing them and plugging the hole. this type of 2-pipe system should never have a vent like that.

    there are still problems with the system [and with the information from the other website]. i suspect the pressure has been turned up too high, in order to force the steam into the radiators. whoever is paying the gas bill is surely wasting a great deal of money, perhaps 50% of the total, and i hope it is not you!--nbc
  • halfwayglad
    halfwayglad Member Posts: 13
    ...

    Thanks for the feedback. I will speak to my super and hopefully get closer to resolution. I will post back with results.
  • halfwayglad
    halfwayglad Member Posts: 13
    ...

    How does one calculate the proper pressure for a building? Is it based on floors, number of rooms, boiler size, or a mix of all of those?
  • nicholas bonham-carter
    nicholas bonham-carter Member Posts: 8,510
    proper steam pressure

    dan has explained it so well in this article:   http://www.heatinghelp.com/article/11/Hot-Tech-Tips/290/What-Ive-learned-about-steam-pressure

    nbc
This discussion has been closed.