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Incredibly Loud Steam Heating Pipes

I live in an apartment right next to the boiler room. The whole building has around 10 units and has a steam heating system. At night the boiler room and the pipes emitting directly from it make incredibly loud noises, like someone is hitting the pipes with a hammer as hard as they can. This noise doesn't happen during the daytime when it is warmer. The radiator itself is quiet and doesn't clang at all.

The noise is so loud it is basically impossible to sleep at night and my landlord refuses to do anything about the problem. I've done some preliminary internet research on the issue could be but found a huge amount of conflicting information. Are there any measures I can take to diagnose or fix this problem? If it helps I can also provide photos of the heating system. Thanks for the help!


  • nicholas bonham-carter
    nicholas bonham-carter Member Posts: 8,576
    Loud water-hammer

    Is this a one pipe, or two-pipe system?

    Water-hammer is a sign of bad maintenance and is not normal in any steam system. It is also a sign that excess fuel is being used-maybe 50%.

    How much longer can your landlord afford to pay for excess fuel, and listen to complaints from the tenants ?

    Direct them here so they can get some good advice.--NBC
  • alanfang4_2
    alanfang4_2 Member Posts: 2
    Two Pipe System

    Thanks so much for your reply, it's a two pipe system. I'm trying to gather some more information to help convince my landlord that this actually a problem, and not as he sees it, the way it has always been.
  • JohnNY
    JohnNY Member Posts: 3,230
    Are you in New York?

    Maybe I could help you out and show the landlord the error of his ways.
    Contact John "JohnNY" Cataneo, NYC Master Plumber, Lic 1784
    Consulting & Troubleshooting
    Heating in NYC or NJ.
  • alanfang4
    alanfang4 Member Posts: 1

    I'm located in Denver unfortunately.
  • Joe V_2
    Joe V_2 Member Posts: 234
    Couldn't it also...

    be as simple as bad or missing steam traps?  A bad F&T or a droop in a main?

    Excessive pressure?  All relatively inexpensive to correct.

    Disclosure:  I'm a homeowner
  • MDNLansing
    MDNLansing Member Posts: 297
    Two Points of View

    From the owners point of view, he's probably scared. Working on any old mechanical system can really turn into a mess. Often times you break two things while trying to fix one thing. To him, if it doesn't interfere with his life, its not a real problem.

    As a tenant though, you are very limited in what you can do to fix the problems. You obviously can't work on the system, nor pay someone else to do so without his permission. However, if the noise is loud enough to prevent you from having a "reasonable" place to live while paying rent, you need it dealt with.

    As someone who is a landlord, as well as previously a renter, here are my suggestions. Call around and see if you can find a steam guy or plumber with knowledge of steam heat that does free initial quick inspections. Some businesses will give you an hour or so for free to look things over. They might not tell him exactly what the problem is (give a free diagnosis) but they will be able to talk ballpark number about fixing the issue. They also are going to want the work so they will be your advocate to fix the issues.

    If he refuses to allow a free inspection (assuming you can find one) then you need to send him a letter outlining how this problem is affecting your life. Send it certified mail and have someone else witness the letter as well. If still nothing, send another letter outlining whatever your legal rights in Colorado are regarding tenant rights. Nearly every state favor the tenant so I'm sure you have the right to demand a quiet sleeping area. Again, witness and certified mail.

    If all that fails, you have two options. Either move out, or call a lawyer. Some states allow a tenant to pay to fix a problem, then deduct that money from your rent payments. However, I'm not familiar with CO law, so you need a lawyer to explore this option. Also, fixing the problem might be quite expensive so you'd need the available cash to take this approach. Some states also allow you to schedule the work and require the contractor to bill the owner. However, not many contractors will take on a job like that because of the risk of not getting paid.

    In a nut shell, find a free inspection, bug him with letters, deal with it and sleep with ear plugs, or move out.
  • SWEI
    SWEI Member Posts: 7,356

    Who does good steam work in Denver?

    Mark Eatherton would probably know...
  • Joe V_2
    Joe V_2 Member Posts: 234
    like I said,

    it could be a simple solution but it could get worse. the following is directed at industrial steamers but some of it applies here

This discussion has been closed.