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clanking sounds

I live on the 6th floor of a 6 floor NYC residential building, 9 apartments per floor, single pipe steam. Every time the heat goes on, I hear clanking sounds from the radiator in my bedroom. There are one or two clanks at the beginning of the heating cycle, about a five minute pause, and then a slow, irregular continual clanking that lasts for 10 minutes or more. It's loud enough and annoying enough to keep me from being able to sleep in my bedroom. When my downstairs neighbor closes the shut-off valve on his radiator below mine, there is no sound. So, it is related to his radiator, but he hears only a very faint sound that seems to be inside the wall, not in his radiator.

This clanking started last February, about the same time as my neighbor had partially closed the shut-off valve on his radiator in order to control the heat, and caused it to leak. I don't know if that has anything to do with the noise I hear, or if it's just a coincidence that it started about the same time. Since then, his shut off valve has been replaced. I never heard this clanking before in the 11 years that I have lived in this apartment.

Does anyone have an idea of the cause or the cure? Our plumber wants to install a temperature air control valve on my neighbor's radiator. Will this help?


  • kcopp
    kcopp Member Posts: 4,188
    more than....

    likely you radiator needs a bit more pitch towards the valve. That sound is water hammer. there is prob a puddle of water in the bottom of the radiator. I would have your neighbor keep that valve open... the vent is how you control the amount of heat from the radiator...not the valve.
  • Alice09
    Alice09 Member Posts: 5
    clanking sounds

    Two plumbers have said the sound isn't coming from my radiator, but through my radiator. The clanking occurs whether my radiator's valve is fully open and my radiator is hot, or fully closed and my radiator is cold. My neighbor has been told not to try to regulate the heat with his shut-off valve. I guess that's why the plumber recommended the adjustable vent. But will this stop the clanking?
  • vaporvac
    vaporvac Member Posts: 1,520
    Enter :The Cozy!

    I think your neighbeor needs The Cosy!

    Two-pipe Trane vaporvacuum system; 1466 edr
    Twinned, staged Slantfin TR50s piped into 4" header with Riello G400 burners; 240K lead, 200K lag Btus. Controlled by Taco Relay and Honeywell RTH6580WF
  • Noisy radiator from downstairs

    Probably, your neighbor needs the thermostatic vent on his radiator.

    In addition to that, the system should be left at a constant temperature round the clock, as the extra fuel used by the boiler to recover from a lower nighttime setting, negates what little was saved by the setback.

    Is this a condo, or coop, in which you are part owner of the structure of the building, including the heating system, and the roof? Is anyone else experiencing a similar noise problem?

    Is the boiler serviced regularly?--NBC
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 21,111
    One pipe steam

    cannot be properly controlled with the radiator inlet valves.  They must be either fully open or fully closed; anything else will cause trouble and probably clanking.

    If you can persuade your neighbour downstairs to put a thermostatically controlled vent (repeat: VENT) on the radiator in question, you will both be much happier.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
  • Alice09
    Alice09 Member Posts: 5
    clanking sounds

    It's a coop. None of the neighbors in my line, from the 1st to the 5th floor hear the clanking that I hear. How will a TRV on my neighbor's radiator reduce the noise in my apartment, when he doesn't hear the same noise?

    The boiler mechanic was here just last week, because the boiler shut down due to a broken tube. This summer the boiler was modified to use natural gas. The clanking has carried over from last winter.
  • Fred
    Fred Member Posts: 8,541
    What abbout the radiator?

    You never did say if you have checked the level of your radiator. Is it slightly tilted back towards the shut-off valve? It must be tilted to allow the condensed water to empty out of the bottom of the radiator and return to the boiler.
  • Alice09
    Alice09 Member Posts: 5
    clanking sounds

    Yes, the plumber checked the pitch of all the radiators in my line, including mine.
  • Fred
    Fred Member Posts: 8,541
    May Still be your neighbor?

    I'm wondering if your neighbor isn't still trying to control his heat by partially closing the radiator shut-off valve. If you hear the water hammer even when you have your valve completely shut off and your radiator is cold, it clearly has to be coming from somewhere else and resonating through your radiator or pipe???
  • BobC
    BobC Member Posts: 5,401
    Keep it slow

    It sounds like there is water sitting in a horizontal pipe that gets worse when there is more water condensing (from radiators that are busy converting steam into condensate). Slow venting all around might help, a thermostatic valve in your neighbors unit might help but there is now way of telling.

    If the problem is in the horizontal runout to your or your neighbors radiators it would be worthwhile trying raise each radiator about 1/2" or so (individually) to see if that helps.The true fix would be to find and fix the horizontal pipe but that would entail a lot of dismantling.

    Smith G8-3 with EZ Gas @ 90,000 BTU, Single pipe steam
    Vaporstat with a 12oz cut-out and 4oz cut-in
    3PSI gauge
  • Paul48
    Paul48 Member Posts: 4,469
    New Valve

    The neighbor had his valve replaced. I'll bet they jacked the radiator, and lost its pitch.
  • Alice09
    Alice09 Member Posts: 5

    Thank you everybody for your comments and suggestions. I guess it's still trial and error- very slow and expensive. Since the problem probably originates in my neighbor's apartment, I have very little control over what happens and when. I will pass on your comments if the next thing our plumber tries doesn't work.-