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Is this knocking in pipes repeatedly through the night normal for one pipe steam system?

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melanie
melanie Member Posts: 7
Dear Steam Experts,

Could someone please read down this email chain and let me know if you could send me a number to text so that you might hear this knocking my landlords claim is normal for steam? (It will only be helpful if you are very familiar with what should be considered normal, and sending this via email is not producing the sound as does sending it via a text. ) Many thanks. No sleep for a long time and tired of it all. Melanie


Dear Erin, Thank you.  The only way you can hear what I have is via a text where my recording sounds most audible and like what I experience. It has not worked to send in an email, per se.

Do you know someone who is a steam expert who might not mind listening to this.  I am not looking for a consultation at this time, just someone to let me know if I have a problem or not. 

Many thanks.
Melanie (Davis)

-----Original Message-----
From: Erin Holohan Haskell
To: mdavisconcepts
Sent: Wed, Mar 29, 2017 9:47 am
Subject: Re: Contact Form Submission

Hi Melanie,

Dan is retired and doesn't do consultations, but this is a great question to ask on our discussion forum, The Wall: http://forum.heatinghelp.com/. You'll get the most input there and others will learn too. 

Erin

-- 
Erin Holohan Haskell
President
HeatingHelp.com

Name: Melanie Davis
Email: mdavisconcepts@aol.com
Message: Can Mr Holohan please give me a call? I am living in a 120-unit building whose owners say they have no problems in their 1-pipe steam heating system knocking and hammering throughout the night awakening.
This email was received from https://heatinghelp.com



Comments

  • ChrisJ
    ChrisJ Member Posts: 15,767
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    Knocking and banging is not normal for steam, no.

    Common yes, but normal no.

    Our single pipe steam system is so quiet you can't tell when the heat is on or off even in the middle of the night, aside from the thermostat clicking.

    Where are you located? I'm assuming NYC?
    Single pipe quasi-vapor system. Typical operating pressure 0.14 - 0.43 oz. EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Control for Residential Steam boilers. Rectorseal Steamaster water treatment
    JUGHNE
  • JUGHNE
    JUGHNE Member Posts: 11,074
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    Do the neighbors hear this also? It would seldom be confined to one unit as the pipes transmit water hammer a long distance.
    Hard to pinpoint the exact location.
  • KC_Jones
    KC_Jones Member Posts: 5,741
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    Hearing the sound would help determine what the problem is, but I can tell you this with 100% certainty. Knocking isn't normal and indicates there is a problem. Determining the problem can be difficult. In general it is either water hammer or expansion noise. The expansion usually only happens when things are heating up and stops until it cycles again.

    Water hammer can be persistent and continuous. Basically it is water laying in pipes or radiators being picked up by the steam and being slammed into the next piece of metal that gets in its way.
    2014 Weil Mclain EG-40
    EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Boiler Control
    Boiler pictures updated 2/21/15
  • melanie
    melanie Member Posts: 7
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    No. I am in DC. Is there any way that I might send you several 10 second tapes to let you hear this? The apartment complex claims it is normal. I have lived in this building for 30 years and only when they added new units in the basement 2 years ago did we begin to hear all of this awakening us through the night. As an aside, in the process of adding units, they changed out old traps in our radiators and placed the improper traps and something slanted at 90 degrees instead of 45 causing tremendous hammering. They at last are beginning to correct faulty traps, but have also begun to disconnect radiators. Two of my three are completely unattached and non functioning. Although I use to be able to adjust heat at the radiator, I can no longer do this and although the radiator still working has a valve turned to off, I get profuse heat that apartment owners now call ambient. Fire engine hot in some apartments.
    Might you be able to at least listen to what I have recorded, that occurs constantly but most annoyingly as it awakens me 3-5 times through the night? then I might be able to say, "others familiar with heat say this does not sound normal, please address." I really need some support on this and do not know where to turn, really.
    Thank you.
    Melanie
  • melanie
    melanie Member Posts: 7
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    we all hear it. when they disconnected my radiators, I heard it in my walls, which is where I have it now. I have sent them tapes and they write back, "We hear nothing." Not true and my tapes prove it. they tell me their steam person says is normal for steam, but he has not confirmed with me, at all. He was helping, then I got the word from owner that they hear nothing. A mechanical engineer (not terribly familiar with steam) suggested I send tapes to Mr. Holohan , but, per his daughter, he is retired. I just need someone to hear this and say there is a problem. thanks, folks. Melanie
  • melanie
    melanie Member Posts: 7
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    Again, I really do not need someone to pinpoint the problem at this time, only acknowledge that a problem exists, and specifically, that this is not normal for steam. Can any one agree to listen to these, please. They do not send well over email, but I hear them very well if I can text, or if I text to myself. Please let me know. Or might one of you be willing to talk with me over the phone? Many thanks. Melanie
  • KC_Jones
    KC_Jones Member Posts: 5,741
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    In DC you need to call this company.
    https://heatinghelp.com/find-a-contractor/detail/foley-mechanical-inc
    http://www.foleymechanical.com/

    The only way you will resolve this is to get an actual expert in there. You currently don't have an expert.
    2014 Weil Mclain EG-40
    EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Boiler Control
    Boiler pictures updated 2/21/15
    Ironman
  • melanie
    melanie Member Posts: 7
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    Many thanks. I am actually waiting for a call back from them. Best, Melanie
  • JUGHNE
    JUGHNE Member Posts: 11,074
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    "New units in the basement 2 years ago when it began".
    Would these have been the boilers changed out?

    So the system was quiet before this change?
    How can the owners and steam person say this is normal when the noise was not there before the units were changed?

    Pictures of the boiler and piping near them could explain a lot, providing you or someone with a camera can get into the boiler room of course.
    KC_Jones
  • Steamhead
    Steamhead Member Posts: 16,885
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    KC_Jones said:

    In DC you need to call this company.
    https://heatinghelp.com/find-a-contractor/detail/foley-mechanical-inc
    http://www.foleymechanical.com/

    The only way you will resolve this is to get an actual expert in there. You currently don't have an expert.

    This.
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    Towson, MD, USA
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
    Consulting
  • melanie
    melanie Member Posts: 7
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    these are not honest people. I have a ton of photos of the disconnected radiators - a major no-no, I know, upsetting the whole system, which is causing a lot of our problems (not to mention the faulty traps placed last year now being changed out). Unworkman like. How can they say this is normal? Because they are dishonest, which is why I assume their nice boiler man did not weigh in in agreement with them when they sent me the note claiming this is normal. Last year, no joke, they turned off the boiler a month early. All quieted, but we all froze. We are beginning to protest. Scary, really. It is a beautiful old building, but more than 70 units (of 107) have turned over in the last 2 years. The more turnover, the higher the rent can be charged, and these new owners, according to another contractor, are all about greed. shameful, and very upsetting. They are not much for providing good customer service to anyone under considerable rent control or who have complained. Again, scary, really. Thanks.
  • Fred
    Fred Member Posts: 8,542
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    If there are Traps, this is likely a two pipe system of some type. Anytime a trap fails open, it will allow steam to enter the returns and that, by itself can cause water hammer/banging. All the traps need to be tested and all the mains, radiator run-outs and the radiators themselves need to be pitched properly and any that are not right need to be properly pitched. Additionally, the system pressure needs to be checked. The system should never be much more than 2PSI, many two pipe systems run on much less. A survey, of a system that size, by a knowledgeable Steam Pro won't be cheap so I suspect, from what you say, it isn't likely to happen, at least not under the current management.
  • Steamhead
    Steamhead Member Posts: 16,885
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    Melanie just sent me some sound files- no wonder she can't sleep. Hopefully the owners can be prevailed upon to get Dan Foley in there.
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    Towson, MD, USA
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
    Consulting
  • JUGHNE
    JUGHNE Member Posts: 11,074
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    Steamhead, can you share the sound with the rest of us?
    We know what it sounds like, but is always good to judge the extent of noise that some people have to endure. :'(
  • JohnNY
    JohnNY Member Posts: 3,231
    edited March 2017
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    ChrisJ said:

    Where are you located? I'm assuming NYC?

    What are we, the banging radiators capitol of the world or something?

    :wink:
    Contact John "JohnNY" Cataneo, NYC Master Plumber, Lic 1784
    Consulting & Troubleshooting
    Heating in NYC or NJ.
    Classes
    GrallertChrisJCanucker
  • melanie
    melanie Member Posts: 7
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    ok to share sound clips. thanks, all. Melanie
  • garyanderson
    garyanderson Member Posts: 15
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    To those whom have discussed this issue with the steam pipes noise in this particular case, all of your answers and remedy are heading in the correct direction.. I guess I should let you know that I work for the Mechanical company that is heading up the repairs to this facility, And I can assure you, we have not said that steam pipe noise is normal, nor has the property management company, as far as we know. Let me also add that this management company has been very proactive in trying to get this resolved, lots of logistics to deal with when your dealing with apartment buildings. The issues ,and yes there have been many hands in this mess, that frankly should not have been, we feel is the main culprit! The system was designed and built in the mid to late 30s, as a vacuum return system. Somewhere in time someone decided it should no longer be one and removed the vacuum system and installed a condensate tank. For those of you who see and understand where this is going no more explanation should be needed. We are working to put it back as it was designed.
    Henry
  • EBEBRATT-Ed
    EBEBRATT-Ed Member Posts: 15,605
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    Sounds like the contractor is aware of the issues. need to give him time to resolve the problems. Time will tell