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/.
Click here to Find a Contractor in your area.

Rattling and Leaking radiator in a Pre-war building

I live in a one bedroom apartment in NYC. I have a radiator in my bedroom and a radiator in my living room. I recently discovered that the radiator in my bedroom wasn't turned on so I had my Super come and adjust the valve. Shortly after, it got insanely hot and I took it upon myself to lower the heat. BTW there is not an actual valve on my bedroom radiator, it is completely broken off and all that remains is a small part you can turn if you take a wrench and twist very very hard! After I got maybe a turn-and-a-half out of it, the radiator immediately started making rattling noises and water was coming out of the air vent. I sat there and bled the vent for 20 minutes, a total pain. Fast forward and the air vent AND valve of the living room radiator are leaking too. My Super says nothing can be done about the rattling and that it happens in buildings that are this old, but I had never had noises come from my living room radiator and I know other people in this building whose radiators don't make noise. A plumber is coming to replace both the valves on the radiators. I won't be here when he does this but I just need some piece of mind - will fixing the valves make the rattling stop? It rattles for hours on end and I cannot take it anymore.


  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 22,897
    One pipe steam. The radiator valves must be either fully open or fully closed, nothing in between. You control the heat from a one pipe steam radiator with the vent, not the valve.

    Fixing the valves is probably not needed; opening the one you got partly shut (if you can) may. Replacing the vents may well be in order.

    The leaking valve in the living room -- and the spitting vents -- may suggest that the pressure in the system is too high. It often is...
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
  • nicholas bonham-carter
    nicholas bonham-carter Member Posts: 8,576
    This is a systemwide problem, with the super at the top of the pile!
    Steam systems, (no matter how old), can work silently, efficiently, and comfortably, if properly maintained. The desire for these 3 attributes is not a new one, and systems behaving as yours does would have landed the installer in the east river. Your super is not the sort of person who can make this happen, and maybe the owner is part of the problem as well-all because of ignorance, and apathy.
    A badly maintained steam system can burn 30% more fuel, while keeping the occupants as uncomfortable as possible.
    See if any complaints to the management will change things-I hope so!—NBC
  • BobC
    BobC Member Posts: 5,471
    My one pipe steam system will be 100 years old next year, the only noise is from the power gas burner. The radiators are all quiet except for a faint hiss as air is being expelled and you have to be right next to a radiator to hear that..

    Smith G8-3 with EZ Gas @ 90,000 BTU, Single pipe steam
    Vaporstat with a 12oz cut-out and 4oz cut-in
    3PSI gauge
  • nicholas bonham-carter
    nicholas bonham-carter Member Posts: 8,576
    edited January 2018
    Most of my system is from 1885!—quiet as a mouse, unless the temperature is really dropping, and it gets up to 10 ounces— then I can hear the air escaping from the rads as a gentle hiss.55 rads as well, so the size of the system is no challenge for an expert stem pro.—NBC