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Pipes in the wall rattle *because of steam*

rattlepipe Member Posts: 1
Hi all --

I just moved into a new apartment in San Francisco, the building was built in 1910 and uses a steam boiler.

After I signed my lease and slept in the bedroom for the first time I noticed a clicking sound in the wall that has been going on and off every day. It starts at 7 PM and ends around 10 AM.

The super brought in a plumber/ the contractor who does our radiators and he told me there is no fix to the non stop clicking noises because it is an old building. The radiators in my apartment are all off but the sound is from the steam that is running through the pipes when the boiler is turned on.

Is there actually nothing that be done about this sound? He said most likely the steam is causing the pipes to expand and the clicking sound is from the pipe hitting the wood. They also said they are not going to tear down the drywall to fix this...

If there is no plumbing solution to this, how have other people dealt with the noise? Is there something I can put up on the wall that is clicking to lessen the sound? Soundproof blankets perhaps?


  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 23,635
    I suppose I could ask why the boiler is running in July... but... this is San Francisco, which is in an alternate universe somewhere...

    As to the clicking, if it really is the boiler running, and steam being used somewhere in the building … puzzled expression … it may very well be an expansion noise, particularly if it isn't really continuous, but occurs when the boiler turns on and again when it turns off. And, without access to the piping to find where it is rubbing on something, there isn't that much one can do about it.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
  • Steamhead
    Steamhead Member Posts: 16,998
    I'd be concerned about the building being so overheated that you have to turn off your radiators. The building's fuel consumption must be astronomical. This overheating could be contributing to the noise.

    You can start by having your landlord get in touch with @Alan (California Radiant) Forbes . I forget exactly where he's located but if he's too far away, he might know someone who can help.
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    Towson, MD, USA
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
  • Larry Weingarten
    Larry Weingarten Member Posts: 3,384
    Hello, In general, I'm not in favor of giving lawyers more work, but this could be considered by some to affect habitability. Have a look an the California Tenants Guide, starting on page 36 and see what you think. http://www.achhd.org/documents/California-Tenants-Guide.pdf Also, I'm sure there are tenant advocacy resources in the SF Bay area. I might suggest that if the landlord is unable or unwilling to fix the problem they should find you another unit or be willing to refund your money plus something for the inconvenience.

    Yours, Larry
    HVACNUT Member Posts: 5,887
    Do you have a good sound system?
    Two things. You can play (loud) Pink Floyd's "The Wall" so you dont hear the noise, or play just the last track and literally "Tear Down The Wall!!" Then you can insulate, soundproof, whatever. Then get a full length mural of "The Wall" to cover the hole.
  • lchmb
    lchmb Member Posts: 2,997
    Im confused why it's runs on a specific time? Is the system set on some kind of timer? It doesnt happen at all during the day time?
  • ChrisJ
    ChrisJ Member Posts: 15,913
    Steam shouldn't make noise and will not when working properly.

    Something is wrong and can be fixed.
    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