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.

Help! My ceiling is leaking from an old steam pipe?!?

landlordwontlisten Member Posts: 5
edited November 2018 in THE MAIN WALL
Hello this is my first winter living in Astoria Queens. I live in a duplex with an old heating system. My landlord lives below. For the past few months my landlord has been renovating the basement; fixing water pipes and replacing some of his old heaters downstairs.

This has been an issue for me because I think the work my landlord did is effecting the shared heating system for the duplex. There is a steam pipe and old heating unit in my room that have caused me no issues up until last week. Before last week the pipe and radiator would only make slight hissing noises and few small thuds, that were all manageable. After my landlord replaced some pipes (water pipes for the shower, sink, etc) this the steam pipe in my room started to make a lot of nosies, like very loud banging nosies and heavy hissing. It is so loud it wakes me up from my sleep. Along with the noises the steam pipe in my room started to leak a dirty, rusty water from the ceiling next to the pipe. The leak only started last week and there is a big wet reddish brown patch on the ceiling now. I would also like to add that the radiator has not been working the same as it did a few weeks ago. Now it is barely ever warm and I swear it is 40 degrees in here right now. There seems to be no issues with any of the other radiators, just the one in my room.

I decided that this issues was not going away and I told my landlord today. He said everything was fine and it was only making a lot of noise because he replaced his own radiators downstairs. I asked him if it would go away and he said there is nothing he can do to fix it until winter is over. He also said he would paint over the leak in the spring. I am very frustrated because I cannot sleep at night and my ceiling is dripping and my floor is wet.

What is the issue exactly? Is there anything I can go to fix it? How to I convey my frustrations to my landlord so that it will be fixed. I really want this issue fixed, my lease isn't up until summer and I cannot stand the noises and water leak!!

I inserted an image from the day after the leak start and an image from today.

All comments welcome! I really want to figure this out.


  • Maybe when the water from the leak finally goes down into his area, he will take notice.
    This is probably not that difficult to remedy for him. Some deferred maintenance on the system would clear up the problems, and use less fuel.
    Are you in a rent-controlled apartment, where he stands to gain if you move out?—NBC
  • 1Matthias
    1Matthias Member Posts: 148
    Is the ceiling leaking, or that vent not closing? (Little silver can on the side of the pipe.) Looks to me like the vent is leaking.
  • No I don't live in a rent controlled apartment. I think my landlord just spent a lot of money on renovations downstairs and he does not want to think about paying to fix what. But I also pay rent so I really do not want to be paying for a room with a leak and loud pipe.
  • The leak is coming from the ceiling but water only comes out when there are noises coming from the pipe. So I assume that means when the heating is on in the house.

    I have never touched the vent part of the pipe before. Should I try and move that?
  • There must be a floor above yours with radiators. The radiator above yours may be leaking from the valve, and has other problems. The cure may be relatively simple, and the best time to fix it is when the system is operating, so you know when your adjustments work.
    The upstairs tennant must also be bothered by the noise, and could also put pressure on the landlord.
    When you get some agreement from the landlord to do something about it, then post some pictures of the upstairs radiator, and the boiler. I suspect the pressure is much too high, because of bad main venting.
    Most of the cure will be “do it himself”.—NBC
  • Not sure if I am replying too late (or even replying at all). But I live on the top floor and there is no one above me. My landlord came and put in a new vent (sliver thing). But that did not work, now the ceiling is leaking more. My landlord says it is because the house is old and there is nothing he can do about it. Which seems a bit odd to me considering there is a leak coming from the ceiling. I asked if there was more piping about it that could be leaking but he said no. According to my landlord the pipe stops right after the roof. I can't use half of my room now and my bed is pushed up against my closet because of this leaking pipe that is dripping dirty water all over the floor. I am frustrated and annoyed that my landlord won't hire or bring someone to look at it and see what the actual problem is.
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 23,275
    Well, it's silly that he says there's nothing he can do about it, because he could. If he wanted to.

    The pipe may indeed stop right after the roof. Which suggests several possibilities, since the leak is clearly not down the pipe, but next to it. If it goes through the roof, and it's been raining -- bad flashing. On the other hand, if it stops above the ceiling but before the roof, I wonder if there isn't another vent up there which is failed open and letting steam out, which condenses and drips where the drip is.

    This isn't rocket science, but he's going to have to get up on a step ladder and maybe take the damaged ceiling tiles down and find out what's happening -- and fix it.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
  • In most towns in all the states here, there are regulations for the upkeep of rental property, with regard to the safety of the tenants.
    Even though it may be unpleasant and distasteful, I would say to your landlord that you are living in an impossible situation, as a result of the lack of maintenance in your building. These conditions are unlawful, and you will have no choice, but to notify the local building department about this situation, unless it is immediately rectified.
    Please let us know how this turns out. Your story, and its resolution could be an inspiration for many other people who have posted here about bad rental living conditions, (mostly due here to unmaintained heating systems).—NBC
  • UPDATE: I was previously mistaken. There is no leak coming form the ceiling but there is a leak coming form the vent (silver thing). I have watched it spew of dirty water for the past few days. When the water comes out it is so intense that it is hitting the ceiling (making it look like a leak). Because it is coming from the vent that is facing upwards, when the water falls it goes all over the floor. My landlord says he will be putting on a smaller vent tomorrow but I am skeptical that will work. The noise coming from the pipe has gotten worse as is still keeping me up at night and waking me up early in the morning.

    If this smaller vent does not work tomorrow I am unsure as to what I should be doing. I want the issue fixed but I also do not want this to get out of hand (such as going to court or calling the city to come and fix it).

    Can someone please confirm to me that this is a fixable situation and that I am right to be concerned. I feel as though my landlord will downgrade the situation; when in reality I cannot use half my room, my bed is pushed up against my closet (that I now cannot use) and I am getting very little sleep.

    JUGHNE Member Posts: 11,060
    I thought it was an obvious that the vent was spraying the ceiling.

    You could wrap a dish towel around the vent, 2 wraps.
    The air would still pass but the steam mist spray would be stopped by the cloth.
    Drape the towel down, or tie it in a knot so the water will drip off the tails of the towel into a bucket.
    This will contain most of the mess.
  • This is certainly a fixable situation, and you are very right to be concerned. This uncontrolled spraying of the air vent is not normal to a well maintained steam system, and could result in a mold infestation, which will make you, and your landlord sick.
    It will be easy to see for city inspectors that the lack of maintenance was to blame, and that the landlord will be financially responsible for any damages as a result.
    By bringing this problem to his(her) attention, you are doing a great service to prevent a bad problem from getting worse. No one wants to be in the ICU as a result of infection from something so easily prevented.—NBC
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 23,275
    New vent. check. Turn down the pressure on the system. Fixed. Don't turn down the pressure? Problem will persist.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England