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Excessive Radiator noise after repairs

Luna0531Luna0531 Posts: 5Member
edited March 15 in THE MAIN WALL
I live in an old house, built in 1910 ish with a steam radiator system. The house is 3 stories and recently the radiators were removed from the second floor and capped (no radiators on the third floor). I reside in a unit that makes up the first floor of the house. A water return pipe was also replaced in the basement. Ever since these repairs and changes were made to to the system the radiators have been gurgling, clanking and knocking nearly non stop but especially when the thermostat clicks on. One of the loudest clanks is from a pipe that used to go to the second floor. The heating company has been over and says they don’t see anything wrong and there is nothing they can do about the clanking. I’m not convinced and think there might be some other issues, especially because the issues started after the 2nd floor of the house was capped. Anyone have any thoughts as to what could be going on? Should I demand a second opinion?


  • Jamie HallJamie Hall Posts: 10,273Member
    Should you request a second opinion? Indeed you should. The people who capped the radiator pipes and made changes to the water return pipe clearly caused the problem -- and equally clearly are not qualified to diagnose and fix it Where are you located? We may know someone in your area who is qualified.

    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England.

    Hoffman Equipped System (all original except boiler), Weil-Mclain 580, 2.75 gph Carlin, Vapourstat 0.5 -- 6.0 ounces per square inch
  • Luna0531Luna0531 Posts: 5Member
    Hampton Roads area in Virginia.
  • FredFred Posts: 7,813Member
    Were the second floor radiators removed permanently? How many radiators and why? Removing radiators will make the boiler way over sized and that, by itself can cause problems.
    Any remaining radiators that are banging probably need to be pitched so the condensate can run out of them. It is also possible that removing radiators may have caused the steam risers to drop enough that the run-outs to the remaining radiators have lost their pitch and can't drain. Is this a one pipe or two pipe system? Please post pictures of the remaining radiators, the boiler and where they removed radiators and capped pipes
  • JUGHNEJUGHNE Posts: 5,569Member
    I agree with Fred, the 2nd floor rad used to hold the horizontal pipes up. Simple vertical pipe clamps would hold them up to at least the original height so the condensate drains back.
    These pipes are just like a single pipe convector heater and need the slope to drain.
  • EBEBRATT-EdEBEBRATT-Ed Posts: 5,617Member
    And the boiler is know way oversized. @Luna0531 do you own this property?? I believe @Ironman may be in that area
  • Luna0531Luna0531 Posts: 5Member
    edited March 16
    Thank you everyone for the replies. I'll try to answer everyone's questions.

    The radiators in the other unit were permanently removed. I'm a long term tenant and moved into the house right after it was bought by my landlord. My landlord claims he was told that the radiators were capped and electric heat was installed so that each tenant had to pay for their own bills, rather than the landlord paying. I've long wondered if I was paying for upstairs heat due to my high gas bills, but I've always been reassured that wasn't the case.

    Last month, while doing renovations the radiators were officially removed and the workers confirmed that the radiators had indeed been heating up. Aka: I've been paying to heat the whole house, not just my unit.

    The removal of the upstairs radiators is when all of the issues with my system started. A return pipe that was leaking was also replaced on the same day. For 3+ weeks now it's been sounding like someone is taking a wrench to the pipes.

    The plumbing company has come back twice (one of those times they were in the house for less than 5 minutes and wouldn't stay to listen for the clanking) and they're saying there is nothing that they can do and that the clanking is normal. My landlord is believing them, but as someone who has done my research on these system and has lived in this house, something just doesn't feel right. I'm just trying to gather some knowledge to present to him so that I can get some sleep at night, the banging is making me loose my mind!

    Attached are pictures of the radiators, boiler and I've labeled the pipes that lead to capped radiators upstairs (the one not by the radiator being the loudest). I have 6 in my first floor unit that is 5 rooms. 4 radiators were removed from the upstairs. I've labeled them for reference.

  • SuperTechSuperTech Posts: 938Member
    > @Luna0531 said:
    > Hampton Roads area in Virginia.

    I believe this is the root of the problem. They don't see many boilers in Virginia, nevermind steam boilers! Combined with a landlord that's looking for the least expensive "solution" to the problem and this is the end result.

    It's going to be difficult but I would try to find a pro who is skilled with steam boilers. If @Ironman is available I would contact him.
  • Jamie HallJamie Hall Posts: 10,273Member
    I have a vague memory that @Ironman is over in the Shenandoah Valley -- but he might get that far.

    One problem I see right away, though -- the pressure setting on the boiler is too high. Try changing the setting of the index on that grey box down to around 0.7. You can change it with a screwdriver and the small screw on top.

    That won't help the banging -- but it will save some gas.

    The clanging is likely, as has been suggested, that some of the pipes lost their pitch when the upstairs radiators were removed. You could go down in the basement and see if you can figure ot what pipes go there, and try to find out how, if you were water, the water can drain out of them back to the boiler.

    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England.

    Hoffman Equipped System (all original except boiler), Weil-Mclain 580, 2.75 gph Carlin, Vapourstat 0.5 -- 6.0 ounces per square inch
  • nicholas bonham-carternicholas bonham-carter Posts: 7,817Member
    When the house was first built, with a steam system installed by knowledgeable, and skilled craftsmen, it would have supplied heat evenly to all the rooms, in complete silence. This would have been the most cost effective way of heating, even though not allowing the individual metering of heat cost.
    Over the years without proper maintenance, the system probably became more expensive to run, and now these new modifications have been a long step backwards.
    Electric heat will be the most expensive heat available, especially in a house which may lack insulation, and have many air leaks. Some tenants may not have enough money left over after the electric bill to pay their rent. The landlord will blame the situation on steam heat, instead of recognizing the true cause-lack of maintenance, causing the system to burn much more fuel than before.
    If you move out before the winter, then how will he find another tenant to occupy a noisy apartment?—NBC
  • SuperTechSuperTech Posts: 938Member
    I realise that you don't live in the second floor that has been converted to electric heat, but obviously you have been directly affected by this conversion. Is it too late to possibly change it back and put the steam radiators back? It would be the right thing to do for you, the boiler itself and the second floor tenant who is probably facing hefty bills this winter if electric baseboard was installed. The steam system would be fine if you just had a competent company servicing it.
  • Intplm.Intplm. Posts: 680Member
    @Luna0531 The company that has come to service the heating system and says there is nothing that they can do. Well there are things that they can do. But they are taking direction from the land lord. The person paying the bill. Hence, there is nothing they can do.
    So, since you are the tenant paying the rent bill, maybe it's time for a reexamination of your rental contract. Something that YOU can do.

    The landlord and the company working on the system do not understand steam heat. Plan and simple. They just don't.

    Or the company is being forced by the land lord to do as they are told, without working the steam system properly.{And that's just wrong!}

    I am speaking as a former rent payer, and as a land lord. And I'm sure you have had this thought cross your mind..... "Time to look for another place."

    I'm sorry you are going through this and I wish you the best .
  • Danny ScullyDanny Scully Posts: 1,153Member
    The pressuretrol is set way too high. This may have been masked when all the radiation was connected. Now that half the radiators are gone, the boiler is building pressure and operating beyond design range. Additionally, if they didn’t skim the boiler after the return line replacement, the oils associated with manufacturing/installation aren’t helping the gurgling/knocking/clanking.
  • Luna0531Luna0531 Posts: 5Member
    This isn’t necessarily a case of my landlord not wanting to do more or spend money to make it right, , more likely the case of my landlord trusting what the “professionals” are saying and not digging deeper.. That said, the plumbers haven’t spent enough time in the house to listen to the system and hear what is going on. Next time I’m going to ask my landlord be here when a service professional is here and they can hear for themselves. I’m being treated as if I’m making all of this up and that the radioators are fine. Is there a way to upload videos on here? I’d like you guys to hear what my “perfectly normal” radiators sound like. Thanks again.

  • IronmanIronman Posts: 4,964Member

    I have a vague memory that @Ironman is over in the Shenandoah Valley -- but he might get that far.

    I'm near Staunton, which puts me over 3 hours away. That would mean at least a full day just to drive and diagnose what's wrong - more if repairs are needed.

    In addition to our regular service and repair calls, we've got three large rehab jobs going right now. Going to Hampton is too far at this time. Maybe in 6-8 weeks, before the hot weather hits.

    Bob Boan

    You can choose to do what you want, but you cannot choose the consequences.
  • Luna0531Luna0531 Posts: 5Member
    This is a video documenting what I've been dealing with the last month. I've asked the landlord to be present at the appointment monday with the plumbing company, I want him to understand what the radiators have been doing. If this video proves any insight into what's going on and anyone has suggestions, please let me know. Thanks!

  • Intplm.Intplm. Posts: 680Member
    That noise is typical of steam coming in contact with with condensation/water. Condensate is not draining properly from the radiators. When steam hits the condensation that noise that you have recorded is heard.
    Surely this is a result of the renovation done above you. The condensate that is in the remaining pipes that have not been removed has nowhere to go so it builds in the system causing the hammering.
    Try to remember this.......Steam is a gas that will always change to a liquid.
    That liquid needs to drain properly to the boiler.
  • Jamie HallJamie Hall Posts: 10,273Member
    Well that's pretty classic. Something isn't draining properly. It is at least as likely to be one of the pipes below the floor which has inadequate -- or more likely even reversed pitch -- than it is the radiator itself, although it would be worth checking to be sure that the radiator valve is fully open -- and that the disc on the valve is actually still attached to the stem.

    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England.

    Hoffman Equipped System (all original except boiler), Weil-Mclain 580, 2.75 gph Carlin, Vapourstat 0.5 -- 6.0 ounces per square inch
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