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Banging and valve noises from NYC apartment

Hi all,

I live in a 5 story walkup building on the UWS. I'm on the 3rd floor. The first two floors are a retail store. Ever since the heat turned on, I've been getting the worst noises through the night. Here's what I can tell from doing a bit of reading:

-it's a single pipe steam system
-I've got two vertical riser pipes in my apartment. One in the bathroom, one in the bedroom. There are no radiators, just exposed pipes. There used to be radiators at one time, as there are T fittings at the bottom of these pipes, but they have been closed off.
-The pipes do not have any visible valves.

Approximately once an hour, when the heat cycles on, I get these symptoms:
1) loud cracking and banging from the bathroom riser. Lasts about 2 minutes. I think this is the new steam hitting the condensate somewhere in the system and slamming it into a joint.
2) followed by 5-10 minutes of a valve cycling noise in my bedroom riser. I had a look at some steam valve types, and I think it could be either an inverted bucket or a float type that I'm hearing somewhere in the system. It's constant clacking.

I've asked my landlord to address this, and he's told me that he has had plumbers out 3-4 times and has spent "over a $1000 dollars." The plumbers told him that this is normal functioning, and that it may improve when below freezing temps are sustained outside.

I can't imagine this is normal. I'm waking up every hour at night. Can't think about the next 4 months of this. I ordered some fiberglass pipe insulation to try and muffle the noise. Is there anything else that I can do? Someone I can point my landlord to, to fix this?



  • NYCTenant7NYCTenant7 Member Posts: 2
    edited December 2019
    Also, here are two videos of the noises and pipes:

    Bathroom pipe noises:
    Bedroom pipe noises:
  • ethicalpaulethicalpaul Member Posts: 1,618
    I think you've done a good job of troubleshooting given the very small amount of your system's information that is available to you.

    I agree with you that it's water/steam hammer. A lot of plumbers in NYC (and everywhere) think this is normal behavior.

    I'm not sure what you can do other than try to get your landlord to have @JohnNY come over and straighten out his system. He may be running a high pressure, he may have horrible near boiler piping, he may have sags in the mains collecting water, he may have uninsulated mains, or all of the above. But it's impossible for you to know from inside the apartment.

    I'm not sure if there is a way to legally withhold rent but I'm sympathetic. It doesn't how much money the landlord has spent if the thing is still making noise that wakes you up.

    As it gets colder, the system will remain on longer and that may make things better since the problem is seemingly exacerbated
    by cold water lying in the pipes collapsing steam.

    Is your place warm enough with no radiators? The problem with putting on insulation to reduce the noise is that it will also reduce the heat.
    1 pipe Utica 112 in Cedar Grove, NJ, coal > oil > NG
  • JohnNYJohnNY Member Posts: 2,445
    3-4 plumbers' trips totaling $1,000.
    Sounds like top-tier mechanical talent to me!
    For troubleshooting and private consulting services, find John "JohnNY" Cataneo here at :
    "72°F Mechanical, LLC"
    Or email John at [email protected]
    John is the Boilers and Hydronic Heating Systems Course Instructor at NYC's Mechanics Institute, a professional Master Plumber, licensed by The Department of Buildings of The City of New York, and works extensively in NYC while consulting for clients in and out of state.
    John also oversees mechanical installations and maintenance for metro-area clients with his family's company, Gateway Plumbing and Heating along with his brother/business partner.
  • SeanBeansSeanBeans Member Posts: 483
    Everyone in your building can hear that, not just you! I would gather everyone together and try to work as a team to get it fixed.
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