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Help with apartment steam system.

skialta Member Posts: 2
Long time lurker on this great discussion board. Since we moved into our apartment (100+ year old building in the NE) the steam heating system has been different shades of annoying. We have two radiators, on in the living room and one in the bedroom; both have variable valves (spinning white numbered wheels at the bottom).

However, some work was done on the system a bit over a week ago and to our amazement, it got worse. This was done to some of the piping in the building, but not our units. The super has come by three times for this issue, but basically just tells us "keep your vents and valve all the way open", and has done a 'shake test' that the vents are 'fine'. He has said he will replace the basement radiator, but we have no timeline on that. I have checked that the radiators are pitched towards the pipe (and it's definitely not a shallow pitch). But I am kind of at my wits end for things to do to mitigate this and am getting no help (as 'the heat still works').

Here is a video of the living room unit.

I managed to catch this after it has made a lot of pushing air noise out the vent for multiple minutes, then the banging starts. The bedroom unit can be heard in the background as well (it's a bit deeper), but for all practical purposes makes similar noises.

Should I keep the vents more closed? Should I try to pitch it more? Less? Any and all help would be greatly appreciated. I can try to take more videos if that is helpful.


    STEAM DOCTOR Member Posts: 1,485
    The cause of the problem is almost certainly not in your apartment. Your radiators are connected to pipes, which are connected to other pipes, which are connected to boiler. Any number of problems could cause those noises.
  • retiredguy
    retiredguy Member Posts: 607
    Please post a picture or 2 of the radiators and the piping connections. Is there a pipe connected to both sides of the radiator or just one side?
  • KC_Jones
    KC_Jones Member Posts: 5,082
    Is the one radiator being replaced due to this noise? If so, don't it's a waste of someones money. A radiator is a hollow vessel, not unlike a pot on your stove. If the stove has problems would one buy new pots? No one would not.

    Agreed with the above, the problem sounds like it's in the pipes. If the system was recently worked on and it's worse, most likely the building has someone working on it that doesn't know steam. Slope needs to be right or you get the hammer.

    May need to trace out the piping and get pictures which will allow us to give you some insight. Do you have much access to see anything?
    2014 Weil Mclain EG-40
    EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Boiler Control
    Boiler pictures updated 2/21/15
  • ethicalpaul
    ethicalpaul Member Posts: 3,739
    > I managed to catch this after it has made a lot of pushing air noise out the vent for multiple minutes, then the banging starts.

    By you saying this, do you mean that in the past, there WAS NOT the same amount of "pushing air noise"?

    Maybe they capped off the main vent. Or maybe they did 100 other crazy things in the basement, you'll never know. The only certain way to deal with this is for your landlord to hire a real steam pro to have a look at it. I wish you luck!
    1 pipe Peerless 63-03L in Cedar Grove, NJ, coal > oil > NG
  • Grallert
    Grallert Member Posts: 531
    All of the above. Boy I'd love to see what's going on in the cellar. That's where the issue is.
  • skialta
    skialta Member Posts: 2
    Thank you everyone for all of the responses. I'm happy to hear that I am not crazy, and pretty much expected that the ability to solve this is out of my control as most have suggested. I have contacted the property management as well as the superintendent many times, but at this point it's clear my best recourse is to just move. What I am amazed by is that the people who came two weeks ago and did work on the buildings heating system were 'Plumbing and Heating' professionals (at least according to their van).

    But just to follow up on some of the questions (in particular retiredguy's request), I've made another video showing both radiators, as well as the pipes I have exposed.

    If anyone has any other suggestions for how to help, even minor suggestions, I am all ears as I am at the point where I don't think the building owners will do anything.

    By you saying this, do you mean that in the past, there WAS NOT the same amount of "pushing air noise"?

    No, it always makes a 'pushing air noise', only that the video was once the valve had shut itself. I know that keeping the valve open is generally recommended, so just wanted to say that I am following that.

    Thanks again all!!
  • retiredguy
    retiredguy Member Posts: 607
    The noise that you have can not be fixed by you and there is nothing you can do about it. The problem is in the boiler and it's piping.
  • dopey27177
    dopey27177 Member Posts: 873
    Sounds like something occurring at the base of the riser.
    Need to see pictures of that location.

    Because a truck has plumbing and heating on it does not mean the technicians can work on steam.