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Hammering noises, water shooting from vents, lowered temperature. Mngmt changes vents repeatedly

SandiT
SandiT Member Posts: 87
Had great heat when I moved into this building last year, suddenly problems with hammering and clanging noises began around the clock with water shooting everywhere on my new linoleum floors. Lowered temperature, I need to run portable heaters around the clock. I've lost a LOT of sleep because management's response to my every complaint about this is to just change the vents over and over again, they've changed them about 6 or 7 times in 11 months 3 times just this fall season alone, and the same problems return repeatedly. If there's something I could do on my own, I would do it myself. Does anyone have any suggestions of what I might be able to do or say to move this along? I need to sleep at some point. Thanks so much.
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Comments

  • SandiT
    SandiT Member Posts: 87
    Water is shooting out from the vents, and it is baseboard steam heat. Management said they can't bleed the radiators. They now said they are going to try a different kind of vent.
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 16,606
    It's not the vents. It's someone has really messed up the boiler and its controls... probably too high pressure and possibly too high water level. Possibly did some repiping -- wrong.

    Good luck. It may be very difficult to get your super or the management to believe they did something wrong, never mind get them to fix it. Anyone else having the problem?
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
    ethicalpaulSandiT
  • SandiT
    SandiT Member Posts: 87
    Hi, thank you so much for the insight! It's a complex of 3 buildings so unless several people have the same problem it's very difficult to get them to do anything. The super told me one other person in the building has a similar problem.

    Do you think I should pay an outside person to come check it out or would that be a waste of money?
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 16,606
    Paying an outside person to come and check it out, @SandiT , would certainly satisfy your (and out!) curiousity, but given the probable root causes of the problem he or she would have to be able to look over the boiler and piping -- which might not be possible -- and to actually fix anything would have to have approval of the management -- which seems, perhaps, to be unlikely.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
    SandiTethicalpaul
  • DanHolohan
    DanHolohan Member, Moderator, Administrator Posts: 15,379
    Makes me think of this tale:
    https://heatinghelp.com/dead-men-tales/the-model-k-mystery/
    Unless the majority of the tenants are miserable, nothing gets done. 
    Retired and loving it.
    SandiT
  • SandiT
    SandiT Member Posts: 87
    Wow, I know I got hosed buying this co-op. I guess it happens to us all at some point or in some way, this is just an incredibly bad time. May I ask what you think my best step going forward might be? So far, no matter what the problem is that I show them, all I get is a possible vent change. What would you do?
  • neilc
    neilc Member Posts: 1,347
    show this thread, and site, to your super,
    ask what the boiler is running at for pressure,
    ask to see the boiler and take pictures,
    discuss with your other neighbors experiencing issues
    SandiT
  • SandiT
    SandiT Member Posts: 87
    @DanHolohan great podcast!! thanks for sharing, am gonna subscribe to it now.
    Erin Holohan Haskell
  • DanHolohan
    DanHolohan Member, Moderator, Administrator Posts: 15,379
    Thanks, @SandiT. I hope it helps. 
    Retired and loving it.
    SandiT
  • SandiT
    SandiT Member Posts: 87
    @nelic thanks, OK I will send the thread, maybe it might be useful to them. Can you tell me what am I looking for to take pictures of? And the overwhelming vast majority of shareholders have 80-85+ degree heat in their apartments. Windows are open all over the complex all winter, when it's near 0 degrees outside, when it's snowing, windows open everywhere. I used to have 83 degrees, but it felt like 73 in a properly insulated house. The windows are very bad and not being changed until 2024 and with COVID who knows how long things will be delayed. But having higher heat used to compensate for the bad windows. Now they're telling me to put plastic insulation over them, at my expense.
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 16,606
    It's really so sad. We know -- and now you, @SandiT know -- that steam heating doesn't have to be the way you are finding it. But trying to get others to acknowledge that and actually do something about it seems to be so hard -- "everyone knows that it's no good! Noise! Vents dripping! Banging! Uneven heat!!" But everyone... is wrong.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
    SandiT
  • neilc
    neilc Member Posts: 1,347
    edited November 2020
    and now I'm seeing "3 Buildings",
    a facility that large I'll be surprised if they "show you around",
    I was thinking more large residential, not facility,
    a general picture or 2 of the entire boiler, and piping above, and another of the controls,
    So, is there a co op board?
    and noone else cares the windows are open?
    actually, if you got the super, and or co op board, to watch, and pay attention to, Dan's podcast , , ,
    what's that boiler pressure ?
    SandiTethicalpaul
  • SandiT
    SandiT Member Posts: 87
    yes @JamieHall I keep getting the run around and ultimately stonewalled. very corporate approach in that they don't take responsibility for anything and try to make you feel like you're an annoyance rather than a paying shareholder. It's been so awful.
  • SandiT
    SandiT Member Posts: 87
    Yes @nelic it's three 7 story buildings. They likely manage others as well. Big corporation type treatment towards plebs. Moving into a situation like this was a huge mistake if you get the wrong apartment.

    I've been trying to stay away from people as COVID numbers are rising so rapidly. They only benefit from this situation because it usually hurts the small guy.

    Yes, there is a co-op board, they tell me the new colder temperature is normal even though everyone else has 85+ degrees in their apartments, and there's nothing they can do. Very dismissive the whole time. The woman who lived here before me sold me the apartment without ever really moving in, now I know why. I got into a bidding war for this place to boot. The super keeps making remarks that I'm imagining the entire problem then walks it back and acknowledges that I've sent dozens of videos of a nightmarish trevi fountain from my vents.

    I will ask them what the pressure is and will report back.

    Thanks so much for your help with this. It feels so awful to be dealing with these people and to hear normal human responses.
  • SandiT
    SandiT Member Posts: 87
    I mean to say it's validating to hear normal responses from normal human beings. It's amazing that people on the internet care more than the people I pay monthly maintenance to. Thanks, again.
  • neilc
    neilc Member Posts: 1,347
    I'm surprised noone's asked,
    where are you?
    not that one of the guys here will come in like a hero,
    your's is a difficult situation,
    but where are you?
    if you ask about the boiler pressure,
    also ask if a boiler(s) in each building, or one plant / mini district
    SandiT
  • SandiT
    SandiT Member Posts: 87
    I'm in Westchester NY @nelic I'd LOVE to have normal humans come in here!! Well, the super did not respond well to me telling him I read this forum and spoke with you guys and he started laughing about what @JamieHall suggested about possible re- piping, and he went on to tell me a different version of the same basic idea, and added that the building is old and not built well and something could have "shifted", he admitted the pipes are in the wall so it would be a massive job to repair. He put in the new different vents a little while ago after the building's department got involved. If they don't work then it's the pipes and they will "call in the professionals". But yes @nelic there is a co-op board and they told me last winter that there was nothing they could do and basically no problem exists. I only got their attention this season because of videos of the water pouring out of the vents and the building's department asking them to repair it in a timely manner. The attitudes here are everyone is very "tough", I just don't have that disposition to deal with them. I did asked the super about the water pressure and he just talked around me and didn't answer it. I told him I would be very generous for Christmas if he fixes my heat so I don't need portable heaters and resolves the rest of it. So far the new vents are on, we'll see if the 14th vent change is the charm.
  • SandiT
    SandiT Member Posts: 87
    I will ask the manager if there is one plant or a mini district tomorrow. I have to play weird 'poker' with them, they don't like questions so I have to space it out and read their reactions ahhaa.
  • neilc
    neilc Member Posts: 1,347
    are they maintaining 68* for you?
    building dept may be your best friend.

    and oh yeah, super don't know , , ,
    SandiTethicalpaulMaxMercySuperTech
  • SandiT
    SandiT Member Posts: 87
    Yes, the thermometer reads 71*, but the windows are so bad that it feels like 62 so I have to run portable heaters 24/7 now. They told me to get plastic insulation over the windows at my cost. Building department is definitely the only thing they care about, it's definitely not me. If there wasn't the possibility of a violation they wouldn't care at all.
  • STEAM DOCTOR
    STEAM DOCTOR Member Posts: 1,360
    edited November 2020
    The pipes that @Jamie Hall was referring to, are pipes by the boiler. Not pipes in the wall. But who knows. You don't have to be a rocket scientist to realize that heating the great outdoors is not particularly cost effective.  
    SandiTethicalpaulSuperTech
  • SandiT
    SandiT Member Posts: 87
    Hahahha I only wish they could read what you said. The great outdoors gets better heat than I do!
  • SandiT
    SandiT Member Posts: 87
    I unfortunately may not have communicated that properly. :neutral:
  • STEAM DOCTOR
    STEAM DOCTOR Member Posts: 1,360
    As I am sure that you know, there are two distinctly different problems. One is a heating problem. The other is a management/people problem. Many of us here can help you with the former problem. Not so sure about the later. I never, ever go into co-ops. If you want to see a lack of cooperation,  co-ops are the place to go. 
    SandiT
  • neilc
    neilc Member Posts: 1,347
    SandiT said:

    Yes, the thermometer reads 71*, but the windows are so bad that it feels like 62 so I have to run portable heaters 24/7 now. They told me to get plastic insulation over the windows at my cost. Building department is definitely the only thing they care about, it's definitely not me. If there wasn't the possibility of a violation they wouldn't care at all.

    for what their worth, those plastic sheets that you tape up, then use a hair dryer on, don't cost all that much, and will do a pretty good job of stopping drafts, (assuming there's decent trim to tape them to)
    I like watching mine billow in and out with the outside wind gusts.
    STEAM DOCTORSandiTethicalpaul
  • Todd_33
    Todd_33 Member Posts: 55
    Spitting valves - I had that once at my building - water feeder was stuck - wouldn't stop feeding water so steam pipes filled with water -
    SandiT
  • SandiT
    SandiT Member Posts: 87
    edited December 2020
    Love the way you put that @STEAMDOCTOR this appears to be both a people/management problem, and also a solvable but much more complex issue. And wow what a mess of yes, uncooperative people, the board is just an arm for management. They work together, at least in this case they absolutely have protected management's interests. This was one of the biggest mistakes I've made, I planned on looking for a new place in March but then COVID hit. it's cost me so much time, energy, constant aggravation. It's impossible to function living here. I can't work. Can't get a good night's sleep. They've been stonewalling me since last December by coming and changing the vents over and over again. Which to me, says they knew it was the plumbing when I first complained last December. They didn't care if the apartment is cold, it's only because the problem progressed that they have to deal with it. Very corporate vibe too. Nothing is our responsibility we don't care unless we are forced to care, and it's only to avoid a violation not because it's wrong.
  • SandiT
    SandiT Member Posts: 87
    Well @nelic I have an insulation person coming next Saturday to plastic up the windows and put some kind of wood slat on the balcony door. He wants to charge me $300. which I know is too high. I just know I will screw up trying to do it myself. :neutral:
  • SandiT
    SandiT Member Posts: 87
    edited December 2020
    I'll run this by the super @Todd_33 thanks for mentioning it, the super said something about the water being pushed out when the air comes through. He said the flame was lowered and the pressure is good. I can't believe how hosed I got buying this place.
  • SandiT
    SandiT Member Posts: 87
    edited December 2020
    Hey guys, so the heat has not come on once since the superintendent changed the vents several hours ago to his new brand of vent. Turns out changing it for the 10th time wasn't the charm. It *is* 57 degrees outside, but it was warmer earlier in the day and the heat still made it's rounds however poor the heat coming out was, there was something happening. Any thoughts?
  • ethicalpaul
    ethicalpaul Member Posts: 3,089
    Define “the heat hasn’t come on”

    The vents don’t control the boiler. I wouldn’t rule out the super is reading this thread and punishing you.
    1 pipe Peerless 63-03L in Cedar Grove, NJ, coal > oil > NG
    SandiT
  • SandiT
    SandiT Member Posts: 87
    The radiator has been completely cold since he changed the vents at 4:45 pm. It's now 1:20 am.

    So the vents can't stop the heat from coming through the radiator?

    And trust me, I wouldn't be surprised if you're right about him punishing me. But all of these issues have happened so many times since last winter. I don't know how he'd get away with it.
  • STEAM DOCTOR
    STEAM DOCTOR Member Posts: 1,360
    Are the supply valves open. Maybe the super closed them to replace the vents. And don't listen to anything the super says. He is almost certainly an ignorant knucklehead. 
    SandiTSuperTech
  • SandiT
    SandiT Member Posts: 87
    I just checked one of them @STEAMDOCTOR and it's turned all the way to the left. Does that sound right?

    And I can't tell you how your words ring true, but he seems to have a extraordinary amount of power here which sounds crazy but this is a crazy co-op.
  • SandiT
    SandiT Member Posts: 87
    And @STEAMDOCTOR he's apparently known in this complex to be some kind of heating expert because he's from a part of the city where it's all steam heat in the buildings and he has decades of experience. The buildings in this part of the state are much less likely to have steam so his "expertise" is really over-valued.
  • SandiT
    SandiT Member Posts: 87
    edited December 2020
    AND thinking back, I remember one of the other maintenance guys told me last year something about how they got a new 'digital board'? He thought the problems might be linked to it bc they just got it shortly before my issues started with low heat. He said they couldn't turn it up higher anymore because it's now digital. I don't know if this makes any sense?
  • SandiT
    SandiT Member Posts: 87
    edited December 2020
    Forgive me taking a desperate shot in the dark here, but would anyone have an opinion about something like a nifty contraption called the Danfoss Single Pipe Steam Valve? Have you heard of this?

    My radiators are baseboard, but seems like it might solve the low temperature problem (or maybe I'm wrong) and control the water? I'm sure I'm wrong as wrong can be, but thought I'd give it a shot and see what you guys thought. My fantasy is to solve this issue on my own and not deal with the dreadful management or maintenance people anymore.


  • When the buildings were first built, the system would have been working properly, so part of the key is to find out what has changed over the years.
    The Danfoss valve can only reduce overheating, which is the opposite of your situation. The digital controls of which they speak are often sold as a cure-all bandaid for large unbalanced systems. Ironically, if the system is balanced, they can work well enough. There must be others who are suffering from this amongst your neighbors, and making contact with them is key to forcing some maintenance to be done.
    Baseboard radiators can be problematic in steam systems, and if out of level, can collect water to spray out the vent. A real steam expert would know what to do, in leveling them up.
    Maybe you need a legal expert to deal with this problem. Due to the malfunctioning steam system, you are now suffering discomfort, with subsequent health problems, and potential loss of Resale value of your coop unit.
    I would get an indoor/outdoor digital thermometer which can remember high and low temperatures, so you can say with authority, what the conditions are. Make a chart of how the temperature fluctuates, and see if the building department can help when the minimum temperatures regularly go below the 65 degree baseline.—NBC
    SandiT
  • ethicalpaul
    ethicalpaul Member Posts: 3,089
    SandiT said:

    The radiator has been completely cold since he changed the vents at 4:45 pm. It's now 1:20 am.

    So the vents can't stop the heat from coming through the radiator?

    OK very good, that's why I asked what "the heat hasn't come on" meant to you :)

    The vents can't prevent heat from getting to your radiators unless they have been maliciously modified but I doubt he did that. I was thinking maybe he had lowered the thermostat/firing time knowing that your apartment is the cold one.
    1 pipe Peerless 63-03L in Cedar Grove, NJ, coal > oil > NG
    SandiT
  • SandiT
    SandiT Member Posts: 87
    Thanks so much for the excellent input @nicholasbonham-carter I actually repeated what you said about the resale value of the apartment to the building's department guy. Not much he can do about that though, my loss.

    Again and again they tell me I am the only person with this problem in the entire complex. Apparently one other person in the building recently had a similar issue and this new vent helped resolve it. So far the vents seem to have stopped the water shooting out everywhere. The heat went on for the first time since yesterday at 6am this morning. It's still not very warm compared to what it used to be or what the other shareholders have, but it at least seems to be functioning ... sort of. Building manager emailed this morning: "The Boiler company has been dispatched and we are awaiting their ETA." Haven't gotten any update since this morning.

    I wish I could afford to hire a lawyer, but I live in an area where everyone and everything is beyond overpriced. And this management company is very careful, they know what their baseline obligations are to avoid a violation. They keep the temperature *just* over 68 which is apparently the regulation. But the windows need to be replaced, and they aren't doing that until 2024. But 71 degrees feels like 61 degrees in this apartment. They told me to insulate with plastic at my cost. :neutral: