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Steam Heating Banging loudly - in 1900's apartment building

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chrissnr
chrissnr Member Posts: 9
edited December 2021 in Strictly Steam
I live on the top floor of a 4 story apartment building from the early 1900's. The building is heated by a steam system. I had been living here for about 6 years without any issue at all. Nothing out of the ordinary for steam rads.

However, ever since the apartment below me was fully renovated/modernized, the pipes in the walls leading to the radiators have started to bang loudly. This happens every 30-40 minutes for about 30 seconds; obnoxiously loud pipe banging, like someone hitting the pipes with a hammer. It sounds like its coming from the pipes in the wall close to the floor. There are radiators on either side of this wall - one side is kitchen, other side is living room.

My landlord insisted it was one of the radiators, removed the radiator completely - I no longer have a radiator in my living room - the pipe has been capped. The sound is still there, same volume/frequency.

This seems to be affecting the 4 units on this vertical line - No other units in the building have this issue.

I think that it's to do with the modernization of the unit below me - as upon completion of the renovation - the sound started. The unit below me has new radiators that are smaller, wall hanging units.

I've been inside the unit below me and noticed that the sound is coming from his ceiling. So its has something to do with the piping between his ceiling and my floor.

The most recent reason I was given was this:

"The system and pipes are old and may be some potential rust build-up inside the piping that could block the steam trap at the bottom of that riser which we cleaned in May, 2021 (end of season) and replaced the bottom steam trap in the unit on the first floor.
Another potential factor which may contribute to the noise in your unit could be from the accumulation of condensed water when the steam gets trapped inside the branch piping of the living room radiator which we capped "


So I ask:

1. Is it normal to have this banging happen for 30-40 seconds upwards of 50 times a day from September - June?
2. Any idea what could be causing the problem?
3. Any ideas as to how I may dampen the sound?

Any advice or thoughts would be so appreciated.

I have a hearing with the Landlord tenant board and I need to prove my case..


Thank you

**My landlord is a multibillion dollar property corporation, known for renovating old buildings and doing anything they can to get old tenants out so they can reno and charge more.**

Comments

  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 23,305
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    First place, small wall hanging radiators are not particularly good with steam heat.

    But to answer your questions -- 1. No. A properly piped and maintained steam heating system will be silent, or very nearly so. 2. It is most likely to be water trapped in one or more near horizontal pipes in the ceiling above the renovated units. It doesn't take much to disturb the pitch of those pipes, and it doesn't take much pitch error to cause a remarkable banging. 3. Fis the pitch problem so that the condensate can drain as it should.

    The most recent commentary you quoted above indicates that the speaker has little or no knowledge of steam heating, and shouldn't be trying to do the job.

    Removing your living room radiator was a waste of time and had nothing to do with the problem.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
    chrissnr
  • DanHolohan
    DanHolohan Member, Moderator, Administrator Posts: 16,526
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    Would your neighbor allow you to take photos of how the pipes in his apartment were altered. That might tell us where the problem is. 

    Are you in NYC?
    Retired and loving it.
    chrissnr
  • EBEBRATT-Ed
    EBEBRATT-Ed Member Posts: 15,527
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    You need a good steam guy to go through the place. The noise started after the renovation. Stand your ground. Its not deteriorated pipes, they screwed up and probably used a contractor with little steam experience.

    I don't see much chance of getting this resolved unless all tennents join together.

    If your in NY City the guy you need is @JohnNY
    chrissnr
  • dopey27177
    dopey27177 Member Posts: 887
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    When I was doing consulting work in Manhattan 25 years ago I was hired by condo associations where the buildings were original loft buildings and turned into very large apartments. The average size apartment was 2200 square feet.

    Te problems were caused by the contractors upgrading the steam systems to supply heat where none was needed before.

    How does this fit the discussion, The apartments were 100 feet long and 22 feet wide. The original radiators were 2 pipe convectors no steam traps with vent valves on each convector set. The convectors were located in the front and rear of the apartments on the large window walls.

    The problems occurred when partitions were installed to make rooms in the loft space.
    Since heat could not be supplied to the new added rooms unit heaters were installed with ductwork to send the heat into the rooms.

    New risers were installed supply heat to the unit heaters and returns were installed to send the condensate back to the boiler. A typical two pipe system where 5 psig was needed for the unit heaters. The originl heating elements were two pipe steam no steam traps and each unit had vent valves, clearly a system that was governed by the rules of 1 pipe steam.

    In some apartments the pipe was removed and replaced with cast iron base board convectors.
    Between no heat complaints and banging that could raise the dead the ownersh ad to shut down the valves to most of the radiators and use electric base board and electric radiators to try and heat the their apartments.

    There were multiple G.C.s in the apartments but when they were taken into court and had to employ proper steam heating contractors all the problems went away.

    It 5 years of EBTs court appearances before the condos had heat,

    Jake


    chrissnr
  • jumper
    jumper Member Posts: 2,256
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    >>5 years of EBTs court appearances before the condos had heat,<<

    Lesson is to own condo only if you winter elsewhere?
    chrissnr
  • chrissnr
    chrissnr Member Posts: 9
    edited December 2021
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    Thank you all for your help.

    Unfortunately all the pipes have been covered with new walls/ceilings - so viewing them isn't an easy task.

    I am actually in Toronto, Canada.
  • STEAM DOCTOR
    STEAM DOCTOR Member Posts: 1,973
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    Of course it has to do with the renovation. They probably moved some pipes around and messed things up. I get these calls all the time. "We had a contractor do some work" and I know that the next words will be "there are radiators banging and spitting, that never did before".
    ethicalpaul
  • chrissnr
    chrissnr Member Posts: 9
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    Here is a video of what I'm talking about. this was taken yesterday.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RALlWvH9qOc
  • DanHolohan
    DanHolohan Member, Moderator, Administrator Posts: 16,526
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    That sounds like a pipe expanding against a too-tight anchor. 
    Retired and loving it.
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 23,305
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    That sounds like a pipe expanding against a too-tight anchor. 

    Agreed. Not water hammer at all -- that's an expansion noise, about as typical as I've heard recently. Now that is not to say that the recent work didn't have something to do with it -- quite possible. But it's not a water hammer.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
  • chrissnr
    chrissnr Member Posts: 9
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    We're Getting somewhere
  • DanHolohan
    DanHolohan Member, Moderator, Administrator Posts: 16,526
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    Is that the only noise?
    Retired and loving it.
  • chrissnr
    chrissnr Member Posts: 9
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    Here is the radiator on the other side of the wall ( now removed)
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c0XxSQawunM
  • chrissnr
    chrissnr Member Posts: 9
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    and this is also from yesterday - clicking that immediately followed the first video I posted.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mChXpMmBth4

    Thanks again for all your advice. You guys are awesome.
  • DanHolohan
    DanHolohan Member, Moderator, Administrator Posts: 16,526
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    The noise from the now-gone radiator is water hammer. 

    The other video is too quiet for my old ears, even with my hearing aids cranked up. 
    Retired and loving it.
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 23,305
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    Actually I hear both in that now-gone one. Some water hammer -- particularly the "clunk" type sound. But the "tink" type sound I think is expansion
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
    chrissnr