Old Building Hot Water Heat Noises
So, I just moved into a new apartment/condo and it is in this incredibly old building. I live on the ground level, and there is hot water heat via pipes in my ceiling. I understood that the building was old and there would be creaks and moans and whistling noises; however, my Landlords failed to tell me that the pipes in the bedroom make this incredibly loud tapping noise all day and all nite!
I am a heavy sleeper and can sleep through just about anything, but I wake up to this noise and It keeps me from falling asleep. It sounds as if someone is drumming their nails (very loudly) at various speeds in the wall. It's excessively loud.
I contacted my landlord. They said they didn't htink there was anything they could do to fix it, althought I doubt they checked into it. I contacted the building manager, she said I would just have to get used to it and get ear plugs. Is there anything that they can do to muffle this sound or get rid of it?
I know its cold outside and when the summer comes I probably won't have to deal with this noise, but it is so loud I end up sleeping in the living room most nights and barely getting any sleep. Not sure I can deal with that for a year - and also I feel like my landlord should have made me aware of the excessive noise before moving in.
Thanks for your help! Sorry for the long post!
Re: Old Building Hot Water Heat Noises
I have some questions first:
Are there radiators or baseboard elements on the floor in your apt. in addition to the pipes in the ceiling, or does your heat just include the pipes in the ceiling??
Is there a cellar or "crawl space" underneath the floor of your aptl, or is it a concrete slab????
Is your ceiling the kind that is built in sections that can be removed if repairs are necessary, or is it just solid plaster/sheetrock construction???
Do you have a lease, like a one year lease, or do you pay rent by the month, etc.???
Are you by chance a person over age 62, which would give you added legal status as a senior citizen to fight this???
The noises are being caused by an improperly installed hot water heat system where they didn't make allowance to hang the pipes properly---hot water expands the metal pipes and they then "creep" (expand) & rub against the metal pipe holders & wood beams in the ceiling & that's when you get the noise.
Repair would require opening up the ceiling & re-setting the pipe holders and installing them so they don't rub up against any wood beams.
Since your landlord has taken a "take it or leave it" attitude & doesn't seem to intend to do anything, you may have to take the risk of involving your town & their minimum housing laws in order to force the landlord to make the repair.
Another alternative is to contact a lawyer, who would talk to the landlord on your behalf to see if they could be moved to repair the problem.
In other words, you have to get someone on your side to fight this, instead of trying to fight the landlord (which has most legal rights on THEIR side)---sometimes the city or courts order that you pay your rent/lease money to a local city agency until the problem is repaired so the landlord has some motivation to make the repair.
Please post back.
Last edited by NashuaTech; 12-22-2009 at 12:42 PM.
Re: Old Building Hot Water Heat Noises
I don't have all of the answers to your questions just yet, since I have only lived there a few weeks, but when I get home tonight I will try to find out from the grounds keeper guy.
Are there radiators or baseboard elements on the floor in your apt. in addition to the pipes in the ceiling, or does your heat just include the pipes in the ceiling??There are only the pipes attached to the ceiling. Nothing else. Seems like the noise is coming from inside the wall where the pipe enteres the wall.
Is there a cellar or "crawl space" underneath the floor of your aptl, or is it a concrete slab???? Not absolutely sure, but I know there are stairs that go below my ground level apartment so there must be a cellar of some kind. I"ll look into this. I have carpet and hard wood not exactly sure what is under it, but I do believe there is a cellar of some kind.
Is your ceiling the kind that is built in sections that can be removed if repairs are necessary, or is it just solid plaster/sheetrock construction??? I know the living room has the sectioned ceiling, but can't picture the ceiling of the bedroom (probably because I haven't spent many nights in there due to the noise) I'll take a look this afternoon.
Do you have a lease, like a one year lease, or do you pay rent by the month, etc.??? I have a one year lease. I looked at hte landlord tenant code for my city and technically if the living conditions are not up to par I can leave in the first 30 days if they haven't made an effort to fix them all though I am sure that would mean i need to involve a lawyer or somethign else. I also have other problems wiht a sink that doesnt drain and a leak in the shower - all plumbing problems. The leak in the shower (constant stream of water) was supposed to be fixed prior to me moving in but wasn't - they have to turn the water off to the entire building to fix it because I do not have an individual shut off valve. I could potentially get lawyer on my side for that fix.
Are you by chance a person over age 62, which would give you added legal status as a senior citizen to fight this??? Not over 62 - only 26 - no senior citizen status for me.
I dont really want to leave- i just want them to fix the problems, and hope they don't recur. I really just want to sleep not on my couch. I wouldn't mind paying a 3rd party while they are getting their act together and fixing the problems. If I have to leave I will - I'd prefer to live somewhere where where the landlords are more willing to help out. Any chance you think this could be caused by air stuck in teh pipes?
Re: Old Building Hot Water Heat Noises
"Air stuck in the pipes"----that's what's confusing me.
It sounds like they've installed a retrofit ceiling radiant hot water heating system, with PEX plastic tubing, or possibly copper piping.
If air in the tubing/pipes is the main problem, the symptom for air in the pipes is more of a gurgling, sound, or like water rushing through a drainpipe (almost like a small waterfall)---the fix for air in the pipes is rather easy---the piping is "bled" of air by a heating technician at the boiler, which can be done in an hour.
On the other hand, groaning, banging, knocking, ticking, rapping noises are caused, as previously mentioned, by improperly installed pipes causing pipe/tubing expansion as the pipes heat up.
This type of piping is usually installed in 6' long aluminum metal reflective plates that have a groove insert for the tubing & can be a source of noise as the tubing heats up and expands along the plates---the noises are sometimes caused by the boiler water being heated to a too high temperature--this type of system needs hot water at approx. 120 degrees, other hot water heating systems (baseboard, radiators) use 180 degree hot water---if excessive water temps is the problem, this also can be easily fixed at the boiler by reducing the boiler water temp; this will allow the tubing/pipes to heat more gradually & reduce noise.
Try to find out if they've installed radiant, & perhaps talk to the building superintendant or owner to see if they've had a heating technician/service person check these things out & attempted a repair---it sounds like they haven't checked any of this out.
It's important to also note the drain problem and shower leak---these have much weight as code violations, where a "pipe noise" issue is sometimes more subjective (though it's clearly driving you nuts).
It would be wise to take photos of the drain problem & shower leak---they have low-cost cameras now for $2 with a flash at the bargain stores---fill the sink up & place a clock/watch in the picture & take before & after photos of how long it takes the drain to empty---a low-cost tape recorder could be used to document the noise level coming from the wall/ceiling.
Initial consultations with a lawyer are usually free (check the display ads in the Yellow Pages under "Lawyer" to find those who offer a free consultation)---the idea is not to actually SUE the property owner---but to get the lawyer to call the owner, or send a letter to the owner identifying the problem, asking when it will be fixed---this is usually enough to get things going---most people move fast when they get a call or letter from a lawyer.
Last edited by NashuaTech; 12-22-2009 at 04:59 PM.