Results 1 to 12 of 12
  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Location
    New York, NY
    Posts
    88

    Hydraulic Banging

    80 year old Manhattan apartment building (18 stories, 175 units) has a chronic problem with the steam pipes banging in the winter.

    Management has hired more than one ‘expert’ over the years to troubleshoot the problem with disappointing results.

    After about 2 or 3 weeks into the cold season the pipes start to bag when the heat comes up. It gets progressively worse all winter and at times you can actually hear water rushing through the steam pipes just before they get hot. The staff have made numerous modifications to the radiator pipes, paying close attention to such things as the aspect of the return lines, but it seems to help very little.

    Q: If I could convince management to take another go and fixing this, what discipline and approach would have the highest likelihood of success? Simply put; who do we hire and how do we insure we’ve got the right person?

    Thanks,

    A_C

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2010
    Location
    Morgan Hill Ca.
    Posts
    1,219
    Quote Originally Posted by Agent_C View Post
    80 year old Manhattan apartment building (18 stories, 175 units) has a chronic problem with the steam pipes banging in the winter.

    Management has hired more than one ‘expert’ over the years to troubleshoot the problem with disappointing results.

    After about 2 or 3 weeks into the cold season the pipes start to bag when the heat comes up. It gets progressively worse all winter and at times you can actually hear water rushing through the steam pipes just before they get hot. The staff have made numerous modifications to the radiator pipes, paying close attention to such things as the aspect of the return lines, but it seems to help very little.

    Q: If I could convince management to take another go and fixing this, what discipline and approach would have the highest likelihood of success? Simply put; who do we hire and how do we insure we’ve got the right person?

    Thanks,

    A_C

    More than likely a plugged/stuck trap somewhere obscure, could also be the way the pipes are suspended (expansion/contraction) the easiest way to find this out is to see if it bangs during cool down...

    This will not be an easy fix IMHO.

    It is a matter of getting the right "tech.", not necessarily the right company. Look for an old dude...

    GT
    If a day goes by and you have learned nothing, I hope you got a lot of sleep.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Sep 2010
    Location
    Madison WI
    Posts
    77
    You should have the supply piping checked it should pitch back to tne boiler and if steam traps are on the system they should be inspected also . Water hammer is caused by water in the piping not returned to the boiler and then hit by hot steam when the heat comes on.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2001
    Location
    Canada
    Posts
    1,808
    Be sure it isw WATER HAMMER and not just pipes CLANKING.

    Had a seniors home with the PIPE SYMPHONY , turned out it was a section of uninsulated piping that expanded and contracted with the heating cycle and cound was amplified with a few old metal pipe hangers in the pipe chase.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Location
    CHICAGO
    Posts
    51
    If i was looking at the problem i would make sure all your steam traps are working correctly.take a t.d reading in and out of the trap it should be around 10 degrees difference.Also if the system has condensate pumps make sure there working correctly. and 1 more thing if this a vacum system make sure your pumps are working. hope it helps

    mikev

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Location
    central illinois
    Posts
    532
    if trap is bad someone will be out of heat sooner or later may want to look for loose piping in the chase. skimming the boiler may help
    work to live not live to work.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Location
    New York, NY
    Posts
    88
    Quote Originally Posted by Agent_C View Post
    80 year old Manhattan apartment building (18 stories, 175 units) has a chronic problem with the steam pipes banging in the winter.

    Management has hired more than one ‘expert’ over the years to troubleshoot the problem with disappointing results.

    After about 2 or 3 weeks into the cold season the pipes start to bag when the heat comes up. It gets progressively worse all winter and at times you can actually hear water rushing through the steam pipes just before they get hot. The staff have made numerous modifications to the radiator pipes, paying close attention to such things as the aspect of the return lines, but it seems to help very little.

    Q: If I could convince management to take another go and fixing this, what discipline and approach would have the highest likelihood of success? Simply put; who do we hire and how do we insure we’ve got the right person?
    Thanks for all the replies, but let me ask something… I grew up in a house with steam heat (coal fired boiler converted to oil before I was born) and every time the radiators started to make noise, my dad would go down to the basement with a bucket and ‘drain the return lines’.

    It worked; and he had to do it every 2 or 3 weeks during the winter.

    Couldn’t the engineers do something similar in my current situation?

    A_C

  8. #8
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Location
    Central Pennsylvania
    Posts
    440
    Quote Originally Posted by Agent_C View Post
    80 year old Manhattan apartment building (18 stories, 175 units) has a chronic problem with the steam pipes banging in the winter.

    Management has hired more than one ‘expert’ over the years to troubleshoot the problem with disappointing results.

    After about 2 or 3 weeks into the cold season the pipes start to bag when the heat comes up. It gets progressively worse all winter and at times you can actually hear water rushing through the steam pipes just before they get hot. The staff have made numerous modifications to the radiator pipes, paying close attention to such things as the aspect of the return lines, but it seems to help very little.

    Q: If I could convince management to take another go and fixing this, what discipline and approach would have the highest likelihood of success? Simply put; who do we hire and how do we insure we’ve got the right person?

    Thanks,

    A_C
    Just wandering, is this building city steam or does it have it's own boiler?

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Location
    New York, NY
    Posts
    88
    Quote Originally Posted by chillerguy81 View Post
    Just wandering, is this building city steam or does it have it's own boiler?
    Own boiler.

    A_C

  10. #10
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Location
    Central Pennsylvania
    Posts
    440
    Tell us more about how the steam is being controlled. Is the boiler maintaining pressure 24/7 during the heating season and each apartment has it's own zone valves? I'm sure a building that size would be a two pipe system right, not one pipe? Where are you hearing the water hammer, is it isolated to certain areas of the building or all over?

    I don't see many (or really any) high rise apartment buildings around these parts but do see a good bit of steam, so I'll try and add my two cents if I think of anything that may help. This one may be hard to troubleshoot offsite.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Location
    New York, NY
    Posts
    88
    Quote Originally Posted by chillerguy81 View Post
    Tell us more about how the steam is being controlled. Is the boiler maintaining pressure 24/7 during the heating season and each apartment has it's own zone valves? I'm sure a building that size would be a two pipe system right, not one pipe? Where are you hearing the water hammer, is it isolated to certain areas of the building or all over?

    I don't see many (or really any) high rise apartment buildings around these parts but do see a good bit of steam, so I'll try and add my two cents if I think of anything that may help. This one may be hard to troubleshoot offsite.
    Definitely not constant pressure 24/7. The heat comes up from the basement as needed.

    2 pipe system.

    Hard to say exactly where, but many, many tenants complain of radiator noise.

    Some things I've noticed;

    • Much more prevalent when the psi is low.
    • Never on cool down.
    • Keeping the radiator valve opened wide reduces the noise.

    A_C

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Location
    Cincinnati, Ohio
    Posts
    2,176
    Quote Originally Posted by Agent_C View Post
    ‘drain the return lines’.
    It worked; and he had to do it every 2 or 3 weeks during the winter.
    That's normally called ''blowdown''

    With regard to your present problem, I'd be looking really hard at the steam traps.

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •  
Comfortech Show Promo Image

Related Forums

Plumbing Talks | Contractor Magazine
Forums | Electrical Construction & Maintenance (EC&M) Magazine
Comfortech365 Virtual Event