When we moved in to this house, it was still summer. It was September, and it was hot, and we kept the windows open. We used the portable AC in our bedroom at night. Any noise from the AC or the fans we have was constant – white noise that masked traffic sounds and helped us sleep.
Then it got cold. We turned on the heat. The noise began.
That’s steam hammer. We have steam heat, generated by a boiler in the basement, with radiators in every room. That banging starts in the basement and echoes (loudly) through all four floors of the house every time the heat kicks on. On top of that, high-pressure steam hisses out of each radiator’s vent periodically, also loudly. Like, the hissing wakes us up at night. We’ve taken to dropping the heat lower than we normally would at night so it won’t kick on and we don’t get scared out of bed thinking someone is coming after us with a pipewrench.
At first, we thought the banging and hissing might be happening because it was the first time the heat was running since last winter. Maybe it would work itself out after a few days of keeping the heat on. Maybe the water that is doing the actual banging would drain out on its own. It didn’t. The heat would kick on, the banging would start, and the people in my office, who could hear it clear as day on the other end of the conference line, wanted to know why I was working from a construction site.
We emailed our landlord on the 1st of November, and after 6, maybe 7, visits to the house by people with escalating levels of expertise, we THINK the problem has been resolved. As of TODAY, the 30th of November. Today, after several visits from the handyman and two different plumbers, they sent out an actual steam heating expert, who diagnosed the problem as bad return piping (which is what John diagnosed the problem to be a month ago after doing lots of internetting) and immediately fixed it. And the crazy hissing? It’s because all the high-pressure steam was only going to half the radiators, so they were getting twice the expected pressure and were attempting not to explode. Since he fixed the piping, about 3 hours ago, we haven’t heard any banging. Fingers crossed we can have quiet heat the rest of the winter.
It took a month to resolve, but ZERO DOLLARS from us. Renting isn’t perfect, but this is a big perk.