Forum Title: Steam Heat Radiator Feeder Pipe Pitch-Angle & Pipe Hammering Question
I live on the 4th floor of a 6 story apartment circa 1930 with steam heating. Recently in response to a defectively repaired and intermittent ceiling leak, I had a section cut away in order to inspect the pipes and address water damage to the ceiling. The plumbing repair ultimately consisted of replacing the on/off valve on the radiator in the apartment above. While the defective on/off valve was being replaced I shouted up to make sure the plumber checked that the radiator was correctly … the plumber acknowledged and claimed it was. Unfortunately, following the repair I started hearing clicking, clacking, ticking noises coming from that upstairs radiator and/or it's pipes along with a mellower sound like water gurgling or churning. We'd already been having some heating system noise issues, very loud deep hammering which seemed to originate on lower levels of the building but due to its force could be hear loudly in my apartment. However this new noise is right in my bedroom and interferes with sleeping. I'm a long-term renter and the owner, being cheap, doesn't like to use licensed plumbers due to the expense even though NYC law demands it, and such was the case the the valve replacement described above. After my complaint, the owner has tried to eliminate the noise from the radiator above but without success. As a matter of policy and deeply ingrained moral defects, the owner and all his agents always attempt to systematically lie, invent stories, and pull the wool over eyes … instead of doing correct and competent repairs. So discussing what the solution is with them or their their plumbers is not an option. That's why I'm asking here. My immediate question regards correct angle of the branch pipe feeding the radiator. On a hunch I bought a short torpedo level and checked the pipe directly feeding the radiator to see how it was pitched: it's neither level nor pitched angling down and away from the radiator, that is to say it’s not angled down towards the next section of branch pipe and heat/steam riser. It's pitched angled towards the radiator. In other words, if water is accumulating in the radiator (due to defective steam balancing and draining issues which this heating system has in spades) it appears to me that the water will become trapped in the pipe due to it angling down towards the radiator ... instead of allowing water to flow down to the next section of pipe (which is on the same plane and at a 90 degree angle), and from there down into the heat riser pipe. Can some one verify how this pipe should be pitched? I want to be able to respond with factual info to any stories or excuses the building manager and plumber give me. I've included three photos which show the view inside the ceiling. In the top photo at the left is the elbow which connects to a short section of pipe (is that called a nipple?) which goes through the flooring and connects to the on/off valve of the radiator above. The horizontal pipe that passes through the two floor joists is the pipe I measured with a level: it angles down a few degrees towards the left. The right end of that pipe connects with another elbow and maybe another 5 feet of horizontal pipe where it then connects to the steam heat riser pipe. Middle two pics again show the pipe, at the left the elbow and vertical pipe which pass through the floor to the radiator valve, and the horizontal pipe passing between the joists. It seems to me that this pipe should be pitched down in the other direction, towards the steam riser and not towards the radiator. Am I correct? Might this play a role in water accumulating in the pipe/radiator click/clack noise I'm hearing? One last thing. One of the joists has become split where the pipe passes through it … I can only see about 5 feet of this joist before it’s concealed by insulation on both sides, but the split spans that entire visible length (so no telling how long the split is). The joist is also cupped a little. In the last pic you can see the split (the split is on the backside of the right-most joist shown in the third photo). Btw, this joist (about 16’ long?) and 6 or 7 others adjacent to it were entirely replaced just 5 years ago. At that time the heating system had to be redone.
Category: Plumber Post By: JANICE BAILEY (Allentown, PA), 04/01/2016

, Is the system steam, or hydronic ? if it is steam, yes it does make a difference in the pitch of the pipe. if it is hydronic it does not a steam pipe needs to have a slight rise to it, because the steam travels along the upper half of the pipe and the condensate runs on the bottom, if the pipe has a section that is pitched the wrong way, the condensate will pool up and th steam will bubble thru. causing ticks, groans, bangs, and shrieks also, if a steam pipe is in a bind, [to tight] thru the holes in the structure it will make a racket also. the pipe expands and contracts as it heats and cools

- MARGIE RAMSEY (Dover, DE), 09/18/2017

Thanks for the answer and sweet clarification frodo!

- ANNE MYERS (Tamarac, FL), 10/07/2017

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