I need an investigatory plumber for this one!

Discussion in 'Plumbers' Talk' started by Rache, Nov 19, 2016.

  1. Rache

    Rache Member

    I'm seriously at the end of my tether with this. I've been experiencing vibration of my floor in all rooms in my small first floor flat for the past year.

    I think the only way to solve it is to have the water heaters checked in the adjoining flats, the one below me, the one next door and the one below next door (this would seem an unlikely source apart from often when I'm woken in the early hours of the morning, the lights are on in this property as the person is going out to work early - this is also true though of the next door neighbour).

    I believe all the flats have unvented water heaters and no one has gas.

    I've looked at the pipes on the outside of the building which I believe are for overflow from an overheating water heater, and 3 leak water. Mine does (but a plumber has told me there is only a slight fault on my water heater which he will be fixing soon, in any case I'm keeping mine switched off and only using the immersion in the mornings so that I can rule it out), but we're talking a few drops. Downstairs leaks regularly every few seconds sometimes and three times this has been the case in the early hours when the vibration is at it's worst. The other leaking pipe is from the person downstairs from my side neighbour.

    A plumber visited recently for a chat and initial consideration of it all and he thinks it may be worth checking all water heaters and also he mentioned something about the cold water tank....he said this would be the only reason I may get vibration across my floor from the person underneath next door....if it is coming from there.

    Environmental health are saying they need to witness this before acting. I cannot understand why they can't just request to run some checks with my neighbours. They may not be able to insist, but what is wrong with making a request?

    I've requested it of my side neighbour but he didn't answer the question and I don't want to bother him too much as he happens to be a nice neighbour (also his pipe is the only one that's not leaking, but he has mentioned that he's had a valve replacement on his water heater and wonders if it will hold sometimes). My downstairs neighbour (the one directly underneath my flat) has agreed to run checks and so far nothing is causing it but her pipe is the one that's leaking regularly when the vibration occurs in the middle of the night. Should a plumber go in and check her water heater first do you think? She would be in agreement if it were felt important.

    I'm reluctant to harass my neighbours when I'm not clear where its coming from, I've already asked all of them and no one else is experiencing it.

    Please don't suggest I'm imagining it because I'm not, I have a witness to it (sorry for the defensiveness but I've been trying to solve this for a year and have had this suggested a couple of times and it's really not helpful)

    Thanks for your time I would really appreciate any thoughts on what it could be. I needed this solved a long time ago I'm beyond stressed now and would move tomorrow if I could.
  2. KIAB

    KIAB Super Member

    Water hammer most likely, can be cause by a worn stopcock, worn float valve in cistern or water tank, also main pressure change I think will cause it.
  3. Rache

    Rache Member

    thanks KIAB.....so, I'm not technical at all....are you saying it is unlikely to be the water heaters in the flats?

    Sorry to be a pain, but I've no idea what a stopcock is, although the plumber was searching around outside looking for something and mentioned a stopcock, he then looked at a drain (what looked like a drain to me) and said 'that hasn't been opened in a long time.'

    I've no idea what a float valve is or where a cistern is or water tank..........or what would cause main pressure change.

    Helpless female here, sorry......but want to learn because I must solve it and it seems down to me to do it.

    The plumber said he thinks that the management company for the flats should insist on running checks in all adjoining flats, but so far I get the impression they don't do anything at all.

    I really appreciate your response. Thanks. :)
  4. Hi Rache.

    Do you have the same system as the other flats? If so, can you describe it fully - or take a couple of photos (keep them below 2MP in size).

    You say your neighbs have "unvented water heaters", but your plumber also mentions a 'cold water tank'? Usually 'unvented' hot cylinders/heaters are fed directly from the cold mains water supply, so you wouldn't also have a cold water tank. Usually. but I guess not always.

    Most cameras do video recordings with sound too - any chance of trying to capture the noise and stick it on YouTube or summat so's we can have a listen? If you want to sing along, that's fine too...
  5. Rache

    Rache Member

    Thanks Devil's Advocate...what I know is that we all have unvented water heaters, none of the flats have gas. We don't necessarily have the same type of water heater as each flat has a different owner and will buy different ones. I have a Heatrae Sadia, as I say it's switched off all the time because I want to rule mine out as the cause.

    This morning, like every sunday, I was woken by vibration of my floor and sometimes like the feeling of a 'pendulum' vibration, under my bed. I went outside and checked all the pipes and the only pipe with a drip coming from it was from the flat directly beneath me. The pipe was cool, but not as cold as mine was next to it....don't know if that suggests anything.

    I don't know if the plumber mentioned a cold water 'tank' or not, or whether he was just referring to how the flats receive cold water, how it's fed up to the first floor flats. He was wondering about this in response to the possibility of the vibration coming from the person NOT directly below me, but below my next door neighbour, so the vibration would be travelling both up and then at a right angle to come across my floor.

    There's no sound I'm afraid, this is half the problem with environmental health. I can't record it. But last night a glass of liquid vibrated, so I will show them this.

    The only other tangible thing I have is that this happens more at weekends during the day when my two next door neighbours are in. It also happens during the night, usually after midnight until about 2am, or 3am, and again from 5 - 7am. I seem to get a bit of respite from it mid week, around a wednesday and thursday.....no idea why..

    I just wish I could dig up my floor and see what is running under it, I'm thinking it must be pipes....but just wondering first if we can think theoretically what might be happening. The building company for these flats still exists, but the plans would be archived as these flats are probably about 30 years old now.
    Deleted member 33931 likes this.
  6. Rache

    Rache Member

    Update: In the next three days someone from the water board will come out to check to outside stop cock.

    I think we can rule that out though because the vibration happens at certain times, like midnight until around 2-3am and between 5 - 7am and sometimes for 15 mins at 4pm in the afternoon. That suggests to me a heating timer or something...

    I think we can also rule out worn float valve in water tank - as there's unlikely to be a water tank here.

    So from what KIAB suggested there's two other possibilities. A worn float valve in a cistern and main pressure change...I will look those up now.
    Deleted member 33931 likes this.
  7. 2shortplanks

    2shortplanks Active Member

    I would talk to your neighbours and see if they've got something running on a timer at those times - got to be best to sort this out by talking to them before setting enviromental health on them. I wonder if it could be central heating pipes expanding/contracting and rubbing on something?
  8. Rache

    Rache Member

    Thanks, I should have said, I'm not complaining about the neighbours to environmental health. That's been made really clear to both EH and also my neighbours. I've spoken to them but none of them are aware of anything, no vibration, nothing. One neighbour mentioned that he's just had a valve replaced on his water heater and wonders about it sometimes as it's noisy, but doesn't think it's causing any vibration.

    I was kind of trying to pinpoint where it might be before going back to the neighbours, because they're not experiencing a problem (though it's happening regularly when two sets of neighbours are home)
  9. What a 'mare, Rache.

    One of these things that doesn't have an identifiable or obvious cause.

    The dripping overflow needs to be investigated, tho', as unvented (pressurised) hot cylinders like wot you have should not be leaking. If this happens when the immersion heaters are on, then it suggest that the expansion vessels in these cylinders are faulty. (These vessels have an air 'balloon' in them which becomes compressed when the water expands when heated. This 'absorbs' the increased pressure. As the tank is emptied or cools down, the water contracts and the air 'balloon' expands to fill the space again.)

    Are the flats rented or privately owned? If rented, they should be reported right away.
  10. Rache

    Rache Member

    Devil's Advocate, thanks for understanding. I reported the leaking pipe to the downstairs tenant who dutifully told her landlady. The landlady was very condescending when visiting me but has agreed that my landlady's plumber can take a look at her water heater. Should there be nothing wrong with it, I will have to pay the call out charge.
  11. Rache

    Rache Member

    I should say that doesn't matter, but it's a joke whatever is causing this because it's not my responsibility, lol
  12. Blimey!

    It is dripping - there is something wrong with it. End of.

    Let's see her try and bill you... :rolleyes:

    Is your flat owned by yourself, or - perish the thought - owned by the same landlady?

    Can you post a piccie (keep it below 2MP) of your Heatrae Sadia so that we know what sort of system you are referring to? (I know the other ones could well be different makes.)

    What provides your actual room heating?
  13. Rache

    Rache Member

    My phone is playing up and not sending images, it's the only camera I have, I'll try again tomorrow.

    The room heating is just storage heaters, which I rarely use anyway, they are electric and separate from the water heaters. That said, I have wondered if my side neighbour has a different heating system because the vibration often occurs when he's home.

    But having said that, I just got the nightly 'knock' sound from downstairs and immediately after the vibration occurred for 5 mins. It doesn't always happen when the knock sound happens, but tonight it did. The knock sound is always the same time, 8 mins past midnight, lol, I know because I'm online usually and thinking of going to bed and wondering at the time.

    Yes you're right, its definitely leaking, and it definitely shouldn't be, that's one thing....The flat I'm in is owned by a different landlady, she is very helpful but because she's been ill I did try to solve all this myself before telling her too much about it. I was told by a landlord friend that legally a noise issue is mine to deal with, not my landlady's...but they were referring to noise made from neighbours, but this isn't anyone doing anything antisocial, it's some sort of equipment or machinery, etc, not human behaviour.
  14. Rache

    Rache Member

    Sorry to post again but the vibration was just awful a little while ago at 00.50.

    So I went out. BOTH downstairs pipes are leaking, not the upstairs ones. The fastest and most obvious dripping is coming from the flat that is underneath my side neighbour. There is also a horrible raw meat smell around that pipe (it's in the corner of a communal garden behind a bush so not noticed before), I don't know if that's relevant and also around that pipe is a lot of hard crustiness, all others are smooth. If the vibration is coming from that flat then as I said at the beginning it would be travelling up the wall and then going at a right angle to go across my floor, as it's not directly underneath me.

    The other leaking pipe was from the flat directly beneath me, it was also dripping regularly but a bit slower than the other one.

    Just mentioning all this in case anyone has any thoughts. I'm curious all this can happen and not disturb the occupants of the flats concerned, but of course I'm assuming these leaking pipes are the cause of the vibration, they seem to coincide with it.
    Yam4 likes this.
  15. I suspect what's happening is that their immersion comes on during the night - at the same time - when they are on a cheaper leccy rate. As the water in the sealed (pressurised) cylinder heats up, it expands. This should be taken care of by an expansion vessel, either inside or outside that cylinder.

    For some reason - either the exp vessel is faulty or else the hot water is heating up TOO far - the safety valve opens and dumps that excess expanded water out that pipe. The 'clunk' could be that safety valve initially popping open (it needs a fair pressure before it does) and then the vibration is the safety valve shuddering open and closed as it passes water (ooh-er, missus).

    It shouldn't shudder like this, of course, but it's probably not unusual. However, even if it did shudder a wee bit, you are unlucky in that, for some reason, the sound is amplified and carried to where it affects you. You won the unlucky lottery there, I'm afraid... :(

    (Press you palm down hard and flat on the table in front of you. Now push it forwards slowly. It probably 'shudders' in steps rather than sliding smoothly? That's effectively what's happening here, except no palms and tables are involved...)

    That smell - no idea.

    Yes, this issue has nothing to do with your landlord. But it certainly DOES have to do with your neighb's ones.

    The 'crust' around the pipe end will be salts in your water evaporating out - are you in a hard water area?

    Ultimately, a sealed cylinder like this could explode with devastating consequences should the safety valve seize shut and the water continue to expand with nowhere to go :eek:. But, that is soooo extremely unlikely that its' very unlikely and so it therefore not very likely at all... :D

    (Just trying to focus your neighbour's minds...:rolleyes:)
  16. Rache

    Rache Member

    Thanks so much Devil's Advocate.

    I'm going to call my own landlady in a while because she said she would attempt to instruct the management company to do a check on all appliances, the plumber has also said that, due to safety reasons that you've mentioned yourself, the management company should, surely, insist on running checks.

    So, with leaking pipes, there IS a fault and therefore I shouldn't be paying call outs for plumbers for other landlords? But then should I be snooping around their pipes either? lol...

    I just hope this is the reason for the vibration, but I would imagine so. Thanks for your support, appreciated.
  17. Simple facts here - you all have sealed pressurised systems. These have built-in safety devices to prevent nasty things from happening - which are very rare, of course.

    Nevertheless, a dripping safety discharge pipe does indicate an 'issue', and these systems have the potential to go 'bang' :).

    No snooping required - you noticed this dripping and you happen to be informed enough to know what it could be. And you are not entirely comfortable living over a potential bomb :D.

    Call you fussy, eh?

    No way on this planet are you unjustified in bringing this to the attention of the other landlords. If you all had gas systems, the equivalent would be you reporting a smell of gas or similar.

    Sheeeesh - some bludy landlords, eh?!

    The noise you are hearing is incidental to this - I wouldn't even mention it. Just let them get on and repair the systems so's they no longer leak.

    Good chance a bonus will be an ending of the noise!

    Place your bets, folks... :rolleyes:
  18. Rache

    Rache Member

    LOL, thanks.... :-D I'll report back when I've had some results.
  19. Rache

    Rache Member

    I think the neighbour in question had a day off today, but was up at 6 (all lights were on) and my bed and floor was vibrating like crazy. Once a week it's worse than ever and always seems to appear to be her day off.

    So wondering if it's the washing machine going as well....but it won't be the main cause of the vibration because it happens too frequently and too long in duration.......but wondering if water pipes are implicated...

    The water board checked the outside stop cock for the flats, there are no faults there.

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