I need an investigatory plumber for this one!

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

  1. Devil's Advocate

    Devil's Advocate Well-Known Member

    If it's like a British missile, it'll miss you...

    There, I hope that helps :)
  2. Rache

    Rache Member

    While I'm British, I've no intention of defending any country's missile 'system' since in my book its human beings gone mad....but yes I hope it misses, lol.

    I decided not to come back to this thread on a regular basis because we had pretty much exhausted all ideas, but reading through tonight, first of all thanks to everyone....secondly, just posting an update so I can keep tabs on this issue as and when there's a 'change.' (might spark an idea, who knows).

    One of the three adjoining flats is currently empty, that is the one next door and down, the one I'd least expect to travel to me anyway.

    The vibration lessened over the summer, still happened but much reduced, to the point where I felt I could live with it.

    In the last two weeks, increased to every night again. The man next door was away for a few days when it increased.

    So that kind of leaves the people downstairs. They were away most of the summer, but have been around a lot more in the last two weeks, so my focus is the flat directly under me again.

    Yes I could move, and I am looking for a decent flat....

    Having read through all this again to try and see if any lightbulbs go on, the thing DIYmostthings said, about a circulating pump, is standing out to me. Assuming you can have this with unvented cylinders without additional heating/radiators....perhaps his suggestions are the way forward.

    I will speak to the landlord for downstairs this week and ask if they'd mind a plumber going into check, environmental health won't do it and I think between me and the landlord we'll just mess up. It kind of needs an independent person.

    Even if I move away I'm going to try and find out what the next tenant's experience is. I'll not keep posting, unless there's a new development.
  3. Rache

    Rache Member

    What I'm trying to say, is logic is telling me it's got to be a heating issue of some sort, as it was less over the summer......and previously I mentioned that over christmas when everyone was home, it was pretty much constant.

    And that evidence is pointing to the flat downstairs, because next door neighbour was away when it started it's increase recently and the other person (under him) has left and the property is vacant.
  4. Dr Bodgit

    Dr Bodgit Well-Known Member

    Sounds reasonable. If it's a pump it would be on for the heating (during the colder months) and occasionally for hot water.
  5. Rache

    Rache Member

    The only thing Dr Bodgit, and thanks for responding, is that these flats don't have central heating or gas....but I vaguely remember DIYmostthings saying something about a pump circulating water through the water heater and wonder if that alone is possible....
  6. Rache

    Rache Member

    My mum's house has a vibration, but we know her's is her gas heating and it's controllable and in an area that doesn't bother anyone.......but it feels the same as what I'm feeling in my home, only I don't have gas heating, only electric storage heaters (and those and my water heater is not switched on, I only use the immersion so that I can otherwise rule it out of the equation)

    That said, in the last two weeks my immersion has stopped working too....(but the night and afternoon economy heater still works, I just rarely use it, cold showers usually....though that will change)
  7. Rache

    Rache Member

    Sat at my mum's right now and the sound and vibration of her boiler is very similar to what I feel. She has radiators and it is gas. It says on a piece of paper that she has a BOSS condensate pump.

    I wonder is it possible that, while our flats don't have gas or radiators, there is still a pump working of some sort. In downstairs' water heater maybe...
  8. Devil's Advocate

    Devil's Advocate Well-Known Member

    Hi Rache.

    How bad are the vibes at your mum's compared to your own flat?

    And what does your mum think about her vibes?

    How many visitors to your own flat agree with you that there's an issue?

    (I need to ask - 'cos it could be that you are unusually sensitive to this kind of low frequency noise - in which case you may simply have to move... :()

    Your mum's pump is used to transfer the condensate from her boiler up to a drain, presumably because the boiler in her flat/house is positioned very low, like in a basement? Her pump should only fire up now and then, and for short periods of time.

    Although initially I couldn't imagine the same type of pump being used in an electrical system flat like yours, there is a possibility it's performing a similar task - pumping hot cylinder expansion leakage from a reservoir and sending it out to the discharge pipe that you mentioned sticks out the wall.

    And if the vibe coincides with this pipe discharging water, then that would make sense.

    So if you do get hold of a plumber or maintenance person for your block, you could ask if there's a discharge pump fitted anywhere.
  9. Rache

    Rache Member

    thanks Devils Advocate, I've only had one visitor in all this time, (well, at night, when it mainly happens) I tend to visit friends out of town. The one visitor did catch the vibration as it was a weekend/holiday or something like that and agreed it is real. I know that's not that objective, but I've never hallucinated anything else in my life, and don't have these issues anywhere else. To be honest, if it were my own sensitivity, I would prefer that, because then I could stop seeking out a solution.....but I know it's very, very evident, I just haven't had the visitors to confirm it. I understand it being asked though.

    My mum's vibes are less, both she and her sister and 2 friends have felt it and commented on it. The difference is it's not running under her bed, only the living area and only for short bursts.

    I used to stay regularly at a flat directly above the underground tube station in london and I'd regularly get the vibration of the trains. I was told this by my host, she was letting me know before I went to bed the first time, so that I knew what it was. It has never bothered me and I always sleep soundly there.

    Thanks for explaining my mum's system, it's not in a basement, but it is on the ground floor...

    I called out a plumber today just because the immersion has stopped working on my water heater and I wanted to be sure that hadn't caused the re-start of the vibration. He said it wouldn't. He checked the system and said he could find nothing wrong that would cause it. He also said if he had to guess which flat it might be coming from, he'd say the downstairs one, because their water heater is directly underneath, whereas next door's pipes would have to travel across their lounge before reaching my bedroom.

    He also said the problem is that unless the vibration is actually happening, it's going to be very difficult to isolate it. He could check their water heater downstairs for faults, but it might not reveal the problem.

    I'll mention it to the landlord for that flat and see what they think.

    Hopefully I'll just be moving soon, but I'll always be curious as to what it was if I don't find out. I've never had anything I couldn't solve, it's frustrating because I know that once it's found, it would be easily remedied, lol.

    I'll come back if anything tangible, just for your interest, as if I find out what it is I expect some of you might want to know.
  10. Devil's Advocate

    Devil's Advocate Well-Known Member

    I wasn't implying that you were perhaps 'over-sensitive' except in an actual physiological way - ie, you do detect sounds at such frequencies more than the average person.

    My wife hears whirrrs and hummms in the night air that I simply cannot. I think she's nuts, and she thinks I'm deaf...

    One of us is probably right. I said, ONE OF US IS... ohnevermind.

    Can't really help any more, I don't think, Rache. All I can say is 'good luck', and I hope it's either sorted or else you manage a move to a place you enjoy just as much.
  11. Rache

    Rache Member


    Thanks. I have a tendency to stay with problems until they're solved, (pedantic) but I won't post unless I have something tangible. Or just to say yippee I've moved and signing off. :)
  12. Devil's Advocate

    Devil's Advocate Well-Known Member

    I hope we hear from you with an answer to this mystery :)

    Good luck.
  13. diymostthings

    diymostthings Well-Known Member

    From Diymostthings -This is what I said:

    Time to think "out of the box". The precise timing of the start of vibrations is shouting "timer" at me - even if you lived above a tube line the train times are not that precise. So we have a timer switching something on at 8 minutes past midnight (which may have been required at 11:08 pm if, as is common in my experience the BST/GMT change was not made on the timer/programmer but they have just lived with the wrong switch-on time). The most likely timer in your flats is a heating one. Why would anyone want heating or hot water to come on precisely at that time? Perhaps it's an off peak meter and the heating timer/programmer is set to co-incide with the cheap rate cutting in- and at that time of night the system would probably be calling for heat, if not "allowed" on before OK so what could cause the vibrations if it is the heating? So my front runners and validating checks are as follows and need knocking on doors at possibly unearthly hours when the vibrations are in progress:

    1. Check the circulating pump in the offending flat by turning down the room thermostat set temperature until it stops the pump.If this doesn't stop the vibrations:
    2. Check the pressure relief valves on the boiler and or the cylinder of the offending flat to see if it/they is/are passing (the outside pipe will have water flowing out is this is the case.

    I fully appreciate that in practice this may not be possible for you to check, but desperate times need desperate measures..

    That's the best I can do.
    Rache likes this.
  14. Rache

    Rache Member

    Just want to log it somewhere. My MP will contact environmental health on my behalf tomorrow. The man I spoke to cannot understand why EH won't just have an informal chat with the neighbours (not accusing anyone).

    I am awake at nearly 1am as it is so strong tonight it's hurting my head on the pillow. It's hurting my head being in the room.

    Yet I can't bring myself to knock on the two neighbour's doors. One has to be up at about 5 for work.

    I've emailed the landlady for downstairs, no response.

    I can't believe no one else can feel this. No need reply, I just thought I'd log it here as at least I have it somewhere.
  15. Rache

    Rache Member

    Thanks diymostthings

    I have paid attention to what you've said, there are a few things that are hindering me taking action that's all. It doesn't always happen at the same time as the 'knock' sound, tonight for example it's an hour or more before that sound. It's also very strong tonight.

    I have emailed the landlord for the downstairs flat and have asked if, when their tenants move out (which looks imminent), they can switch off their water heater completely. Then that will be two of the three flats empty.

    That would only leave my neighbour next door, he has a dodgy valve on his water heater, but it's in the room furthest away from my flat. I would have thought the vibration would disturb him first and I don't understand how his pipes would run from his bedroom, across his living room and then into my flat (with no outlet for them at the front of my building). He's also been there ten years and I've been happy next door to him all that time. (Having said all this, and despite him being friendly, when I left a polite note in his door asking him to text me and let me know if he had any idea what might be causing a vibration, he completely ignored it and seems to avoid conversation now)

    There's no gas in the flats and no radiators. Whatever it is has to be to do with water heating. I know it's not a washing machine or any other appliance like that. And there's nothing else in these flats.

    It's died down in the last 5 mins and lo and behold, probably a coincidence, it's 1.07 and the knock sound just happened (but then sometimes the knock happens and then it begins, or nothing happens, so probably a coincidence).

    but that sound is predictable and precise...
  16. Devil's Advocate

    Devil's Advocate Well-Known Member

    That level of sound seems to be incredibly intrusive, Rache :eek:

    Have you ever had anyone stay over when it was as bad as that - I can't help thinking that if you had someone else to back up your claims it would really help.

    But it sounds hellish. Intolerable.
  17. Rache

    Rache Member

    Yep I realise that. I'm not really a crazy loner, I do have my mother and dog a short walk away but she's not got a car and wouldn't want to come out, it's the antisocial times thats the problem. My friends that always used to come and stay are all living out of town with busy lives and it's just not been possible.

    Then, the tiredness accumulates so much, you're too exhausted to plead with friends to come and stay because, partly, you don't feel up to it.

    One friend has suggested coming with his family to stay, 'for a holiday.' That did make me laugh. I told him it would be no holiday and he assured me they all sleep through anything. I assured him they wouldn't. lol
  18. Devil's Advocate

    Devil's Advocate Well-Known Member

    Invite them right away!

    That's what you need - someone to back you up. If it's a family - with mixed-age folk - then all the better.
    Rache likes this.
  19. Rache

    Rache Member

    I have told them they can come when it's convenient to them, they live miles away and have a lot on too...but if they decide to I won't stop them :)

    I'm curious what people would vote on when considering these facts....the flats don't have gas or radiators (only electric storage heaters), they have unvented water heaters, all flats adjoining me are currently empty apart from one.

    From what you know about how unvented water heaters behave and the other facts above, is it most likely coming from the occupied flat? At a guess? I just want to know how worthwhile it is to approach the person again, that's all. Or could the other water heaters still be doing their thing?

    (one other possibly useful fact, this doesn't happen during the day, only at 'bedtimes' and early mornings - too early for me, 4, 5, or 6. Also, soon both other flats will be permanently empty for a time, so there will only be this one other occupant adjoining me, so it will be interesting what happens then I suppose)
    Last edited: Sep 4, 2017
  20. Devil's Advocate

    Devil's Advocate Well-Known Member

    It's a mystery, Rache.

    I'm not that familiar with electric heating, but could see that such hot water storage would likely use Economy 7 (or whatever the modern equivalent is) for cheaper overnight leccy. That could explain the night-time noise.

    As to what's causing it, we have considered things like expansion valves being forced open or leaking, and you do say that some overflow pipes trickle out water?

    Hard to imagine these valve causing a prolonged hum, tho'.

    Then there's water storage - are these flats supplied from a roof-top (or loft) reservoir? Might the water need pump support to get it up there to refill it? Might this be happening at night?

    Finally there's in-flat booster pumps that come on when water is demanded, but why would these be running at night - you'd expect to hear them most at 'residential' times.

    So there are possibilities, but nothing that shouts 'likely'.

    You really do need that witness back-up, tho', or some other way of recording the noise. If others can say "This disturbed our sleep and was considerably intrusive", then that is an environmental health issue and the authorities should act on it.

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