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Our bedroom is right above where the furnace is in our rented apartment. The furnace below makes a lot of noise, especially a rattling noise. Landlord is refusing to take any actions on it saying it is normal so I am trying to find some practical solutions.

This is what the device looks like: (it may not be a furnace, I do not know..)

enter image description here

Yesterday when it was working I again woke up due to noise and went downstairs and did a video recording. As seen if I push it with a stick, the rattling noise goes away (not always, but it does if I push hard enough): https://streamable.com/9uiyhd

Are there any practical solutions I can apply to reduce this noise? I am willing to pay a few hundred dollars if needed myself..

Can you be as specific as you can for the tools I can use, I have zero experience in home improvement / maintenance. I am thinking about putting rocks on it (I do not know how yet), would that help?

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  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. – Michael Karas Jun 19 at 2:03
  • In one of the deleted comments, OP said this is a hot water radiator boiler. What then is the device that is causing vibrations? I had assumed it was the HVAC blower, but if there isn't one ... what are we dealing with? – jay613 Jun 21 at 14:00
  • @jay613 I did not delete any of my comments. To my best knowledge it is a hot water radiator boiler, when the radiators in our apartment are warm I hear this thing working. There are also hot water tanks in the basement, which I think provide the hot water running in bathroom and sinks. This happens a lot in winters and in summer time only when we have cold nights, as we had recently when I asked the question. – Koray Tugay Jun 21 at 14:13
  • One of the moderators deleted a lot of off-topic comments, but swept up yours with it. I was just wondering what is generating all the vibration if you have a hot water, not air, system. I watched your video again, I think you have a power assisted flue. The fan is visible at 0:23. I don't think that changes anything, ie if you can stop it with a stick you can stop it with something more permanent, but it is of interest to know what is causing the noise and vibrations. – jay613 Jun 21 at 15:16
  • @jay613 I do not want to give false information, but as far as I can tell this is only for radiators and not for hot water. And we do not have AC in the building. The pipe seen in that rattling part, that is going outside is blowing hot air I think, it is blowing steam outside. There is some sort of a motor at the very end of that pipe, where I show it in the middle of the video, at the far end. It is blowing steam outside. – Koray Tugay Jun 21 at 15:21
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A metal C-clamp might be safer. The wide metal cover is a draft hood that permits the furnace exhaust gases to pull up extra air if needed to maintain an upward draft. Occasionally, a strong wind outside can push air down the vertical flue. If the furnace is running, then hot gases could be pushed back into the room. A thermo-disc safety switch is usually mounted on the hood to detect back-flow and shut off the furnace. It is good to keep anything flammable away, including plastic clamps.

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  • Yes, there are some holes in the lower part of that wide metal cover that is rattling. Thank you, I will use c-clamps but I will need more of these I think as they seem to be smaller and lighter. Thank you for your suggestion. – Koray Tugay Jun 16 at 16:41
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    I don't think you need lots of weight. By adding just a few clamps you are changing the resonant frequency of the shaky metal, so it does not coincide with the rumble frequency of the blower fan. – John Canon Jun 17 at 2:16
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Assuming that the rattling cone is just a sheet metal skirt then you could attach some trigger clamps to the bottom of it like these:

enter image description here

The clamp alone might stop the noise but if it does not then you could add a small weight plate or two to the bar:

enter image description here

Just be careful to not break anything since it does appear to be an exhaust for gases including carbon monoxide. You may wish to install a battery-powered carbon monoxide detector nearby just to be safe. Remember, carbon monoxide rises.

Before applying the clamp you may wish to fold up some cloth between the jaws and the sheet metal so that you don't leave any markings or dents.

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Get a CO detector. See my comment about that. Nothing to do with the noise, just a good idea when living above a poorly maintained furnace.

That cone-shaped thing you touch with the stick is to allow air from the basement to join furnace exhaust up the chimney. You can see it's joined to the flue stack at the top. If you turn off the furnace to make sure everything is cool, you can look underneath. There will be 3 or 4 metal ribs, really just metal bars joining the cone at the bottom to the flue to keep it centered and prevent wobbling.

Somewhere, probably one of those metal bars, is loose and vibrating. You shouldn't do anything, as noted. The landlord should. If that were my furnace, and I wanted to do a quick and dirty repair on it, I would find the loose joint, crumple up some aluminum foil, and stuff it firmly into the gap that is rattling, using as little material as possible to force apart the parts that are rattling. You don't want to impede air flow. Just a small amount of foil, crumpled up so that it is still very slightly compressible, used as a wedge to do basically what you are doing with the stick.

That's what I would do just to get me through the night. Later I would look on youtube on how to install a flue baffle for a furnace. It's a very common device. And I'd find out what materials (screws etc) are used and where they are placed to reduce noise.

The final thing I would do is have the furnace maintained. It is in desperate need of cleaning and perhaps the fan is out of balance and needs replacing, hence the vibrations.

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  • There is no way my landlord will accept to maintain it unfortunately. I will try the aluminum foil approach, I think it makes more sense than attaching weights. Thank you for your time and answer. I can't upvote anymore because I do not have enough reputation anymore due to offering bounty. – Koray Tugay Jun 18 at 22:24
  • I gave jay an upvote for you. This answer is on the right track. Other food for thought: What town do you live in? You Public Works Departments in some U.S. cities have rental compliance regulations. You might could reach out to your local building inspector and see if there is any way to compel the landlord to have the furnace inspected by a licensed contractor, but you will want to hold back your address until you understand whether your conversation could end you up finding yourself out of a home one way or another. – The Ghost of Jon Jun 21 at 5:18
  • I want to add: Don't EVER put anything flammable like plastic clamps within (36 inches is typical) of your furnace flue or you just might end up a ghost like me. – The Ghost of Jon Jun 21 at 5:19
  • Pros and Cons to calling in inspectors from the Town or the Utility. If in fact the apartment would be condemned, IMO OP would be better off leaving, as unpleasant as that might be. OTOH if there are no safety issues, neither the town nor the utility is going to flag a noisy fan ... the problem at hand won't be resolved this way. – jay613 Jun 21 at 13:59
  • @TheGhostofJon Location is Toronto. – Koray Tugay Jun 21 at 14:19
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Wow, that noise is absolutely awful! It's obviously created by one thing vibrating against another thing; your pressure with the stick prevents the vibration.

Ideally you'd dampen the vibration at its source, but that is probably inside the equipment where you may not want to venture.

Is the sound created by resonance of the parts or by movement? If it's resonance then you would want to add mass as discussed by others.

If the sound comes from movement, though, it may be more difficult to resolve with mass alone. Look for a place where one part has a little freedom of movement relative to another part. Tighten the fit between the parts and prevent the noise by forcing some kind of shim into the gap. Maybe some random screw or a bit of sheet metal would be great. You could scavenge sheet metal from an aluminum beverage can or a steel food can.

Another possibility might be to apply tension on the part with wire, a spring, or a combination. Make a hole in the collar and tie back around the central pipe, or straight down and attach through the louvers on the top of the equipment, etc.

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  • I am unable to upvote unfortunately since I do not have enough reputation. Thank you, I will try the aluminum approach. – Koray Tugay Jun 24 at 15:55

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