Published onNovember 13th, 2023
Fixing Noisy Radiators Can Be About More Than Reducing Annoyance
New York City experiences frigid temperatures in the winter. On average, the city experiences lows of 25°F and highs of 40°F. The city’s heating season begins in October and doesn’t end until May.
A lack of heat is the most common complaint by NYC tenants, but heat-associated noise is also up there. Noise often stems from trapped air in radiators, but not always. Sometimes sounds can signal other issues that threaten system efficiency. Discover the most common causes of a noisy radiator and how to correct it.
Noisy Radiator: Common Causes and Solutions
Air is the most common culprit behind noises in the radiator and heating system. You may receive complaints from tenants about banging, hammering, gurgling, or whistling. Each sound indicates a specific air-related issue.
Banging occurs because air increases the pressure in the system. As steam accelerates through the system, it pushes against the air and causes knocking. The same issue causes gurgling noises.
Whistling is a unique sound that occurs when the air inside the system expands with the heat. The expansion causes pipes to vibrate and causes a whistling sound. While eerie, whistling and other issues have a straightforward solution: bleeding.
Bleeding a radiator is not as gruesome or graphic as it sounds. Every radiator in your building has what’s called a bleed valve. By opening the valve, you allow air to escape. Bleeding the system means bleeding each radiator. With an adequate maintenance staff, it is possible to bleed the system in a single day.
Air enters the system with the addition of fresh water. All boiler systems need fresh water, and evaporation is common. Leaks may also lead to a noisy radiator and a need for additional water because they create vulnerabilities in the system.
Boilers and heating systems require routine maintenance, especially in steam systems. Water contains minerals. As the boiler heats the water, causing it to evaporate or turn into steam, mineral deposits get left behind. Most deposits sink to the bottom of the boiler and create limescale.
Limescale can corrode the tubes of water boilers, exposing the system to overheating and causing tube collapse or damage. Also, limescale and excess minerals may work their way into the rest of the system, causing blockages and all-around inefficiency. The blockages and mineral deposits can cause noise.
Do not attempt to clean a boiler or the heating system on your own. Also, do not permit maintenance staff to inspect or clean the boiler. The system is dangerous and delicate. Calray Boilers is a qualified and licensed service in NYC and is ready to inspect and maintain your system.
A noisy radiator may magnify a sound without being the culprit. Sometimes, the noises coming through the radiator are a result of loose pipes. Heating lines may run along basement ceilings or inside floor, wall, and ceiling cavities unsupported. With a lack of adequate support, the pipes are likely to move around when in use, causing rattling or knocking noises.
Hangers are a quick fix for loose and rattling pipes. These insulated clips hold onto a pipe at regular intervals to prevent movement. The spacing of hangers or clips depends on the heat source and pipe material. For example, steel pipes for a water or steam system require 7 to 8 feet between hangers.
Calray Boilers can install clips and hangers if your boiler piping is making too much noise. Techs can also inspect the system to ensure the proper installation of all pipes and connections.
Radiators should not be level. A correctly installed radiator has a slight slope down toward the condensate return line. When it is too level, you will experience a noisy radiator because of trapped condensate.
Depending on the system, you might be able to shim the appliance to get the appropriate lean. You don’t need a lot of shims. However, it’s generally best to leave repositioning and leveling to the professionals and avoid issues like cracks and broken seals.
High Water Pressure
In a forced water system, high water pressure is a problem because it forces water through the pipes too hard and fast. The excessive speed and force cause knocking and other noises. The proper pressure your system requires depends on the build and manufacturer; typically, optimum PSI is somewhere between 12 and 30 when hot.
Water expands when heated. This is not usually a problem in a boiler, but in a limited space like a radiator or pipes, expansion causes vibration and air-bound pipes. The heat and pressure create the environment for air bubbles, also resulting in a noisy radiator making clanking and banging sounds.
Fixing air-bound pipes is not the same as bleeding a radiator. You will need to call a professional to inspect the boiler and heating system. Air-bound pipes usually stem from overheating in the boiler, so a Calray Boilers technician may need to adjust the temperature of the system to prevent future issues.
Too Much Water
Sometimes, instead of having too much air in a radiator, a system produces too much water. Steam-powered boilers commonly push too much water into the system, resulting in loud bangs and grumbles through walls, ceilings, and radiators.
A professional from Calray Boilers can make quick work of this problem. They will shut down the system or affected valves, drain the excess water, and reset the water to the proper level. The technician can also show you the correct system settings to avoid future mishaps.
Noise can also stem from broken components. For example, a broken water pump may cause loud whining or squeaking noises. Loose or broken seals can lead to excessive vibrations and knocking.
Calray Boilers: Prevent a Noisy Radiator With Regular Maintenance and Inspections
Sign Up for Calray’s Annual Service Contract
A noisy radiator is often the symptom of some other HVAC problem. Noise doesn’t always mean trouble, but you should call in a professional just in case. Contact Calray Boilers at 212-722-5506 to discuss your noise-related issues and ask about annual service contracts to ensure you never miss routine maintenance or inspections.