why do my radiators make a banging noise
In our previous blog we explained how a central heating system works and how to remedy a cold radiator. Recapping a Central heating system is a very simple structure. A boiler (fuelled by gas or oil) is the most important part of a central heating system. Imagine a boiler as a big fire with a continued supply of fuel. When a boiler is switched on the gas or oil enters a sealed combustion chamber and via an electric ignition system the fuel is set alight. A heater exchanger connected to a cold water pipe is then infused with fine jets of heat (around 60бC/140бF) which in effect heats the water. This heated water is then moved along the pipework system (usually hidden in newer homes) by an electrical pump. Within your home when your heating system is on there is a continuous flow of hot water within pipework. What makes my radiator knock? Knock, knock different radiator noises often have different causes and require different solutions Б all can easily be fixed yourself:
Whistling This is caused by the water flow rate. A whistling noise usually indicates that water is flowing through the radiator too high. This can be solved by turning the radiator valve to full. Ticking A ticking radiator is completely normal and needs no attention, this is just the radiator warming up or cooling down. Tapping This is usually caused by an incorrectly fitted thermostatic radiator valve. The problem may be that the valves have been mistakenly switched (especially if you have just had a new radiator fitted). Why does my radiator make a banging noise? A banging noise from your radiator is now less common than it was 20 years ago. There are three main causes of banging: Trapped air The best way to solve trapped air bubbles in your radiator is to bleed it. You may have to do this a few time over the course of a few hours/days to get all the air out. If the problem persists consider using an autovent valve. An autovent valve continuously removes air from your radiator as hot water is circulated around the central heating system. Expanding pipes When a central heating system is on, hot water is being pushed along the pipework.
As pipes heat up they expand. As a pipe expands it may warp and move (very slightly). If a pipe is resting against something hard this will cause a noise. If the object the pipe is resting on can be moved (such as an item of furniture) we could recommend moving your furniture a fraction or installing a foam pad. Limescale In hard water areas limescale builds up in the boiler s heat exchange system and constricts the flow of water. As the pressure builds up, water turns in to steam, when these steam bubbles collapse and turn back in to water you get a rumbling/banging sound. Why does my radiator leak? If your radiator shows no sign of corrosion, dry the radiator to enable you to identify where it is leaking from. Is the leak coming from a valve or stop cock? It may be that you need to tighten or replace the valve. Adding some PTFE tape (thread seal tape) may give you some extra peace of mind. A leak at the coupling nut can often be fixed by tightening this. to see great demonstration of how easy this is to fix. Is the leak coming from a spindle? Tighten the gland nut within the spindle. If this does not work, you might have to call in an expert. If your radiator has corroded with age this could be causing it to leak. Unfortunately, you will need to replace the radiator. Please donБt attempt to touch any part of your boiler or central heating system if youБre unsure or not confident. Do not use a gas appliance if you think itБs unsafe. вEditor's note: This post has been updated to include sources and instructional videos. The cold is upon us yet again, and with it comes that incessant clank from inside your walls. Every. Damn. Night. Itвs impossible to sleep without running the heat, but the sound of tiny sledgehammers inside your pipes is exactly whatвs keeping you awake. It may feel like a cruel joke that the weather is playing on you, but itвs just a simple problem of fluid dynamics. So whatвs the source of this awful racket and, most importantly, how do you make it stop?
First, a little background. How Does Heating Work? Any modern structure has some sort of (heating, ventilation and air conditioning) system installed, but thereвs a lot of variation in how fresh air of the desired temperature gets to you. Focusing on the first letter of that acronym, heat can be transferred through air, water or steam. If you have a furnace where you live в congratulations! You have a heated air system, and this never happens to you. The rest of us are jealous. Back to the problem at hand. The heart of hydronic (water or steam) systems is a, which is essentially a big metal cylinder with water in it, a gas, oil or electric line feeding into it and some tubes jutting out of the top. Depending on which you have, the water in the boiler gets heated into steam or hotter water, which usually gets pumped from the boiler to a series of pipes installed throughout the building в although some older buildings donвt have a pump at all and rely on. These pipes lead to radiators or other heat exchangers which heat the room, and the now-cooled water or steam heads back to the boiler to start all over again. If you donвt see a big hulking radiator nearby, it likely means you have. Okay, But Why Is That Noise Happening? Boilers and pipes are sturdy things, but that also means the heating in most buildings is quite old, and age allows things into those pipes that donвt belong there. For water pipes, that usually means air, and in steam pipes, ironically, the problem is water. Pipes sag over time. When that happens (or if they werenвt installed properly) steam can condense back into water which has. Passing steam then picks up these drops of water and into the nearest pipe fitting, causing a loud, hammering sound. This is called в for obvious reasons в steam hammer. The water gets formed into tiny bullets, and they work a lot better than these. A similar problem happens in water pipes when air is trapped in the lines, causing a rattling sound thatвs every bit as irritating. At its worst, trapped air will keep, resulting in parts of the building getting not heat at all.
So What Can I Do About It? Disclaimer: Although these are the most common causes of weird pipe noise in the winter, theyвre far from the only culprits. If youвre not confident in your ability to repair pipes, this might not be the best time to try DIY fixes. In fact, in many places itвs illegal to repair your own boiler в not to mention dangerous. There is no shame in calling a plumber. That said, here are some potential solutions. For steam systems, noisy, sagging pipes need to be adjusted or replaced. You should also make sure that the boiler has the correct amount of water in it: too much and it wonвt heat your home properly, too little and it can weaken or explode. In the event of air trapped in a water heating system you can "bleed" the system, meaning you allow water to flow out until it takes all the air with it. This guy makes it seem easy, but it you're confused, just call someone. Please. If that fails, arrestors or air scoops can be installed: the former acts like a piston and keeps water from clanking during big pressure changes while the latter removes passing air from the system. If you want to know a whole lot about air vents, here's your guy Either system is prone to noise due to mineral deposits and other gunk, which can obstruct steam or allow air to cavitate in a water system. Likewise, keeping boilers running at the proper pressure is crucial, for your safety and sanity. Home maintenance is one thing, but if you live in an apartment building, chances are you donвt have access to your boiler. The good news: noisy pipes become your landlord or superвs problem. The bad news: that same landlord refused to fix your shower for weeks and isnвt likely to care about some clanking. Thusly armed with knowledge, feel free to remind him or her that, while loud pipes might seem like a small gripe, theyвre a sign of a failure somewhere in the buildingвs HVAC system which will only get more expensive to fix the longer itвs allowed to continue.
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