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Home Care Library

Baseboard Heating

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Question Topic

Baseboard Heating Noise Problems

The Home Wizard app calculates your ideal home care program to avoid problems with your Baseboard Heating, but sometimes trouble can still occur. Here are answers to questions about baseboard heating noise problems.

QUESTION FROM Jennifer

I have baseboard heaters. When I turned the heat on for the winter weather, it sounded like I had river running through my pipes. I was told that I needed to release the air (from the pipes with that special key). After I did, the heat is not coming up. The baseboards are warm but I have almost no heat. As a first time homeowner there is so much I don't know but I would feel better about my lack of knowledge if I were warmer. Do I need to call someone in?

ANSWER FROM HOME-WIZARD

Dear Jennifer in NJ:

It sounds like you initially had air trapped in your lines, and you have successfully purged all of the air out, but than now you are finding that your baseboard heating system is not putting out enough heat, right?

If so, then here are some things to check:

1) Double check to ensure that you have completely purged all of the air out of your baseboard heating system (you can find instructions on how to do this by doing a search on our "Ask-the-Wizard" page).

2) Check the water level and water pressure of your boiler to see if it is low.

3) Check your heating registers and make sure they are open and that nothing is obstructing them.

4) Check your system's expansion tank to see if it has too much water in it and not enough air. One way to check this is to look at the pressure relief valve on your boiler, and see if it is leaking out water will be spurting water. Also the pressure gauge on your boiler would be reading high (over 20 psi). Here is an example drawing showing an expansion tank and pressure relief valve on a boiler: http://www.blueflame.org/images/homeheating3.gif

5) Have a qualified technician check to see if there are mineral deposits building up in the bottom of the boiler. These deposits act as insulation, and prevent the boiler from adequately transferring heat to the circulating water.

Hope this is helpful.
Home-Wizard.com

QUESTION FROM Kristin Barker

I live in a building with baseboard heat and the loud banging stays on constantly until I turn the temperature dial a smidge to the left or right. The banging will stop for about an hour, and then start up again until I move the dial. What is the cause of this, and how can I stop it? I will take your recommendations to the condo board for help because the noise is so great that I cannot sleep.

ANSWER FROM HOME-WIZARD

Dear Kristin:

When you say you that the banging noise from your baseboard heating system stops when you move your thermostat a little to the left or right, is you heat on, and then you are turning your thermostat to turn it off? Or is your system off, and you are turning your thermostat to turn it on? Or does it really not matter whether you are turning the thermostat up or down that it gets the banging noise to stop? And if you heat is off and you move the thermostat down a little, does it still stop the banging? And similarly, if your heat is on, and you move your thermostat up a little, does it still stop the banging?

In general, the causes of banging noises from a baseboard heating system can be caused by:

1) Air is trapped in the line, which needs to be bled out.

2) A pipe to or from this baseboard radiator that is running through a hole in a wall, etc. that is too tight, which doesn't allow sufficiently for the pipe's thermal expansion.

3) Pipes not supported properly, such that when they turn on, they bang into one another or into other things.

4) The zone valve is installed backwards.

If you can let me know about the questions I raised above, it could help me to give you a more specific recommendations.

Sincerely,
Home-Wizard.com

FOLLOW-UP FROM Kristin

Hi! Thanks for your quick response.

We have dials on our baseboard units (the dial is round and has numbers on it from 0-5, with 5 being the most heat, and zero being off), so while they're not technically thermostats, they do regulate the heat. During the winter my dials are usually around the number 4, give or take (never off). No matter where the dial number is set when the banging starts I can move the dial a very small smidgen up or down, doesn't matter, and it will stop the banging for a little while. Later, when the banging starts up again I can move the dial another smidgen and the banging will stop again. This is maddening because this goes on all day long, and of course all night too. I know how to bleed the units, and have done so, but the banging persists to the point that it sounds like a mountain gorilla in a cage rattling the bars. My personal units are not too bad, but my downstairs neighbor's units are horrendously loud. I have access to her unit when she is away and I have been down there to bleed the baseboards and turn the dial, but the banging is driving me crazy.

When you say that the zone valve could be installed backward, is that a valve on the baseboards themselves, or on the boiler? Thanks again for your help, anything is better than what we're hearing from our property manager, which is that "this stuff happens with baseboards."

ANSWER FROM HOME-WIZARD

Dear Kristin:

Thanks for the clarification. It sounds like the "temperature dial" that you were referring to is not a thermostat, but rather is a flow control valve for changing the flow of hot water through the baseboards.

It of course is difficult to accurately diagnose your problem without being able to physically listen to and examine your system. But with that said, here are my thoughts.

When you move the flow control dial on your baseboard unit it is changing the flow rate of hot water though the pipes in your system that deliver water to your baseboard radiators. What's interesting is that it sounds like changing this flow rate slightly, regardless of whether it goes up or down, is able to cause the banging noise to go away for a while. This makes me wonder if the problem could be related to either a pipe running through a tight spot in a wall, or pipes that are not properly supported. Either of these could be affected by changes in the flow rate, and this flow rate would be changing whenever you moved your dial on your baseboard. In other words, changing the flow rate would change the temperature of the pipes which would shrink or contact a pipe going through a tight spot in the wall. And changing the flow rate could impact pipes that were banging into each other that had been started by another unit in your building first changing their baseboard dials.

And regarding your questions about the location of the zone valve, the zone valve that I was referring to is at the boiler. But given your description, I would not think it would be the source of your problem.

Hope this is helpful.
Home-Wizard.com

QUESTION FROM noisy heat

I have a base board heating system in my home. I have alot of air noise and pipe "banging" from the base boards around the floor. Do I need to flush or bleed the system? The system is about 40 years old. Are there preventative tasks I can perform in the future.

ANSWER FROM HOME-WIZARD

Dear 'noisy heat':

Since you are hearing both air noises and banging coming from the pipes of your baseboard heating system, then yes, I suspect that your problem is that your system needs to have the air bled out of it. Regarding routine preventative maintenance tasks that you can perform in the future, you can see these on our Baseboard Heating System webpage at:

http://www.home-wizard.com/maintenance/baseboardheating.asp

And you should also look at the routine maintenance tasks for your furnace, which can be found at:

http://www.home-wizard.com/maintenance/furnace.asp

You can sign up for personalized maintenance reminders from us for these, plus the other features of you home, and the reminders will be included in with your monthly Newsletters. You can sign up for your personalized reminders at:

http://www.home-wizard.com/AMR.asp


Hope this is helpful.
Home-Wizard.com

QUESTION FROM Ron

we have water circuit heat....it continues to run water thru the pipes for a long while (which can be heard in the baseboards of the rooms), before actually just working and warming the house like it should,when you cut hot water on the water heater makes a rattling sound like it isn't full could it just be my water heater on the blink and not my water circuit unit in all?....thanks for any info you can provide

ANSWER FROM HOME-WIZARD

Dear Ron:

I suspect that the problems with your hot water heater and your baseboard heating system are not directly related.

Let's start with the problem you are having with your water heater first. Its a bit difficult to diagnose problems with a noisy water heater without actually hearing the sound and physically seeing when it is occurring, but here are a few thoughts which will hopefully be helpful for you. If you are hearing a rattling sound when you are running your hot water, then the problem with your water heater may be with check valve type nipples installed on the top of your water heater, if you have them. If you have them, they are a good have because they can save some energy, but they also can be very annoying.

On the other hand, the noise that you are hearing from your water heater could be the sound of boiling water caused by excessive build-up of sediment in the bottom of your tank. This sediment could be causing the bottom of your tank to overheat and water to boil, which could be the noise that you are hearing. The remedy for this is to routinely backflush your water heater as described on the "Water Heater" page of our online Maintenance Library:

http://www.home-wizard.com/maintenance/waterheater.asp

Now, regarding your first problem, it sounds like your baseboard radiators are heating up fine, but you think that it is circulating water for too long before it actually heats up the baseboard radiators. Am I understanding you correctly? What I'm wondering is if whether the sound that you are hearing in your baseboard heating system pipes is the sound of trapped air that is circulating in with the water, and causing your system to operating inefficiently. If you haven't tried it already, I would suggest that you bleed all of the air out of your system.

Hope this is helpful.
Home-Wizard.com

QUESTION FROM Rose

I have an electric boiler , hot water radiators in a two story semidetached home. When I turn up the thermostat there often is a terrible racket - it sounds as if someone is using a pneumatic drill. Sometimes this noise goes on for quite some time, other times the noise stops after a while. There are times when the noise doesn't start at all. How can I get rid of the racket? What can be causing it? Two plumbers have been in to fix the problem without success. Help would be appreciated!

ANSWER FROM HOME-WIZARD

Dear Rose:

Without hearing the noise and watching your system to see exactly what is happening, its very difficult to accurately diagnose what could be causing the noise you are hearing form your hot water radiator system. Since you have already had a couple of plumbers looking at your system, I assume that they would have caught all of the potentially obvious problems.

But here are a couple of thoughts about what else could be causing the noise that you describe:

1) your radiators or pipes that return water from your radiators back to your boiler are not pitched properly (i.e., that they do not have the correct slope to allow water to flow back to the boiler). As such, the steam is meeting the condensed water and exploding back into steam, which could be the cause of your noise. To fix this, a plumber would need to check and adjust the slopes of your radiators and pipes.

2) another possible cause is that one of your pipes goes through a tight spot in your wall somewhere, and when the pipe heats up and expands, it chatters as it tries to expand through the hole that is too tight.

Again, it is very hard to diagnose a noise problem like this without actually seeing your system.

Hope this is helpful.
Home-Wizard.com

FOLLOW-UP FROM Rose

Thank you for your speedy reply. The system worked well for many years, without any problems. The problem cropped up recently. I suspect the plumbers were not familiar with an electric boiler system.

ANSWER FROM HOME-WIZARD

Rose:

Glad to be of help.

If your system has worked well for years, then the problem is likely not due to the pipe going through a tight spot somewhere inside your walls (unless you have moved walls, etc.). But over time, your radiators or piping may have shifted, and this could cause them to lose their proper pitch.

If this does not turn out to be the problem, just let us know, and we'll try to come up with another idea for you.

Sincerely,
Home-Wizard.com

QUESTION FROM Lynne

Why does my base board heating pipes knock and bang when the boiler kicks on and how can I stop this... I have secured all the pipes under the house so they are no longer loose and they still make a banging noise.

ANSWER FROM HOME-WIZARD

Dear Lynne:

Here are some potential causes of the knocking and banging noises that you are hearing when your boiler for your baseboard heating system turns on:

1) Air is trapped in the line, which needs to be bled out.

2) Your pipes are not supported properly, such that when they turn on, they bang into one another or into other things. Although you said that you have already secured all of the pipes under the floor, you might want to just double check that they are supported properly.

3) A pipe to or from your baseboard radiators are running through a hole in a wall, etc. that is too tight, which doesn't allow sufficient expansion for the pipe's thermal expansion.

4) A zone valve is installed backwards.

Hope this is helpful.
Home-Wizard.com

QUESTION FROM Craig Mosqueda

I have a gas fired baseboard heat system. We have lived in the house for almost two years and lately the baseboards have been shuttering when the pump shuts off. It scares us to death in the middle of the night and I have tried to bleed the baseboards but water comes out almost immediately. Do you have any other suggestions.

ANSWER FROM HOME-WIZARD

Dear Craig:

Since the noise that you hear in your pipes is when your baseboard heating system turns off, then I suspect that the expansion tank on your system has gotten filled with water, and there is no longer any air in the tank to provide a "cushion". As such, when the circulation pump turns off and the valves slam shut, you could be getting a "water hammer" effect which gives you the shuttering sound.

If this is the problem, then you can fix this by draining the water out of your expansion tank, and allowing it to fill with air.

To do this, shut off your furnace/boiler. Shut the valve that connects your expansion tank to your system, and then open the drain valve to drain the tank into a bucket (or with a hose to a floor drain or outside). BE CAREFUL, as this water can be scalding hot. Then close the drain valve, open the valve you closed to isolate the tank, and then turn your furnace/boiler back on.

Hopefully this will eliminate the banging noise that you have been hearing when the system shuts off. If not, just let us know, and we'll try to diagnose the problem further for you.

Hope this is helpful.
Home-Wizard.com

FOLLOW-UP FROM Craig Mosqueda

I have a gas fired baseboard heat system. We have lived in the house for almost two years and lately the baseboards have been shuttering when the pump shuts off. It scares us to death in the middle of the night and I have tried to bleed the baseboards but water comes out almost immediately. Do you have any other suggestions.

ANSWER FROM HOME-WIZARD

Dear Craig:

Since the noise that you hear in your pipes is when your baseboard heating system turns off, then I suspect that the expansion tank on your system has gotten filled with water, and there is no longer any air in the tank to provide a "cushion". As such, when the circulation pump turns off and the valves slam shut, you could be getting a "water hammer" effect which gives you the shuttering sound.

If this is the problem, then you can fix this by draining the water out of your expansion tank, and allowing it to fill with air.

To do this, shut off your furnace/boiler. Shut the valve that connects your expansion tank to your system, and then open the drain valve to drain the tank into a bucket (or with a hose to a floor drain or outside). BE CAREFUL, as this water can be scalding hot. Then close the drain valve, open the valve you closed to isolate the tank, and then turn your furnace/boiler back on.

Hopefully this will eliminate the banging noise that you have been hearing when the system shuts off. If not, just let us know, and we'll try to diagnose the problem further for you.

Hope this is helpful.
Home-Wizard.com

QUESTION FROM Frustrated!!!

Hello. After having a "noise" in our gas furnace finally fixed, we now have what sounds like a stream flowing through our baseboards. The contractor fully bled the zones so I do not know why it is so bad there should not be air in the system. We had silence before this was done. He said becasue he put all fresh water in the system, it has oxygen in it and it will take about a week to get out. Is this true? It is driving me crazy. It is a 20 yr old system and it runs hot 180 - 200 deg. and he said he may have to replace some vents and gages if he comes back ($300 - $400). Why would this be doing this all of a sudden? All he really did was put sludge cleaner in the system after he purged it. this is such a pain!

Thank you

ANSWER FROM HOME-WIZARD

Dear "Frustrated":

Regarding your questions . . .

If in doing their recent work for you your service person drained a significant amount of water from your system, then yes, the fresh make-up water could release a lot of air when it is heated up by boiler and circulated through your heating system.

And yes, this air trapped in your system is likely what is causing the sound that you describe of a "stream flowing through your baseboards".

To fix this, you would need to purge this air out of each zone of your heating system. If you are comfortable doing it yourself, you can find the procedure for how to do this on our "Baseboard Heating System" webpage of our online Maintenance Guide:

http://www.home-wizard.com/maintenance/baseboardheating.asp

Without being able physically examine your heating system, however, it's difficult to determine why your service person needs to come back to replace some vents and gauges as you mentioned.

Hope this is helpful.
Home-Wizard.com

QUESTION FROM Connie

I had a new pump put in and after about two weeks it sounds like my pipes are like a truck coming through the walls

ANSWER FROM HOME-WIZARD

Dear Connie:

Are you referring to the hot water recirculating pump for your baseboard heating system?

And if so, could you please describe a little more about the sound you are hearing. Is it coming from the pump, or from the pipes? Does it happen the entire time that your baseboard heating zone is on? Or just when it first comes on? Is it a short "banging" sound? Or is more of a prolonged rumbling?


Just let us know, we can try to diagnose what the problem is for you.

Home-Wizard.com

QUESTION FROM frankie

I live in an apartment building where I have to pay for my own heat. I hear loud rushing water noise thru the baseboard and I don't feel heat until after the water has somewhat subsided. Will this increase my gas bill?

ANSWER FROM HOME-WIZARD

Dear Frankie:

I suspect that the loud rushing water noise that you are hearing through your baseboard heating system is due to air trapped in your pipes which needs to be purged / bleed out.

And yes, your heating system will not run as efficiently with air trapped it in, so assuming that you have a gas-fired boiler for your heating system, then yes, your gas bill would be higher.

However, you would need to check with the building manager to see whose responsibility it is to bleed the air out of your baseboard heating system. Depending on the design of your system, it may be possible to bleed the air out in your apartment. But on the other hand, your system maybe designed such that purging the air out needs to be done near the boiler, and something that the building manager would be responsible to do.

Hope this is helpful.
Home-Wizard.com

FOLLOW-UP FROM frankie

thx WIZARD!!

QUESTION FROM anonymous

how to stop knocking of hotwater baseboard heat pipes

ANSWER FROM HOME-WIZARD

Dear anonymous:

Regarding stopping the knocking of hotwater baseboard heat pipes, potential causes of the bangs you are hearing are:

1) Air is trapped in the line, which needs to be bled out.

2)A pipe to or from this baseboard radiator that is running through a hole in a wall, etc. that is too tight, which doesn't allow sufficiently for the pipe's thermal expansion.

3 Pipes not supported properly, such that when they turn on, they bang into one another or into other things.

4)The zone valve is installed backwards.


Hope this is helpful.
Home-Wizard.com

QUESTION FROM CK

I've been reading through your baseboard heating Q & A. Our system is not knocking or hammering, we have sloshing/flowing water sounds on the 2nd floor. (The first floor heaters are on a different thermostat and seem fine.) Thanks for your help.

ANSWER FROM HOME-WIZARD

Dear CK:

If what you are hearing in your baseboard heating system on the second floor is a "gurgling" sort of sound, then I would suspect that what you are hearing is being caused by air trapped in your system. Not only does this cause an annoying sound, but also it will prevent your second floor from heating up efficiently.

If you haven't tried it already, I would suggest that you bleed your system to purge out the trapped air.

On the other hand, if you have already bled your system and this didn't solve your problem, just let us know, we can try to diagnose your problem further.

Hope this is helpful.

QUESTION FROM Adkjim

We have electric baseboard heating with individual thermostats in each room. Some of them make banging noises when they heat up. Since they have no air or water pipes, how can this be addressed? Thanks

ANSWER FROM HOME-WIZARD

Dear Adkjim:

I suspect what is happening is that as your electric baseboards are heating up, that as the elements expand and are slipping through the clips that hold it. And as they get stuck and release, it is creating the banging noise that you are hearing. You might try spraying a little WD40 oil where the elements go through the clips.

Hope this is helpful.
Home-Wizard.com

QUESTION FROM Elissa

High pitch noise from baseboard heater in bathroom. I just moved into an apartment (It isn't an apartment in a building, but rather a 2 family house and I live with my landlords). Whenever I turn on the heat, I hear a high pitched squealing noise coming form the bathroom only, and as soon as the thermostat clicks off it stops. I can't bleed the radiators from my apartment.. my landlord said he has to get someone to come do it in his boiler room, but the noise is driving me crazy. (I'm not sure if our heat is on 2 different systems.) Is there anything I can do from inside my apartment? (I already looked and there are no valves inside the baseboards) Also-- I read how gurgling or whooshing noises usually mean air is trapped.. not high pitched noises... What would cause a high pitched noise? Do you even think that bleeding the pipes will resolve my issue? Anything you think I can do until my landlord gets around to having someone look at it? Thank you SO much for any help. Much appreciated!

ANSWER FROM HOME-WIZARD

Dear Elissa:

What could possibly be causing the problem is that when your thermostat clicks on, and begins to send hot water through your baseboard radiator, that as the radiator heats up it expands. And if there is a tight spot, for example, where the pipe comes through the wall, then you could get a squealing sound when the expanding pipe tried to slide through the opening. One thing that you might try is to GENTLY tap the pipe at the ends of the baseboard with say a gym shoe where the pipes go into the wall. If this helps to reduce the sound, then this is where the wall opening needs to be enlarged.

Hope this is helpful.

QUESTION FROM Elissa

Thank you so so much.

I apologize that my question was posted several times.. I thought it wasn't going through until I scrolled down and saw it was already posted! Oops! Thank you so much for your quick reply. Much appreciated! :) I noticed that the pipe going into the wall on the baseboard heat in the bathroom (where the noise is) seems to be very loose. I can easily jiggle the pipe on both ends. Is this normal? It almost seems like it is open ended and not connected to anything. I showed my landlord , but I don't think he knew... he said it's "fine". He thinks the valves need to be bled (still waiting on when he is bringing someone in to do that). Do you think that will help at all? You mentioned the opening may need to be enlarged. How do they do that? Sorry for so many questions.. I am curious and like to learn :)

ANSWER FROM HOME-WIZARD

Dear Elissa:

Usually bleeding a baseboard heating system will help eliminate "sloshing" or "gurgling" type noises. A high pitched squeal sound when the heating zone turns on is typically caused by expansion of the pipes.

If the pipes are loose where they come through the wall, then you might want to try gently pulling back and forth on the pipe to see if the sound changes. If this helps, then the tight opening where the pipe comes through may be deep inside the wall, which could mean having to open up the wall and then expanding where the the pipe goes through a tight opening. What I mean by this is that if the pipe is going through a tight opening in say a 2x4 stud inside the wall, then the wood around the pipe would need to be cut away.

Hope this is helpful.
Home-Wizard.com

QUESTION FROM keith in pa

i can hear water running threw one of my base board pipes but cant figure out what is causing it. it sounds like a garden hose running. any help would be great. thank you

ANSWER FROM HOME-WIZARD

Dear Keith in pa:
If you are hearing what sounds like rushing water going through your baseboard heating pipes, it seems like you need to bleed the air out of your system. Here is a video tutorial about how a baseboard heating system works, and at about the 6 minute mark, it begins to describe how to purge the air out of the system: http://www.home-wizard.com/Baseboard_Heating_101.asp Hope this is helpful. Home-Wizard.com

Other Topics

Baseboard Heating