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Pop, Bang, Hiss

What to do when your pipes go bump any time of the day.

Steam boilers heat water into steam that travels through pipes and into radiators in older homes. Radiators in modern homes have been replaced with baseboards to release heat and eliminate the soon to be mentioned issue. Two of the four homes that I've lived in have had radiators and I can remember the distinctive clank and bang of the radiators turning on.

Usually this only happens the first time that you turn the heat on, if the noise continues throughout the heating system it can become a huge headache. The cause of the noise is cooled water hitting hot steam/water. This occurs most often when the radiator isn't level or is pitched the wrong way.  A steam boiler recycles the water that is used to create the steam to make more steam. A radiator is designed to send the used steam that is now water back to the boiler. If the radiator isn't level then cooled water can get trapped in the wrong places. 

This issue can be easily fixed within a hour or two and with a minimal amount of tools and knowledge. You'll need a pipe wrench, coasters/furniture pads, and a level.

  1. Make sure that the thermostat is set to a low temperature or is off
  2. Using the pipe wrench, loosen the nut holding the radiator to the steam pipe.
  3. Using the coasters raise the low end of the radiator, check with the level until the unit is perfectly level. You may need to raise both sides different amounts to reach a level radiator.
  4. Once the radiator is level reconnect the radiator to the steam pipe.
  5. Raise the temperature of the thermostat so the heat kicks on to check if the banging noise is gone.
Written by:
Robert Stahelski

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