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Circulator pumps (C) Daniel FriedmanHeating System Noise Sources
How to Diagnose, & Repair Heating System Noise Problems

  • HEATING SYSTEM NOISE DIAGNOSIS - CONTENTS: How to find, diagnosue & fix heating system noises. Heating System Noises & Building Temperature-Change Noises. Heating System Noise & Sound Isolation methods. Heating System Noise Cause Diagnosis List & Articles. Troubleshooting heating system noises traced to chimneys and vents. Troubleshooting heating system noises traced to thermal expansion/contraction.
  • POST a QUESTION or READ FAQs about how to diagnose and fix heating system noises, rattles, bangs, hisses, clanking, and other sounds
  • REFERENCES
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Diagnosing heating equipment noises:

This noise control article discusses the diagnosis and cure of heating system noises, including heating equipment noise, heat piping or ductwork noises, radiator noises, steam pipe banging, and steam radiator vent noise control.

We describe just about every single noise that might come from or have to do with building heating systems.

We describe the heating system noise, where that noise usually originates, and what to do about it.



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Heating System Noises & Building Temperature-Change Noises

Curing or controlling noises traced to building heating systems is divided naturally into two topics that should to be addressed in this order:

  1. Identify the source and cause of noises traced to the heating system or its components. Some heating system noises are normal and are thus not a worry.

    But other heating system noises (rumbling, buzzing, banging) might be a sign that the heating system needs repairs, that it is not operating efficiently (costing more than necessary for heat), or the heating system may be unsafe. To rule out heating system operating problems, review the Heating System Noise Cause Diagnosis Articles we list just below in this document.
  2. Isolate heating system noises, or prevent heating system noise transmission through the building. Once we are confident that the heating system noises themselves are normal, we can focus on keeping those noises out of the rest of the building. You will still need to identify specific heating system noise sources, since some noise control steps focus on specific heating system installation details.

    Once those noise and sound problems have been addressed, normal building noise transmission and sound control measures, such as sound insulation, can be applied to the room where heating equipment is located. See Heating System Noise & Sound Isolation in this article - below.

Watch out: while adding sound control barriers and insulation around a mechanical room be sure that you do not interfere with proper combustion air supply or you risk making the heating system work poorly or you may make it unsafe, risking carbon monoxide production and even death.

Heating System Noise & Sound Isolation

Examples of steps that reduce noise transmission from heating systems include

HVAC Duct noises: review and fix loose HVAC duct components, check that vibrations from the mechanical systems are not being picked up and carried through the building by metal duct vibration.

HVAC Ducts & Privacy: Sound from any source can also be transmitted between building areas through the ductwork itself. The author, politely smooching his girl friend in her family basement rec-room,was jolted by her father's sudden loud voice: "Joanne! time to come upstairs!!" - her dad just shouted down through the air ducts into the basement, leaving the couple to wonder if their private sounds had been transmitted up to Joanne's parents' bedroom.

Oil piping vibration transmission: as we cite in the article list just below, clamping heating oil piping to the underside of floor joists converts the floor above to a speaker cone to transmit vibrations from the oil burner into the space above.

Mechanical room sound isolation: once specific sound sources have been addressed, what remains is the isolation of mechanical room sounds from the rest of the building. See the sound control articles beginning at NOISE / SOUND DIAGNOSIS & CURE - home.

Heating System Noise Cause Diagnosis List & Articles

Circulator pumps (C) Daniel FriedmanHeating systems and building heat as a source of indoor noises and sounds include air bubbling in piping, shrieks (bearings), bangs (puffbacks), rumbling (air noise, mechanical noise), grinding noises, and other mechanical noises.

  1. For hot water heat see OIL BURNER NOISE SMOKE ODORS

    and BOILER OPERATING PROBLEMS
  2. For steam heat see STEAM HEATING SYSTEMS and If your steam pipes or radiators are making a horrible hammering, pounding or banging noise,

    see BANGING HEATING PIPES RADIATORS.
  3. For warm air heat see FURNACES, HEATING

    and DUCT SYSTEM DEFECTS. Steam heat can also produce (normal) hissing sounds as air escapes from steam radiator valves.
  4. Odors: Since heating system malfunctions that result in un-wanted noise may also produce smells,

    see ODORS GASES SMELLS, DIAGNOSIS & CURE.
  5. Creaking popping sounds: All heating systems can cause creaking or popping noises as heating system and piping or ductwork expand (and contract) through the heating cycle, though meticulous installation or repair can usually stop those sounds.

TroubleshootNoisy mechanical system components and moving parts

Buzzing aquastat relay (C) D Friedman Buzzing aquastat relay (C) D Friedman

If the control cover is lightly touching the relay switch the control may simply buzz when the relay is trying to move. On some controls this clearance is so tight that the relay or is trapped solid so that it cannot move - leading to a no-heat servicer call. Simply pulling off the cover to let the relay move freely can immediately discover and "fix" this buzzing heating control problem.

So if you notice that the control cover on your aquastat (or on a cad cell or stack relay) has been bent slightly convex, or has been left slightly ajar (our photo, above right) think twice before jamming it on tightly. Thanks to oil heat service technician Bob at Bottini Oil for this service tip.[3]

Also see these BUZZING sounds from A/C, heat pump or inverter

Troubleshooting heating system noises traced to chimneys and vents

Troubleshooting heating system noises traced to thermal expansion/contraction

In this NOISE / SOUND DIAGNOSIS & CURE article series we discuss how to locate the source of, identify and correct various building sounds and noises indoors or on occasion, noises from outside that penetrate indoors at annoying levels.

 

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Continue reading at AIR CONDITIONING & HEAT PUMP NOISES or select a topic from closely-related articles below, or see our complete INDEX to RELATED ARTICLES below.

Or see HEATING NOISE DIAGNOSIS FAQs - Q&A's posted originally to this article

Or see these

HVAC Noise Articles

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