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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Dec 2012
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    Default Boiler making a buzzing sound

    First time homebuyer and first time poster. I'm looking for some guidance with a fairly loud buzzing noise our boiler is making. We've been in the house about 2 months. The boiler is pretty ancient but it still heats the house quite well.

    It's always made a bit of a buzzing sound, but either the sound has gotten louder or now I'm more aware of it. Either way, I wanted to get some thoughts on what it might be and cost to fix it.

    We made a video of the part that is buzzing.

    youtube.com/watch?v=MZIA3Px6cXc

    Thanks so much!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
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    Default Re: Boiler making a buzzing sound

    I couln't find your video.

    More info is needed: what kind of noise, when it appears, how long does it last, etc.

    BTW, if it's an old boiler, start planning a replacement. Fixing old units rarely comes out cheaper. And they always quit in the wrong time.

  3. #3
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    Dec 2012
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    Default Re: Boiler making a buzzing sound

    Thanks for the reply. If you cut and paste this link into your browser you should find the video - youtube.com/watch?v=MZIA3Px6cXc

    It's a buzzing sound from the thermostat box that is mounted on the wall behind the boiler. It seems to make the noise when the unit kicks on and will continue buzzing until it reaches the preset temperature. That said, once it reaches the desired temp it maintains the temperature pretty well, and will only kick back on for a minute or two to keep at the set temperature. The unit is definitely old but it's working fine, just mainly want to figure out if a cheap part would fix the sound. But yeah, we won't be spending much to keep it running and would look to replace at some point in our ownership.

    Thanks!
    Last edited by firstand10bluehens; 12-02-2012 at 02:39 PM.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2009
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    137

    Default Re: Boiler making a buzzing sound

    Yes, I saw the video.

    When you say a "boiler" do you have hot water/steam radiators/baseboard to provide heat, or do you have forced hot air, which would mean you have a "furnace".

    The device in the video looks like a switch controller that switches the 24v T-stat voltage to turn on the 120v furnace/boiler components.

    Where is the COVER to the controller???---the cover would have the important identifying mfgr, model #, etc. for the controller---please post back with this info.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2012
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    8

    Default Re: Boiler making a buzzing sound

    Quote Originally Posted by Pelton View Post
    Yes, I saw the video.

    When you say a "boiler" do you have hot water/steam radiators/baseboard to provide heat, or do you have forced hot air, which would mean you have a "furnace".

    The device in the video looks like a switch controller that switches the 24v T-stat voltage to turn on the 120v furnace/boiler components.

    Where is the COVER to the controller???---the cover would have the important identifying mfgr, model #, etc. for the controller---please post back with this info.
    Thanks for the reply. We have a boiler with radiator heat, so
    'furnace' may have been mentioned in error. I took the cover off to take the video, but here are two pictures with the cover on - as well as the label on the side.

    flickr.com/photos/23820215@N04/8242104133/in/photostream
    flickr.com/photos/23820215@N04/8242104241/in/photostream/

    Please let me know your thoughts. Thanks again!

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jul 2009
    Posts
    137

    Default Re: Boiler making a buzzing sound

    Was unable to get either one of those flickr sites to work on my system----but it doesn't matter---if you can just post the manufacturer/model # & any other info contained on the covers, I can look it up in my manuals to get the electrical specs & a ballpark price.

    Generally, the buzzing can be caused by a) dirty contacts, or b) a minor short in the electromagnetic windings that gets worse as time goes by.

    You can try shutting the system down temporarily & rubbing the contacts with a regular white envelope/dollar bill, etc. to get the thin layer of crud off the contacts.

    If THAT doesn't work, go to Home Depot or a heating parts house in your area & get a VERY FINE NONMETALLIC sheet of sandpaper & apply to the contacts (by moving the envelope or sandpaper back & forth slowly).

    If sanding the crud doesn't work, it's probably a short in the windings.

    Theory of Operation: When the contacts close on the 24v room T-stat, the wires close a circuit in the 24v t-stat wires that have a small electromagnet at the metal relay (the part that's chattering) the metal strip is "pulled in" to enable contact between the 120V line to enable a component such as a pump or burner motor to activate to provide heat or pump hot water (or both) thru the heating system.
    Last edited by Pelton; 12-06-2012 at 03:36 PM.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Dec 2012
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    8

    Default Re: Boiler making a buzzing sound

    Thanks so much for the reply - what's the logic behind the dollar bill or envelope? Just curious. I made another quick video just to be sure. This one includes the cover with the label and product info - which I would venture to guess is the Type RA832A and the front of the box is a Honeywell.

    youtube.com/watch?v=SLURkDTpRAQ

    The actual boiler is a Bryant.

    Please let me know what other information you might need. Thanks!
    Ken

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jul 2009
    Posts
    137

    Default Re: Boiler making a buzzing sound

    Ken,

    I can read all the You Tube referrals without any probs.

    The purpose of the paper envelope/dollar bill, as noted in the post, is to attempt to remove any metallic oxide (crud) that builds up on the electrical contacts after the Honeywell controller tries to make & break electrical connections during the entire heating season, and for years on end.

    However, in the You Tube video, the Honeywell RA832A unit LOOKS NEW, or close to it.

    The reason for the unit's noisy "chattering", as previously stated, is because either the contacts are dirty, or the small copper wire windings on the little transformer are cracked, or one or two are broken---electrical gizmos like switching relays rely on a solid metallic electrical contact---if there is any dirt or crud on the contacts, you're liable to get buzzing/chattering.

    Let's try cleaning up the contacts first---if that doesn't work, we'll try something else---try the "dollar bill trick" , and also take the cover off the thermostat in the living quarters and clean the T-stat contacts with a fingernail file emery board (the type the ladies use)---there is only 24v there so you won't get zapped----if you happen to have the type of T-stat that has batteries inside, change them out for new ones.

    Also shut the power off temporarily to the boiler & take a screwdriver & TIGHTEN any and all screws inside the RA832A to get solid electrical contact for all the wires.
    Last edited by Pelton; 12-03-2012 at 10:23 PM.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Dec 2012
    Posts
    8

    Default Re: Boiler making a buzzing sound

    Thanks so much for the informative reply. I'll give that a try tonight. In regards to your mention of the living quarters thermostat, I just installed a new honeywell programmable thermostat about a month ago, and was planning to replace the zone 2 thermostat on the 2nd floor with the same unit.

    The batteries are new in the new thermostat, but they are some sort of fancy Lithium ones, so maybe I'll just grab some regular AA's and replace them. I'll report back after cleaning and tightening! Thanks again!

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jul 2009
    Posts
    137

    Default Re: Boiler making a buzzing sound

    Ken,

    After reading your last post, I have to add another possible cause of the chattering------quite often, new programmable T-stats are incompatible with older systems, & can drain too much current from the thermostat circuit---if this occurs, there won't be enough juice in the 24v circuit to firmly "pull in" the little moveable metal plate that "makes" the connection between the 120v source voltage & the oil burner & pump (circulator) and "holds" it in place while the system is trying to heat the house----chattering is the result.

    After you do your cleaning of the contacts on the RA832A and the T-stat contacts, try either putting back the old T-stat in place of the new Honeywell Programmable, or unscrew the RED and WHITE wires from the T-stat & temporarily twist them together (at the copper ends) this will turn on the boiler/pump (without the current drain of the new T-stat)----if you hear any improvement & the level of noise drops, you've found the problem----if there IS improvement, I would recommend you leave the new T-stat aside & use the old one for now---unravel the twister copper red/white wires & re-install them on the old T-stat---the boiler will cycle off when the wires are separated.


    Also if you have a multimeter (voltage tester), check the voltage between the red wire (thin red wire connected to one of the "T" terminals) downstairs on the RA832A and ground while the boiler is running---you should get approx 24v--anything less than 24, suspect a current drain in the Thermostat wiring.

    Another possibility not mentioned previously, is that there might be a hairline CRACK in the thin solder lines in the circuit board of the RA832A, which is resulting in poor electrical contact between the components----this can often be detected by holding a strong light at different angles near the RA832A, after you have temporarily shut down the boiler switch; also look for any loose solder connections on the circuit board---if you have a soldering gun, reheat any suspicious connections to re-establish good electrical continuity.
    Last edited by Pelton; 12-06-2012 at 03:37 PM.

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