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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2013
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    Default Steam radiator heating

    I recently bought an old house that still has steam radiator heating. I grew up in a house with steam heating so I am used to the normal banging and hissing pipes. My system on the other hand has a really load banging sound that seems to be happening when the system reaches its desired temperature and is turning off or cooling down. The banging is sporadic, one bang then not another for a minute or two. Then bang is loud and can be heard from anywhere in the house. I read up on it and tried the routine fixes such as bleeding the radiator and making sure that the radiators are level. I replaced the steam vents as well. I checked the pipes themselves while they are banging and don't see anything moving. I can't pinpoint exactly where the bang is actually coming from. I've read that there maybe water/air stuck in the pipes but how would I fix that? Not sure if thats even the problem. Any ideas would be much appreciated.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Sep 2012
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    Boston
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    Default Re: Steam radiator heating

    steam radiators do not have to be bled. the issue, most of the time, is the expansion and contraction of the pipes. the noise comes from the pipe hangers, where the pipes meet wood and possibly when the pipes are in a constricted space and they have nowhere to expand to. solving the problem is usually not that hard, the hard part is figuring out where.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2013
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    Default Re: Steam radiator heating

    Quote Originally Posted by MLB Construction View Post
    steam radiators do not have to be bled. the issue, most of the time, is the expansion and contraction of the pipes. the noise comes from the pipe hangers, where the pipes meet wood and possibly when the pipes are in a constricted space and they have nowhere to expand to. solving the problem is usually not that hard, the hard part is figuring out where.
    I did notice that in the general area of the noise that those pipes seem to be against the wood. They are running almost off of the same line where the pipe hangers are. Should I try some sort of padding?

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Sep 2012
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    Boston
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    Default Re: Steam radiator heating

    they make small, sort of, plastic like pads or rings that can be placed in old cast iron pipe hangers. you can always improvise something. where the pipes go through the wood, if you won't damage any structure, you can chisel or cut away some of the wood to give the pipe more room to move.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
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    69

    Default Re: Steam radiator heating

    This New House: Can you check to see if you have a one-pipe steam system, or a 2-pipe steam system---a one pipe system has only one pipe leading to each of the radiators, a 2-pipe system has one pipe entering each of the rads & one pipe leaving each of the rads.


    This New House Stated: "I've read that there maybe water stuck in the pipes...."

    You are correct sir----this is a major cause of steam pipes banging noises in a steam system---first check to see that there is not too much water in the boiler---the boiler should only be 1/2 full of water, so that the water comes up only half way on the sight glass tube at the front of the boiler---if it's higher than that, drain some water out of the boiler.

    Other causes of water in the pipes, both in the mains and in the piping that leads to the rads is that the MAIN VENTS on the main pipes in the cellar are clogged and not working---if the main vents are clogged with water, or rust, etc., the air in these pipes when the steam comes up will not have a chance to exit the system & the live steam will change to water condensate & clog the mains---when subsequent shots of steam are produced in the boiler combustion chamber, the live steam will slam into the liquid condensate & push it up in the direction of the rads, where it slams into the nearest elbow and makes the horrible banging noises that you are experiencing now.

    You will also get loud banging noises if any of the steam that reaches the rads & turns back into water condensate, can't get back to the boiler (one pipe steam system) because the pipes are not backwardly pitched to allow the water to flow back to the boiler, or the pipes are clogged with rust & minerals---once again, any subsequent live steam produced by the boiler will slam into & push this water condensate against the nearest elbows to make the banging noises.

    I would suggest getting a heating contractor in there who is familiar and experienced in steam heating systems---it doesn't make sense to keep listening to the noise when an experienced contractor can come over & solve the problem in a reasonably short time.
    Last edited by von_steuben; 02-27-2013 at 10:37 PM.

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