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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
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    Default Running water sound in hot water heating pipes

    I have a propane hot water furnace that feeds my baseboard hot water heating system. About a month ago I started hearing what sounds like water running or "trickeling" through the pipes.

    The actual efficiency of the heat seems adequate itself. (IE -the thermostat is set at 62 and it will maintain this temperature with little variation (variations may occur if outside temps fall below 5 +/- degrees F.)

    I found a few suggestions on the web regarding things to check. 12-20 lbs PSI pressure in tank is one, the other suggests to check the fill valve. I am not able to locate detailed instructions on how to check/test the fill valve.

    Could you please respond with steps to do this, and any other suggestions on steps that I might be able to perform without calling someone for help?

    Thanks

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
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    443

    Default Re: Running water sound in hot water heating pipes

    First, you have a BOILER there, not a furnace.

    A furnace heats and circulates hot air; a BOILER heats and circulates hot water.

    The sound of "running water or water trickling or rushing thru the pipes" is a classic symptom of AIR IN THE PIPING SYSTEM.

    This is not a serious problem, but the air has to be removed so the system will be quiet & will be more efficient.
    Start at the highest baseboards in the house; if there are some on the 2nd floor, start there.

    Go to the baseboard covers and see if you can find behind the covers on either end, tiny little BLEED SCREWS; the radiator covers on either end can be pulled off by hand to expose the bleed valves.

    Most of them have a little slot that a screwdriver will fit in.

    Hold a small cup at the base of the screw (or scrunch a wad of paper towel) to catch the small amount of water that will come out.

    Open the bleed valve with the screwdriver; you should hear air come out, or see some water.

    As soon as you see water come out, close the valve with the screwdriver, and go on to the next bleed valve, until you have done all the baseboards in the house.

    It should be noted that some boiler heating systems don't have bleed valves on the baseboards.

    If you can't find any, post back so we can advise how to get the air out of such a system.

    Also check the piping immediately around the boiler, as it comes out of the boiler, there should be a manual vent system on the horizontal portion of this piping that should also allow air out.

    There is usually a manual screw cap that can be turned by hand (like the air valve on a bicycle or automobile tire).

    See if you can loosen this air valve to let more air out; if water starts to come out, tighten it a little more.

    Please post back to advise what the psi gauge is reading on the boiler (should be between 12 psi to 15 psi).

    I would recommend that you do not touch the water inlet valve (as you noted in your post) at this point.

    Also post back to advise what type of EXPANSION TANK you have.

    The EXPANSION TANK is either a long green steel object propped between the floor joists above the boiler, or a smaller tank (usually gray) that looks like a 10lb propane heating tank used on barbeque grilles.

    Sometimes air gets into the pipes because of problems with the expansion tank; sometimes the long green type gets "waterlogged", or the "barbeque type" fails internally, but in these cases you would get high readings on your boiler psi gauge (up to 30 psi) and a safety valve on the boiler will open & spill a small amount of water on the floor.

    Please post back after you've checked the radiator bleed valves.
    Last edited by JacktheShack; 01-18-2008 at 01:09 PM.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
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    Denver, CO
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    666

    Default Re: Running water sound in hot water heating pipes

    Jacktheshack just rocks! on this kind of stuff.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
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    612

    Default Re: Running water sound in hot water heating pipes

    Quote Originally Posted by kentvw View Post
    Jacktheshack just rocks! on this kind of stuff.
    Agreed, I read the post earlier today, thought "air in pipes", but didn't even bother responding knowing the more complete answer would be coming along shortly.

    And I knew they were going to get the "boiler" vs. "furnace" distinction spelled out!! JacktheShack, thanks for your posts, and for the informative, helpful, non-condescending tone you use!!

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
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    443

    Default Re: Running water sound in hot water heating pipes

    Quote Originally Posted by kentvw View Post
    Jacktheshack just rocks! on this kind of stuff.
    Thanks Kent. bp, canuk ----you should see how I'm struggling with the ELECTRICAL side of boilers and heating systems!

    Most of the electical controls are made by Honeywell & are very complex with scores of variations to control water temp, safety shutoff, etc.,etc.

    Thanks again.
    Last edited by JacktheShack; 01-18-2008 at 01:04 PM.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
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    The Great White North
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    4,045

    Default Re: Running water sound in hot water heating pipes

    JacktheShack ... Ditto to what everyone else has said ... you are the go-to person.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jun 2007
    Location
    Fayette County, Ohio
    Posts
    5,622

    Default Re: Running water sound in hot water heating pipes

    JacktheShack,
    I just have to ask, in case it comes up on a trivia quize. Why do they call it a boiler on a hot water system rather than a hot water heater? It doesn't boil the water like in a steam system.
    Jack
    Be sure you live your life, because you are a long time dead.-Scottish Proverb

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
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    2

    Default Re: Running water sound in hot water heating pipes

    I have experienced the same problem and it was suggested that the water may be moving too fast through the pipes which is a factor of pipe size and water temperature. Any truth to that?

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
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    443

    Default Re: Running water sound in hot water heating pipes

    Pocono:

    Yes, water velocity in the piping could be the cause of a "running water sound".

    Noise issues in pipe distribution systems are usually caused by air, but the topic of fluid dynamics in hydronic systems can be complicated, many-faceted.

    Did you want to elaborate on your system, and can air in your pipes be ruled out as the cause?

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Posts
    2

    Default Re: Running water sound in hot water heating pipes

    System is a propane fired boiler two loop system (1st and 2nd floor) Noise mostly occurs on the second floor loop especially when it is first heating up. Once system haas attained heat, it seems to stop. I have not ruled out air in the pipes yet.

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