Steam heat system suddenly VERY loud

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Topic: Steam heat system suddenly VERY loud

Home and Garden January 2, 2015 at 4:04 pm

Steam heat system suddenly VERY loud

About two weeks ago our steam heat radiators started making very loud noises when on. I’m talking REALLY loud. They wake up the whole family when they turn on at night. We’re miserable and need recommendations for someone with experience working on old steam heat systems.

Our rowhouse was built in 1924, and the current boiler was installed by the previous owners in 2007. On 12/15, the boiler wouldn’t start. I called Jiffy plumbing, and they sent out Ron Smith (I mention his name just in case someone can vouch for him). Ron reseated a spring on the pressure switch that had gotten out of place. Once he left, the noise began. Loud banging in the pipes and radiators, and it sounds like there’s a lot of water in the radiators. I called Jiffy back the next day, and they said that Ron did nothing that would cause noise. They are happy to come out and try to determine the problem, but I am wondering if there is someone more qualified. PSI is currently set between 1 and 2. Any help would be greatly appreciated!

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These banging sounds are typical of steam heat systems. Are you saying the system did not make these noises in past winters? Our 1934 house had a steam boiler installed about 18 years ago by previous owners, and it has always made the banging sounds. Yes, loud enough to wake us up at night. We found Master Plumbing and Mechanical (301-650-9100) after using a company that clearly did not know how to service steam systems.


I feel your pain. It’s our first winter with a steam system and it took quite a bit of sorting out. After dropping well over a $1k on technicians without resolution, I turned to two places to educate myself:

Between these two sites, I was able to sort almost everything out. You have to be interested and willing to learn your system though. It’s technical, but not particularly complicated.

The first question any technical site like the ones above will have you figure out is whether you have a single or two-pipe system. Also, what kind of pressure control system do you have installed? A pressuretrol or a vaporstat? (My problem was solved by replacing the pressuretrol with a $150 vapostat.)

Another question without seeing your system is if you look at the looking glass, where does the water line fall? Is it full of water? Partially full?

GR (comment on main site) cites the main reason your system will bang. It would be surprising if the system ever ran without at least some ‘tinging’ or banging. There are lots of measures one can take to reduce it (e.g., insulating all of the steam feeds).

Thanks for the tips! This is our 5th winter in the house. Before the Dec repair call with Jiffy, we had one noisy radiator on the first floor and another on the second. Overall, we just heard the steam hiss when the heat was on. It was much quieter than it is now.


p.s. If you’re interested in learning of the company that I DO NOT recommend — the service company that ran up the $1000 without a fix — tweet / direct message me at @technotarek. I do not even want to write their name here given the ‘any publicity is good publicity’ concept.

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