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Bang, Bang

mchema Member Posts: 37
Yep, I have a Banging issue! And I'm not enjoying. This is our first heating season in our home. I had the boiler serviced and it was noted that the Main vents didn't even work. Also some of the rad air vents were clogged as well. The boiler was working well and a the wet return was not clogged. I'm currently waiting for the valve order to come in. Anyway... I have a rad on the second floor (above the boiler). This rad gets the steam first only with another in the bathroom. The hammering starts just few minutes after the cycle starts and goes for about 10-20 intermittently. Sometime it only a couple times and sometimes is constant for 10 min. While waiting for the valves (I don't know if it will help this particular problem) and Dan's book (coming soon I hope) I checked the angle of the rad. It was pitched the wrong way... I thought Jackpot! Well no... I pitched it using some shims but it didn't change anything. Actually the rad it shelf, as well as the pipe in the wall started popping, banging and tinning. I checked the rad in the bathroom (which is in the bagging area) and it's pitched correctly. Both pipes from the bathroom rad and bedroom rad run through the same area of the wall but I"m pretty sure the trouble rad it in the bedroom.

I can hardly hear any banging in the basement (if at all). When the tech was over and I told him about the baning, I really wasn't sure where it was coming from. And yep we didn't hear anything in the basement. He adjusted the boiler water level before we listen for the band. When we didn't hear anything we thought that fixed it. After he left and the heat came on. Bang, Bang and that's when I realized it wasn't a pipe in the basement. On the first floor it's super loud and the second floor kinda loud but not as loud as the first floor. I know what wall it is in.  Will changing the main vents help with this issue? Should I change the open/close valve? How far should I tilt the rad before I give up?  I really want this steam heat to work out well b/c Ilike steam but this banging has got to go! It's starting to get pretty cold and turning the heat off at night is becoming less of an option. 


  • ttekushan_3
    ttekushan_3 Member Posts: 958
    check out my post

    Check out the post I just did on the subject of radiators the go bang in the night.

    Pitching it towards the inlet can lower the pipe in the wall making a settled pipe (pitched the wrong way) obstruct even more steam making the problem worse. Try lifting the whole affair. By lifting up at the main radiator valve, you may be able to straighten the level of the pipe enough to quiet the whole thing down.

  • Steamhead
    Steamhead Member Posts: 16,719
    You've got a pipe somewhere

    that's either off-pitch or too small. The trick is to find it. Sometimes banging in one place will seem to be elsewhere. Keep at it.
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    Towson, MD, USA
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
  • Ear` Muffs?

    'I don't know quite what to tell you or quite where to start.  You mentioned that you were new in the house. has there been any work done in the basement that could have disturbed the piping? Banging of the type your mentioning is usually from water getting pooled in low spots in the pipe line. I always think of it like a children's slide  the condensate (water) must slide (flow) back to the boiler. If it stops or pauses anywhere it will cause a problem.

    Radiators - You can put too much slope in a radiator. We were discussing this in another post.  First of all you must use a carpenters bubble level to check for slope. I had a radiator that when you looked at it it had obvious slope but it fact didn't have slope as the floor of the house had sagged.  The quarter`method works well. Use quarters and shim up the end of the radiator opposite the steam pipe. Start at level and add quarters to see what difference it  makes. Big Al suggested using plastic guitar` picks for shims as the legs can slide a bit with the heat expansion.

    Make sure the valve (Round tap) on the steam pipe going inot the radiator is fully open. These work either fully closed or fully open. Closing it partially results in water hammer as the steam going into the radiator and the condensate leaving collide.

    A couple of questions: At what pressure is your system running?  Could you take some pictures of your system? Pictures of the piping around and to/from the boiler.

    Pictures of the main vents and a picture of a radiator. You  mentioned that you needed new main vents. What other problems are you having with your system?

    It will be a big help when you receive the books as we can then refer you to page/ diagrams etc.

    - Rod
  • mchema
    mchema Member Posts: 37
    edited October 2009

    The only work that has been done in the house is the basement was waterproofed before we moved in. Otherwise there had been some settling in the area we are taking about. The first floor slopes in the area of the bang.

    I used a carpenters bubble to check the slope. When I first checked the rad I believed was the issue it was sloping away from the valve, I'm going to try to level it by lifting the whole rad, like Terry suggested. Then pitch it correctly. currently I'm using wood shims it's easy for me b/c one I get them under the rad I and use a hammer and tap them to the thicker end. I can't lift them to place a quarter under it...

    All the union valves are completely open EVERYWHERE in the house.. I do not think this is an issue.

    The pressure is 1psi. The main vents are Dole #3c. Like I said I was told they weren't working and undersized for the system (if they were working). I"m getting Gordon #2's in the mail today. Yeah I"m excited b/c the second issue with the system is how loud the hissing is at the start and end of the cycle. All the air in the system in being released through the rad vents  at the start of the cycle and then when the boiler  turns off there is a loud HISSSSSSSSSSS out of every rad for about 50 seconds... Let me say Annoying, especially when you are sleeping... I was told changing the mains will help a ton, plus save on gas.

    Let me state simply what my goals are for this system

    1) Stop the very loud hissing at the start and stop of cycles

    2) Stop the banging that is occurring at the back of the house.

    Attached are pics.
  • Main Vents

    Hi- The Gortons will make a huge difference!!!   I use a short length of 2x4 as a lever and a couple of 2x4 blocks to gently raise radiators. I haven't time now to look at your pictures but will do so this evening. Looks like you have good insulation on your mains.

    - Rod
  • mchema
    mchema Member Posts: 37
    Can't get mains off

    GRRR... The mains are very much stuck! I tried everything, even using a heat gun to get them off... Any other suggestion? I think I'm going to call someone on this... I just don't think I"m strong enough! 
  • LarryC
    LarryC Member Posts: 331
    Insulation missing on banging mains?

    If the pipes that lead to the banging radiators are uninsulated, that can also contribute to the water hammer.  The pipes are acting as radiators and the steam is condensing inside the pipe.  The hammer is due to the condensate (water) slamming into the pipe wall when the pipe changes direction.  Reduce the amount of condesate to an acceptable level and it flows smoothly.  Just like traffic on a road.

    So, if the uninsulated pipes lead to the banging piping, insulating MIGHT help reduce the water hammer. 

    Good Luck.
  • mchema
    mchema Member Posts: 37

    I don't think insulation is a problem or at least from what I can see. All the pipes in the basement are well insulated, even if some of it is asbestos. When you look up into the hole in which the pipes raise into there is insulation  up in there (the same stuff as the main) I don't know how far up it goes into the wall but I'm not opening the wall to find out!

    Currently I"m working on my main vent issue. I got some vents in the mail today but I talked with a wonderful steam heat tech 40 min away from my home. Although he was booked and my home generally isn't in his area he gave me a TON of tips on how to get that main off. He said if I really needed him to come down he would but he and I both wanted to see if I could get it myself.  He also explained how I needed more vents. soooo I ordered them tonight, should get them in 3 days. I'll get some penetrating oil in the morning and let it sit on the main and it's nipple. I'll also collect the plumbing that I will need to set-up all the vents for the main. I hope the penetrating oil works and I don't have to call a plumber. He also gave me info on how to find PHCC contractors in my area. Such a great help! I think they are one of the last in the cleveland area that are still researching to improve steam heat. 
  • ttekushan_3
    ttekushan_3 Member Posts: 958
    Ahhh, you are in Cleveland

    You are in good hands here, if I don't say so myself.

    You are also in the company of vapor system and SelecTemp experts! [check out the library under unusual equipment/systems]

  • mchema
    mchema Member Posts: 37

    I'm really from the Akron area... but it seems to get all lumped into one Cleveland/Akron. But I grew up in the Cleveland area.... 
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