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Metal-on-wood Expansion Noise - How to Eliminate?

KevinKKevinK Member Posts: 67
Are there "standard" techniques/recommendations for eliminating metal-on-wood expansion noise? I recently bought a house with a one-pipe steam heating system. Upon start-up (and only upon start-up), the system produces a series of clicking noises at several locations. After a good deal of careful observation, I have identified the two primary noise sources (both are in the basement):

a. a 6" segment of pipe-and-elbow (connecting to a riser to the 2nd floor) that is resting directly on the wood sill-plate (with all of the weight of the riser bearing down); access is limited by being located in the corner, and, "behind" the steam main;

b. an 8" segment where the steam main crosses a notched 6" x 8" support beam.

I am wondering if something like Liquid Wrench Dry Lubricant (contains Cerflon) would "penetrate" and "lubricate" between the pipe and the wood??

Thanks.
One-pipe steam. NG fired. 2100 sq ft heated space.
Utica Boiler PEG150C (150,000 Btu/hr Input) connected to 491 sq ft of radiation. Operating press 0.5 psi.

Comments

  • moneypitfeedermoneypitfeeder Member Posts: 235
    Hangers

    I know access is tight, but can you get a hanger in there to lift slightly the pipe on the sill plate? Or can the rad its connected to be raised slightly without losing its pitch back to valve? (i.e. by shimming all four feet appropriately) With the steam main, has it fallen over the years, and if so can you get a hanger on it to lift it just off that beam without losing the pitch you need? I'd check the temperature ranges on any dry film lube, just to make sure if you go that route, That main gets very hot!
    steam newbie
  • Jamie HallJamie Hall Member Posts: 11,375
    edited February 2011
    I've never had much luck

    with dry film lubricants on wood, unless the wood is highly polished -- which I doubt that the sill is!  On the other hand, some folks have reported very good results with slipping a piece of plastic, such as you might cut from a tired Tupperward container or possibly even a milk jug (check that it will take steam temperatures) between the pipe and the wood.

    .

    On the other hand, the noise does tell you that the boiler has fired up and you are going to be warmer in a little bit...
    Br. Jamie, osb

    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England.

    Hoffman Equipped System (all original except boiler), Weil-Mclain 580, 2.75 gph Carlin, Vapourstat 0.5 -- 6.0 ounces per square inch
  • KevinKKevinK Member Posts: 67
    RE: Hanger

    - I hope that I am responding correctly: I selected the "post a reply to this thread" button.

    - Adding a hanger might work for the steam main, but there is not enough access to hang the riser. However, I am hoping that there is a "smaller gun" solution before I try to rehang what I am guessing to be hundreds of pounds of steam piping. That's why the "lubricant" solution occurred to me. Cerflon is an advanced Teflon-based product. I believe it to be highly heat resistant (e.g., it is apparently used as a gun lubricant), but, my belief is no substitute for knowledge. Any experience/knowledge out there?

    - With regard to raising the 2nd floor radiator, my concern is that the combination of pipe flex and continued weight load from the riser would eventually put me back where I started. Make sense?
    One-pipe steam. NG fired. 2100 sq ft heated space.
    Utica Boiler PEG150C (150,000 Btu/hr Input) connected to 491 sq ft of radiation. Operating press 0.5 psi.
  • KevinKKevinK Member Posts: 67
    RE: I've never had much luck

    - I'm a new to this site; I am trying the "Reply" button this time.

    - Thanks for your thoughts regarding dry lubricant on wood. That makes sense. Especially when I imagine the combination of dust, rust, dirt, etc that have collected in these locations over the 85-year life of the system. I like the "add a lubricating liner" idea (ie, the piece of plastic/Tupperware). Tupperware sounds good; I wonder if Tyvek would work (might be easier to get in place)? Perhaps a combination of "liner" and  dry lubricant?
    One-pipe steam. NG fired. 2100 sq ft heated space.
    Utica Boiler PEG150C (150,000 Btu/hr Input) connected to 491 sq ft of radiation. Operating press 0.5 psi.
  • KevinKKevinK Member Posts: 67
    Hangers

    - Now that I know what I am doing, I am resubmitting this response so as to maintain the thread.

    - Adding a hanger might work for the steam main, but there is not enough access to hang the riser. However, I am hoping that there is a "smaller gun" solution before I try to rehang what I am guessing to be hundreds of pounds of steam piping. That's why the "lubricant" solution occurred to me. Cerflon is an advanced Teflon-based product. I believe it to be highly heat resistant (e.g., it is apparently used as a gun lubricant), but, my belief is no substitute for knowledge. Any experience/knowledge out there?

    - With regard to raising the 2nd floor radiator, my concern is that the combination of pipe flex and continued weight load from the riser would eventually put me back where I started. Make sense?
    One-pipe steam. NG fired. 2100 sq ft heated space.
    Utica Boiler PEG150C (150,000 Btu/hr Input) connected to 491 sq ft of radiation. Operating press 0.5 psi.
  • RodRod Posts: 2,067
    Experiment ?

    Most of the high temp plastics that might work can be costly and I think it would just bind up. As Jamie mentioned, try a piece of plastic milk bottle. The heat might degrade it a bit so don't try storing milk in it at the same time :)  Hanging on a wire/ wire rope works best. You might try slipping a piece of sheet metal between the pipe and the wood and add a little high temp bearing grease. I've done that with hot hydraulic pipes and it works well in a lot of cases.

    - Rod
  • Brad WhiteBrad White Member Posts: 2,392
    edited February 2011
    Have you considered

    one of those "chain" saws? No, not a McCulloch, but one of those flexible cable and carbide saws they sell at Brookstone and  Outdoor Adventure Stores for MEN who Never Leave the City But Want To Look Sporty About Town?



    Ahem. Anyway, I used one years ago to cut and open up the wood around the pipe, drilled a hole near the pipe, scribed a line around it and with a partner below, did the "saw pit thing".  Wear gloves to protect your knuckles. But it worked great and the escutcheon plate covered it all anyway. (This one sounded like a knocking visitor any time of the day or night.) Chisels did not work, there was no way to get to that quadrant. The saw eased right around it though.



    An ideal if not code in most areas, is to have one inch of air space to combustibles. Even at steam temperatures, over time, the lignin in the wood can char. Charred wood has a lower ignition point than raw wood. Not trying to alarm but to explain.  Solves the noise problem too.



    As for wood lubricants, I use this stuff, it is a silicone wax of sorts, (sorry, the can is buried in a box in the basement). But it is a greaseless lubricant for wooden drawers.  Being silicone, I believe, it should take some temperature. Regardless, I consider using lubricants a short-term solution to the pipe noise problem. Air space suits me much better.
    "If you do not know the answer, say, "I do not know the answer", and you will be correct!"



    -Ernie White, my Dad
  • KevinKKevinK Member Posts: 67
    Status Update

    I have some health problems so I am not always able to get things done as quickly as I would like to. Thanks to all who provided suggestions. My current plan is as follows:



    With regard to the 6" pipe-and-elbow segment: If I can, I am going to install a "liner" (Tupperware or sheet aluminum) between the pipe and the wood sill. In addition, or as a substitute, I will spray the interface with the Liquid Wrench Dry Lubricant (not easy to find; purchased at Lowes).



    With regard to the segment where the steam main crosses a notched support beam: this segment is surrounded by insulation (probably asbestos); so, I will have to wait until the end of the heating system to tackle this one.



    I will provide a follow-up note when I have some results to post.
    One-pipe steam. NG fired. 2100 sq ft heated space.
    Utica Boiler PEG150C (150,000 Btu/hr Input) connected to 491 sq ft of radiation. Operating press 0.5 psi.
  • KevinKKevinK Member Posts: 67
    Final Results

    The 6" pipe-and-elbow segment: I was unable to raise the segment enough to install a liner (too much weight/limited access). So, I shimmed it with a 2x4 in the hope of creating some minimal gap, then I sprayed the pipe/wood interface well with the Dry Lubricant (having previously thoroughly vacuumed all dust/dirt).



    Result: it has been 3 weeks and I haven't heard a peep from this location.
    One-pipe steam. NG fired. 2100 sq ft heated space.
    Utica Boiler PEG150C (150,000 Btu/hr Input) connected to 491 sq ft of radiation. Operating press 0.5 psi.
  • Jamie HallJamie Hall Member Posts: 11,375
    Thank you

    for the update, Kevin -- I'm delighted that it seems to be working so far!
    Br. Jamie, osb

    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England.

    Hoffman Equipped System (all original except boiler), Weil-Mclain 580, 2.75 gph Carlin, Vapourstat 0.5 -- 6.0 ounces per square inch
  • crash2009crash2009 Member Posts: 1,484
    I have

     1 spot I would like to try at my place.  What is the name of the lube you used?
  • Chris M_2Chris M_2 Member Posts: 67
    Bar of Soap

    Rubbing a plain old bar of soap on the friction areas could do the trick as well, as a cheap solution.  ...old carpenter's trick for squeaky doors. 
  • Steve_175Steve_175 Member Posts: 234
    Carpenters Trick

    As an old carpenter I can tell you that trick is not a good one. Over time the soap dries out and it attracts lots of dirt .
  • KevinKKevinK Member Posts: 67
    RE: I have

    I used Liquid Wrench's "Dry Lubricant" spray. It was hard to find; I purchased it from Home Depot as part of a six-pack of various Liquid Wrench lubricants. As I mentioned in a previous post, it contains Cerflon, which apparently is a newer (higher temp??) version of Teflon. I'm guessing here (as with the Cerflon), but, Teflon spray (aka PTFE spray), which is easier to find, might work just as well??
    One-pipe steam. NG fired. 2100 sq ft heated space.
    Utica Boiler PEG150C (150,000 Btu/hr Input) connected to 491 sq ft of radiation. Operating press 0.5 psi.
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