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Noise from Boiler and Hot Water Tank

Thomas_6 Member Posts: 14
Dear Madam/Sir,  My home was built in 1996.  My wife and I purchased it in 2008.  The heating equipment (Burnham boiler) and hot water tank (A.O. Smith) are: located in the basement (underneath bedrooms); power vented; gas fueled; attached to copper pipes; the boiler has one loop (approximately 150 feet); and all those things operating transmit too much noise into the Master Bedroom, disrupting sleep.  We had a minor problem with the boiler (relay switch started to constantly make a clicking noise).  My plumber replaced the replay.  During the repair, I had mentioned that the equipment is a bit noisy (and the Master Bedroom can be a bit cold because it is the last room in the heating loop).  The repairman observed pipes against wood joists, etc., and he inserted foam pads between the wood and copper pipe (and power vent) and some locations.  There was no noticeable improvement.  Then, he suggested that the company owner could stop by to provide a quote to place the Master Bedroom onto a separate zone.  During the next visit, the owner suggested that I could build a room, surrounding the boiler and hot water tank to dampen equipment noise.  Alternately, he suggested a new Condensing High Efficiency Gas Boiler and Indirect Fired Water Heater (to eliminate/reduce noise).  Enough background!  Before I proceeded with contractor's offer, I started observing my system to develop solutions.  I thought that I might be able to keep the existing boiler at its current location (underneath bedroom), but make its operation quieter.  And purchase a new but electric hot water heater (to eliminate the loud noise generated by its power vent system).   I noticed, however, that the boiler system generates two types of noises that I would like to fix.  First, it's Taco 0007F5 circulator generates some minor vibration (noise) which is transmitted upstream into the Master Bedroom baseboard heating unit.  I do not think the noise is due to a bad circulator impeller (or air in the system).  To eliminate the turbulence/vibration, I thought of the following ideas and would like your opionions.  First, replace a section of the copper pipe with pex/plastic. (I have already secured the pipe and shimmed the baseboard to some good effect).  Second, add more length of copper pipe (upstream of the circulator).  Third, reverse the direction of the loop (so that the pump noise vibrates into a different room's baseboard heating unit).   The next loudest boiler noise is generated (I believe) when its (Honeywell - natural) gas valve  circuit "clicks on".  So, can I purchase a quiet gas Valve?  If I can eliminate: the circulator noise (into the Master Bedroom); and gas valve "clicking-on noise", we might decide to construct a room surrounding the current boiler - and leave it at its current location. Otherwise, I might need to move the furnace to an area of the basement which is not directly underneath "sleep headquarters."

Please advise.

Thank you.


  • delta T
    delta T Member Posts: 884
    First of all

    It is probably a bad idea to change the direction of flow through the boiler. The heat exchanger is designed to flow a certain way, and changing the direction of flow will most likely not solve the sound issue. Your Taco 007 should not vibrate enough to make an audible noise, it may be worthwhile to check the impeller on the pump to see if there is anything stuck on it that would imbalance it, though that is kind of a long shot. They do make vibration isolators that could be installed in the piping to eliminate most of the noise from vibration. The "clicking" noise you hear when the gas valve fires is most likely a relay making and not the gas valve its self. A picture of your boiler and the related near boiler piping would would be useful as well as the model number of the boiler.

    I think I know what boiler you have, and if I am right (power vented burnham cast iron sectional with a second pass heat exchanger, can't remember the model no. off hand) the combustion blower can be pretty noisy and there is not a whole lot to be done about it. They also came equipped with a thermostatic bypass valve that injects a small amount of the hot supply water into the return water to warm it up and prevent condensation forming on the heat exchanger. The valve was made by Taco and I have had problems with them in the past when they get stuck and reduce flow. Could be the cause of your bedroom not getting hot enough.
  • Thomas_6
    Thomas_6 Member Posts: 14
    Thanks - First of All

    Delta T,

    Thanks for your response.  You are spot on! 

    a.  Understood, "It is a bad idea to change the direction of flow through the boiler".   So, that "backward design" idea will not be an option.   

    b.  Vibration isolation is a good idea.  I will review product options, especially at HeatingHelp.com.  FYI, the Taco 0007F5 circulator does not appear to generate audible noise when standing adjacent to the boiler near the circulator.  However, I do hear "pumping/running water" type of vibration noise when I place my ear against either the circulator or the upstream copper pipe delivering (return heating loop) water to the circulator.  It is this particular (circulator) noise which appears to be transferred upstream through roughly 12 feet of 3/4 copper pipe into the Master Bedroom baseboard system (causing some noise in that room's metal baseboard heating pipe/fin/trim system - which I hope to eliminate).  

    (I do not think) the circulator "pumping vibration" noise can be heard downstream of the boiler (on the segment of the copper pipe heating loop, servicing the first room - probably the downstream boiler  absorbs all the circulator's vibration noise).  Again, the Master Bedroom is on the last leg of the hot water baseboard heating loop - just upstream of the circulator.

    c.  Your right.  I am not sure what is making the clicking noise when the boiler calls for heat.  It might be a relay as you suggest.  Therefore, I will perform  additional observations (of the components behind the front access panel - and post pictures to help identify the parts).   

    d.  Boiler: Burnham, Model P-203 PV-WNI.   Hot water tank: AO Smith, Model M004010000.

    e.  As you suggest, I will take pictures of boiler and the related components (probably Friday) and plan to post them by this weekend January 18/19, 2014.

    f.  Yes.  The boiler combustion blower is "pretty noisy.   However, the boiler is relatively quiet compared to the combustion blower system on the hot water tank.  FYI, before retiring for the night, I set the water tank temperature to "vacation mode." That action, keeps the water tank "off" and quiet during the night. 

    Therefore, one option developed (for water heater quiet) is to replace the (roughly 16 year old natural gas) hot water tank with an electric model [or, possibly move all equipment 50 feet forward so that it would be underneath the kitchen non-sleeping area.  Part of that move (or dream) plan might be to connect a (new) Indirect Fired Water Heater to the existing but moved Burnham boiler]. 

    I do, however, want to quiet the boiler combustion blower system - if feasible.  And keep the Burnham boiler at its current location.  (So I will post pictures.  Hopefully, the thermostatic bypass valve can be identified from the pictures).  

    The noise generated by boiler combustion seems to be transmitted over-the-air and though flooring materials into the bedroom.  For, this reason, the construction of a "sound-proof" room surrounding the furnace (at its current location) might be a practical (but which I fear will be an unsuccessfully useless) approach to reduce airborne furnace noise from entering the bedroom area. 

    Thanks again.  Tom        
  • M Lane
    M Lane Member Posts: 123
    A good Mod Con

    piped right is virtually silent; add a indirect water heater and you'll have no more equipment noise. At most you hear a slight fan noise. Make sure your system is perfectly purged, air in the pipes sounds like marbles rolling through them. Make sure you have a good air separator. Then if your hear creaking and groaning, that is expansion in the pipes rubbing against the wood it touches. If you can get isolation going there you will have a very quiet system.

    Might be cheaper than building an insulated room, which if you do, remember to bring in some combustion air.
  • ChicagoCooperator
    ChicagoCooperator Member Posts: 351
    Basement ceiling

    I'm assuming your basement ceiling is exposed joists & subfloor? Perhaps you could apply drywall to the area under your bedroom to muffle the noise if your other methods don't work. 
  • Thomas_6
    Thomas_6 Member Posts: 14
    Pictures: Power Vented - Natural Gas (NG) Boiler and NG Water Tank

    I hope that you are able to track photographs with the following descriptions.  Picture 10: Burnham Boiler, Model P-203 PV (on right) and AO Smith Model FPSH 40 270 (left).   Picture 5: Boiler with front panel removed, showing control components.  Picture 8: Taco circulator Model 007 F5.  Picture 13: Horizontal pipe stanchion (installed January 2014) upstream of circulator.  Picture 25: Close up of circulator.  What is purpose of the two visible weep holes?  Picture 14: Overhead bracket (installed January 2014) attached to boiler blower vent. Picture 15: Heating loop shown returning from Master Bedroom area to boiler.  Note return line is soldered to an "across-joist-copper-pipe" support.  Picture 12: Flow control valve installed downstream of boiler.  

    Again (when standing next to the boiler) the noise generated by the circulator is barely noticable.  However, the noise appears to be amplified (upstream of the boiler/circulator) in the above adjacent Master Bedroom.  When I place a large screwdriver onto the parts (circulator, above hardwood flooring; and Master Bedroom baseboard heating system), I am able to hear a "wooo-wooo-wooo" noise (which is the sound of pump cylinder operating - I think).   I realize that other components (i.e., boiler blower, water tank power exhaust) are also contributing to (heating unit) noise heard in the bedroom.  However, I would like to attack this noise problem "piecemeal."  With the information presented (so far), do you think that my (circulator) is generating "normal" vibration noises which cannot be significantly reduced?   Thanks again for your insight!     
  • Thomas_6
    Thomas_6 Member Posts: 14
    edited January 2014
    Pictures: Power Vented - Natural Gas (NG) Boiler and NG Water Tank

  • Thomas_6
    Thomas_6 Member Posts: 14
    Thanks for Basement Ceiling Post

    I bet our U.S. Navy Submariner Sailors are laughing at me, struggling to develop solutions to make a home heating water circulator "go silent!"   Yes, the joists are exposed.  In addition to drywall, there are some foam acoustic products that might be commercially available.  However, I think some of the foams and paneling sheets can be quite combustible.  So, I like the drywall idea.  (Especially, "unpainted," drywall is an excellent material for fire safety purposes).  FYI, the boiler loop would penetrate the proposed drywall ceiling.  Therefore, I hope to reduce/quiet the source" (of the noise being generated by the water-heating-pipe before it leaves the "drywall room") - so that the annoying noise/vibration does not simply continue along the section of pipe that would extend through and beyond the (potential) drywall barrier and into the Bed Room.   
  • Thomas_6
    Thomas_6 Member Posts: 14
    Identified: Vibration Isolator (Flexible Braided Copper) for Heating Loop

    Identified subject "isolator pipe" at Flexicraft (800-533-1024).  Their product number for 3/4 x 10 inch (with Female Sweat ends) is SSC0050.   It has an operating pressure of 340 psi at room temperature.  (The pressure correction factor for 250 F operating temperature is 0.86; therefore the unit should be good for 340 psi x 0.86 = 292 F.  Since the circulator/boiler is rated for maximum operating temperature of 240 F, the installation of the "vibration-isolation-part" is a good potential solution for damping vibration generated by the ciculator - and transferred upstream into the heating loop system (and into the Master Bedroom).  The product literature states that flexible connectors (since they are thinner) will not last as long as rigid pipe.  FYI, a State of California bulletin listed three manufactures of flexible vibration connectors: FlexiCraft; Flex Hose; and Metraflex).  Thanks again delta T for the "piping isolation suggestion."    
  • Thomas_6
    Thomas_6 Member Posts: 14
    Please Explain Term "Mod Con"

    M Lane:  Thanks for emphasizing the need for combustion air (if a insulation room is constructed - to reduce boiler/water heater noise). 

    I don't hear much (expansion) creaking and groaning in the flooring, etc.  However, I "creek and groan" all day long. 

    FYI, the vibration noise generated by the Taco 007F5 can generally be heard  when I "listen" with one end of a large screwdriver touching the circulator or piping, and the other end against my ear.  The sound I hear is, "Wooo, wooo."  I am not a good sound replicator.  Anyway, I had an opportunity to listen to the sound made (in a different house) by an older Taco 007F4.  The older unit (when operating) generates a similar sound (but maybe not so loud as the F5, but reasonably similar).  The reason why the observation is significant (to me) is it suggests that the 007F5 circulator impeller probably is working as designed (yet, producing some vibration that is being transferred throughout the baseboard system).  Therefore, replacement of the ciculator cartridge is not high on the priority list (for now).  

    Your suggestion to check the "air separator" led me to believe that is is not working.  (The small air valve cap was hard to remove.  When it was unthreaded and off, and without depressing the air valve, a significant amount of water continuously leaked from the stem and onto the basement floor.  So, for now, I replaced the cap - which stopped the flow of water).   However, I do purge the system regularly at each baseboard unit.   So, although the air separator (top element) needs to be repaired, I do think (for now) that "system air" is "innocent" until proved "guilty".     

    Does "Mod Con" mean "Modern Condensing (Boiler)"?

    Thank you.
  • AFred
    AFred Member Posts: 81

    How about some simple stuff.

    When was the last time the power vent motor was cleaned and oiled? Your owners manual should tell you how and when to do so.

    A few drips of 3in1/20 weight/electric motor oil in the 2 oil ports of the motor, and blow out the vents on the motor with some compressed air.

    Try that, Good luck

  • M Lane
    M Lane Member Posts: 123
    edited January 2014

    It's Modulating. They are really, really quiet. Especially if you are used to power vent motors. And a 007 should be silent too. We usually pipe in a purge valve arrangment at the return end of the manifold. Look for a hose-end style valve (other than the one that drains the boiler) that has a shut-off valve downstream that would work as a dead-head to blow air out of the system with a hose. The PRV on the water make-up should have a lever to increase pressure for faster flow, or better yet a valved by-pass around it. But you have to be aware of keep the hose running before you increase the pressure to purge or else you will lift your reflief valve and make a mess. I would re-suggest going with a in-direct water heater too instead of electric. An expensive fix, but the most foolproof of your options.
  • Thomas_6
    Thomas_6 Member Posts: 14
    edited January 2014
    I have no idea which is not good news

    Thanks AFred.  I have lived in the home for about 5 years and embarrassingly, during my "watch", I have not scheduled service (for cleaning either internal flue passages or main burners, etc.).  The elderly gentleman who lived in the home before me developed Alzheimer's disease and died.  His widow probably was overwhelmed with grief and more worried about scheduling lawn service (something about keeping up external appearances in this neighborhood) than doing the "right thing" by reading and comprehending Owner Manual information (which the installers attached to the side of the boiler - approximately 16 years ago).  Frankly, I have read the manual a few times during the past five years.  However, I have to admit that I also have been overwhelmed too - but in my case, I have been overwhelmed with my own stupidity.  (Through my fault), I have failed to: comprehend Owner Manual information and recommendations; and develop a sense of urgency about scheduling long-overdue boiler preventive maintenance. 

    The crew at The Wall, however, is helping me to "focus my mind" (for which I would to thank each one of you).  The Manual recommends annual inspection and service.  The Service Section ends with information on another topic I have been searching for an answer the past few weeks - lubrication.  The Manual says, "There are no parts requiring lubrication by service technician or owner.  Circulator bearings are water lubricated.  Blower motor bearings are factory sealed". 

    Yes you are also correct as the Owners Manual indeed describes in detail, instructions on vent removal and inspection, and blower removal for inspection and cleaning of the lower boiler flue passages.   It is very helpful information and insight you have provided.  I will plan to get the maintenance done!

    FYI, I have other lingering concerns.  One is about the "expected boiler operating temperature" (as displayed on the gauge) relative to the "mechanical set point".  This topic is coupled to a (The Wall) "thread/comment" on "thermostatic bypass valve." So I hope to write on this topic in a few days - after I have an opportunity to complete some boiler gage observations.  Finally, I hope to summarize (all) findings in order to help other readers, who like me, came to this high level professional web site via an Internet search (for a boiler noise problem).          

    Thank you.     

  • Thomas_6
    Thomas_6 Member Posts: 14
    No By Pass Valve But What About Boiler Operating Temperature

    I was following up on DeltaT's information about the "ByPass Value" (provided in Subject - First of All).  The "Water Piping and Trim" section of the Owner Manual (Burnham Installation, Operating and Service Instructions Series 2PV Gas Boiler) provides a drawing for a recommended Bypass Piping. The manual says. "(Use a boiler bypass) if the boiler is to be operated in a system which has a large volume or excessive radiation where low boiler water temperatures may be encountered (i.e., converted gravity circulation system,etc).  Opening the boiler supply valve will raise system temperature, while opening the by-pass valve will lower system supply temperature. 

    Anyway, I inspected the piping associated with my Burnham (Model P-203 PV-WNI) and it does not have the bypass (loop).  

    In following up on your idea that "a stuck bypass valve" could reduce flow and possibly be causing the bedroom (last room on the baseboard loop) not to be getting hot enough, I monitored boiler operating values for temperature and pressure.  The (boiler) mechanical temperature valve is set to roughly 185 F.  The maximum gage temperature achieved (when the boiler's gas heaters turn off) is roughly 166 F.  The pressure stays constant at 15 psi (whether or not the furnace is on or off).  Do these values make sense to you?  

    Incidentally, I have 54 feet of baseboard.  54 feet x approximately 600 BTUs/ft = 32,400 BTU.  I think the boiler label says it is rated for 62,000 BTH/hr.  Does this  information (if I did it correctly) suggest that I do not have "a large volume or excessive radiation"?  Therefore, if I am below BTU capacity: my boiler system does not need a bypass loop?

  • icesailor
    icesailor Member Posts: 7,265
    Mechanical noise:

    You need to switch to electric resistance heat. Its quiet and no moving parts other than an obscure relay here and there.

    All heating systems whether Forced Hot Air or Forced Hot Water will be making "mechanical noises" because when things spin or move, they make noises. Even a "Quiet Room" isn't quiet and recording studios have a certain level of noise.

    Maybe you need one of those white noise generators. They are a lot cheaper than a new heating system that will still make noise and you will be aware of.

    In the 12 years I lived in the my last house that I built, with multiple zone valves and circulators. I never noticed any noises that I found offensive, and I can hear a cricket as it chirps and locate it instantly. But I can tell if my heat goes off because I notice the "silence".

    One man's noise is another man's music.
  • bill garnett_2
    bill garnett_2 Member Posts: 21
    noisy boiler

    Make sure all the air is out and that you have adequate air separator/purger. Also your boiler should last a long long time, Burnham is top shelf ! My suggestion for your water heater is an Indirect-no vent, no fan, lifetime warranty, efficient-use your boiler water to heat your domestic !!
  • Thomas_6
    Thomas_6 Member Posts: 14
    New Indirect Water Heater and Old Boiler


    Thank you for your post.  I like the idea of the indirect water heater (especially, to solve noise problems assoicated with my current very noisy direct vent natural gas water heater).   Soon, I plan to talk to my plumber.  I will mention your idea about keeping the current (conventional) boiler but plumbing an indirect water heater to replace the currrent 16 year old direct vent AO Smith model. 

    FYI, The Main Wall posts have been helping me develop investigative ideas about how to achieve less noise in all the equipment (i.e., your indirect water heater suggestion and IceSailor idea to switch to an electric heater are two examples).  

    I hope to keep the heating equipment at its current location.   Frankly, however, (possibly to save my marriage), if I cannot significantly reduce the vibration noise being generated by the baseboard heating "circulator",  I will ask (again) for a quote to move the equipment to the other side of the basement (about 50 feet away from the bedroom and under the kitchen); the heating circulator vibration noise tends to be a lot less at approximately the mid point in the loop (which is the kitchen/dinning room areas).    

    Thanks again.

  • Thomas_6
    Thomas_6 Member Posts: 14
    edited January 2014
    One Source of Boiler Chimney Noise Found and Fixed


    For some reason, the "boiler water circulator (in this 16 year old home) indeed generates more vibration noise than it should.  To illustrate, I attached a pipe hold down clamp (a few inches above the boiler circulator) and extended its hold-down rod, horizontally, to the foundation wall.  However, I removed this newly installed "pipe clamp" as the circulator generated more vibration noise (upstairs) when it was held rigid (with this pipe clamp design).  Also, over the last couple days, I noticed that (in some locations) the copper baseboard delivery pipe is soldered to copper support rods/pipe.  This support rod/pipe is pressed between two basement ceiling joists (16 inch spacing).  And the baseboard water loop run is welded to it.  So, maybe this design (solder of baseboard water pipe to copper support rods) does not allow the pipe to "fex" and dissipate the circulator vibration noise.  Anyway, I am being to believe that the support/rods promotes rigidness and hence possibly more vibration than if plastic support strap were used to support the boiler water pipe.

    I did stumble onto one lucky break.  (Like the hot water heater), the boiler has a power blower (chimney) system.  I noticed that the boiler chimney did not have full clearance where it penetrates out and through the top trim panel (of the boiler).  So, I shimmed some high temperature ceramic fiber insulation blanket between the chimney and the panel trim (where it was rubbing).  It (the ceramic fiber shim) really helped a lot (to reduce noise) .  In fact, it helped so much that the Tyco water circular vibration noise became "clearer" than ever (as its vibration noise now was not being blended with so much other heating equipment noises). 

    Yes, you are correct, however, about living with some noise!  At some point I will ask my wife to forgive me (for failing to be a better home boy - I mean handyman)!    
  • Thomas_6
    Thomas_6 Member Posts: 14
    Electric Resistant Heat and Location Requirement for Condensing High Efficiency Boiler

    IceSailor (or Others),

    Would you please provide a few highlights of the equipment associated with your suggestion, "Electric Resistance Heat?  The equipment that comes to my mind are: electric hot water heater; and baseboard electric heat. 

    Also, what do you think about the electric hot water heater with heat pump?  Vendor literature at Home Depot (Electric, and Gas) shows the Estimated Annual Operating Cost to be approximately twice for (conventional) electric hot water heater versus gas (natural or LP).  However, the display shows that (operating/fuel) cost to be roughly equal between the (heat pump model) electric hot water heater and the natural gas one.  

    However, one disadvantage of the "electric hot water heater with heat pump" would be its "operating noise".  Any thoughts?

    If I can successfully quiet (some more) noise associated with the current boiler (i.e., circulator vibration), I might purchase an electric heater (as a way to reduce the "big" noise associated with the current "power vented gas hot water heater" - which is 16 years old).  (Who knows maybe I too can get 60 working years out of the boiler).  Anyway, one design feature of the "new" electric water heater (plan) that I like is - the new hot water heater can be moved (from its current exterior wall location) and installed about 25 feet closer, to the central basement area of the home.  This new (potential) location, would help deliver hot water faster (to all faucets) than the current location.  I am not sure, but I thought if a new Condensing High Efficiency Gas Boiler (CHEGB) is installed (with a separate Indirect Fired Water Heater): the new equipment cannot be located near the "center" of the home (as the CHEGB is supposed to be attached to an exterior wall).  Any thoughts?

    Thank you.

    P.S.  We all hope and pray that y'all in Atlanta and surrounding areas are safe, warm, and home this cold evening in the Northeast!