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Loud "creaking" sound in wall when steam heat cycles on

We get a loud, high-pitched "creaking" sound in our wall whenever the steam heat cycles on. It lasts a really long time--often for a minute or more. It's in our guest bedroom and it's so loud, no one could sleep through the sound.

I assume the sound is from the steam pipe expanding and heating up or rubbing against the metal studs that attach to the drywall. (My contractor, who has gone AWOL, rebuilt the wall with 2" metal studs, and probably didn't leave enough room (or insulation) between the pipe and the metal studs).

Short of taking down the whole wall, any advice on things I can try? Putting in extra screws to better fasten the drywall and reduce movement? Open up only a part of the wall? Other ideas?

I'll attach a picture in my next post.



  • JohnNY
    JohnNY Member Posts: 3,231
    I'm here and not there, but 99.9%, you're going to have to open the wall and fix the situation.
    Part of my job, when I'm consulting, is to tell people things they don't want to hear.
    Just like this.
    Contact John "JohnNY" Cataneo, NYC Master Plumber, Lic 1784
    Consulting & Troubleshooting
    Heating in NYC or NJ.
  • biglebowski99
    biglebowski99 Member Posts: 21

    Here is a picture of the wall. The drywall that is showing is my neighbor's apartment, so we didn't touch those studs or drywall. My contractor put another set of studs and drywall on the other side, and I assume that is where the problem lies. The wall itself seems to have some give and if I lean up against it with all of my weight, I can replicate the creaking sound. Would love to do something short of ripping out an entire finished wall.

  • neilc
    neilc Member Posts: 2,707
    so that's the pipe you think is screaching ?
    and your wall is built on this side of that pipe?
    I see clamps to the 2x4 studs, and maybe another to the metal to the right,
    those are suspect, and would want some isolation, to the framing and to the clamp(s) itself.
    and if your leaning on your wall makes these same noises, then you'll want to add isolations at each of your studs also.
    Folks here often suggest plastic milk jug when isolation is needed to pipes thru floors, or thru joists, or along that pipe.
    Others here may have a better idea for better isolation material as it will be behind finished wall and not accessible in the future.
    Sorry, but I think you're going back in that wall.
    known to beat dead horses
  • Fred
    Fred Member Posts: 8,542
    edited November 2018
    The metal stud is up against that pipe. Is the noise at one particular location? If it is, you can cut a small square of drywall out and bend the metal stud back away from the pipe so that it isn't touching or you can wedge a piece of plastic milk carton between the stud and pipe. If the sound comes from more than one place, you may have to do that in each of those locations. Dry wall is easy to repair but the wall will likely need to be repainted.
    If I recall, we've seen this place, on here, before for another problem; radiator not heating? Is that correct?
  • biglebowski99
    biglebowski99 Member Posts: 21
    Thanks Fred and neilc!

    We actually fixed the loud banging radiator by re-routing a pipe to get more slope, which was great!

    Now, all we have left is this annoying creaking, and then we'll have a warm (and quiet!) home for the winter.

    Let me see if I can do a better job isolating the sound. It's not the end of the world if we have to make a few openings and patching/painting. However, taking down the whole wall would be annoying, to say the least.

  • mikeg2015
    mikeg2015 Member Posts: 1,194
    Steam pipes shouldn't be "clamped" like that to a wall. The pipe expands and contracts as it warms up by as much 150F each cycle. Heating pipes are supposed to be supported, but allowed to float a little. Larger piping with long runs rest on tapered rollers at commercial and industrial facilities. I've seen where the rollers seized and after 30 years or so wore a hole in the pipe.
  • 1Matthias
    1Matthias Member Posts: 148
    I use two "shims" made of a plastic milk jug between the pipe and whatever it's rubbing against. This way, plastic is slipping against plastic, and not against metal/wood. This reduces the friction even more than a single layer, and thus reduces the noise even more.