Welcome! Here are the website rules, as well as some tips for using this forum.
Need to contact us? Visit https://heatinghelp.com/contact-us/.
Click here to Find a Contractor in your area.

Mystery kettling noise. HELP!

yaravergucht
yaravergucht Member Posts: 3
edited February 2021 in Strictly Steam
Help! I have oil fired steam heat with the old type cast iron radiators. During EVERY heating cycle, for the WHOLE cycle, there is this CONSTANT kettling/rattling/low banging noise in some of the walls and all the radiators. Loud enough not to be background white noise, and also wakes us up when heat kicks in since the noise in the wall is right by our bed.

Here is link to noise video:

https://youtu.be/e4_uy6he6mc

I've had two plumbers look at this issue, and so far no ideas of what is going on. Plumbers have tightened valves (some were leaking water), replaced the steam valves, checked pitches of radiators. They say that they typiclaly get reports of banging noises, but that this type of noise they had not heard, and cannot figure out!

Anyone experienced this, know what it could be?!

Thank you, Yara

Comments

  • ethicalpaul
    ethicalpaul Member Posts: 5,701
    The audio isn't here, but water hammer (likely what you're hearing) is caused by water being where it shouldn't be in your steam system.

    This can be caused by improper pitch in pipes or radiators, or it can be caused by improper near-boiler piping.

    If you send photos of your boiler from a few angles and about 10 feet away we can see how those look.

    It's possible for pipe pitch issues to exist in finished floors due to house settling. That can be difficult to fix but there are some things you can try.

    If you are in the basement during the banging, can you narrow down where it's coming from? It can be difficult to tell.
    NJ Steam Homeowner. See my sight glass boiler videos: https://bit.ly/3sZW1el
    yaravergucht
  • JUGHNE
    JUGHNE Member Posts: 11,060
    Can you see what pressure it operates at?
    Has anyone cleaned the pigtail under the pressure control?
    yaravergucht
  • clammy
    clammy Member Posts: 3,111
    Has anyone with a fair knowledge of steam systems taken a look at your system . If none of the professional who had looked at the system can’t figure it out you need to get some one who knows what there looking at . It may be as simple as a over filled boiler w a clogged sight glass Or clogged returns or even simpler a really dirty boiler . Find yourself some one w steam knowledge, some one who will take the time and check the even simpler things that make stuff not work as they should ,you don’t have the right detectives on the case peace and good luck clammy
    R.A. Calmbacher L.L.C. HVAC
    NJ Master HVAC Lic.
    Mahwah, NJ
    Specializing in steam and hydronic heating
    yaravergucht
  • Zipper13
    Zipper13 Member Posts: 229
    Many here will disagree with me (and they have more experience than me and often recommend against water additives since it's far too easy to go overboard with them so that keep that in mind), but our boiler will bang at start up some times and also rattle like someone slowly rolling a coffee can full of BB's for about three minutes. Last year I tried adding a little Rectorseal 8 Way - it helped for a while, but "wore off" halfway through the season. Cleaned the water out as best I could this summer and now this winter I added Hercules Scout boiler cleaner to the boiler water and it's dramatically reduced both the intensity and duration of the noises. Still going strong, but it's been a mild winter. I don't think it's the best solution, but it's been a solution at my home for what seems to be a boiler that hadn't had any maintenance for 10 year before we moved in..
    New owner of a 1920s home with steam heat north of Boston.
    Just trying to learn what I can do myself and what I just shouldn't touch
    yaravergucht
  • iPipefitter
    iPipefitter Member Posts: 15
    edited February 2021
    Sounds like water hammer, is the piping properly pitched? If you could post pictures that'd be great. Could be a bad steam trap or multiple bad steam traps, bad steam traps can cause, Steam Flashing, water hammer & banging noises emanating from the Steam Pipes, pump cavitations, and blowing steam from the vent on the condensate receiver. You should have a professional check your traps as well.
    yaravergucht
  • yaravergucht
    yaravergucht Member Posts: 3
    Thank you all for the ideas and thoughts! Super helpful. I will follow up with photos. I wish I could attach the sound files, but it's not letting me.

    Best,
    Yara
  • yaravergucht
    yaravergucht Member Posts: 3
    edited February 2021
    @ethicalpaul @JUGHNE @clammy @Zipper13 @iPipefitter

    I was able to upload some of the sound files to a youtube video. See below. Is this the water hammering noise some of you mention? This noise is constant throughout the whole heating cycle (can go on for more than an hour at a time), and it's not just a loud bang here and there.

    https://youtu.be/e4_uy6he6mc

    I'll post some more photos of the boiler later, but just wanted to share the sound files to see if you guys recognize this.

    Thanks again!
    Yara
  • ethicalpaul
    ethicalpaul Member Posts: 5,701
    I look forward to what the others think, but the sound seems "closest" to the bedroom radiator. I would probably have a look inside the bedroom radiator valve to see if the valve seat has rusted out and is lying at the bottom of the valve.

    It could also be a low spot in a pipe causing a water trap that the steam is bubbling through/collapsing against. Does the sound diminish during a long call for heat (like from a nighttime setback)?

    One thing you can do if you have one-pipe radiators with vents is one at a time, rotate the vent upside down then turn up the thermostat to see if the noise disappears. If it does, then you can narrow down the cause to the steam supply going to that radiator.

    The sound COULD also be coming from the boiler or a main pipe, but in my limited experience, I have never heard a sound like that from near my boiler.
    NJ Steam Homeowner. See my sight glass boiler videos: https://bit.ly/3sZW1el
  • clammy
    clammy Member Posts: 3,111
    Sounds like a radiator valve who’s washer has come off the stem and is bouncing and rattling . I ve recently replaced a few valves who’s washers where total destroyed no noise but restricting steam in and condensate out . Symptoms were the radiator wouldn’t hit completely even during a long cycle. Replace the valve radiator heat it up I don’t remember what brand it was hope this helps . Try using a long screw driver against the piping it may help you narrow down which one . I think I would start searching from the beginning of the heat cycle and following the steam main out . Waiting to see the near boiler piping and what the sight glass looks like . Peace and good luck clammy
    R.A. Calmbacher L.L.C. HVAC
    NJ Master HVAC Lic.
    Mahwah, NJ
    Specializing in steam and hydronic heating
  • kenlmad
    kenlmad Member Posts: 56
    I use a mechanics stethoscope to help pinpoint the source of noises.



    https://www.harborfreight.com/mechanics-stethoscope-63691.html
  • Since the valves are only to be turned off for occasional service, why not simply remove the valve washer, and avoid the agony of a replacement?
    the bonnet can be removed far more easily then the old spud.—NBC 
    ethicalpaul
  • Zipper13
    Zipper13 Member Posts: 229
    Sounds very similar to a sound I've had - I traced it back to a single radiator inlet valve that was not open enough. It could be heard at every radiator, echoing through the pipes, I guess.

    Most of my radiators are equipped with Hoffman adjustable radiator supply valves to modulate the flow of steam in and slow/speed up the rate that specific radiators get hot. It helps balance the heating.

    One room has a new (within the last 25 years) radiator and inlet valve one it. this inlet valve is not intended to be throttled to modulate steam in, but I cheat and try to use it that way anyway. This particular valve by design is supposed to be fully open or fully closed at all times, but I found that just opening it a quarter turn gets me the perfect heating time....BUT every now and then, I hear a sound very similar to yours and I suspect that it could be due to condensate pooling near the steam inlet, and steam just barely getting through the mostly closed valve in enough velocity and quantity to push through unimpeded.
    in my case, the fix is to open the valve just a hair and then all is well.
    New owner of a 1920s home with steam heat north of Boston.
    Just trying to learn what I can do myself and what I just shouldn't touch
  • fnmnjim
    fnmnjim Member, Email Confirmation Posts: 7
    is the steam piping in the basement properly insulated ? This were most water hammer begins ( steam condenses in uninsulated pipes)