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Radiator Banging, Hissing, Gurgling, or Leaking?

It may have arrived casually late, but this winter’s truly bitter cold has finally settled into the streets of New York City. To keep the chill on the outside, your home heating system is now working overtime. Provided you had your annual boiler service done by a trusted professional last Fall, you can rest easy knowing your home heating system has the power to carry you comfortably through to Spring. If you forgot, consider yourself lucky to have working heat and schedule a professional tune-up immediately!

A Sensitive System

In addition to the hopefully toasty indoor temperature, you’re likely noting other, potentially more annoying signs that your boiler is running full-bore. A great many older NYC heating systems use radiators to circulate heat through the household. No matter how well they’re functioning or maintained, those radiators will quite literally speak up if even the slightest component is out of place. 

Banging & Knocking Radiators

If you have recently purchased a property with banging radiators, the first thing to do is to check the shut-off valve on each of them. A knocking sound is usually the result of steam coming into contact with cooler water, which can be caused by a leaky valve. When tenants or owners make the mistake of trying to control the heat by turning shut-off valves, the seal around the valve can be damaged, resulting in a leak. Other explanations can include a dirty boiler or a back-pitched pipe. If your valves are correctly positioned and intact, you may be able to stop the banging by shimmying up one side of the radiator so that it tips toward the boiler and prevents water from settling.

Hissing Radiators

When a hissing sound comes from your radiator, you can bet that air is escaping from the system. In most cases, you’ll just need to replace the air vent – routine maintenance that should be done every decade or so.

Gurgling Radiators

As radiator noises go, gurgling is a great one to hear because it’s almost always easy to fix. Gurgling usually indicates a build-up of air inside your pipes, so releasing it will resolve the issue. Bleeding your radiators is an essential maintenance skill that every homeowner should learn. If you haven’t yet gained the necessary knowledge, hire a Master Plumber who will take the time to explain what he or she is doing. Be aware, however, that in rare cases gurgling can be caused by water flowing over an irregular or warped surface inside the pipes. In such a case, you can live with the quirky noise or undertake a replacement. 

Dripping, Squirting, & Leaking Radiators

Noise coming from a radiator is one thing; water is another. If water is escaping from your radiator, the issue could be as simple as condensation or as complex as a system-wide hardware problem. Unless you’re handy with heating systems, it’s wise to call a professional to help troubleshoot a radiator that’s leaking or squirting water or steam.  Noises and leaks coming from radiators should be considered symptoms – important indicators of an underlying problem. It never pays to ignore them. Often, you’ll find that there’s a quick, affordable fix that you may even be able to do yourself. If there’s something more significant going on, you’ll want to know and take action quickly. Taking care of the problem early could save you bigger headaches by preventing property damage, intensive repairs, and time spent without heat. When you work with A Good Plumber, our trustworthy team will get to the bottom of the issue without trying to sell you anything you don’t need.