How to fix a radiator rattling
A certain amount of noise from your central heating system is natural due to water running around your pipes and into your radiators at varying temperatures. However, if your radiators are actually rattling or vibrating, then there is clearly an issue that needs further investigation.
Many of these types of noises are not necessarily a sign of a critical issue, but it's worth getting to the bottom of the problem in order to quieten down your radiators and to nip any more serious problems in the bud. Water damage can be a very expensive problem to fix, so it's always best to err on the side of caution and get things checked to avoid events spiralling out of control.
Radiator rattles - causes and solutions
There are several reasons why your radiator might be rattling and vibrating and we take a look at a few causes and solutions below.
Change thermostatic radiator valves
Thermostatic radiator valves (TRVs) are a great way of making your radiators heat the room more efficiently, keeping down your heating bills. There are the valves that contain a numbered dial and are set to detect the temperature in the room and ensure that hot water only flows in and out when necessary to maintain a steady temperature.
Over time, TRVs can wear out and you may notice that your radiators rattle and vibrate the most when they are cooling down. This is caused by the valves nearly closing off when cooling down and the old internal components vibrate making the sound. This can usually be resolved by replacing your existing TRVs with some good quality new ones. This is a fairly inexpensive job and you might find that your heating system runs more efficiently, as well as more quietly, as a result of this update.
The noises could also be caused by old TRVs being fitted to the wrong end of the radiator. Many old TRVs only allowed water to flow in one direction, whereas most modern valves are bi-directional. Again, installing brand new thermostatic radiator valves should resolve this issue.
Secure your pipes
The sound of rattling or banging radiators may actually be caused by a pipe that is not sufficiently secured to the wall, floor or wherever else the pipe might be positioned. When water flows through a pipe that is not properly fastened, it can cause movement and contact with a nearby surface and will emit a loud banging sound. This is not a really serious problem, particularly if it has only just started happening, but should be looked at by a professional as unfastened pipes can become weaker over time.
A knocking from pipes can also be a result of older properties that have copper pipes. Copper naturally expands when it heats up and, even if securely fastened, it can knock against a nearby surface if it is in close enough proximity. This is usually a quieter knocking than a pipe that has actually come loose and on the whole is simply a quirk of living in an old house. Newer homes are equipped with plastic pipes, which do not expand when hot.
Bleed your radiators
There are varying degrees of radiator rattles and if you're hearing a sound that is like a clicking or tapping, then you may need to bleed your radiators of air.
Over the course of a year, when central heating is used in all sorts of conditions, air can make its way into the system and get trapped at the top of one or more radiators. You'll often hear a radiator that has air trapped in it click and tap when the central heating first comes on before settling down and becoming quieter. You may also notice the rad is warmer at the bottom than at the top.
Switching off your heating and using a radiator key to allow the air to escape will probably resolve this issue and get your radiators operating more efficiently again too.
Check the direction of water flow
If you are hearing a hammering noise, then you might notice that this happens at the same time you switch on a tap in your bathroom or kitchen. Rather than being directly relate to your radiator, this could be a sign that your water is flowing one way in your system, then suddenly has to change direction when a tap is turned on.
Over time, this can cause pipe joints to weaken and even leak, so it's best to call in a professional and get them to investigate if the water flow can be improved so that this sudden change in direction if no longer necessary.
Consult a professional
If you don't think that the rattling, vibrating or banging in your radiators is caused by any of the possibilities above then you need to call in a plumber or heating engineer without delay. As mentioned previously, water is capable of causing devastating damage if it escapes from pipes so it is simply not worth leaving in the hope it will 'sort itself out' - it never does.
Ideally you should have your boiler serviced and a check done on the general health of your central heating system done once a year. This will help keep your heating system running smoothly and efficiently, while also identifying any potential problems and dealing with them before the issue gets more serious. Consider heating maintenance to be a similar preventative measure to MOTing or servicing a car.
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Whether you’re looking for a new designer radiator, or simply need a small accessory to help finish the installation, Trade Radiators has what you’re looking for.
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