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Home Improvement: Drafts, Ducts And Radiator Sounds And How To Fix Them

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If you're living in an older house or building, chances are you've heard your fair share of weird noises from heating, ventilation, and air conditioning appliances. But instead of ignoring what seems like an unfixable inconvenience, we've found a few simple silencing tips that'll put an end to those mysterious bumps in the night. In fact, those distracting bangs may be a sign you're losing valuable heat, and in the long run, money. So to stop the rattling and reign in the warmth, read our tips below for a more peaceful home.

Ducts
As warm air passes through ductwork, ducts and pipes expand and rub against your building's wood framing, causing whistling or rumbling. While total prevention requires some costly professional help and time-consuming insulation, you can minimize the noise by using rubber pads to separate the ducts from the wood.

Drafts
Drafts are a sneaky and surefire way to lose heat in your home. Not to mention the harrowing sounds and sudden door slams they can cause when a force of air passes through can be startling. To check for any drafts, hold a lighted candle near any windows or vents to see if the flame moves in the opposing direction. If so, you may need to re-caulk the seals. Also, weather stripping is a must for preventing door drafts.

Hot-Water Radiator
If your hot-water radiator is making constant banging sounds, try bleeding it with a radiator key, which can be bought at independent hardware stores or online at The Great Hardware Store, or a flathead screwdriver (depending on the valve). With the key, turn the valve counterclockwise until water begins to drip out. You should hold an empty bowl or cloth up to the valve to collect the water. Bleeding the radiator will release trapped air and lower the pressure in your radiator.

Steam Radiators
Constant hammering noises occur when steam bursts through pockets of water condensation. Excess water condensation occurs most frequently three ways. The most common way is when you try to adjust the temperature by only partially turning the valve. To prevent this, simply turn the valve completely off or on. Water condensation also builds when the radiator is tilted the wrong way. Construct a shim from excess plywood and place it under the two feet farthest from the valve; this will help drain the excess condensation back toward the broiler. The radiator should only be slightly tilted (about five degrees). Lastly, the valve seat could be worn out, and in this case, the safest fix is to call a HVAC professional to replace it.

Flickr photo by Lindsey Turner

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