What To Do About Noisy Radiators

Wednesday 18 August 2021

While it’s normal for your radiator to make the odd noise every now and again, ie. when it’s warming up or cooling down. If it starts banging, hissing, gurgling or vibrating then that’s a warning sign that something’s not quite right. The most common cause of these noises is when substances get in your radiator pipes that shouldn’t be there, like air or sludge. In this article we’re going to help you identify the root cause of your radiator noises and how to fix them.

Air Trapped in the System

It’s fairly common for air to get trapped in radiators which can happen for a number of reasons:

  • Small leaks 
  • Build up of hydrogen
  • Having a pump that’s installed above the supply tank

Having air in your radiator prevents it from filling with hot water which causes it to stop heating properly all the way through. It can also cause clicking, gurgling or banging noises which will be the most obvious sign that something’s wrong. 

Luckily, you can easily solve this yourself by bleeding the radiator. Here’s how:

  1. Switch off your central heating. 
  2. (Make sure you put an old towel directly under the bleed valve before doing this step!) Open the bleed valve by turning the screw anti-clockwise with the bleed key. Turn it until you start to hear hissing – this is the air escaping. 
  3. Close the bleed valve once the hissing stops or when water starts to come out. 
  4. Repeat this process for any other radiators that are having the same issue!

Limescale Build Up

Just like in a kettle, limescale can build up in your central heating system which results in a restricted water flow and loud whistling noises. As well as a noisy system, other signs your heating system might be suffering from a buildup of limescale are:

  • Cloudy tap water
  • Discoloured water when bleeding your radiator
  • Cold spots on your radiators
  • Your radiators take longer than usual to heat up

Your heating system is especially prone to buildups of limescale if you live in an area with hard water, due to the higher mineral content, namely calcium and magnesium.

To combat this, you’ll need to perform a power flush, carried out by a qualified engineer. This is where a specialist pump is connected to your central heating system and a mix of chemicals and water are pushed through your boiler, radiator and pipes at high pressure. As a result, any limescale, rust or debris will be removed and result in a more efficient system.   

Sludge Build Up

Sludge, a deep brown to black build up of metal oxides, is a result of corrosion in your central heating system and can block up your pipes, causing unwanted noises. Things that could indicate sludge in your system include:

  • Dark or discoloured water when you bleed your radiators
  • Your radiators are hot at the top, but not the bottom
  • The pipework to the radiators gets hot but the radiators themselves do not 
  • Noises such as gurgling

Similar to with a limescale build up, the most effective way to remove sludge is by hiring a qualified professional to perform a power flush to your central heating system. 

Warped Pipes

It’s just the nature of central heating systems that they heat up and cool down on a daily basis, which causes your radiator pipes to creak as they expand and contract. However these noises can become more severe if your pipes are directly behind wood or plasterboard as these will cause tension that prevent the pipes from expanding. 

One way to prevent this is to put some cushioning in place around your pipes, such as expanding foam insulation which will quieten them down.

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