A few years ago, we bought a 100-year-old house. It’s adorable and full of lovely detailed woodwork, original floors and other charming features. It’s also kind of noisy. On cold nights, as the oil-heat kicked on and off, the steam radiator right next to our bed, emitted loud cracks like two wooden rulers being slapped together.
I figured the noise had something to do with expansion and contraction, but I hadn’t yet figured out what was expanding and contracting, so loudly. When I placed my hand at the base of the radiator, I could feel the floor move as I heard the crack. I tried stacking weights in the area, to try to prevent the floor from snapping. The results were inconclusive. Then I began watching You Tube videos about noisy old radiators. I didn’t find anything directly applicable to our loud crack but some of the videos did inspire me to look very closely at all our radiators. I noticed that the pipe leading up from our wooden bedroom floor to the radiator was not centered in the hole in the floor through which it passed. Instead, it came up through that hole off-center and therefore rested against one side of the hole. The pipes that fed other radiators throughout the house were neatly centered in their holes and therefore made no contact with the wood surrounding it.
I decided I needed to get the pipe away from the edge of the hole so it could no longer make contact with the wood. Armed with files, chisels and hammers, I began to hack away at the wood. Eventually, I successfully removed wood from around the pipe so that it sat basically centered in the hole in the floor, and made no contact with the wood. And it actually worked. Problem diagnosed and fixed.
But there were other noises. Perhaps the crack was so loud before that we didn’t notice other noises, or perhaps the other noises just began when I eliminated the crack. Ether way, now we heard a different type of banging from inside the radiator, plus a loud whistle. More YouTube videos taught me that these radiators need to be slightly un-level in order for condensed water to drain back down the pipe at the end of the heating cycle. Otherwise, trapped water literally bangs against the metal sides of the radiator as it heats up. I jammed a couple shims under one end, in order to tip it towards the drain pipe, and that too seemed to do the trick.
And now to deal with the loud whistle. YouTube told me we had a faulty valve and that I should soak the noisy valve in vinegar to clean it. After doing that, the loud whistle was gone, but now it hissed extremely loudly and sprayed a wet mist against the wall. So I replaced the valve and voila: peace and quiet… Except for the drip.
Right outside our bedroom window, one of our gutters had a leak. After a rain, residual water dripped from that leaky gutter and reverberated very loudly on the metal roof right outside our bedroom window. It’s a low and pretty flat section of roof easily accessible by climbing out a window. So, out I went, to fill the gaps in the gutter with a flexible paste sealer. That too worked.
As hard as it to believe, our sleep is now uninterrupted by cracks, bangs, whistles, hisses or drips. But now it’s easier for my husband to hear me snoring.