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A Noisy Hot Water Baseboard Heater

How to calm a noisy hot water baseboard heater.

Carole Doar is at her wit's end with quirks in her 1923 Colonial in West Hartford, Conn. She’s just about ready to throw in the towel over a persistent drip in her closet. She's hoping home inspector Kenny Rhodes can help her get to the source of the leaks.

Inspector's Notebook
A hot water baseboard heater works by having hot water pumped from the boiler in the basement through pipes connected to the baseboard units. The coils inside the baseboard are heated and as a result they warm the air. But this type of system can sure cause a racket. Here’s why.

When heated, water expands and creates pressure, forcing air out of the water. And this air pressure needs to escape from a baseboard heating unit just like it does from a teakettle. The air in the kettle escapes in the form of steam. But air can get trapped in a baseboard heating system and it can cause hissing, gurgling and banging.

Unless you like all that noise, here are some tips for quieting that baseboard symphony. Bleed the baseboard system at least once a year, which allows trapped air to escape. Just follow the manufacturer’s instructions or consult a professional. Also, cushion pipes with insulation. That will cut down on the banging noise. Finally, vacuum and clean the coils annually to keep the heater running smoothly and efficiently. If you take care of your baseboard heating system, it will keep you warm and cozy for a long time to come.

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