2016-02-28

Using Teflon to silence noisy heating system pipes

Fixing My Noisy Heating System on a budget
My home has a hot water baseboard heating system, and the noise the heating system made had been driving me nuts for years.  Each time the boiler came on the pipes started to click, snap, and tick as they heated up and cooled down.  It was loudest in the master bedroom, to the point where I could not sleep at night.

These clanky heating system pipes let no one sleep.
The problem wasn't with the boiler, and the problem wasn't with air in the pipes.  The problem was with the installation of the heating system plumbing.  Whoever drilled the holes through the walls and joists for the heating pipes drilled them in an uneven way.  The heating pipes rubbed against many of the holes, so as the pipes heated up and expanded they would "click" loudly.

The clicking, tapping, and clanking could be heard throughout the house.

Some Expensive Suggestions

One home improvement expert suggested that, for $800, I install heavy insulation around the plumbing to try to reduce the noise.

Another expert suggested that I get a plumber to properly route the heating pipes - which would cost several thousands of dollars.

Stopping the Clicking

Then I had an idea - what if the holes that the pipes traveled through had very low friction, like a slippery Teflon pan?  Then the pipes wouldn't snap, click, and pop as they rubbed against things.  Instead, the pipes would glide through the holes.

And so that's what I did.

The 15 Minute, $20 Fix
  1. I bought a sheet of Teflon from Amazon.  A sheet of Teflon looks a bit like a sheet of smooth yellowish paper.   It is very inexpensive, and it can withstand very high heat.
  2. With scissors, I cut the Teflon sheet into 4 inch by 4 inch squares.
  3. Wherever I could see a heating system pipe moving through a hole, I would wrap the pipe with the Teflon square, and then push the Teflon into the hole.  I wiggled the pipe a bit to make sure that I insert the Teflon square fully between the rubbing surfaces.
Teflon Sheet: Low friction, low cost!
I swear to God that within minutes I realized that my 15 minutes of labor stopped the noise that had been bothering me for years.  I also swear to God that I installed these Teflon squares at 4 AM because I wasn't sleeping.

Now my heating system is totally silent and I have been sleeping like a baby!  I am very happy every day I think about my fix.  I only wish I did years earlier.

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