LESLIE: Nicky in New York, you’ve got The Money Pit. What can we do for you today?
NICKY: Hi. I have a question about banging/clanging in my walls when the heat is on. (Leslie chuckles)
TOM: Is it a poltergeist? Do you have ghosts?
NICKY: (chuckling) Hey, I hope not. (Tom chuckles)
TOM: So, does it happen when your heat first comes on or goes off?
NICKY: You know, the heating system is not on any kind of heating schedule.
NICKY: It’s just these, you know, units and we control them so they’re never touched, actually. They’re maintained at a certain degree and that’s it but at night, it seems to happen. So it’s not like …
TOM: Mm-hmm. Well, is it a hot-air heating system, Nicky? Forced air?
TOM: OK. So …
NICKY: It’s the baseboard, yep.
TOM: Well, no, no. Now, if it’s a baseboard, it’s not forced-air. If it’s baseboard, it’s probably hot water.
NICKY: (overlapping voices) Oh. Right, OK. Sorry.
TOM: Hot water.
NICKY: Yeah, that’s right.
TOM: Well, it’s important because if it’s a forced-air system, the banging can be caused by one thing and if it’s hot water it’s different. If it’s forced air – for those that have forced air that are listening to this call – very often you get something called oil canning where the heating system goes on and fills up the duct system like a balloon and then the ducts expand and pop and make a noise. And you can reinforce the ducts with strips of metal on the outside to stop that from happening.
With a hot water system, you either have – let’s see, baseboards; so it’s probably not steam. What’s probably happening here is you’ve got some pipes that are inserted through the walls to get to the radiators and what happens is when the heat comes on, the pipes expand and they rub against the studded wall; they rub against the wall where it comes through. And as a result of that, you get this really loud, creaking sound that resonates throughout all of the pipes and amplifies itself.
So, the solution there is to try to trace the hot water lines where they’re coming through the walls. And there’s like a plastic bushing that can go around the pipe and sort of acts like a lubricant in a way that when the pipe heats up and expands, it doesn’t drag across the dry wood and make that horrible banging sound.
NICKY: OK. Sounds like a solution. Thank you.
TOM: You’re very welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
I don’t think Nicky was that confident in my solution but it’ll work. Try it.
LESLIE: I think she wanted there to be a poltergeist. (Tom chuckles)