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Creaking Pipes: How to Find Source

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  • Transcript

    LESLIE: John in Connecticut, what can The Money Pit do for you?

    JOHN: I live in a four-bedroom colonial.


    JOHN: I have hot water baseboard heat. And during the heating cycle, on – in three spots on the second floor I get a very loud creaking.

    TOM: OK.

    JOHN: And then if I go down to the first floor, below those areas, I get the creaking about the same loudness.

    TOM: OK. How old is your house?

    JOHN: It’s about 15 years old. I’ve been in it about nine years and it’s been doing it every year.

    LESLIE: And it’s only in the winter?

    JOHN: Yes, when it goes to the heating cycle. The – I’m sure when the copper pipes are expanding they’re obviously rubbing up against something. And there was one spot in a bathroom where it’s a tile floor and I raised the pipe a little bit and it stopped. But I tried to, you know, use wedges to, you know, once it’s expanded to see if that would do it and nothing seems to be doing it. It doesn’t seem to be coming from like the hardwood floors.

    TOM: And you have a hot water – you have a hot water baseboard system?

    JOHN: Yes.

    TOM: Well, obviously, somewhere where the piping is going through the structure the piping is rubbing against the wood. And hot water pipes do expand a lot when they heat up, as you correctly stated. And when they do, they make this sort of cricking, squeaking sound as they rub against the pipe. Sometimes it sounds a lot like a drip. You’ll very often hear this when you turn hot water on in a bathroom.

    Unfortunately, this is probably occurring somewhere inside of the structure of the floor/ceiling assembly. And it’s going to be rather difficult, if not impossible, to track this down. The good news is that aside from the annoyance, this really is going to have no impact on the wear and tear of the heating system.

    JOHN: What I – I was going to sort to – and I won’t if you don’t recommend it – taking down some drywall in the ceiling on the first floor to try and expose it and see where it is.

    TOM: I think this really – is really bugging him, Leslie. (chuckling)

    LESLIE: (chuckling) Yeah, because that’s going to be a big undertaking. I mean if it’s really bothering you enough where you do want to have to do some drywall repair work, then definitely you can get into the inner workings of it and secure that pipe more efficiently to sort of contain it as it’s expanding and contracting so it doesn’t do that rubbing.

    TOM: You’re going to have to basically trace down the route of that pipe and I will tell you this; that sound could be happening a lot farther down the line than what you might expect.

    LESLIE: (overlapping voices) From where you actually hear it

    TOM: And so, you could take it down right under there and find out that the sound is originating from somewhere else. What you’re going to end up doing is taking it down, cranking the heat up and watching it and seeing if you can figure out where it’s occurring. But it’s kind of a big undertaking for something that’s really just an annoyance. Again, no reason, structurally, to be concerned about this. It’s really – should be defined by the old-fashioned term “charm.” (Leslie chuckles)

    JOHN: The odd thing is the pattern of the creaking is the same every, single time; like a song you just memorize. (Leslie chuckles)

    TOM: Yeah. (chuckling) John, thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT. 

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