I live in an old apartment building, as is typical in Berlin. The pipes that drive the hot water to the heaters are exposed. They're also too close to the wooden floors.

them pipes

As the pipes heat up, I suppose they force the wood to heat up as well. So it expands. The floorboards don't have much space to expand, so I guess they bump into one another. The noise that stems from that is hideous. A constant cracking, once per second, sometimes building up to a major noise followed by a minute or two of silence.

(It's impossible to sleep with this.)

My question: should I cut extra space around the wood? Would that be enough? Or, as the building is old, will it be a more structural problem?

If you think having a carpenter take a look at it would help, let me know.

  • I know the photo looks terrible, but it's because I've been scraping some old insulation materials off the pipes (as they weren't working). – user61030 Oct 7 '16 at 10:18
  • If you are certain the noise comes from that location you could likely drill out some extra space there, but the real problem may be below floor level. Since it happens pretty quickly and consistently, you should be able to put your hand on the floor there and feel it "popping". It may be the pipes themselves, too. In some old buildings I've been in you could follow the creaking and banging in the pipes as the hot water moves through them. – topshot Oct 7 '16 at 13:19
  • Hey @topshot. Yeah, if I lay my hand on the floorboard, I can sense it ticking. That's why I attribute it to the wood expanding vs. just something in the pipes. How could it be below floor level? – user61030 Oct 7 '16 at 14:55

Many times the ticking sound is the expanding metals pipes pushing against the wood. If the sound is coming from where those pipes are touching the wood, you can insert some felt to separate the pipe and wood plank.

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  • Hey @Netduke, thanks for the comment. I imagine it's that, yeah. Judging from the picture, d'you think I need to cut more of the wood around the pipe, so they don't touch? Thanks! – user61030 Oct 7 '16 at 14:52
  • I would try inserting a spacer first before cutting the wood. It is possible that the wood is partially supporting the pipes and cutting into it would just shift the location of the pipe and not fix the issue. A shim would also be easier to undo if the source of the sound were discovered to be someplace else. – Netduke Oct 7 '16 at 15:19

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