I'm staying in a three story home with radiators and old plumbing (probably copper). I'm a guest and it's a rental with a management company (they fix a few things here and there but not most things).

The noise happens intermittently all night every night. Likely also intermittently all day but I'm not usually in the bedroom at night. It's quite loud. I can hear it in the ceiling (or maybe walls) and it seems to come from different areas in tandem (like a call and response). Best description would be a clicking sound.

I was thinking of trying to bleed the radiators but seems like it could also be the supply plumbing instead, so I'm not sure where to start or what to do. I don't know much about plumbing noises. There's at least 11 radiators in the house.

Suggestions? Get ear plugs?

  • probably caused by thermal expansion, difficult to pinpoint .... the mechanics that generate the noise are similar to the mechanics that generate eartquakes
    – jsotola
    Mar 25, 2020 at 17:40

1 Answer 1


Even bleeding the systems won’t normally stop the clicking & creaking as the pipes heat and cool the pipes expand and contract causing the majority of the noise, on steam systems there are DA tanks that remove the air , it sounds like normal expansion noise to me , I would not experiment at bleeding a system until I knew if it was a hot water or steam system. Most residential systems I have seen are hot water but I ran into a few low pressure steam systems in a high end neighborhood that we were installing gas furnaces. I thought only commercial was allowed live steam so I would be careful and probably get ear plugs.

  • 1
    A fan is a great white noise generator that can muffle the sound too, if earplugs are not your thing
    – Ack
    Mar 25, 2020 at 18:49
  • I agree with fans we get used to one in our bedroom and when temps drop in the fall it’s hard to turn it off.
    – Ed Beal
    Mar 25, 2020 at 19:54
  • Resi steam is a thing, runs at low pressure (2psi tops) just like most other pure-play steam heat systems (vs. process or turbine steam) Mar 26, 2020 at 1:08
  • I'm not sure if its steam or water, but it has mostly regular radiators with 2 pipes and fin radiators in the kitchen under the cabinets. Does that give you a clue?
    – Sarah
    Mar 26, 2020 at 2:04
  • All systems have 2 pipes and some have a 3rd condensate that dumps the liquid in a live steam back to a return as it is cooler I have only seen the condensate line in larger systems. I have seen both the old cast iron radiators and ones with smaller fins and fans on steam systems so 2 pipes can describes both systems. As I mentioned my experience is limited (to the controls and removal for heat pumps) my best guess would be the supply pipe temp if it is above 212F it would be steam.
    – Ed Beal
    Mar 26, 2020 at 13:20

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