banging pipes


Hello I have gas fired steam heat with the old cast iron radiators. My question is that recently over the past 2 years when the heat is turned on I hear the cast iron pipes banging or clanking in the first few minutes and then it stops. All the radiators get very hot which leads me to believe they are not clogged. All of them have new vent valves. Only some of the exposed pipes in the basement are insulated. This banging has become more frequent as the years pass. What could cause this? Is there air in the system or does that problem only pertain to hot water baseboard. Should I insulate the pipes? I also frequently drain water from the low water cut off valve and refill it to the proper level. Should the return pipes also be insulated? Thanks for any info.
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What is the proper pressure a steam boiler should be operating at? How do I adjust the pressure if it is to high
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wrote:

IMHO: Call a professional. No need to risk damage to equipment, and people hurt.
tom @ www.NoCostAds.com
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I highly recommend www.heatinghelp.com . The "Questions" button at the top will take you to "The Wall" which is a bulletin board for problems. Do a search on banging pipes or such and read some before you ask. I have found the folks there to be very helpful. Buy Dans book, The Lost Art of Steam Heating, too.
Banging pipes is not unusual but really shouldn't happen. Since you ask about insulating the return pipes, I will guess you have a 2-pipe system. The only noise I hear in mine is the sound of thermal expansion in a couple of rooms where the pipe rubs the wall. Very minor.
Pressure setting varies a lot based on the system you have. My home was built in 1926 and had a Trane vapor system when built. I run my pressure to cut out at 3/4 pound and back in at 1/4 pound. Every system is different but most residential systems run with very little pressure. More pressure is rarely the answer to anything.
I hope this helps a little. I love my steam heat but it is getting hard to find anyone who knows how to set them up any more.
PoD

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The banging you hear is water hammer from condensation in the system. Very normal for a steam heater. Some of us think of it as music rather than just noise.
Insulating the pipe won't make any difference. The exposed pipe are giving off heat, just like the radiators are. It is not lost heat because it is heating the house. If the pipes pass through areas that you do not want heated, they should be insulated there. Check the water level in the system and be sure thee is room for the condensate to all return.
You may want to get a book about steam heating http://www.heatinghelp.com/shopcart/product.cfm?category=2-109
It should give you some tips to lessen the noise, as well as other steam tips.
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thehip wrote:

Be grateful you have "bang pipes" instead of "bag pipes."
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wrote:

Kinda makes sense to insulate piping in areas that you don't want to heat. I would suggest you research what is the best type of insulation for your heating system.
tom @ www.FreelancingProjects.com
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