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Clicking heater noise

topic posted Tue, January 23, 2007 - 9:56 AM by  SummerSaharS...
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OMG! I'm about to go nuts from lack of sleep!

I live in the bottom flat (converted into an apt) of a 3 story building, and whenever my upstairs neighbors turn on their central heating system (which is, of course, mostly at night when I'm trying to sleep), a clicking noise starts RIGHT above my bed, somewhere in the ceiling above my ceiling fan. It drives me NUTS! The odd thing is, it only happens when they turn it on, it's quite loud, and it's almost in a predictable pattern. One click every 2ish seconds, than after a minute or so, it slows down to every 5 or 6 seconds. It never stops. It's driving my boyfriend and I nuts and we're wearing earplugs to bed now. It's like torture to be kept awake because of this clicky noise! Can't really ask the neighbors to not run their heat on these cold nights.

Does anyone happen to know what this is attributed to? Even understanding why it's happening would help! At first, I thought it was just the expanding and contracting of maybe the metal of the carrying ducts as they warm/cool with the warm air. But the clicking is too predictable for that. I'd expect the clicking to be more random if the cause of the clicking were that simple. Plus, I don't think there are any ducts that run between my neighbor's floor and my ceiling, as the space doesn't seem that wide by the way I can hear them walking around on their hardwood floors above me. Also, the clicking almost sounds like when a house settles, but the noise in concentrated to right above my bed.

Can anyone help me solve this mystery? Bonus points if anyone knows anything to end the clicky noise! Thanks, guys!
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  • A syncrounous clicking noise associated to a heating system... sounds to me as it would be caused by 1 of 3 things...

    1. PINGs from metal expansion... when metals heat and cool (unevenly) they ping... like a car does after it is shut off when hot.
    BUT if they are very regularly timed then this is not it as this tends to be more random

    2. Something flapping or dangling in the air vent that is set into motion by forced air... this could be something like a flap of duct tape that has come loose inside the vent somehow or a piece of garbage fallen into a register... (but this is not too likely)

    3. My Guess... Its a related to their fan/blower motor. Its either dirty or loose or worn or has bad bearings etc... It sounds like a 2 stage motor that goes on high for a timed period then turns down. It might be as simple as asking them if they hear their heater fan clicking... Talk to them, find a time when you can hear it... then call them and ask them to turn of the heater and see if it stops.
    • its expansion of the metal, i have a small heater which has no fan. it clicks a few times as well, but quickly stops. ear plugs or soothing music in the background should help.
  • <Can't really ask the neighbors to not run their heat on these cold nights>

    I admit this is a difficult subject to broach with your neighbours. How cold is it exactly
    where you are? I turn off my heating when I'm in bed, its only on when I'm up. I usually find that bed is warm enough without the heating.
    • I'm thinking the only thing I can think of is the expansion/contraction of metal (I just didn't think there were any heating ducts between the floors...it doesn't seem thick enough to house any tubing). I just expected the clicking to be more random, like:
      click........click...clickclick............click...click................click.
      Instead of
      click...click....click.......click..........click..............click............................click..........................................click
      You know?
      I live in SF, and it's been below freezing temps every night (gotta remember we're weinies about the "cold" here. We're spoiled with mild weather and we forget that).
      • The Coldest winter I ever spent was a summer in San Francisco
        ~Mark Twain
        • SO true!
          :-)
          • We have steam pipes at work that ping like that, fairly loud and regular when the flow starts. Is your central heat a steam or radiator system?
            • if you have a radiator system that is making a lot of pinging or clanging sounds, check to make sure all of the valves are open all the way. on a single pipe radiator (i.e. one pipe out of the floor lets water or steam into and out of the radiator) many people assume that the heat level can be adjusted by loosening or tightening the valve. it cant be, and doing so causes all sorts of pressure problems at the opening. check and see that all the valves are either fully open or fully closed, i'd bet this will clear up the noises.
    • you could offer to buy them a programmable thermostat - one that turns itself down at bedtime, but kicks on again in the wee hours so the house is warm when they wake up. might cut down on the noise when you are sleeping, but it will still ping when it turns on at 5am.

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