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What different annoying radiator noises mean and how to fix them

Will Gleason
Written by
Will Gleason

Just in time for the holidays, many New Yorkers' worst roommate is back in town: their noisy radiator. As the weather cools down, clangy, bangy and hissy radiators are making their presence known across the city. But have you ever wondered what exactly causes those strange, aggravating noises?

Here's a quick field guide to noisy radiators and what's made them into the monsters they've become.

Gurgling Radiators: Does your radiator sound like your dad gurgling Listerine for hours at time? Most of the time, this is caused by accumulated air and you can solve the problem by bleeding it. It could also be caused by an irregular surface in the radiator as water flows over it.

Banging and Clanking Radiators: Does your radiator sound like a mentally unstable auto mechanic repeatedly hitting various parts of a car? This is most likely steam trapped in the pipes. As steam goes through the system, it pushes water forward incredibly fast. When that water comes across an obstacle, you hear it. You can sometimes fix this by shimmying up one side of the radiator so it tips toward the boiler and water doesn't settle.

Squeaking and Hissing Radiators: Does your radiator sound like the wind blowing through the moors or a librarian who won't stop telling you to be quiet? Air is getting out of the radiator, so you'll need to replace the air vent. Replacement air vents at most hardware stores are under $15 so this won't set you back a fortune. Hopefully, you can get your super to do this. But probably not.

And always have your intake valve fully open or fully closed. Partial closings cause banging, leakage and damage to your floors.

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