Is your baseboard heater making noise? Whether you own hot water heated baseboard heater or an electric baseboard heater, these units are known to produce humming, popping, clicking, banging noise.
These units are loud enough to wake you in the dead of night or subtle enough to produce buzzing noise that your ears can’t block.
Some models flash as they switch on and off, which starts cats and causes dogs to bark in the dead of night- which can be genuinely annoying.
I dug around, and after extensive research, I was able to find out ways that helped me silence my baseboard heater.
In this guide, I share proven methods that can help you silence the baseboard heater making noise.
What is a Baseboard Heater?
Baseboard heating refers to two types of heating systems; hot water baseboard and electric baseboard heaters.
Electric baseboard heaters heat room by room and require no central heating systems or expensive duct work.
Unfortunately, they are less efficient than central heating systems even though they use the principle of airflow and radiation to work better than other space heating units.
On the other hand, we have hydronic baseboard heaters, also known as hot water baseboard heaters.
They use central heating to channel water through pipes to all baseboard heating in the house.
They are much efficient.
Why Are My Baseboard Heaters So Loud?
Baseboard heaters have very few moving parts, and hence they don’t make a lot of operational noises.
There are different reasons why they could be loud:
- It could be that they’re screwed tightly, loosely, or simply the heat dispersing fins or casings are distorted or of poor quality.
- Maybe the thermostats are of poor quality or poorly adjusted
Common Baseboard Heaters Noises
Baseboard heaters make noise, but it’s becoming hard to troubleshoot and fix the problem without knowing the exact type of sound the unit is making.
Before sharing the different fixes to quieting a noisy baseboard heater, it’s important to first know the different types of baseboard heating system noise.
Pinging and Clicking Sounds
Ping sounds result from the expansion and contraction of the baseboard’s thin metal vanes as they heat and cool.
Clicking noises have two causes– if the clicking noise comes up when the unit heats up, the culprit is the metallic components expanding and adjusting to the changes in temperatures.
The culprit is the switch relay or the wall-mounted thermostat if you hear the clicking noise when switching on or off the baseboard heater.
Banging and Gurgling Noises
Unlike their electronic counterparts, hydronic baseboard heaters tend to produce air bubbles that create pressure.
When the pressure builds up, it banging noises within the delivery pipes or the heater as the liquid forces its way through the air blockage.
Gurgling sounds are a result of low pressure from the boiler. It can also result from the air inside the system when the heater is out of level.
Ticking and Trickling Noises
A ticking sound is produced when the heating rod inside the unit heats or cools down.
On the other hand, running water sound/trickling sound indicates low pressure in the unit.
It could also be an indicator of the baseboard not properly mounted or air bubbles in the system.
Popping and Knocking Sounds
Popping noises result from baseboard metal components expanding and contracting as it heats and cools down, respectively.
Knocking sounds occur when hot water is displaced by cold water, resulting in an expansion of the metallic components.
Humming and Buzzing Noises
Humming noises are an indicator of a pinched part of the metallic housing. This could result from the unit being ruined when arranging furniture or when the wall was being painted.
Buzzing noises result from electricity or as a result of pipes or vanes touching the back of the baseboard heater house due to curvature in the wall.
How to Fix a Baseboard Heater Making Noise
Now that you’re aware of the baseboard heater’s different sounds, let’s look at ways to fix these problems.
1. Identify Which Baseboard Heaters Are the Noisiest?
The first step would be to identify the source of the noise problem- and to do this, you need to note the heaters making the most noise.
In my experience, most homes with baseboard heaters have 2-3 that are noisier than the rest combined.
Once you identify the main culprits, you’ll be able to apply a fix that works best.
Move closer to the baseboard heater (not so close or else risk burns) and see if you can figure out where noise is coming from.
Sometimes, it’d be easy to figure out the cause of the noise problems- I’ve seen baseboard heaters with built-in thermostats produce clicking noises, and the front cover plates bang as they heat.
2. Fixing Baseboard Heater Buzzing Noises
If you have a 120volt baseboard heater that’s connected to a 240volt power supply, then you should expect some buzzing and humming noises.
The worst that could happen would be burning smells and fire.
This often happens when you hire an amateur electrician to install the unit for you, and they end up fixing it to the 240v power outlet designed for power tools such as air compressors.
Some baseboard heaters are rated 240 volts, so be sure to check that it’s running on the correct power supply rating.
3. Tightening or Loosening Some Screws
As aforementioned, poor installation can cause noises.
To fix this problem, all you need to do is to adjust a few screws.
You may need to loosen a few screws to allow for ambient expansion and contraction of the metal elements with snagging or pinging.
If the screws are too loose, you may notice rattling and buzzing noises, and if they’re midway loose and tight, you may notice sudden bangs, pings, and crackling noises.
4. Clean the Baseboard Heaters
The next step would be to clean the baseboard heater. First, disconnect it from the power source, and remove the heater’s front cover.
Inspect the heating element and the fins for dust, fluff, cobwebs, cat, and dog hair. This is an indicator that there’s insufficient airflow or probably been turned off for a while.
Even though these may burn, they produce awful smells and can cause allergies.
Remove dust and debris by brushing it off with a soft paintbrush or simply vacuum it- check my detailed guide on some of the best quiet vacuum cleaners.
Next, inspect and see whether the heater fins are touching or bent- because they shouldn’t.
To avoid cutting your fingers on the sharp ends of the heater fins, use a pair of long-nose pliers.
5. Proper Positioning of the Baseboard Heater
Both the baseboard heater and the inlet vents should be placed on level ground and at least ¾ of an inch above the carpet, floor, or rug to allow cooler air to flow underneath and through the electrical heating element through the fins on water-heated units.
If you have a thick carpet, consider moving the heater up the wall to give sufficient clearance or trip the carpet around the base of the heaters.
Without proper air circulation, the baseboard heaters won’t heat or cool efficiently.
Placing close to something combustible like the carpet can result in premature failure or fire.
Once you ensure proper positioning, ensure that it’s not covered by curtains or the back of the furniture for optimum air circulation.
6. Get Electronic Thermostats
Unlike manual thermostats, electronic thermostats are accurate, offer a quiet operation allowing increased comfort.
Programmable electronic thermostats allow for room temperatures to be set according to the time of the day.
According to studies by Canada Hydro-Quebec, electric heaters can save up to 10% heating bills.
By maintaining constant temperature, electronic thermostats are able to maintain a lower total running time, minimizing expansion and contraction, which in the long run reduces baseboard heating noises.
Fixing Water-Based Baseboard Heater Making Noise
Water-heated baseboard heaters are relatively less noisy than electric ones, but they still do make annoying noises.
Rattling noises could be likely from the expansion of the pipes as hot water passes through them.
To solve the noise problem, you can force some insulating foam strips between the pipes and their elements.
The metal clips should also be lined with duct tape to allow the clips to slide silently.
The noise problem can also originate from the boiler due to air passing through the unit, or probably a solenoid valve closing too soon, which creates pressure in the system, forcing the radiator valve to open or close quickly.
The resulting is a pressure that’s not in the range of 12-20 PSI. At this point, I would highly recommend you contact an experienced engineer to check the system.
Lastly, if you hear a hammering-like sound from the water-heated baseboard, it could be that the water is too hot and turning into steam. Contact a technician if the water temperature exceeds 220 degrees.
Meet Mike O’Connor, (a DIY enthusiast), living in Cincinnati, a city ranked as the noisiest in the USA.
As a work from home dad, I have a first hand experience of how noise can truly affect your well being.
Soundproofing isn’t something that should be taken as a hobby, it should be a skill that every homeowner should be equipped with.
Most of the work documented on this blog comes from purely first hand experience, and the products recommended work as indicated.