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Old 28.05.2014, 10:55
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Heater in our bedroom making strange tapping noises...

We moved into our new apartment last March, and almost immediately I noticed that the heating elements in two of the bedrooms (photos attached) were sometimes making a strange tapping sound. It drives me nuts. It sounds a bit like water dripping but also like a tap tap tapping sound, and the noise seems to be random (not always the same amount of time between taps, and it isn't constant). The tapping is loud enough that, even with a noise machine, it still sometimes keeps me from being able to fall asleep and/or wakes me up too early in the morning.

So then I turned the heater completely off, and it's remained off, but the noise didn't stop.

My hubby finally called the maintenance guy for our building a few weeks ago, and I guess he then did some adjustments to the water pressure (or something) for our building, and the tapping noise went away for about a week. My hubby said that the maint. guy told him that if the noise comes back, there's nothing that can be done about it.

Well, the tapping sound is back now, and it's woken me up around 5:00 am the past few mornings and also sometimes bothers me as I try to fall asleep.

Does anyone have an idea of how we might be able to fix this or what's causing it? I just don't think it's right that we should be expected to deal with this noise on a continual basis, especially since it bothers my sleep. I personally think that the maint. guy should call a heating company to come check it out.

A couple things that maybe I should mention: 1) Our new apartment is a ground-floor apt. Before moving here, we lived in a 2nd floor apartment that is in the same complex (same internal layout, etc.) and we never heard this noise from the heating elements in our old place. 2) The sounds only come from the heating elements in two of our three bedrooms, and each of these two rooms are on the same side of the house and right next to each other.

Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated! This sound is really driving me nuts!*

Thanks!

*As though I wasn't already.
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heater-our-bedroom-making-strange-tapping-noises-heater-2.jpg   heater-our-bedroom-making-strange-tapping-noises-heater-3.jpg  
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Old 28.05.2014, 10:58
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Re: Heater in our bedroom making strange tapping noises...

Did you see Poltergeist?
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Old 28.05.2014, 11:02
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Re: Heater in our bedroom making strange tapping noises...

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Did you see Poltergeist?
LOL!

"They're heeeerrre!"

Yeah, it's probably either that or my mother-ship sending coded messages (again).

Hmmm....
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Old 28.05.2014, 11:02
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Re: Heater in our bedroom making strange tapping noises...

We don't have radiators in our current place but I remember when I lived with my parents, the radiators in the house are all sort of connected so if my sister was tapping something on the radiator in her room, I could hear it tapping on the other radiators on that floor of the house (until I went in and attacked her with a hairbrush ).

Maybe someone in another apartment is allowing something to tap against their own, nearby, radiator?
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Old 28.05.2014, 11:04
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Re: Heater in our bedroom making strange tapping noises...

air in the system, or the pump / pipes are vibrating somewhere. bleed the radiators as a first port of call
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Old 28.05.2014, 11:06
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Re: Heater in our bedroom making strange tapping noises...

Sounds like you need to bleed the radiators. The key looks something like this:

You might have gotten one with the apartment, or you might have to buy one from a DIY store (it's called a Heizungsschlüssel).

Get a container to hold underneath it (I use a cut-off pop bottle) and turn the key counterclockwise very slowly. Some air should escape, then air mixed with water, and then just water. When there is no more air escaping you can tighten it again.

Do that in every room where the radiator is making noise (for that matter, do it in all the rooms) and see if it helps. If you find yourself having to repeat it every few days then the maintenance guy is right that there's a bigger problem, but try this first.
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Old 28.05.2014, 11:06
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Re: Heater in our bedroom making strange tapping noises...

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(until I went in and attacked her with a hairbrush ).
Lmao!!!

Well, I think the radiators here are all connected. In our old place, the sound really ricocheted if someone hit theirs in another apartment. But there aren't any small kids in our building that might be tapping on the radiators, and this sound happens really late at night and early in the morning, so I don't think anyone is physically tapping. But who knows...

The maint. guy here said it probably has something to do with expansion and contracting inside the heaters/plumbing. I guess I probably should have mentioned that. But I really don't know how these thing work, and I am really desperate for this noise to stop. This is our brand new apartment, and apartment from this awful noise, I love it here. But I need my sleep, too!
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Old 28.05.2014, 11:10
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Re: Heater in our bedroom making strange tapping noises...

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Sounds like you need to bleed the radiators...
Wow, thanks!

I wouldn't even know where to begin to put that key thingy. So maybe I'll first ask the maint. guy what he thinks about them needing to be "bled?"

I guess I should also ask our neighbors if they hear that sound, too...
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Old 28.05.2014, 11:31
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Re: Heater in our bedroom making strange tapping noises...

Seriously, you'll see it, there is only one place on the entire radiator it can fit. Should be at the top, either near the control knob or at the opposite side of the radiator.

It's a two-minute fix and there is precious little that could go wrong - give it a try.

If you still want to ask the maintenance man about it, the phrase in German is Heizkörper entlüften, i.e. "de-airing" rather than "bleeding" a radiator. Whether or not your neighbors hear the same noises is not very indicative, go ahead and ask around if you're curious but the fact that you don't even hear it in all rooms indicates that it's probably more a local than a systemic issue.

ETA: the key should only cost 2-3 francs. You can order one online e.g. here but you'll pay more than that just for shipping.
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Old 28.05.2014, 11:45
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Re: Heater in our bedroom making strange tapping noises...

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Seriously, you'll see it, there is only one place on the entire radiator it can fit. Should be at the top, either near the control knob or at the opposite side of the radiator.

It's a two-minute fix and there is precious little that could go wrong - give it a try.

If you still want to ask the maintenance man about it, the phrase in German is Heizkörper entlüften, i.e. "de-airing" rather than "bleeding" a radiator. Whether or not your neighbors hear the same noises is not very indicative, go ahead and ask around if you're curious but the fact that you don't even hear it in all rooms indicates that it's probably more a local than a systemic issue.

ETA: the key should only cost 2-3 francs. You can order one online e.g. here but you'll pay more than that just for shipping.
Again, thank you so much! I'm going to OBI today for gardening stuff, anyways, so I'm going to try to pick one up.
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Old 28.05.2014, 11:55
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Re: Heater in our bedroom making strange tapping noises...

Yes, the radiator in our bedroom back home used to do that, so I used one of those little key things to let the air escape.
Believe me, if I can do it, anyone can. Simples!
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Old 28.05.2014, 12:00
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Re: Heater in our bedroom making strange tapping noises...

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Yes, the radiator in our bedroom back home used to do that, so I used one of those little key things to let the air escape.
Believe me, if I can do it, anyone can. Simples!
Exactly. Even I can manage to bleed a radiator so it must be really easy to.
I used to have to do the one in our bedroom regularly in Belgium, I think it was the one at the end of the loop ( or do etching like that).
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Old 28.05.2014, 20:30
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Re: Heater in our bedroom making strange tapping noises...

Okay, I bought one of those key thingies today (it came in a set of two, actually). But for the life of me, I can't seem to figure out where the key goes.

The opening in the key is a square, but I don't see anything on our radiator that looks like it would fit with it.

Maybe someone can give me a clue to where this key should go?

I found a video (in German) on youtube (attached), but I don't see anything on our radiators that look like where he put his key in the video. In our units, there are pipes going into one end , on both the top and bottom (the side where the knob/thermostat is), and on the other end there is nothing -- no openings, etc.

I'm confused...

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Old 28.05.2014, 20:59
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Re: Heater in our bedroom making strange tapping noises...

OK, it'll definitely be at/near the top (it has to be, since that's where any air trapped inside the radiator will be.) Look on the pipe where the control knob is, not necessarily on the body of the radiator itself as shown in that video.

I'm away from home right now or I'd take a picture of ours to show you...

edit: and as OH just helpfully reminded me, we don't live in the apartment which had them any more. So much for that brilliant plan.
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Old 28.05.2014, 21:08
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Re: Heater in our bedroom making strange tapping noises...

It may be behind the control knob itself. Sometimes you have to take the knob itself off to find the valve underneath.
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Old 28.05.2014, 21:20
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Re: Heater in our bedroom making strange tapping noises...

We live in a pretty old building and all the heaters in the apartment are connected...with only one point to bleed the system (learnt this when the maintenance man came and looked for it). It's at the highest point in the system (so for us that means up by the ceiling). So this could be a possibility for you?
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Old 28.05.2014, 21:28
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Re: Heater in our bedroom making strange tapping noises...

Okay, I tried looking again (according to MathNut's and BelgianMum's suggestions above), but I still can't find it.

I've attached a few other photos I just took of it. Two show the knob, and one shows the other end of the heater.

I tried fidgeting with the knob to see if it would come off, but it wouldn't, and I'm afraid to force it.

I guess we should probably just call and bug our Hauswart (maintenance guy) about this again. It just seems really strange to me that he didn't suggest this as a possible fix when my hubby called him about it, the first time.
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heater-our-bedroom-making-strange-tapping-noises-heater-4.jpg   heater-our-bedroom-making-strange-tapping-noises-heater-5.jpg   heater-our-bedroom-making-strange-tapping-noises-heater-6.jpg  
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Old 28.05.2014, 21:34
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Re: Heater in our bedroom making strange tapping noises...

Bleeding is the obvious answer, but it could also be the the thermostatically controlled taps, which you appear to have ....... the big cylindrical thing with numbers on (* to 5).

For any who don't know how these work; the higher the number, the higher the room temperature is set at - when that temperature is reached, the inbuilt thermostat moves a valve to shut off the warm water flow to that radiator only.

If you slowly turn this cylinder from high to low (and vice versa) you will feel (and possibly hear a dull thud) when the valve closes. At this point, if the tapping starts, then the actual valve on the radiator inlet is sticking and probably needs to be changed.

If this is the case, and someone else is paying, then no problem; if it's down to you, you can either cough up the readies, or set the thermostat very high or very low, so that the valve is never or always closed.
The tapping, normally only occurs at the point of the thermostat attempting to close the valve.
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Old 28.05.2014, 21:36
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Re: Heater in our bedroom making strange tapping noises...

I had an apartment like yours, and I bled all the radiators, but the noise always arrived at about 04:47 am when the heating started up. The noise was somewhere in the system, probably at the boiler, and traveled along all the metal pipes.

Then after 9 months all the apartments were seriously renovated, but the heating remained original. My son is an electrician and knows a lot about Swiss buildings. He tried to convince the landlord to drain the system and fit flexible pipes to all the radiators, which is an accepted way of getting rid of the noises. The landlord refused, we moved out.
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Old 28.05.2014, 21:42
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Re: Heater in our bedroom making strange tapping noises...

the whole metal system will lead you to get all noises of the system expanding as the heat comes on. And it looks like bleeding the system is done by loosening the retaining nut on the left here:



I'm guessing you get a noise like "tack tack tack" which repeats?

Even if you shut it off, it'll probably still resonate through the system. You could reduce what you notice with towels and so on.......
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