Understanding Noises From Forced Air and Steam Heating Systems

About Me
Heidi's HVAC Help, Ideas, Troubleshooting Tips and More

Hello, I am Heidi, and this is my blog devoted to HVAC issues, repair, troubleshooting, maintenance tips and more. Before you dive into my posts, let me introduce myself. I am a mum of three kids and married to an amazing husband. I used to work in the HVAC industry, but now I spend most of my time working as an editor from my house. I needed something that offered the flexibility of staying at home with my little ones, but I miss the hands-on nature of HVAC work. In this blog, I plan to post on a variety of HVAC related topics. If you have questions or concerns, I hope these posts help you.

Understanding Noises From Forced Air and Steam Heating Systems

29 July 2016
 Categories: , Blog

Noises from your heating system can indicate serious problems or minor issues. Wondering what those weird noises mean? Here's a guide to common noises from your blower, vents, boiler and baseboard heaters.

Vent Noises

High Pitched Hum

If it sounds like someone's playing with a tuning fork in your vents, it means that the system isn't pulling enough return air. To add more return air -- try cleaning your filter, and in lieu of that, talk with an HVAC installer about enlarging your ducts.


Rattling typically means your vents are shaking when air comes through them. Tighten the vents, and make sure that they aren't full of debris that may be impeding air flow.

Blower Noises


If you hear screeching, similar to what you hear when the brakes on your car need to be replaced, there may be a loose belt in your blower. Some blowers can be accessed by removing a few screws, and changing the belt is relatively easy. Other blowers are harder to access and require the help of a professional to replace the belt.


Banging means the motor assembly unit or part of the blower is loose, and it's essentially banging against the other components in the blower. This won't cause an immediate loss of heat, but over time, it's hard on the system so you may want someone to come tighten it up.


If your blower sounds like something is repeatedly catching on something else, in a manner reminiscent of a person imitating a motorcycle, there may be a bit of debris in your fan. Turn off the power and clean it yourself using a can of compressed air. If it's more of a clicking sound than a sputtering sound, there's an electrical connection that's not firing.

Boiler Noises


If you have hot water heating, bangs or thumps from inside indicate air in the system. Bleed the system to release air, and if that doesn't work, call a pro to look at your valves. If a zone valve is closing quickly and repeatedly, it echos through the system and sounds like a bang.

Baseboard Heater Noises


Pinging, much like the rattle you hear from vents, is typically not a seriously problem. It usually means that the installer didn't leave enough space to account for expanding copper pipes. As a result, when the heat kicks on, the metal on the baseboard heaters hits the copper pipes, making a pinging sound. Your options are to live with the sound -- it won't damage your heating system-- or contact a professional to reinstall the baseboard heaters.

If your heating system is making noises that are not covered on this list, contact a heating installation and repair company.