Diagnosing Hissing Sounds from Steam Radiators

What You'll Need
Steam radiator

It’s a noise that’s familiar to almost everyone: the hissing, wheezing and burbling of the old steam radiator as it heats up. Some hissing is inevitable if you have steam radiators, but you may notice that the radiators might be noisier or more volatile in certain rooms than in others. So how can you tell what “normal” hissing sounds are, and when the noise is indicating some sort of problem? To learn how to diagnose hissing sounds from steam radiators, take a look at the steps below.

Step 1 – Check Your Valves

If your steam radiator is hissing excessively and spitting water, then there might be a problem with the valves not closing properly. To find out if this is the problem, just perform a very simple diagnostic test. When the radiators aren’t on, take off one valve and install it on a different radiator. If this second radiator is now hissing and spitting as well, you can be sure that the problem is the valve, and you should take steps to replace it. If not, there may be a bigger problem.

Step 2 – Check Your Pressure

If the problem isn’t in the valve, then the pressure in your pipes might be too high. Your pressure should never be higher than 3 PSIG. Ideally, the PSIG will be in between 1 and 2. You may need to call in an expert to resolve the problem if this is the case.