It's a familiar experience: You hear the furnace start with a whoosh, the fan turns on with a low hum and warm air starts to softly hiss out of the vents. Then, your creaking heating vents become a point of concern. At different points around the house, you hear ticks at different volumes, one room goes "bang" and the vent in the living room produces a sort of creaking sound.
You're used to these familiar sounds by now, but maybe that prolonged and repetitive creaking or ticking has finally gotten on your last nerve. Fixing your creaking heat vents is possible, particularly with a solid understanding of the problem.
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What Causes Ticking Noises?
There are many possible causes for noisy ducts and vents, some with easier fixes than others. While there are many things you can resolve yourself, it's important to understand when to call in a professional.
For instance, frequent ticking sounds can indicate different issues depending on whether you're running the AC or the heat. If your cold air system is operating and your AC unit is ticking, it likely indicates the compressor going bad or overheating. That's a part you want professionals to replace.
Is your furnace ticking? That's the ignition for your burner. If it only clicks a few times and you hear the flame catch, it's likely fine, but constant or prolonged clicking indicates that the gas is not igniting, which can become a very big problem. Again, this is a fix that requires a professional.
Loud Banging Sounds
Loud banging sounds are almost always the result of cold metal air ducts expanding when hot air passes through them. This can be a DIY fix, but it requires time and may necessitate getting pretty dirty.
Locate your ducts, which can be in the floor or the ceiling. Then, clean your ducts with water and a soft cloth. Then, seal and insulate your air ducts to reduce expansion and contraction noises. Once sealed and insulated, there should be less of a pressure difference, which is what causes metal ducts to pop out or in. The insulation will help to muffle the noises that happen anyway.
You can also replace your rectangular vents with circular vents. The circular shape results in better airflow and less expansion and contraction, which will reduce noises.
Creaking Vent Sounds
Creaking vents are the result of the duct or vent rubbing against wood as it expands and contracts. This can be a simple DIY fix.
By inserting a rubber sheet between the metal duct and the wood, you can prevent the rubbing and creaking noises. Sealing and insulating your ducts will also help by reducing expansion and contraction, plus it will make your HVAC system more efficient, resulting in savings every month.
Other Unsettling Sounds
There are a host of other odd sounds that could be making you uncomfortable in regard to your HVAC system's operation. This can range from thwapping or clanking from the fan blades hitting something dangling into them to rattling and screeching resulting from a loose object in your ducts or ungreased moving parts.
If you're handy, you can try opening your furnace and ducts and having a look around, but you should always ask yourself how deep your knowledge base truly extends. Know the value of your own time, safety and comfort and contact a professional if you think you might be in over your head.