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4 Scary Noises Your Water Heater is Making and What They Might Mean

Does your water heater make sounds that are annoying, or worse, alarming? There are several different noises that water heaters can make, depending on the age of the unit and other factors. Here are some of the most common ones and what you can do to quiet down your water heater and possibly prevent damage to it.

Popping

Popping generally indicates that sediment has built up on the bottom of the tank. Steam bubbles develop under the sediment and explode when the water is heated, causing a popping noise.

The “fix” for this problem is to flush the tank. If you are a DIY-er, you can flush the water heater tank by following these steps:

1. Shut off the power to an electric tank or put the gas burner of a gas tank on pilot and closing the cold water supply valve

2. Wait several hours to let the stored water cool down

3. Attach a garden hose to the drain valve and place the other end of the hose in the bathtub or a floor drain

4. Open the water heater’s hot water faucet and drain the tank

5. Close the valve, turn the cold water supply back on, fill the tank partway and drain again

6. Repeat this process of partially filling the tank with cold water and draining it until the water coming out of the tank runs clear

7. Close the drain valve and refill the tank with cold water.

8. Turn the power back on or turn up the gas burner to begin heating water again.

Rumbling

A rumbling sound can occur when the water in the tank expands as it is heated and begins to escape from under the sediment build-up. Rumbling usually means that the sediment build-up has reached a critical level and your unit is not functioning efficiently.

You can follow the steps above to attempt to flush the tank and quite the rumbling temporarily, but rumbling can indicate that the tank is prone to future problems and needs replacing.

Sizzling

A sizzling or frying noise is common in water heaters. It may simply indicate that condensation has formed drops of water that fall onto the burner or another hot surface.

A more serious reason could be that sediment build-up has completely buried the lower heating element or is clogging the drain valve. If you’re handy, you can try draining the tank, removing the element and cleaning it by soaking in vinegar and gently scrubbed with a wire brush to get rid of sediment and limescale build-up. If you are unable to drain the water heater because the drain valve is clogged, you’ll need to purchase a new unit.

Screeching

A screeching or hissing noise may indicate that there is a water line valve that’s not completely opened. As water is pushed through the too-small hole, it creates this screeching noise. You can locate this problem with an inspection of the valves throughout your water line and open the offending valve to stop the noise.

If your water heater is talking to you (or even yelling for help), a local professional plumber can help.

Providing quality, trusted plumbing services to the Fort Bend area, Howell Services is family-owned and our plumbers are fully licensed, insured and bonded. Let us help restore quiet to your home by repairing your water heater or recommending and installing a replacement. Call us today for a repair or comprehensive plumbing inspection.

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