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What’s That Noise Coming from My Water Heater?

Water Heater Noise

If you have ever wondered why your water is making strange noises, rest assured, you are not alone. It is common for the average water heater to make a certain amount of noise during operation. However, if your water heater is emitting strange sounds on a daily basis, there could be a problem with it that requires repair or maintenance. Keep reading to learn why your system is making those loud noises, courtesy of our water heater experts at All City Plumbing.

The 5 Most Common Water Heater Noises:

  1. Banging & Rumbling: Banging and rumbling typically occurs in gas water heaters when sediment builds up, interfering with the combustion process. Although this can alarmingly sound like a mini-explosion, most of the time, there is a simple solution to fix this issue. You will simply need to drain your water heater tank to get rid of the excess sediment. Generally speaking, this should be done about once a year. In more serious cases, you could also be dealing with “water hammer,” which occurs when the flow of water in your home stops, and water goes back into the tank. Water hammer is a sign of built-up pressure, and can cause your pipes to burst if you are not careful. If your water heater won’t stop rumbling even after you have drained it, check to see that the pressure reducing valve is working, and call a professional plumber to see if there is a problem in your pipes (you shouldn’t have to worry about this with tankless water heaters, as they do not collect sediment in the same way or require the same level of piping as traditional tank water heaters.)
  2. Hissing & Sizzling: It is fairly common to hear a hissing or sizzling noise coming from your electric water heater. More often than not, this won’t be an issue with electric units, and may in fact be a sign that your system is doing its job. However, if that hissing noise is constant, it could be an indication that sediment is covering your unit’s heating element. If this is the case, you will want to drain the tank and clean the heating element with a descaling solution to get rid of excess sediment. On the other hand, if a hissing sound is coming from your gas water heater, you should probably call a plumber, as this is a common sign of a leak in gas-powered systems.
  3. Screeching & Whistling: A screeching or whistling sound coming from your water heater is a classic sign that your water heater’s valves may be loose. Start by checking the pressure relief valve. This component is essential to the successful operation of your system, and can turn your water heater into a serious hazard if it is not working correctly. So if the problem does lie with the pressure relief valve, you should turn off your water heater completely and call a plumber ASAP. If the pressure relief valve is not the problem, the issue could be with the inlet or outlet valve. Check to see if these components are fully open. If you still have not gotten to the root of the issue after that, once again, the best solution is to call a plumber.
  4. Ticking: This is a strange one, but occasionally, you may hear a ticking sound coming from your water heater if there is too much pressure in the surrounding pipes. Usually, you can take care of this problem by loosening the straps around your water heater, so it is not as rigidly connected to the pipes. The general idea here is to create some space between the water heater and the pipes (again, this is not going to be an issue if you have a tankless unit.)
  5. Popping: Popping is another indicator of sediment build-up in your heater tank. But in this case, rather than flushing your water heater out, you will want to replace the anode rod. This component is installed in the average water heater to stop minerals from building up. In homes with soft water, magnesium rods are more common, but in houses with hard, alkaline water, your heater will usually have an aluminum anode rod. That popping sound is a sign that your aluminum rod has worn out and is no longer doing its job, meaning you will have to get it replaced.

Don’t let spooky water heater sounds haunt you this Halloween! Call All City Plumbing for service now at (909) 552-7550, or send us a message online.


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