Knob controls on the bottom of a hot water heater

If you’re wondering why your water heater is noisy, you’re not alone.  If it has always been noisy from day one, you probably don’t have much to worry about, but if noises are new to your water heater it could indicate a problem that needs to be remedied.

There are several causes of a noisy water heater, and Robins Plumbing, Inc. would like to introduce this guide to identifying them.

Sediment Buildup And Mineral Deposits

Water heaters that are tankstyled store water inside of them and heat that water to the desired temperature.  Over time, that water will leave mineral deposits and sediment in the tank of the water heater.  Similarly, if you boil a pot of water, you will see the mineral deposits remain on the interior of the pot even after you dump all of the water out.  Now, imagine that process every single day for years on end.  If your water heater hasn’t been flushed and drained on an annual basis for maintenance, then you very likely have several inches or more of sediment built up on the bottom of your water heater, along with mineral deposits on your internal components.  Too much sediment and mineral deposits can make popping noises.  Sediment can build up into a rock like substance at the bottom of your water heater, making it impossible to drain and flush. 

If you hear a rumbling sound from your water heater, it is usually a sign that the sediment buildup at the bottom has reached critical mass.  The rumbling sound is often the water escaping from under and around the sediment as the water temperature rises.  This is often an indication that your water heater is past its lifespan, and you should consider replacing it before the tank ruptures.

Elements Need To Be Replaced

If you’re hearing a crackling, sizzling, hissing or popping noise from your electric water heater, it doesn’t always mean it needs to be replaced.  Sediment and minerals collect on the internal components of your water heater, such as the elements, and are responsible for making those cracking and sizzling noises.  Elements are replaceable, so if the threaded section is still in good shape and your water heater is not past it’s life expectancy, replacing your elements can be a viable repair option.

Water Flow Restrictions

If you hear a hissing sound it is usually a sign that there is a restriction of water flow to your water heater.  One cause of restricted water flow can be that the emergency shutoff valve to your water heater is not on all of the way; this is common with gate valve styles shutoff valves, as the gate partially shuts and restricts water flow.  This is also common if the water was shut off to your water heater and someone didn’t turn the valve back on all of the way.  

Another common cause of restricted water flow is a kinked water supply line to your heater.  This can be easily spotted if you follow the water inlet for your water heater and make sure there are no kinks in the flex line.  

Heat Trap Nipples

A ticking or tapping sound at your water heater can often be traced to what are known as heat trap nipples.  Heat trap nipples are designed to keep hot water inside the tank, but they can become noisy when water is going through the water heater or if there is a severe fluctuation in pressure.  If you hear that tapping noise echoing through your home, you will want to replace your heat trap nipples to eliminate the source of the sound. 

Temperature And Pressure Relief Valve

If you hear a hissing noise and it isn’t water flow restriction to your water heater, the next thing to check is the temperature pressure relief valve for your water heater, also known as the T&P valve.  The T&P valve is designed to relieve pressure on your water heater if the pressure grows too great for the tank to handle.  The temperature in T&P is also important to note if the temperature grows greater than safe levels, the T&P valve will release the scalding hot water to stop your water heater from exploding.  This is a safety mechanism that is very important. If your T&P valve is allowing water to flow through it, we recommend calling our team to come out and fix the problem.  Safety isn’t something to take lightly. 

Leaks And Condensation 

Sizzling is the sound you will hear if you have water dripping on the burner assembly of a gas water heater.  This water can come from a leak in the tank or from condensation dripping on the burner assembly.  If it is condensation it will stop as the water heater heats up, but if the dripping is coming from a leaking water heater tank, you may need to consider a water heater replacement. 

Water Hammering

If you hear a loud banging at your water heater, it usually isn’t coming from your water heater but rather it is echoing inside the water heater tank.  Water hammers occur when there are sudden pressure fluctuations, causing movement of water to rock back and forth in a sealed system.  Water hammers can be tricky to diagnose, partly because sound travels through water in great distances.  If you have an annoying water hammer, sound call our team to come out and trace it to its source and fix it. 

Robins Plumbing Can Help You With Your Water Heater

If you need help from a professional for a noisy water heater in your home’s pipes, look no further! Robins Plumbing, Inc. can help you with the plumbing problems you can’t handle yourself.  With fifteen years in the business behind our company, we can resolve any plumbing-related issue with professionalism and courtesy.  In addition to water heater repair, we can also help you with commercial and residential drain cleaning, sewer inspection, and faucet repair.

Contact Robins Plumbing Inc. today!