Does your water heater sound like it’s ready to explode? Is your system making noises that are alarming or unusual? In the midst of winter, it’s not uncommon for water heaters to have to work harder to provide the warm water your home needs. However, while your system may make a little more noise during the winter months, there are some sounds you need to watch out for. Keep reading to learn about the top five water heater sounds and what they mean, courtesy of our experienced water heater technicians at Roby Services.
- Banging/Rumbling: It is fairly common for water heaters to make a banging or rumbling noise when there is excess sediment in the tank (this is assuming you do not have a tankless system.) When this sediment interacts with the heating elements, it creates those little mini-explosions you are hearing. As alarming as these sounds may be, they can usually be taken care of by flushing out your water heater tank, or calling a technician to do it for you (ideally, this should be done bi-annually anyway.) There is also a chance that your water heater is experiencing “water hammer,” which occurs whenever your water supply is suddenly turned off and water flows back into the system. Water hammer can lead to burst pipes, so look for the pressure-reducing valve on your system and call a technician if this banging sound persists even after you have flushed your tank out.
- Crackling: Your water heater may emit a hissing, sizzling, or crackling sound if it is run on electricity. This is fairly common, though if these noises persist in your electric water heater, it is possible there is something obstructing the heating element. This is another issue you should be able to take care of by draining the tank. If there is a similar sound coming from your gas or oil-powered water heater, your system may be suffering from excess condensation. If you notice this in your home, check for pooling water around the unit and call a technician for a tune-up.
- Ticking: No, a ticking sound coming from your water heater does not mean it’s going to explode like a bomb. However, it may mean that your system has experienced a sudden change in water pressure. This can occur when the straps around the tank are loosened, or when the system is poorly insulated, so it is more affected by movement. Locate the pressure-reducing valve if you keep hearing this noise and make an adjustment. If the sound persists after that, consider installing more support around your water heater tank, or calling a technician to take a look at your system.
- Whistling: A high-pitched screeching or whistling coming from your water heater is likely the result of loose valves, which are letting air out of the tank. Once again, this is why it’s so important to know where the pressure-reducing valve is on your system, so you can make adjustments when/if necessary. You should also check the temperature valve and the inlet/outlet valves to make sure they are functioning normally. If it appears that any of your water heater valves are malfunctioning, turn off your heater and call a technician right away, as these are essential components and can cause major problems if they are not working correctly.
- Popping: A popping sound coming from your water heater is another fairly common sign of sediment build-up. This is especially likely to occur when there is a high level of alkali in your system. Alkaline sediment is rich in magnesium and calcium, and is likely to cause rust in your tank. To take care of this problem, you may need to replace your tank’s anode rod – the component that reduces sediment and bacteria build-up – and flush out the tank. If you live in an area with particularly hard water, it may also be helpful to install a water softening system.