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Why Your Water Heater is Making a Popping Noise, and How to Fix It

Why Your Water Heater is Making a Popping Noise, and How to Fix It

Why does my water heater make popping noise?

Your water heater is a vital part of your home. Not having hot water is not only inconvenient, but it is also unhealthy. Washing dishes and bathing becomes difficult when you don’t have hot water.

If you are considering having a problem with your water heating unit, you should consult a professional.

One of the first signs of trouble is hearing strange noises coming from the unit. If you hear any of the following noises, call a plumber and fix the problem.

1. loud knocking sound

If you hear a loud bang when you use your hot water or a series of bumps, you have what is called a water hammer. This means that there is a sudden increase in pressure in your pipes that causes the pipes to move and hit the wooden supports around the pipe.

This is a severe problem and should not be solved on your own. Moving pipes can break and cause leaks. And, they can move to the point where they damage the structure of your home. Call a plumber immediately if you hear this type of noise because it can mean your unit will break and cost you a lot of money to replace.

2. Ticking or tapping

If you hear a noise that sounds like a loud or fast banging, then the pipes expand and contract very quickly, causing them to bang against their belt supports. A plumber can look at your pipes and make sure they don’t continue to expand or contract too quickly, as this can lead to pipe breaks.

3. Sounds that jump

The popping sounds are caused by calcium or lime deposits in the pipes. Water enters underneath these deposits, gets trapped and then, when heated, escapes, causing a burst.

Mineral deposits are never suitable for your water heater or your pipes. Remember, you’ll be cooking and drinking that water, so it’s best to have a plumber treat the heater and pipes so that the mineral deposits break down and give your water a clean, bright path home.

The possible reason a water heater can make noise

Again, if the sound is a clue of issues with the heater that difficulty is most probably sediment build up. The sediment arises from the water in the storage tank. It is typically made of calcium and magnesium debris and is mainly a situation in houses which have hard water.

Whenever the sediment starts to develop at the bottom of the storage tank, it traps a little part of hot water under it. This will cause the hot water to boil as the tank functions. The sounds noticed are the bubbles popping through the sediment.

Moreover, the sediment itself may well be the factor for the sounds. The deposit sits at the bottom of the tank and can get burnt up, resulting in irregular sounds. And at times, the sediment can get carried up to the top of the tank and breaks off resulting in sounds as it falls back down, striking the sides on its way.

How to avoid a water heater from generating noise

If sediment build-up is what’s resulting in the sounds, the heater should be reviewed. Hot Water Heater Repair can accomplish this and provide the tank a flush or recommend an additional option.

You can also avert sediment build-up by having expert servicing done on the storage tank at a minimum annually. This system involves flushing the tank of any sediment.

Yet another terrific approach is to set up a water softener in your Worcester property. Water softeners take out minerals from the water before it entering the water heater, noticeably lowering sediment build up.

How to make your water heater stop making a buzzing noise

Electric water heaters have to make a buzzing, noise-like noise from properly functioning heating appliances. When the heater emits a persistent buzzing sound, there is a chance that it has been installed incorrectly or that something is interfering with its operation.

Whatever the case, by understanding how to do it yourself, you can perform simple maintenance to alleviate the problem, maintain hot water supply and reduce electricity costs.

Write down the make and model of your home’s water heater. You will find it on a small metal plate attached to the unit, which is next to a small circle with a UL sign. If the heater is insulated, remove the insulating sleeve to find the information. Get a new heating element from a hardware store or home improvement centre that matches the numbers on your tank. Heating elements vary by voltage and wattage.

Turn off the main power to the heater at your home’s fuse box and turn off the water supply to the tank. Open the tap port at the bottom of the tank to allow any remaining standing water stored inside to drain out into a sink or connect a garden hose and let the waterfall into a bucket. Use a screwdriver to remove the cover on the heating element, which is located near the wall at the bottom of the tank. Remove the clips to separate the item from the wiring but make a note of the exact location of the wires: if you do not install the replacement heating element in the correct wire location, it will not work.

Unscrew the element(s) with a pipe wrench. Once loose, remove and discard the item (s). Immediately wipe the area with a cloth and locate the new element with the connection points to ensure you have purchased the correct one. Slide it into place, secure it with a bolt, and replace the wiring in the same pattern as the previous element with a few quarters turns using a Phillips head screwdriver. Be careful not to overtighten the screws, or you will damage the heads on the wiring.

Turn off the tap, open the water and let the tank fill by pressing up on the pressure valve stem. This will remove any remaining air. Turn on the electrical power to the heater and wait at least 30 minutes for the unit to heat the water, paying attention to any buzzing noise. Repeat these steps if the noise persists, to relocate the element wiring.

Gas water heaters: most common problems explained

Gas water heaters are the most common type found in this area. The image above is a blow-up (no pun intended) of a typical gas water heater. Both gas and electric water heaters will have a cold water inlet on one side and the hot water outlet on the other side. Every homeowner should familiarize themselves with the water and gas inlet shut off valves.

If you have a leak, rupture or some other emergency, you’ll need to know where to shut the unit off. For the gas unit, make sure you not only know WHEN to shut off the gas and water but also, practice to ensure you’ll be able to contain the heater if an actual emergency occurs. Some older valves can be very tight and hard to shut off.

Before we talk about the relighting process, I want first to point out the “sight port.” All newer gas water heaters have sealed burners and an igniter for lighting the unit. One of the most common problems people have relighting these units is only not looking in the correct direction. When looking in to the SITE PORT window, you will see pitch black. Even when the pilot is lit, it gives out such a small amount of light that it may be burned and you just don’t see it.

What I always tell people is that you almost have to stand on your head in order to get the proper view of the pilot light. With your head down on the floor and looking up and over towards the pilot tube entry position, you should at this point be looking in the approximate correct direction.

Relighting your pilot light: 

Turn the on-off control dial to the “pilot” position. You will know you’re in the right place by lining up the half-moon cut out on the dial with the pilot button. The pilot button will not push down all the way if the control dial is in the wrong position.

When the pilot button is pressed down, it must be held down for the entire relighting process. While holding this button down, gas is being released at the pilot light outlet. Pressing the igniter will light this gas and provide your water heater’s pilot light.

There is one final thing to remember – DO NOT RELEASE the pilot button immediately after the pilot lights. The thermocouple needs to heat up sufficiently to create a small electrical charge. This small electrical charge is what keeps the magnetic valve serving the pilot light. So after you see it light, count to 120 and then, SLOWLY release the pilot button if the pilot remains lit, Voilà! You did it! Now just rotate the on-off control valve to the “ON” position and prepare for a loud “whoosh!”. The sound is simply the water heater coming on and is healthy.

For an electric water heater, the two must know “where and how” items are the circuit breaker in your electrical panel that serves the water heater and the cold water shut off valve at the water heater. In case of emergency, you will need to shut both the power and water off to the unit. 

In general, it is a good idea to have a plumber look at your water heater unit no matter what the problem is. Remember, the group was probably expensive, so what a plumber charges for service will be a fraction of what it costs to replace the unit!