Water heaters are often viewed by homeowners as mysterious entities that aren’t meant to be understood, so if you hear an unexpected sound coming from your water heater, you may be understandably nervous. Educating yourself on the potential noises your water heater might make is a good move, because it can not only help you figure out how to fix the problem but also help you learn to distinguish normal sounds from sounds that mean your water heater is dangerous and could explode. Here are three sounds water heaters sometimes make and what to do about it.
If your water heater has an internal element immersed in the water, it’s possible for it to develop a hissing sound caused by buildup on the blade. You’ll need to take your water heater apart (following all manufacturer-recommended precautions) and clean the element if you want to alleviate the sound.
Like the hissing sounds, a rumbling sound isn’t cause for immediate concern. It’s probably caused by a build-up of sediment near the bottom of your unit. This won’t cause an explosion (although the damage it causes can make the heater more susceptible to future explosions), but it can have detrimental effects over time. Not only does the sediment insulate your water heater’s element, forcing it to output more energy to heat the same amount of water, but it can also weaken the inside of your water heater. If this goes on long enough, the water heater may develop leaks. The best thing you can do in this situation is to drain and flush the tank or, if you’re not confident of your plumbing skills, have your plumber do it for you.
This sound may also be caused by sediment, especially if accompanied by rumbling, but it can also be a herald of a much more serious problem. If your water heater’s relief valve malfunctions, the steam and pressure can build up inside the tank until it’s strong enough to rupture the water heater, causing an explosion. If you suspect this may be what’s happening, turn off the heater immediately at the circuit breaker and call in professional help.
These three sounds can plague a homeowner greatly, but as you can see, your water heater’s grumblings probably aren’t anything to be frightened of. If you’re not sure which type of sound yours is making, or if it’s one listed here, a plumber, like Absolute Plumbing & Drain Cleaning Services Inc, will be able to help you get to the bottom of it.