Water Heater Noises And Their Causes

Water Heater Noises And Their Causes

Everyone needs a water heater for their home, a basic necessity for utility needs. Traditional electric water heaters are the most common type of unit for most buildings, new and old. However, the comfort of having hot water in your home can be undone by the unpleasant noise that sometimes emanates from the unit. To make matters worse, this can also mean serious functionality issues that can potentially become dangerous to your home, to you, and to your family. These noises can occur for a variety of reason, but if your electric water heater’s electronic cacophony has you tossing and turning with concern for you home and loved ones, it should be addressed immediately. However, these electric heaters can emit a multitude of different noises depending on the malfunction, so being able to identify and differentiate these various sounds is key to diagnosing the problem and deciding how to fix it. Whether your electric water heater is pounding, sizzling, popping, ticking, humming or crackling, American Plumbing can help you identify and fix the issue!


  • Humming

If your electric water heater is making a humming sound, it may have something to do with the loop tube part of the heating element. This humming mostly occurs when a new tube is installed vertically with space between itself and the tank. Fortunately, this humming doesn’t indicate any real danger and will not cause damage to the loop tube or heating unit itself. However, if the noise becomes too bothersome, it can be fixed by simply tightening the element, usually by a mere quarter turn or less.


  • Popping, Crackling, or Sizzling

A popping, crackling, or sizzling noise generally indicates that sediment or mineral deposits from hard water have accumulated in the bottom of your electric water heater’s tank. These heated deposits begin to bubble up and make there way about the inside of the tank unit, causing the distinctive popping sound. Unlike the humming noise above, this can actually cause damage to the steel lining of the tank and lead to a potentially dangerous leak. Not only that, but the sediment can envelop the electric heating element and cause it to burn out. This also greatly displaces the water flow of the tank leaving you with less hot water. This obviously impacts your electric water heater’s efficiency, leading to higher utility bills. Fortunately, this can be treated by dissolving the sediment and lime buildup with deliming agents like phosphoric acid. If you hear a popping noise coming from your heater’s tank unit, do not wait to address it – buying a new electric water heater is certainly more economically sound than buying a new unit altogether.


  • Screaming or Screeching

If you’re experiencing screaming or screeching sound coming from your electric water heater, it is likely the result of water being forced through an opening that is too small. This indicates that somewhere, whether in the unit itself or a connected outlet, there is a valve that is not fully opened. Fortunately, this problem can be easily fixed by inspecting the water line for the valve in question and opening it fully, allowing for better flow of water throughout your home.


  • Ticking or Tapping

Installed in the pipes above the tank unit, standard electric water heaters have check valves called heat traps, designed to stop water from flowing through the pipes in the wrong direction. This is actually completely normal and poses no danger to your heating unit or your family. However, if you find the noise too disturbing, you can use a dielectric nipple to replace the heat trap.


  • Knocking or Hammering

When heated water entering or leaving the tank of your electric water heater is turned off abruptly, such as when using appliance like a dishwasher or washing machine, it can cause the pipes to shift and bang against the interior of your walls and make a quite unpleasant banging sound. This sound too doesn’t indicate any harm to the pipes or heating unit, but it can eventually damage the interior of your walls. Fortunately if the noise becomes too bothersome or you fear for the inside of your walls, a protective piece of equipment known as a water hammer arrestor can be installed, limiting the noise between the appliance and the electric heating unit.
If you’re experiencing any of these bothersome and potentially dangerous noises in your home or place of business, American Plumbing has the tools, knowledge, and professional expertise to give you back your peace and quiet. Call us today!

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