02 Jul. 19

How to troubleshoot a noisy water heater

Just about every utility appliance in the home can develop a fault. Hence, there is no big deal in the need to troubleshoot a noisy water heater from time to time. Water heaters are excellent appliances. They are one gadget that every home makes use of, especially in winter. If you are like the vast majority, there is every chance that you don’t like taking a bath with cold water. With a water heater, you don’t need to. 

A water heater is an equipment with the capacity of executing the transfer of heat into water, hence, raising its temperature, with energy from another source. The basic processes involved in the operation of various water heaters are different, but all focused towards an end – steady hot water. 

There are various designs and applications of the water heater. The most common is the system infused in shower systems. For water to get into your home, it goes through this predefined system of pipes and gets heated up in the process. 

Basically, water heaters take the form of big metal cylinders or tall drums that are used mainly in the laundry room. There are other forms of water heaters. In the seemingly automated systems, the delivery of warm water to you is relative without a fuss. However simple this process might seem when the heater is viewed from the outside, there is a complex system running on the inside. 

Related article: What are the differences: Tankless Water Heater Vs. Tank Water Heater


How does my water heater work

The working of water heaters employs the functionality of some features, and they are: 

The tank

This is the inner shell of the water heater. It is usually made of metal. This metallic component can hold up to about 40 to 60 gallons of water, which is about 50 to 100 PSI. The outer part of the tank is coated with polyurethane foam. On this coating, there is an extra layer that provides additional insulation. 

Dip tube

This is the port through which water enters the tank. Through this tube water then travels down to the bottom of the tank. It is at the bottom of your tank that water is heated. 

Shut off valve

This is the valve that stops the flow of water into the water heater. This component of the water heater is not located inside the heater alongside other components, but outside. 

Head out pipe

This part of the water heater is located near the top of the inner part of the tank. This is the port through which water exits the machine. 


This device is located in the water heater to control the temperature and the thermometer. In some modern water heaters, there is the presence of various thermostats for different elements. 

The heating mechanism

The heating mechanism of water heaters makes use of a heating element.  This element is typically situated in the heater to heat the water in the tank. This is, however, different for a gas water heater. Gas water heaters make use of a burner and chimney instead of the heating element. 

Drain valve

This valve is located towards the end of the exterior housing of your water heater. It is the port with which the tank is emptied of its water content. Sometimes, you may need to empty the tank of water. In cases where there is a need to change the element, remove the sediments, or when you are looking to move the machine to another place, a drain valve comes in handy. 

Pressure relief valve

This is a safety function designed into the water heater. This feature is tasked with the function of controlling the pressure inside of the heater. 

All these parts are instrumental to the proper functioning of your water heater. If any one of these parts is damaged, it may be the cause of your water heater making so much noise. 


Why is my water heater noisy?

One fault that your water heater is prone to be making abnormal and rumbling noises. This can end up being a nuisance to you, in your home. These noises are indicators that there is a problem, and in some cases, there may be a need to worry.

Irrespective, you should make sure to diagnose the issue effectively. This will help you to know how to troubleshoot a noisy water heater. Your water heater can either make popping or rumbling sounds. However, this does not effectively spell doom for your heater. There are many reasons why your water heater may be making noise. They include:

Mineral deposits and the buildup of sediments

Your water heater will make noises when there is a buildup of sediment in the tank of the water heater. These sediments are mainly minerals that are present in the tank due to the hardness of your water. During the heating of hard water, these minerals are separated from the water. 

When there is a considerable buildup of sediments in the tank of your water heater, there is bound to be a popping sound. This popping sound occurs because the water is trapped under the sediment that has built up. Therefore, when water is being heated, there will be a formation of bubbles which will eventually explode as the heating goes on. 

When the valve is not opened correctly or closed

In this case, your water heater will make sizzling sounds. This shows that there is a blockage to the flow of water in the system. There is no cause for alarm though; you should first check the temperature and pressure relief valve. Afterward, ensure that the pressure build-up is within acceptable limits. If there is water escaping this valve, then you should know there is a problem. 

Inconsistency in the pressure of the water

This causes your machine to have a ticking sound. Usually, this is caused by fluctuations in pressure levels. The heat trap may be the source of the ticking sound. Your plumbing pipes can also be an alternate source. 

Water leakage/condensation

When there is a condensation issue, it will result in your heater letting off a sizzling sound. When your heater is on, condensation can form, which will fall on other components of the hot burner. You can also hear this sound when there is a leak in the heater. If the leakage persists when the heater is turned off, there is bound to be a sizzling sound. 

Related article: Why is my water heater leaking from the bottom?

Water supply

The water being supplied to your heater can also cause it to make noise. In the event that the water has a very high PH level, it will most likely make popping sounds. 

Water hammer

Sometimes, you may hear a hammer or knocking sound from your heater. Usually, this is bound to occur in the heater if the water passing through the pipes is suddenly cut off. This sudden cutoff can be destructive for your water heater. 

The electric heating element

When there is an issue with the electric heating element, it manifests with a humming sound. Water heaters always have two heating elements. If there is a flow of cold water around the upper element, it can cause the element to vibrate and result in a humming sound. 

Related article: How to change your water heater element


Troubleshoot a noisy water heater – How to get it fixed

It doesn’t happen all the time, but there is every possibility that your water heater starts making weird noises. Various sounds can be produced by your water heater. Typically, they are a result of different issues. There are also two main systems of water heaters. The type of water heater you use will determine how to troubleshoot it. 

How to troubleshoot a noisy water heater that uses heating elements

Follow these simple steps:

  • First, you should attempt a total removal of the heating element.
  • To remove the element, you need to first drain the tank of its water content. 
  • To do this, you need to turn off the power supply, then remove the lids situated on the sides of the tank. 
  • Disconnect the wires from the elements. 
  • Follow this by closing the inlet valve, while you connect a hose to the drain valve, to expel the water. 
  • Then you should open the drain valve, and make sure the water is drained till its level is below that of the element. 
  • Unscrew the element from its position with the help of a wrench. 
  • Replace it with a new element or a clean one.
  • Reattach the wires to the terminals, and close the drains. Start using your water heater again. 

This is an effective way to troubleshoot a noisy water heater that works with an element system.

How to troubleshoot a noisy water heater that uses gas

You can troubleshoot your noisy gas water heater by following these simple steps: 

  • The first thing to do in a bid to troubleshoot a noisy water heater is to flush out the heater. This will help you get rid of deposits. 
  • You should turn off the gas valve, then close the inlet water valve.
  • Connect a hose to the drain, and expel all of the water. 
  • Make sure the water tank is empty. 
  • After the tank is flushed, shut the drain.
  • Also, make sure the tank is full of soft water before the gas is turned on. This is an effective way to troubleshoot a noisy water heater that uses gas. 

If you don’t have the technical knowledge needed to troubleshoot a noisy water heater, it’s okay. Maybe you don’t even have the time. You can call in an HVAC specialist to help you fix your water heater. You should do this quickly to avoid further damage to the heater. 

Related article: Does my water heater need to be replaced?


Do I need to change my water heater?

Water heating is a necessity for every home. It is just as important as the vacuum cleaner or other devices in the house. However, if your water heater is making noises, it doesn’t necessarily mean you need a new one. 

These are the conditions under which you need a new water heater:

Get a new one when the unit is old

First, you need to find out the age of the water heater. There is a simple way to find out the exact year of your water heater. All you need to do is take a look around the equipment. There is always a sticker with the serial number written on it. 

The first two numbers of this serial number represent the year it was produced. If your water heater is more than ten years old, then you need to get it replaced as soon as possible. 

If the water has rust in it

Once this is noticed in your water heater, there are no two ways to it, you need to replace the machine. If the dispense of water with rust continues, there is every tendency that the heater will spring a major leak soon. Buy a new one before this happens! You can refer to our water heater guide to choose the best water heater for your home.

When there is not enough hot water

If you notice that your water heater’s supply of hot water runs out quickly, then you need a new one. This is a common sign that the water heater is no longer performing optimally.


When the metal components of your water heater are subject to frequent heat, they tend to expand. Over time, this can lead to a slight break. This usually results in water leaking from the tank. This leakage can result in damage to other utility installations in your home. Leaky water heaters should not be fixed, get a new one instead. 

Related article: Factors to consider when buying a new water heater


How do I maintain my water heater?

There is a level of maintenance that comes with having a water heater. If you are not willing to take care of the equipment, it is better not to own one. 

This equipment is very sensitive. Hence, maintenance should be done at short intervals. You should make sure that your water heater is properly drained frequently. If not, sediments can accumulate and cause harm to the heater, while contaminating your water supply. 


How often should I inspect my water heater?

At least once a year, you should invite a professional to inspect your water heater. It is during this check that a professional will be able to assess all the parts and components of your water heater. If there is any fault, it will easily be detected and rectified. 

The parts to be checked include the thermostat, the plumbing joints, and the supply valves. Other than checking certain components, the technician will also affirm that there is no risk of fire or gas leakage. 


Water heaters are very functional installations. However useful this equipment is, it is prone to faults. Many faults can develop as you use your water heater over time. Chief among these faults is noise emanating from your unit. Call in a professional if you notice any strange noises. Our experts can help you take care of any issues without delay. Call us today!

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