Why is the Water Heater Making Noise: Possible Causes and Solutions

Water heaters are essential appliances in most homes, providing hot water for comfortable showers and baths. However, a noisy water heater can be a nuisance and can even signal a potential problem. So why is the water heater making noise?

In this article, we will explore why water heaters make noise, how to fix a noisy water heater, and when to consult a professional. Additionally, if you are experiencing loud noises coming from your hot water heater, it is important to address the issue promptly to avoid any potential hazards or further damage.

The water heater clangs and hisses loudly, steam billowing from its vent

Why Is the Water Heater Making Noise?

Sediment Buildup

One of the most common causes of water heater noise is sediment buildup. Over time, minerals and other debris can accumulate at the bottom of the tank, causing popping, crackling, or rumbling noises. Flushing the tank regularly can help prevent sediment buildup.

Possible Fix: The water heater needs to be flushed and drained to remove the sediment buildup.

Water Hammer

Water hammer is a loud, banging noise that occurs when the flow of water in the pipes is suddenly stopped. This can happen when a valve is closed quickly, causing the water to slam into the pipes. 

Possible Fix: Installing a water hammer arrestor can help prevent this noise.

Hard Water

If your home has hard water, which is water that contains high levels of minerals such as magnesium and calcium, it can cause mineral deposits to form in the tank, leading to popping, hissing, or sizzling sounds. 

Possible Fix: Flushing the tank and installing a water softener can help prevent this problem.

Loose Heating Element

A loose heating element can cause a humming noise in your water heater. If you hear a humming sound, it could be a sign that the heating element is loose and needs to be tightened or replaced.

Possible Fix: The heating element needs to be replaced.

Restricted Water Flow

If you hear a screeching or whistling sound coming from your water heater, it could be a sign that the water flow is restricted. This can happen if the inlet control valve is partially closed or if there is a blockage in the pipes. 

Possible Fix: Checking the valve and clearing any blockages, which can cause a hammering sound, can help solve this problem.

Faulty Thermostat

If your water heater is making a loud noise, it could be a sign of a faulty thermostat. If the thermostat is not working correctly, it can cause the water to overheat, leading to popping or crackling noises. 

Possible Fix: Replacing the thermostat can help solve this problem.

Preventative Measures

To prevent sediment buildup and prolong the lifespan of the water heater, regular water heater maintenance is crucial. This includes flushing and draining the water heater at least once per year. 

Possible Fix: Installing a water softener can also help prevent sediment buildup and prolong the lifespan of the water heater. Additionally, insulating the water tank can help reduce heat loss and noise.

When to Consult a Professional

In some cases, a noisy water heater may require professional attention, especially if you have recently installed a new water heater. If the noise persists after trying the solutions mentioned earlier, it may be time to call in a professional plumber or water heater technician who can assess the situation and determine if the new water heater is the cause of the unexpected noises. They will have the expertise and knowledge to determine the cause of the noise and recommend the appropriate course of action.

Here are some situations where a professional should be consulted:

  • Leaking water heater: If the water heater is leaking, it is important to turn off the electricity or gas supply and the water supply to the unit immediately. A leaking water heater can cause significant damage to your home and requires immediate attention from a professional plumber.
  • Electric water heater: Electric water heaters can be dangerous to work on without the proper training and equipment. If you suspect an electrical issue with your water heater, it is best to call a professional to avoid the risk of electrocution.
  • Tankless water heater: Tankless water heaters are complex systems that require specialized knowledge to repair. If you have a tankless water heater that is making noise, it is important to call a professional plumber who is experienced with these systems.
  • Water pressure issues: If the water pressure in your home is too high or too low, it can cause your water heater to make noise. A professional plumber can diagnose the issue and recommend the appropriate solution.
  • Mineral buildup: Over time, mineral buildup can occur in your water heater, causing it to make noise. If you suspect mineral buildup is the cause of the noise, a professional plumber can flush the system to remove the buildup and restore efficiency.

Remember, it is always best to consult a professional plumber or water heater technician to diagnose and address the issue if you are experiencing any water heater issues, including noise. They have the necessary skills and expertise to provide the right repairs or replacements to ensure your water heater runs efficiently and safely.

And if all else fails and it’s time to get a new water heater, check out the Shop Journey water heater buying guide for some quick tips!

About The Author

Picture of Shervon


What's a housewife without her cooking utensils and cleaning tools to keep the house in good order? Happily married with 2 cheeky kids, Mrs Housewife spends nearly 24/7 of her time around her trusty kitchen appliances or cleaning equipment well enough to know the ins and outs of those items (some say she's too obsessed with baking, cooking & cleaning for the family, and wonder if she's married to those appliances instead of her husband).

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