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Is the Water Heater Haunted, or Does It Just Need Repairing? | C. Woods Company

Beware These Ghostly Water Heater Noises

The water heater is one of the home's most crucial appliances that's easy to forget about or take for granted. Unless, of course, it stops producing hot water. But it's also pretty hard to ignore when it starts making noises that border on the supernatural. 

More often than not, these freaky and alarming sounds are not caused by a ghost or spirit but by a variety of relatively straightforward and common issues. But just because they're of this world, doesn't mean these problems aren't haunting.

Popping Sounds - Water Tank Sediment

Does it sound like someone's making popcorn in the garage or basement? It's probably the water heater. Popping noises from a water heater are quite common, especially with older units or regions with very hard water. As the unit processes incoming water, minerals (such as lime, calcium, and magnesium) and very fine debris slowly accumulate in the water tank's bottom. Water often becomes trapped under this layer of crusty sediment, and when the tank is heated, steam bubbles form and burst, producing a popping sound.

Sediment buildup can largely be avoided by regularly flushing and descaling the water tank or installing a water softener upstream of the water heater, both of which are best done by a professional. Water tank sediment can lead to rust damage or a dangerously overpressurized tank, both of which may require replacing the unit.

Screeching or Whining Sounds - Restricted Water Flow

water heater

High-pitched screeching or whining noises are almost always the result of water flow restriction, either at a valve or in an inlet or outlet pipe. Mineral deposits can gradually develop in the pipes running into and out of the water heater (especially where very hard water is present) and choke the waterway. As the pressurized water is forced through the narrower aperture, it can produce a rather spooky whine or shriek. 

More commonly, this is caused by a valve not being fully opened. For instance, the water inlet valve may have been accidentally bumped or nudged, partially closing off the water supply. Making sure this valve is completely open may solve the problem. The safety relief valve may also produce a screeching sound. If this is the case, the heater's power should be turned off, and a professional should be contacted immediately.

Crackling or Sizzling Sounds - Condensation Burn-Off

Crackling or sizzling noises in an electric water heater may be caused by scale buildup on a heating element. In this case, the tank must be emptied, and the element itself must be cleaned and descaled. However, in a gas-powered water heater, crackling or sizzling usually means one of two things. 

fixing a water heater

As cold water flows into the unit to be heated, condensation forms on the tank and can drip down on the burners, causing a crackle. Unless it becomes excessive, this typically doesn't present much of a problem. However, crackling or sizzling can also be caused by water leaking out from inside the tank and trickling down onto the hot burners. A leaky tank will only get worse, and may even need to be replaced entirely. 

Any homeowner experiencing any of these sounds had better not hesitate to take action, or their current water heater may turn into a ghost!

About C. Woods Company

Woods Company has provided expert Plumbing & HVAC services to Tyler, Texas since 1956. Their friendly, trustworthy, and highly-trained technicians arrive on time and get the job done right the first time. Their 24-hour service, close client relationships, and competitive pricing have earned them countless awards and a top-notch customer satisfaction rating. Call now for expert water heater services!