Is Your Water Heater Sick? Causes For Burbling, Gurgling, And Popping

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You depend on your hot water heater is to provide reliable, hot water to your home. It's obvious that there is a problem if you suddenly lose hot water, but there are other signs that your hot water heater may be about to fail as well. If your water heater is making unusual noises, it may indicate a more serious problem or it may simply be your water heater telling you that it is need of some TLC. By learning to recognize what these sounds mean you can solve problems before you lose your hot water and potentially save yourself some money as well.

Unusual Noises May Indicate Sediment Buildup

Gurgling or popping sounds from your water heater can be disconcerting, but they may not indicate a major problem. The most likely cause for these noises is sediment build-up along the bottom of the tank. The noises that you hear are the result of water bubbling or pushing its way through the sediment layer that has developed along the bottom of the tank. This happens as the water trapped at the bottom of the tank begins to boil. Typically, these noises will be most apparent after you use hot water and the water heater begins to refill.

If you hear noises like this, your first step should be to drain the tank. Most manufacturers recommend flushing your tank at least once a year, so if it's been a while since your last drain then this is very likely the root cause of the noises. Luckily, flushing your tank is an easy, five-step job:

  1. Turn the water heater's thermostat, gas valve, and cold water inlet valve off
  2. Attach a hose to the drain valve
  3. Open the pressure relief valve on the water heater
  4. Open the drain valve
  5. Open the cold water inlet valve to flush the tank

Allow the tank to flush until the water runs clear. Once you've completed this procedure, your water heater should hopefully be operating quietly and smoothly.

Continued Noises May Indicate a Limescale Build-up

If flushing your tank doesn't solve the problem, then you may have an issue with hard water creating limescale build-up inside the tank. This is a common problem, and many professionals recommend having your tank descaled at least every other year. Flushing your tank regularly can help to slow the build-up of limescale, but often this only delays the inevitable need to have a proper cleaning done. If you live in an area with particularly hard water, it may be necessary to have your tank descale more than once a year.

Although this is a job you can do yourself, it is usually recommended to have a professional do the work for you. In addition to descaling your tank, they can perform a complete inspection of the hot water heater in order to determine if there are any other maintenance issues that need addressing. Contact a service, like R & B Inc Heating & Air Conditioning, for more help.