The water heater is a crucial part of our daily routine, providing hot water for showers, washing clothes, dishes, and more. But, when it starts making noise, it can be difficult to determine the issue. Depending on the type of heater, you may be dealing with one or multiple problems, out of a potential list of ten.

It’s important to have your water heater regularly maintained, at least once a year. Regular maintenance, such as cleaning filters and coils, can help prevent noise from occurring. In this article, we’ll cover some common water heater problems.

What do the noises in the water heater mean?

The operation of a heater in any of its types: whether electric, gas with the pilot, or gas with a spark, is always the same. Not all the noises are alarming but they are the first warnings to make minor repairs.

A minor repair can be done by yourself, as long as you understand and understand how a water heater works.

If the water heater is making noises, such as any of these: clanging, popping, hissing or sputtering, ticking, banging or hammering, or sloshing, it’s time to pay attention to it.

How to fix them?

noises in water heater

follow these recommendations for every noise:


Hard water contains a high amount of calcium minerals, which can cause sediment buildup inside pipes, resulting in small pebbles. If you live in an area with natural limestone rock formations or groundwater deposits, then your water is likely hard.

When the hot water inside a tank heats up and expands, it pushes the sediment toward the top of the tank, causing it to rub against the sides and bottom, resulting in a rattling noise. To fix this, you can flush the tank with a hose and a little pressure to remove the sediment or use a descaling solution to remove residual scale from the tank and pipes. However, disassembling the water heater may be required, so it’s best to call a technician if you don’t have the necessary experience.

Popping sounds

Popping sounds may indicate the buildup of mineral deposits and sediment, which occurs when steam bubbles burst under the sediment. To resolve this, you can flush the tank or use a descaling product. Additionally, popping may occur if an aluminum anode rod in the tank is exposed to high alkalinity levels. A plumber can replace the aluminum anode rod with a magnesium anode rod to solve this problem.


Sputtering, hissing, or crackling sounds are typical problems in electric water heaters and occur when the lower heating element is covered by sediment. This causes electric bills to increase as the water heater tries to heat the same amount of water with a greatly reduced ability to produce heat from the lower element.

Gas water heaters can also experience this problem due to internal condensation dripping onto the burners, resulting in a sizzling sound. The formation of condensation in the tank could be a sign of a leak inside the tank.


water heater

Not a major problem. It is one of the few harmless noises as it can be caused by pressure changes in the water piping, heat trap nozzles that increase efficiency, and loose pipe straps.

Loose pipe clamps are not a serious problem, but by tightening or replacing the clamps, you can eliminate this problem and prevent the pipes from shifting. Alternatively, turning the heat down a few degrees can reduce the expansion of the pipes and stop any ticking sounds.

Squeaking, like shouting or singing

Something like the sound of a kettle whistling when it boils. Occurs when the flow of water has no passage through a valve. It means that it is restricted.

You should check the temperature and pressure relief valve which is usually located on the side of the water tank. The function of this valve is to allow water to flow through when the pressure is too high in the tank.

If the source of the sound is this relief valve, immediately turn off the gas, electricity, and water in the tank and call a plumber.

If the sound is not coming from the pressure and temperature relief valve, it may be the inlet and outlet valves. Check that they are fully open, not bent or deformed, as they could obstruct the passage of water. In case you find them in bad condition, call your trusted plumber.

Tapping or hammering

Water hammering. It is well known in plumbing, as the internal pressure of the pipe can be so high that it bursts the pipes. It produces a banging, vibrating, or hammering sound. If you need to fix this, it is best to purchase a pressure-regulating valve.

Some problems are noisy but easy to fix, however, there are silent problems that are horrible to fix. They can include the coil, the pilot light if it is a gas heater, and the batteries if it is a spark ignition gas heater (batteries).

There are also noises when it tries to generate the spark and can not, like a squeak, such as a car trying to start and can not, in this case, it may be the battery of the heater, which must be replaced or lack of water pressure to heat.

Knowing the noisy water heater makes is a hack to keep track of maintenance and make minor repairs. If you see that you can’t do it or don’t know how it works, don’t try, call a plumber who can repair it.

Noisy water heater: Problems and solutions was last modified: May 12th, 2023 by Vanessa Gallanti
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