Why is My Water Heater Making Noise (9 Common Sounds)

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So you are just settling in for a relaxing evening at home when suddenly, you hear it – that strange noise coming from your water heater. Annoying, repetitive noises. Its really hard to ignore! You’re not alone in wondering why is my water heater making noise!? Many of us have encountered unexpected sounds from their trusty hot water tanks.

Since these appliances handle our hot water supply, it’s natural to feel a little concerned. If you can’t help but wonder if something is seriously wrong with your water heater, fear not! We’ve got your back, and we’re here to help you quickly identify the causes of these strange noises. We will try to give you clear guidance on how to fix them.

I’m going to cover the most common types of noises emitted by electric and gas water heaters, pinpoint the potential problems you need to know about. After that, we will be able to tackle those issues that may be causing them, suggesting repair and maintenance tips, and offer some sound advice on preventing future problems.

So grab a cup of coffee or tea (or maybe some hot cocoa) and settle in. Lets get started on solving the mystery of your noisy water heater together!

Common Water Heater Noises

After some time, you’ve probably had just about enough of those strange sounds coming from your hot water tank, right? There is a ton of different noises and potential causes when it comes to your water heater. How important or severe they are depends on the root cause.

It’s likely that most homeowners will come across some odd noises from their water heaters at one point or another. I’ve done a bunch of research, compiled some reviews, Quora questions and user comments from different sources. I’ll break it all down in a table so its easier to understand, you should be able to find your sound and root cause quickly!

Noisy Water Heater Causes and Should You Worry?

SoundDescriptionPotential Severity
TickingUsually caused by expanding and contracting pipes due to temperature changes or water meter or check valves. (Solution)Low
CracklingDue to sediment build-up in the bottom of the tank during heating process. (Solution)Low
PoppingCaused by sediment build-up in the tank that traps water that then boils to create those popping sounds. (Solution)Low to Moderate
HummingCan be caused by the electric heating element not secured properly. This leads to vibrations when the heater is running. (Solution)Moderate
GurglingUsually caused by bubbles trapped in sediment or mineral build-ups in the hot water tank. (Solution)Moderate
ScreechingPartially closed valve resulting in a restricted water flow. This leads to a high-pitched noise that’s super loud and annoying! (Solution)Moderate
HissingCan be due to a leaking pressure relief valve (serious!) or sediment buildup causing steam to escape. (Solution)Moderate to High
SizzlingIndicates water is dripping onto a hot surface, such as a burner or heating element, often due to a leak. (very serious – electrical-fire potential)! (Solution)High
BangingCaused by water hammer which happens from water suddenly changing direction or coming to an abrupt stop within your pipes. (serious, will cause damage to pipes and inevitable leaks)! (Solution)High

These most common water heater noises can range from popping and crackling to screeching and hissing (especially scary and annoying)! We’ve done the most important part; identifying the source of these sounds. The first step towards getting them fixed.

I encourage anyone who is unsure to reach out to a professional if needed for proper diagnosis and assistance with your water heater. I’ve done my best to give a comprehensive list of known heater problems and sounds, but if you don’t think your issue fits, it doesn’t hurt to get a plumbers advice!

Now we can drill down into fixing these issues. Knowing when to DIY-it and when you call in a professional plumber is important too. You don’t want to ignore some of these issues, as the more severe problems can actually result in serious damage to your home if left unchecked.

Solutions to Noisy Water Heater Sounds


Ticking noises often stem from the natural process of pipes expanding and contracting due to temperature changes. To remedy this issue, you can try adding insulation around the pipes to reduce noise. If the ticking noise is caused by the water meter or check valve, you may need to call a plumber for assistance.


Crackling sounds usually result from sediment buildup in the bottom of the hot water tank. To fix this issue, you can perform a water heater flush:

  1. Turn off the power supply to the water heater (electric or gas).
  2. Turn off the water supply to the tank.
  3. Attach a hose to the drain valve and place the other end in a suitable location to drain the water.
  4. Open the drain valve and let the water flow out until the tank is empty.
  5. Close the drain valve, turn the water supply back on, and allow the tank to refill.
  6. Turn the power supply back on.

Performing a water heater flush at least once a year can help prevent sediment buildup and prolong the lifespan of your water heater.


Popping noises are also caused by sediment buildup, so doing a water heater flush (as described in the section above) should help this issue.


Humming noises can be caused by an electric heating element that is not secured properly. This is potentially an advanced DIY task, as it involves working on wiring. Only attempt if you are confident, follow proper steps to SHUT OFF POWER before working on the heater.

To fix this issue:

  1. Turn off the power supply to the water heater
  2. Remove the access panel on the side of the water heater
  3. Locate the heating element and check if it is loose
  4. Tighten the heating element if necessary
  5. Replace the access panel and turn the power supply back on.


Gurgling noises could be caused by air or water bubbles trapped in the sediment deposits in the bottom of the tank. Flushing the water heater (as shown above) should help this issue.


Screeching noises often come from a partially closed valve. This will restrict water flow, causing the high-pitched screeching sounds. To fix this issue, locate the valve(s) causing the noise (usually right near the water heater) and ensure it is fully open. If the valve is damaged or worn, it may need to be replaced. Consider hiring a plumber for assistance if need replacement.


Hissing noises can be caused by a leaking pressure relief valve or sediment buildup leading to steam escaping. To fix this issue, you may need to replace the pressure relief valve or flush the water heater (as shown in the section above).


Sizzling noises indicate that water is dripping onto a hot surface, often due to a leak. To resolve this issue, you’ll need to identify the source of the leak and repair it. This could involve tightening connections, replacing a faulty valve, or even patching a hole in the tank. This is considered an advanced DIY task, so if you’re not comfortable making these repairs yourself its best to consult a professional plumber.


Banging noises, or water hammer can be resolved by installing arrestors. These help to absorb the pressure caused by sudden changes in water flow. Another fix is to adjust the water pressure in your home by installing or adjusting a pressure reducing valve. If you’re unsure how to do this, it’s best to consult a professional plumber. High water pressure beyond recommended levels is not needed, and will cause damage over time!

Electric vs. Gas Heaters

Now that we’ve covered all the common sounds and causes, let’s get into the differences between electric and gas heaters. When it comes to your water heater making noise, you’ll find that electric and gas units have some distinct characteristics.

Electric water heaters are known for being much quieter than their gas counterparts. This is due to the absence of an open flame for heating. They can still produce noises such as humming or popping sounds caused by sediment buildup or loose elements.

On the other hand, the gas water heaters typically generate more noise thanks to the combustion required to heat the water.

gas hot water heater in home

If you’ve had both types of heaters, you will probably notice that common water heater problems can differ between electric and gas models. Electric water heaters might struggle with broken heating elements or faulty thermostats, while gas units can face issues related to pilot lights or burner assemblies.

By knowing these distinctions you should feel more connected with others who share similar experiences with their own home appliances. Plus, knowing what’s normal for your specific type of unit will help you identify any potential problems before they escalate into serious water heater issues and costly repairs or replacements.

By sharing our experiences and knowledge about both types of units’ common problems (and successes), we create a valuable resource —a feeling we’re all in this together as we tackle our various household challenges head-on!

So next time your water heater is making noise, remember there are many others out there facing similar situations who can offer advice along the way.

Repair and Maintenance

Just like all home appliances, its essential to stay on top of your hot water systems repair and maintenance. Addressing the issue of your water heater making noise promptly can save you money in the long run and maintain a sense of peace in your living space.

To recap, here are the three key steps to help you troubleshoot and resolve common problems related to noisy water heaters:

  1. Draining the water – Sediment buildup at the bottom of your heater can cause a rumbling or sizzling sound. Regularly draining the water from your tank will help remove sediment buildup and keep your system running smoothly.
  2. Water hammer arrestor – If you hear loud banging noises when using hot water, it could be caused by changes in water pressure within your pipes, known as ‘water hammer.’ Installing a water hammer arrestor on the main water lines will absorb these sudden shifts in pressure, reducing noise and potential damage to your plumbing system.
  3. Control valve – A faulty control valve may also be responsible for unusual sounds emanating from your heater. Replacing this component can eliminate any whistling or hissing noises that may be associated with temperature fluctuations.

As a proud homeowner, you deserve peace and quiet while enjoying the comfort of hot showers or warm radiators throughout cold winter nights. By following these guidelines for regular maintenance checks on drainage issues, installing necessary components like a water hammer arrestor for stabilization, or even replacing faulty parts such as control valves – you’ll ensure that any irritating noises cease at their source before they escalate into more significant issues down the line.

So go ahead – take charge of those pesky disruptions today! After all, nothing quite compares to belonging to an efficiently functioning household where everyone can sit back, relax, and enjoy life without undue disturbances from appliances that should serve us rather than annoy us.

Preventing Future Problems

Being proactive in preventing potential problems, you’ll confidently curtail chaos in your home’s hot water system. When it comes to your water heater making noise, prevention is key.

The good news is that there are a few simple steps you can take to ensure your water heater tank operates smoothly and quietly for years to come. Regularly checking the water flow and listening for unusual sounds will help you identify any issues early on, giving you the opportunity to address them before they escalate into larger problems such as a leaking water heater.

One of the most important aspects of maintaining a healthy and efficient hot water system is keeping an eye on the quality of your water supply. Hard water, which contains high levels of minerals like calcium and magnesium, can cause sediment buildup within your tank over time. This accumulation not only contributes to annoying noises but also reduces the efficiency of your unit and may even lead to premature failure if left unchecked.

By installing a water softener or using descaling agents, you can significantly reduce this risk while improving overall performance. To keep things running smoothly (and quietly), regular maintenance should be part of every homeowner’s routine. Flushing and draining the water heater at least once a year will go a long way in preventing future problems.

This process removes any sediment that has built up inside the tank, ensuring optimal functionality while reducing those pesky noises that can disturb your peace and quiet at home. Remember – by taking these proactive measures now, you’re not just protecting your investment but also fostering warm connections with family members who rely on reliable hot showers after long days at work or school!

Wrap Up

I’m glad we tackled this together, don’t disregard the sounds of your water heater, hoping they will go away. Deciphering these disturbances can deter potential problems. Stay vigilant with regular repairs and routine maintenance.

Frequently Asked Questions

How does the age of my water heater affect the noises it makes?

As your water heater ages, it’s natural for it to start making some noises that might have you questioning its wellbeing.

Over time, sediment and minerals can build up at the bottom of the tank, leading to a crackling or rumbling sound as the heating element works harder to heat the water through this layer.

Not only can this be a bit disconcerting, but it also means your trusty appliance is working overtime – which could lead to higher energy bills and potential damage down the line.

By staying on top of regular maintenance and flushing out your tank periodically, you’ll keep these age-related sounds at bay while ensuring optimal performance and efficiency from your water heater – keeping both you and your wallet happy!

Can hard water cause my water heater to make more noise?

Guess what? You’re not alone in wondering if hard water can cause your water heater to make more noise.

In fact, it’s a common issue many homeowners face, and yes, hard water is often the culprit behind those annoying sounds.

The minerals present in hard water, like calcium and magnesium, can build up inside the tank and on the heating elements over time.

This buildup is known as sediment or scale, which not only reduces your heater’s efficiency but also creates that rumbling or popping noise you’ve been hearing.

So next time you hear those pesky sounds coming from your water heater, remember that countless others are in the same boat; maybe it’s time to consider investing in a water softener to help reduce mineral buildup and bring some peace back into your home!

Are there any health risks associated with the noises my water heater is making?

While it’s natural to be concerned about potential health risks associated with the noises your water heater is making, rest assured that these sounds are generally not harmful to your well-being.

In most cases, the noises stem from sediment buildup or minor issues within the unit itself – both of which can usually be resolved with regular maintenance and a watchful eye.

So, while you might find those rumbling and popping sounds somewhat annoying or alarming, you can take comfort in knowing that you’re not alone in dealing with this common household nuisance and that there are steps you can take to remedy the situation.

How can I tell if the noise from my water heater is due to external factors or internal issues?

To figure out if the noise from your water heater is due to external factors or internal issues, start by inspecting the surrounding area and connections.

Look for any loose pipes, objects leaning against the unit, or debris caught in the vents that might be causing unnecessary vibrations.

If everything seems okay externally, it’s time to consider internal problems like sediment buildup, which can lead to rumbling or knocking sounds.

Have a professional assess your water heater if you’re unsure of the cause – not only will you gain peace of mind knowing what’s going on with your trusty appliance, but you’ll also be part of a community who understands how important it is to maintain their home systems for optimal comfort and efficiency.

Is it normal for my water heater to make noise even after a recent repair or replacement?

Imagine your water heater as a member of an exclusive club, and just like any social gathering, some level of noise is to be expected.

It’s normal for your water heater to make some noise after a recent repair or replacement, as it adjusts to the new components and settles into its routine.

However, if the sounds persist or become louder over time, it could indicate an issue that requires further attention. Keep a keen ear out for unusual noises and don’t hesitate to consult with a professional if you’re concerned about your water heater’s performance.

After all, maintaining harmony within this exclusive club ensures everyone enjoys their warm showers in peace.


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