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Why Your Water Heater Makes a Popping Sound

Is your water heater making a popping sound? This seemingly strange noise – which is similar to the sound of popcorn popping – is a sign of a surprisingly common water heater issue.

Is Your Hot Water Heater Making Popping Noise? Here’s Why.

That strange water heater popping sound isn’t a reason to panic. Instead, it’s usually just an indication that you’re dealing with a simple, easy-to-fix problem.

If your water heater is making a popping sound, there may be sediment buildup in the bottom of the water tank.

Particularly here in Arizona, where our hard water contains high levels of minerals, this is a situation that many people will run into at one time or another. But luckily, it is easily remedied.

As the water heater’s heating element heats the water, it produces steam in the tank. With sediment trapped at the tank’s bottom, the steam struggles to escape, which is the bubbling and popping noise you hear. Think of your tank as a pot full of boiling water: if you have it covered with a lid, the steam will try to push up the lid to escape.

Additionally, the sediment can settle around the heating element and cause water to become trapped as the water warms up and creates steam, the sediment “knocks” against the tank’s interior as it moves by force.

Let’s look at what sediment is, why sediment builds up in water tanks, and why you want to pay attention.

What is the sediment in my hot water tank?

Sediment is essentially just a word used to describe all of the material that accumulates at the bottom of your water tank.

“Hard” water naturally contains many minerals, many of which are very good for you. But even though minerals benefit your body, they aren’t great for your water heater. As the mineral-rich water circulates through your water heater, these minerals settle at the bottom and slowly amass over time.

Once you begin hearing a popping noise in the water heater, the sediment has reached a problematic level. These unfortunate side effects can cause your bill to climb higher and higher because your water heater will be far less efficient. And in the worst-case scenario, you could end up with damage that calls for significant repairs or even a complete replacement.

How to Fix It

Avoid damage – and stop the annoying noises – by flushing the water heater system. If you have never flushed a water heater before, it is always best to let a professional do the flush.

While flushing the water heater system is a relatively simple task that you can attempt on your own, you can also request a professional.

Here are the basic steps for how to flush a water heater:

  1. Turn the control knob to “pilot” (for a gas unit), or turn off the water at the circuit breaker (for an electric unit).
  2. Turn off the water supply at the cold water lever or ball valve.
  3. Give the system about 30-45 minutes to cool thoroughly.
  4. Attach a regular garden hose to the drain valve on the water heater, located near the bottom of the tank. Place the other end of the hose where the excess water can drain (for example, into the street or your yard).
  5. Flip the pressure relief valve (at the top of the tank) upwards, then turn the drain valve to the option position. (You might need to use pliers).
  6. After the water has completely flushed out, turn on the cold water valve for a final flush.
  7. Once the water runs clear, close the valve.
  8. Let the cold water refill the tank, then turn the tank back on.

Get Your Water Heater Serviced in Phoenix by Mr. Rooter

It’s always a good idea to have a professional on your side when water heater maintenance and repairs. Mr. Rooter has an Advantage Plan Program that comes to your home annually. The annual check-up not only inspects your drains but flushes your water heater and the quality of your water.Ā Get more information about essential maintenance, or help with water heater issues, when you contact the Mr. Rooter near you now!

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