Hot Water Heater Making Noise?
A faulty water heater tank assembly may produce a range of concerning noises weekly, even daily. Typical and abnormal noise conditions can help inform you of issues ahead. That information can save you from serious water heater repairs (averaging $150 - $750).
Fortunately, water heater noises often characterize or hint at their severity and root causes.
Why Do Water Heaters Make Noise?
Water heaters make noise for a variety of reasons that can involve any component in the assembly. Luckily, the sound points directly to the specific affected element(s). Therefore, proper diagnosis of the noises from your water heater can shortcut the troubleshooting process.
Awareness will prevent the onset of larger plumbing problems.
How Do I Stop My Water Heater from Making Noise?
There is no way to stop your water heater from producing sound altogether. However, you can familiarize yourself with the common types of water heater noises. With this knowledge, you can keep minor problems from becoming loud issues.
Common Types of Water Heater Noises
Knocking: Clicking, Popping Sounds ("Popcorn"), and Thumping Noises
Knocking sounds tend to indicate the accumulation of excess mineral deposits in your water heater tank. Over time, the sediment buildup can harden and trap water beneath a solidified layer along the bottom of the tank. As steam bubbles move through the mineral layers and release, the resulting pops can generate banging sounds in the tank.
Annual maintenance via flushing of the heater tank can mitigate sediment risks.
High-Pitched: Squealing, Siren, and Tea Kettle Noises
A screeching noise indicates dysfunction in a water heater's pressure components. The water heater tank and water line's internal pressure are coordinated by an inlet valve, drain valve, and pressure relief valve. If a specific valve cannot close or open properly, pressurized steam and fluid can build in the heater.
Past a certain threshold, the hot water heater may begin to leak, crack, or flood. The steam that escapes the seams of the tank under high-pressure conditions will emit a squealing noise.
Routine valve and leak inspections can eliminate screeching noises.
Sizzling: Buzzing, Hissing, and Cricketing Noises
If leaking water meets a heating element, the water supply will start to burn. A common signifier is a sizzling sound or boiling noise.
Exposure to cold water (e.g., directly from the inlet water line) will exacerbate the intensity of any hissing noise in your water heater. Most concerning is the leak itself, which places the entire pressurized system at risk.
Maintain your heating assembly's integrity via regular inspections.
Water Running: Gurgling, Dripping, and Bubbling Noises
The sound of water running is self-explanatory. Gurgling, dripping, or bubbling marks the onset of a leak somewhere in the assembly or feed lines.
Hammering: Exploding, and "Jet Engine" Noises
Jarringly loud noises in your water heater almost always denote a water flow stoppage of some kind in the water heater tank.
Heater tanks include a diaphragmic component known as an air cushion. The air cushion handles modulation of lower pressure ranges - independent of the pressure relief valve threshold. With the pressure balance disturbed, water might be forced into or out of the tank too rapidly.
Consequently, the transfer of pressurized water impacts the surrounding pipes. The pipes can then slam (water hammering) into nearby components or walls.
Turning off the water supply and allowing the cushion to re-inflate can solve the hammering issue.
Vibrating, Humming, and Rumbling Noises
Humming noises or a rumbling sound characterize loose components. Rumbling also points to emerging pressure instabilities owing to rusted components. Distinct rattling noises identify more severe cases.
Professional maintenance will minimize the risk of loose components and resulting noise.
Do All Hot Water Heaters Make Noise?
Tankless Water Heater Noise
Tankless water heaters are typically more efficient and quieter than standard heaters. They are still susceptible to sediment accumulation, loose components, and pressure differentials. The smaller structure of tankless units can cause loud rumbling noises as its components work to maintain integrity.
Do Electric Water Heaters Make Noise?
Yes, electric water heater units can produce noise for any of the root causes noted above. Electric water heaters use coils to heat water. Coils can produce additional buzzing or humming noises during regular operation.
Do Gas Hot Water Heaters Make Noise?
Yes, all gas water heaters produce noise. Burning fuel heats the water fed into the tank. Gas heaters will create a subtle, room-level rolling hum during regular operation.
Does Home Insurance Cover Water Heaters?
However, home insurance does not cover wear and tear and lifecycle malfunctions. You will need a home equipment warranty to protect your water heater appliances. Or, you can buy an equipment breakdown endorsement added to your home insurance policy to cover mechanical failures.
Home insurance companies also cease providing coverage for water heaters that pass their typical lifespan of 10 years. So, after ten years, you must pay out of pocket for damages to the unit and damages the broken unit causes.
Recommended Water Heater Endorsements
Most insurers offer an equipment breakdown endorsement that covers your water heater maintenance failures. You add it to your home insurance policy, and it pays for mechanical breakdowns and replacement parts at the total retail price. Premium costs range from $2 - $4 a month.
Water Heater Maintenance Services
HomeServe's Water Heater Repair and Replacement Plan will provide up to $850 in coverage for repairs of gas and electric heaters. The policy includes replacements and basic wear and tear. Exclusions include exhaust vents, tank expansions, non-flexible water lines, and electrical wiring.
Premiums cost $6.99 a month.
Damage Caused by Water Heaters
If your broken water damages other things, typically, home insurance policies cover those damages if a covered peril caused the water heater to break. However, your policy will not cover tertiary damages if it broke from a non-covered peril, like mechanical failure, old age, and wear and tear.
Insurers cover damage to parts of your dwelling, like floors, under your dwelling coverage. Coverage includes water damage, flooring damage, and clean-up. It uses replacement cost coverage, which means you get the total retail price for repairs and replacements minus your deductible.
Insurers also cover damage to your personal property, but that uses actual cost value (ACV), which means depreciation for each item gets deducted from your coverage amount. The claim check will also deduct your deductible.
Hope that helps!
At your service,