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Why Is My Water Heater Making Strange Noises?

technician repairing tank water heater

Because your water heater is often tucked away in the garage or a utility closet, it can be easy to forget about until it starts making some odd sounds. If you do hear strange noises coming from your water heater, don’t ignore them because this usually indicates that there is an issue with the unit.

Below are four common water heater sounds to watch out for, along with what problem typically causes them.

Popping, Rumbling, or Banging

This is one of the most common sounds that people report. When you hear popping or rumbling noises coming from your water heater, this indicates that a layer of sediment is creating an issue inside the tank.

Sediment typically builds up on the bottom of your water heater, and water gets trapped underneath. As that trapped water boils, pressure builds up, and air bubbles can burst through the sediment, creating the noise your hear. The Department of Energy and plumbing experts recommend flushing your tank water heater periodically to avoid sediment buildup and help the unit last longer and run more efficiently.

Depending on your unit’s age and your local water quality, flushing might only serve as a temporary solution to a severe sediment problem. If there is a lot of buildup inside the tank, it will have less capacity and more difficulty heating water. If your water heater is already past the 10-year mark, you’ll want to start shopping for a new unit.


This high-pitched, “complaining” sound likely has to do with some restricted water flow. The common culprit behind this is the unit’s inlet control valve. When the valve is partially closed, water can’t flow easily through the pipes. To solve this problem, you should check the valve and make sure that it is completely open.


A humming sound from your electric water heater may be linked to your unit's heating element. The element is usually positioned vertically within the tank. As water flows around it, the element vibrates, which produces a hum. To fix the noise, simply contact a plumber to tighten the element.


When a sizzling sound is coming from your water heater, it can indicate a leak. The sizzle happens when leaking water drips onto the burner. If you hear a sizzle, check for water on the floor around your water heater. If you see any, that’s a sure sign of a leak, in which case, you should contact a plumber right away.

At 1st Home & Commercial Services, we proudly serve residents around Austin, TX. We specialize in water heater repairs and will recommend repair and replacement options with your best interests at heart. For more information, call us at (512) 957-2992 or contact us online.

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