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Why is my water heater making strange (rumbling, gurgling, knocking or banging) noises?
Friday, August 10, 2018
We have even heard it called a burping sound. Fixing the problem is as simple as draining the sediment/mineral buildup from the tank, which is the cause of the problem and also the purpose of a small faucet at the bottom of the tank. When there is a heavy layer of crud on the floor of the tank, heat is trapped under it that intermittently pushes through the layer and escapes with a bubbling—or sometimes even a wheezing—sound effect. Here’s the steps to follow to get your silent water heater back:
- Shut off the the water heater, either by turning the thermostat dial on a gas water heater to “PILOT,” or turning off the breaker on an electric water heater.
- Attach a garden hose to the faucet at the base of the water heater. Run the end of the hose outside to a location that will not be harmed by the hot water, which can kill grass or the roots of landscape plants where it drains. If you can’t easily find a satisfactory spot for the hot water to drain without damaging your yard, then run the hot water at sink for a while until it cools down.
- Close the valve on the cold water supply pipe of the water heater, to shut off the water flow to the tank.
- Open a hot water faucet at a nearby sink. This will allow air flow backwards into the tank so that it will drain easier.
- Open the hose faucet valve and let the tank drain completely.
- Close the hose faucet and let the tank refill, leaving the sink faucet open for a while. You will get a sputtering mixture of water and the air that is being pushed back out of the tank for a while. When the water runs continuously at the sink, without any sputtering, shut off the sink faucet.
- Turn up the thermostat on the gas water heater, or switch on the breaker at an electric water heater, put the hose away, and you are done.
- If the hose faucet drips and does not close completely, there is likely some sediment residue stuck in the valve. You may have to repeat the flushing operation one more time.
It’s a sensible maintenance idea to drain your water heater every two years, which will both prevent the annoying sounds and extend the life of the tank. If the flushing operation is more than you want to tackle, a professional plumber can do the job for you, along with a doing a general maintenance check to make sure there are no other problems.
Also see our blog post Why is there water in my water heater drain pan?
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