Does your hot water heater sound like the Titanic sinking when it is called upon to do its job? That’s not normal! You either have a simple fix on your hands or you will need to replace your heater. Remember that most hot water heaters last 10-15 years, but some need replacing in as few as seven years.
Before you start scanning prices of new heaters, consider the possibility that your heater simply has a buildup of mineral deposits. In many cases, that is the cause behind the horrible gurgling noise that you hear when the heater fires up.
How a Water Heater gets Noisy
Here is what usually occurs when a water heater gets noisy:
- Hot water rises, of course, in your tank. When you turn on a faucet, the hot water at the top of the tank is replaced by cold water, which then flows to the bottom of the tank to be heated.
- As the thermostat tells the burner to turn on, the cold water gets heated. If there is a lot of sediment at the bottom of the tank, the heated water will rise in the tank to the accompanying sounds of “Boom!” “Pop!” or “Wheeze!”
If you have not performed regular maintenance on your heater, then these little explosion noises might be the first notes of a funeral dirge. You might need to start shopping for a new heater. Your heater could still be under warranty; be sure to check.
If your heater is not too far gone, and even if you have failed to perform regular maintenance, there is still hope. You need to flush your heater on a monthly basis by attaching a hose to the drain valve at the heater’s base and allow the water to run clean. You can find instructions on how to do this online (here’s a good instruction)
Another step that you might need to take is to de-lime your tank. Some homeowners are capable of this; others are not. You can purchase a de-liming solution from a hardware store and apply it to your heater, but you will need to know how to work with gas and water pipes if you have a gas heater, just water pipes and power supplies if you have an electric one.
The manufacturer of your heater will have information on this fix, either on the Web or in your instruction manual.
If you are not confident in your ability to do this fix, call a plumber. They handle noisy heaters all the time.