close up of water heater valves

Why Water Heaters Make Noises and How to Know if Something is Wrong

Are you hearing some odd sounds coming from your water heater? If so, don’t panic. It’s common for water heaters to make noises on occasion. After all, it’s just like an appliance. It works constantly to keep the water in your home nice and warm and this can lead to noises. How do you know if the noises are normal or cause for concern, though?

To learn more about water heaters, why they make noise, and how to know if something is wrong, keep reading below. 


Why water heaters make noises

Many people ask why water heaters make noises and the answer is lengthy. Water heaters make noises for many reasons. Some noises are common and are nothing to worry about. They’re just part of the normal function of the machine. 

Others can be a sign of a deeper issue, though. To determine whether or not your water heater noises are something to worry about, you need to know about common water heater noises and their causes. Common water heater noises that many people report in their own home include:


Are you hearing a subtle humming noise coming from your water heater? This is a common noise complaint and chances are, it’s completely normal. When water passes over the heating element, it can create a small vibration. This turns into a subtle humming sound. If it bothers you or becomes worse, try tightening the heating element. If that doesn’t work, call a plumber to inspect the issue. 


Similar to humming, a ticking sound is usually related to a part within the water heater. More specifically, there is a valve at the top of the water heater. When water flows through the valve, it may cause ticking noises. You can replace this part or remove it completely if the noise bothers you, but usually it isn’t something to worry about. 


Do you have a gas-powered water heater? If so, then you might hear a crackling noise on occasion. While it may sound concerning, chances are it isn’t. The crackling noise occurs when water gets onto the burner. Take note of it and if it continues or grows louder, contact a plumber.


While screeching in your water heater can be loud and concerning at first, there is generally no cause for alarm. This sound is usually a sign of water flow restriction. You’ll need to check the control valve to make sure it’s open and not partially shut. If you aren’t comfortable doing it on your own, you can have a plumber do it for you. 


“Is that a popping noise?” If you’ve asked yourself this question, you’re not alone. Popping is a very common water heater noise. It usually indicates that there is an abundance of sediment at the bottom of your water heater tank. This is especially common in areas with hard water. 

While this is somewhat common, you should not let this sound go untreated. If you allow the sediment to continue building up, it can increase pressure within the tank and eventually cause it to explode. 


Are you hearing a banging sound coming from your water heater? Chances are, it’s not the heater itself but rather the pipes surrounding it. You’ll need to contact a plumber right away to inspect the piping system. They’ll check for cracks and damage that can lead to bigger issues such as leaks, flooding, etc. 

How to know if something is wrong

Now that you know why water heaters make noises and what causes them, you’re probably wondering how to know if something is wrong with your own unit. 

The best way to know if a sound you are hearing is normal is to refer to the manual. Not only does it give you vital information regarding the normal function of the water heater, but it should tell you about common issues and how to fix it. 

In general, subtle and rhythmic noises are nothing to worry about, including humming, ticking, and crackling. Loud and sudden noises, on the other hand, should be looked into further. These include screeching, popping, and banging. 

If you’re never quite certain if the noises you’re hearing are normal, you can always call a plumber and describe the sound. They should be able to tell you right away what it is and whether you need to have the water heater inspected.

Water Heater Service

Do you need water heater service and repair? If so, consider contacting 535 Plumbing! We are one of the best plumbers on Oahu. We have been serving the area for years and are experts when it comes to water heaters. We can inspect the unit quickly and determine whether the sounds you’re hearing are normal or cause for repair.

Don’t let water heater noises go unaddressed in your home – let 535 Plumbing take a look and give you peace of mind!