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Should I Worry If My Water Heater Is Rumbling?

water-heaterIf you’re asking this question, we know what’s probably running through your mind under that slightly concerned exterior: “Oh no, is my water heater going to explode?”

The answer is, “No.” Well, we can’t guarantee that 100%, but the fear of a water heater explosion is based on old steam-powered boilers and not reality. Your water heater isn’t a boiler—the water temperature isn’t being raised to the boiling point, and even the boilers used for home heating are boilers today in name only.

But that rumbling and knocking sound you hear from the water heater tank is cautioning you that something is wrong with the system. We recommend you call us for water heater services in Hamilton, OH so we can investigate. We can determine quickly the source of the sound and what can be done to correct the problem.

Some of the Possibilities for a Rumbling Water Heater

The biggest potential cause for these concerning sounds is that the water heater has picked up excess sediment inside its tank. Minerals in the water are dissolved out of it during heating, and they settle across the bottom of the tank over the heat exchanger. This is the place where the water is heated up. The sediment build-up traps a layer of water underneath it, so when the water heats up it percolates through the sediment. This is the source of the rumbling.

So is this an actual problem? Yes. First, the sediment layer makes it more difficult for the heat exchanger to effectively transfer heat into the tank, and this will cause a significant drop in the system’s energy efficiency. Second, the excess sediment will create an increase in water pressure, raising the chance of the occurrence of leaks—and you obviously don’t want your water heater leaking.

Solving trouble with sediment in the tank usually requires flushing out the tank. This isn’t easy to do on your own, so we recommend calling a professional plumber. The plumber can also locate any other problems affecting the water heater. For example, if sediment is building up too fast in the water heater, your house may have a hard water problem. The prevention for future water heater troubles, in this case, is a water softener for the house. We also recommend you schedule water heater maintenance each year to get rid of the sediment early. Plumbers will flush the water heater tank during maintenance as necessary.

Another possible source of the rumbling noise is a broken dip tube. The dip tube is the pipe that carries cold water down through the tank to the bottom where it’s released to be heated, after which it rises toward the top of the tank to be pumped out into the plumbing. Older water heaters sometimes have their dip tubes break, releasing cold water into the top of the tank to mix with the hot water, creating the rumbling sound. You’ll want this fixed right away, because soon it will mean water that isn’t hot enough reaching the taps.

Repair your water heater when you need it by calling Ken Neyer Plumbing, Inc. Serving Greater Cincinnati and the surrounding Tri State area since 1972.

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