Along with air conditioners and toilets, water heaters are an essential part of a comfortable life. They allow you to take comfortable baths or showers, wash your dishes more efficiently, and give you an additional setting to do your laundry. But if it starts making a popping sound, you may find it worrying as well as annoying. What does it mean when your water heater keeps popping, and what can you do to fix it?
How does a water heater work?
Water heaters are connected to your home’s plumbing through what’s called a dip tube. Once water enters the heater through the dip tube, a burner — either gas or electric — releases scorching hot air. Since the heater is made of metal, it becomes extremely hot. In turn, the water inside the heater becomes heated as well. The hot water is then distributed through your home through what’s called a heat-out pipe.
Depending on your home’s size and how many people live in your home, you can set the temperature in your water heater to make it adequate enough for your family’s specific needs. That said, the universal truth across the board is that it should not be making any popping sounds.
What causes water heaters to make a popping sound?
Florida has hard water. This is evident any time you have to use a faucet — from getting out of the shower covered in what looks like white dust, to a similarly unsightly film covering your glasses and silverware after a cycle in the dishwasher — hard water has a long list of effects on everything it touches. This includes your water heater.
The reason why hard water leaves a white covering in so many places is because it’s full of minerals – such as calcium, manganese, magnesium, and iron, to name a few. With prolonged exposure, these minerals start building up on surfaces, pipes, and enclosures.
When there’s too much mineral buildup over the water heater’s burner, the water below the buildup starts percolating once it’s boiling. This is the sound you can hear coming from the heater.
Left untreated, the layer of sediments will become thicker. In turn, this slows down heat transfer to the water, which means you won’t have as much available hot water. The mineral buildup can also weaken the steel inside the tank, increasing the likelihood of leaks. To add insult to injury, the heating inefficiency will translate into higher energy bills.
How to Fix a Water Heater Making a Popping Noise in 5 Steps
To fix the problem, you’ll have to drain your water heater. To do so, you’ll have to start by turning off the water heater.
If you have a gas heater, turn off the gas switch to pilot.
If you have an electric heater, shut off power at the circuit breaker.
Once the water heater is turned off, follow these steps:
Step 1. Shut off the water supply. Wait about half an hour for the water inside the heater to cool down.
Step 2. Drain the water from the water heater. Connect a garden hose to the drain valve at the bottom of the water heater and place the other end of the hose in a sink or drain. Turn on the pressure relief valve on top of the water heater and open the water heater’s valve. If it’s too tight, use pliers. Wait for all of the water to drain out of the heater.
Step 3. Flush the water heater. Turn on the cold water valve and leave it on until the water that comes out is clear.
Step 4. Refill the water heater. Once the water runs clear, close the drain valve and fill the tank with cold water.
Step 5. Turn on the water heater. Once the tank is full, turn back on the water heater.
How to Prevent Issues in the Future
There are two ways to prevent mineral buildup from hard water in Florida.
- Install a salt-free water conditioner. This appliance changes the chemical composition of minerals to prevent them from building up. They do not “soften” the water, but halts sediment from sticking to the water heater and pipes.
- Install a water softener. These remove magnesium and calcium from the water. In addition to avoiding mineral buildup in your water heater, you’ll notice a difference when doing laundry – whites will come out white instead of having a slight yellow hue.
Call Plumbing Professionals in Broward, Palm Beach, or St. Lucie
At Sansone Air Conditioning Electrical & Plumbing, we are always ready to help you. If you live in Broward, Palm Beach, or St. Lucie, we can help you decide which water heater is best for your home. We can also help you flush it regularly or install a water conditioner or softener.
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