Water Heater Repair – What’s that Popping Sound?


Popping noises that occur inside water heaters is not an uncommon occurrence. As water heats up inside the tank, air bubbles are formed and drift upward. Mineral deposits located inside the tank get bumped around by the rising bubbles and cause a “popping” sound as they knock against the side of the tank.

Over time, small amounts of minerals accumulate and form deposits that continue to build up inside the tank.  Regular maintenance such as flushing the tank can help remove these sediments. If popping noises are still occurring, additional water heater repair work may be needed.

Suppressing the Popping Sound in Your Water Heater

  1. Begin by turning the control knob on a gas water heater to “Pilot.” If you have an electric water heater, turn it to “Off.”
  2. Next, the water supply needs to be turned off at the cold-water inlet pipe located on top of the tank. Do this by turning the knob clockwise or by rotating the lever perpendicular to the pipe. Allow the water in the tank to cool for at least two hours before continuing.
  3. Once the tank is cooled, attach a garden hose to the drain fitting. This is often located at the bottom of the tank. Allow the hose to drain outside or into a floor drain. Flip up the pressure-release valve on top of the tank. This can easily be done by hand. You will need to open the drain valve by turning it counterclockwise. If it is stuck, be very careful when trying to loosen it as you may damage the valve. It might be best to consult a professional if this is the case. Drain the tank completely and then close the drain valve securely. At this time do not disconnect the garden hose.
  4. With a pipe wrench, loosen and detach the water pipe fitting at the top of the tank. Using a funnel, pour deliming solution into the tank. You will need to use plumber’s tape to wrap it around the threaded fitting on the tank. Then reattach the hot water- pipe fitting securely with the wrench.
  5. Next, open the pressure-release valve located at the top of the water heater. Once the pressure release valve is opened, turn on the cold-water valve to refill the tank. You will know the tank is full when you see all the air inside escape through the release valve. Once that is done, close the release valve.
  6. Now you are ready to turn the control knob back to the “On” position and give the water in the tank the chance to heat up. Turn off the controls and allow the tank to cool just as you did previously. Drain the tank again – exactly as you did previously. Close the drain valve and make sure it is secure.
  7. Refill the tank as you did before using the pressure release valve as an indicator when it is full. Turn the controls to “On” once you have done this and give the water the opportunity to heat up.

If the popping sound persists, consider consulting with a professional plumber about replacement of the anode rod. The anode rods are designed specifically to attract minerals and can deteriorate over the years. Ineffective anode rods allow excessive buildup of minerals, which can lead to popping noises and other issues. Are you experiencing popping noises in your water heater? Try these tips and let us know how they worked for you!

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One Response to “Water Heater Repair – What’s that Popping Sound?”

  1. Drew

    Any time that your water heater is making noise, it is probably trying to tell you something. Good advice about how to listen to it. Thanks so much for the explanation!


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