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Why Is My Water Heater Making A Popping Noise?

Does your water heater sound like a bag of microwave popcorn? You probably have sediment buildup.

This happens when mineral deposits form a layer of sediment at the bottom of your tank. The popping noise you hear are tiny air bubbles bursting to escape.

The good news? You just need to have your water heater flushed. If left untreated you could face serious damage, so it’s best to have it serviced immediately.

To help you stay informed and prevent this from happening again, below we’ll explain:

  • What causes sediment buildup
  • Why sediment buildup causes a popping noise
  • What you can do to prevent sediment buildup
  • What could happen if left untreated

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Contact Michael & Son today. Our NATE-certified technicians are available 24/7 and complete 99% of water heater repairs same-day.

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What causes sediment buildup in my water heater?

Sediment buildup is caused by mineral deposits in your water.

As water flows through your pipes and into your water heater, naturally occurring minerals like calcium and magnesium will settle at the bottom of your tank.

In general, the “harder” your water is, the more sediment there will be. This is because hard water has a higher content of mineral deposits in it.

Why does sediment buildup cause a popping noise?

When too much sediment buildup occurs, it starts to form a hardened layer. That popping noise you hear is a result of air bubbles bursting through it.

Each time your water heater begins to heat, a small amount of water gets trapped beneath the sediment layer. Because the burner is located right below it, this trapped water gets overheated.

With nowhere to go, boiling bubbles experience too much pressure and start to “pop” through the sediment.

What can I do to prevent this from happening in the future?

To prevent sediment buildup, annual flushing of your water heater is recommended.

If you’re hearing popping sounds it’s definitely time for a flushing. But to preserve the lifespan of your water heater, it’s best to plan for regular maintenance. Many plumbing companies offer maintenance plans for annual and semi-annual water heater flushings.

Another option is to install a whole-home water-softening filtration system. While this won’t fix any sediment buildup that’s already occurred, it will decrease the amount of mineral deposits in your water going forward.

For long-term care however, you’ll still need regular flushing.

What will happen if I ignore the popping sound in my water heater?

Left untreated, you risk a number of problems, including:

  1. Higher energy bills - With too much strain on its system, your water heater will have to work harder to heat the water. This means you’ll pay more money to continuously heat your water.
  2. Damage to your tank - When sediment blocks the burner from heating the water in the tank, the lining of your tank can start to overheat. Over time, damage to the inner lining can cause a leak. When leaks happen, you may end up needing to replace the entire tank.
  3. Heating element repairs - Electric water heaters rely on metal heating elements to heat the water. When sediment in your tank starts to form, it can crust over the heating elements, causing burn out and costly repairs.

The bottom line? Take care of your water heater by scheduling an annual flushing. You’ll not only save on energy costs and expensive repairs, but increase the lifespan of your water heater too.

Schedule your water heater repair today.

Backed by more than 40 years of 5-star performance, at Michael & Son we’re here for all your plumbing needs. We offer 24/7 emergency in-home service and weekend availability. Learn more about what to expect when you hire us by visiting our water heater services page.

Select services are not available at all locations. Contact a location near you for service availability.

This blog was written on Feb 22, 2021. Any pricing information is subject to change.