Name That Noise: Keeping Hard Water Damage from Knocking Out Citrus Heights Hot Water Heaters

Keep hard water from damaging hot water heater citrus heights

Sometimes, a news story really gets our phones ringing. When a local newspaper recently ran a story about a fire in a Citrus Heights apartment building that had originated in a water heater closet, we began to field a lot of phone calls about noisy water heaters. Fortunately, nobody was hurt in the apartment fire, but it serves as a reminder that water heaters are powerful pieces of equipment and can be dangerous—and that strange sounds coming from yours are a good clue that it’s time to call a plumber.

What’s That Sound

So what about your heater—any odd noises? There are a few reasons for these noises to occur, but the most common cause is sediment deposits in the water heater tank—a condition exaggerated by the hard water we have here in Citrus Heights.

Over time, these deposits accumulate in the tank bottom like sediment in a river bed and behave exactly like silt, which is a problem for the heater. Water under the sediment, trapped against the heating elements, boils and turns to steam. These bubbles then collapse noisily, which causes those scary noises. If it was just an occasional pop, bang or clang, that might be one thing. But sediment does a lot more than just make noise.

The Hard Truth on Hard Water

Hard water does more than just make your hot water heater talkative.

  • Sediment can clog your drain valve. This makes getting water out of the tank nearly impossible, which impedes routine maintenance, repair, and tank cleaning—and may even lead to having to replace your hot water heater.
  • A layer of sediment can cause the base of the heater to overheat. The sediment insulates the bottom of the heater and slows the transfer of heat, which means irregular dispersal of heat within the tank. When the base of the heater cannot move the heated water up and throughout the tank, it may overheat.
  • Bacteria loves sediment. The environment sediment provides is ideal for bacteria growth. Trust us, you don’t want bacteria coming out of your showerheads!

Saving Your Hot Water Heater from a Hard Life

So, how can you keep your hot water heater healthy if you have hard water? It’s a two-step process:

First, drain the tank: Citrus Heights is a regular stop for us when we’re draining water heater tanks. We’ll get the water out, clean out the silty sediment, and take a look at other factors that might be complicating the situation.

Second, make sure the silt won’t re-form: Sediment is part of the natural heating process but it’s also exacerbated by hard water in the supply. One way to do that is to soften the water that enters the house.

And, if you read our earlier post this week on pipe scaling, you’ll know there are a lot more benefits to water softening than just a clean water heater tank, so this is a particularly helpful step in your home maintenance.

Clanging from any appliance in your home can be scary, but it’s important to remember that you’re not likely to be in danger even if your water heater is making a little noise. Instead of worrying, put your mind at ease by having a professional plumbing contractor take a look at any water heaters that start acting funny. You can mitigate these issues and enjoy your water heater worry-free by requesting an inspection from Bell Bros.