Liz in Sacramento has a problem with her water heater. She’s reached out to us here at Bell Brothers to help. Liz writes:
“If there are two things in this world that I love, they are hot showers and scary movies. Here’s the thing though, I like to keep those things entirely separate. That’s why I’m writing in today. Recently, whenever I turn on my shower and get the water nice and hot, I start to hear this super scary gurgling noise coming from somewhere. I’ve also heard that same noise when I’m running a hot sink to wash dishes in or when I turn on my washing machine and set it to hot.
My theory is that, for obvious reasons, my water heater is gurgling. I want to keep my frightening experiences in my home limited to the nights when I curl up on the couch and pop in a scary movie. So, I’m writing in today to say, ‘Help! My water heater is gurgling!’ Thank you so much for all your valuable advice here on this blog!” – Liz in Sacramento, CA
Aw, Liz, you’re too kind. I love helping folks out with residential plumbing advice. I say this all the time, but we never really realize how reliant we are on the plumbing in our homes until we have a problem—like your gurgling hot water heater. The fact of this matter is, this is a somewhat common problem here in Sacramento. Don’t worry, there’s no scary monster or ghoul living in your walls, even if it sounds like that. There’s a clear and simple reason this is happening, as well as a definitive way to fix it—and I’m happy to share my expertise.
Why Your Hot Water Heater Is Gurgling
Of all the plumbing problems homeowners face, I think a non-functioning water heater is one that causes the most panic among homeowners. And, I get it. For many of us, a cold shower is worse than taking no shower at all. You simply have to have a functioning water heater to stay happy, relaxed, and able to go about your day.
Nine times out of ten, the reason your hot water heater is gurgling is that there is a sediment or mineral build up on the bottom of the tank.
The most common question I get from a homeowner when they have a water heater problem is, “Why!?!” Nine times out of ten, the reason your hot water heater is gurgling is that there is a sediment or mineral build up on the bottom of the tank. See, when that kind of a layer builds up on the bottom of a water heater’s tank, heat begins to get trapped beneath it. You may also notice that it is taking your shower longer to heat up and less time to run out of warm water. That heated water will then intermittently push through the layer, making a bubbling or gurgling noise as it does (sometimes it even sounds like a burp).
What to Do If Your Water Heater Is Gurgling
Even if you’re okay with the sound the water heater is making, you shouldn’t let it go unchecked. Mineral and sediment will continue to build up on the bottom of the tank until it begins to affect its ability to do its job; i.e. heat your water. Soon, you’ll not only be hearing the noise, but also getting unevenly heated water, or, worst case scenario, water that doesn’t heat at all.
Many water heaters actually do have a small faucet at the bottom of the tank designed for letting this kind of buildup out. But, finding this faucet can be tricky when a water heater is not installed in an easy-to-reach place.
Many water heaters actually do have a small faucet at the bottom of the tank designed for letting this kind of buildup out. But, finding this faucet can be tricky when a water heater is not installed in an easy-to-reach place. My recommendation is to have an experienced plumbing expert out to take a look. If it’s happened once, it’s going to happen again. The rivers in our area leave us vulnerable to sediment buildup that restricts hot water. An experienced plumbing pro can also start discussing with you the value of a tankless water heater, which, if you ask me, is the future of water heaters in all homes.
My strong recommendation, though, is to call out a plumbing professional who can help you identify a long-term fix.
So, there you have it. There’s no monster trapped in Liz’s wall—well, not unless you count a hot water heater with a problematic amount of mineral and sediment buildup on the bottom of its tank to be a monster (which, as a plumber, I kind of do). As I noted above, there’s a quick and temporary fix, if your water heater is located in a place that provides easy access. My strong recommendation, though, is to call out a plumbing professional who can help you identify a long-term fix.
Here at Bell Brothers, we’d be happy to come out and give you an estimate on a new water heater for your home. We can also answer any and all questions you may have about the value and benefits of tankless water heaters, and whether investing in one is right for you. Simply put, there’s no reason to keep dealing with that scary gurgling noise coming from your walls when you could be enjoying a nice and relaxing hot shower. Save the surprises for your sofa.
Contact the plumbing professionals at Bell Brothers to have your noisy water heater checked or to learn more about upgrading to a tankless water heater today. We’ll offer recommendations that are sure to increase your year-round efficiency—and decrease your water bills.
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