Gas-Fired Water Heater: What Can You Do When It Makes Strange Noises

If your gas-fired water heater makes strange noises throughout the day and night, it is important to maintain the appliance now to improve its performance. Sometimes, water heaters build up with sediments that prevent water from flowing freely through their connecting lines. Your heater may make strange, unnatural sounds as the sediments break apart and bang around inside it. The burner may also clog up with soot that keeps the appliance from heating up properly, as well as create carbon monoxide in the house. Emptying out the water heater and cleaning out the burner can help solve your issues. 

Why Empty the Water Heater?

Over time, minerals from the home's water supply create limescale inside the heater and reduce its lifespan. If the minerals break apart, they can clog up the water outlets and lines connected to the appliance. You may hear loud rumbling, crackling, sizzling, and other types of abnormal sounds as the broken minerals bounce or crash against each other and the insides of the water tank. The water heater may seem to have a life of its own because it comes in with and without you turning on the hot water taps.

Rust can also develop along the inside surfaces of the appliance and plumbing pipes attached to it. Pieces of rust might break free and enter your water supply. But this isn't normally a problem as long as you don't have a condition that makes your body store iron. In most cases, the pieces of rust turn the water reddish brown and gives it an unpleasant taste.

To remove most of the sediments and rust particles inside your appliance, you'll need to use a few handy tools around your home, including a water hose and bucket. 

Here's what you do:

  1. Turn off the appliance's gas supply and water.
  2. Place a large plastic tarp on the flooring surrounding the heater.
  3. Bring a long water hose into the heater's closet or storage area, then connect the nozzle to the drainage valve's spout, or drain cock. Extend the hose to an area of the property away from the home.
  4. Turn the valve to the open position, then allow the water to slowly drain out the appliance. This may take some time, depending on how much water the tank contains.
  5. Disconnect the hose once the tank empties, and turn the valve until it closes.

It's important that you don't return the gas and water to the heater until you complete the next step.

Why Should You Clean Out the Burner?

Soot can form if there's not enough air circulation inside the water heater closet or when debris settles on the burner. The soot may clog up the parts of the burner that receive gas. Because soot can create smoke and carbon monoxide in the home, it's essential that you get rid of it with the steps below:

  1. Remove the small panel from over the burner and its connecting pieces. You may need a screwdriver for this step.
  2. Use a thick cloth to wipe down the surfaces of the burner. You can use ear swabs to remove soot from the indentations, outlets and other inaccessible parts of the burner.
  3. Allow the moisture on the burner to air dry before replacing the paneling.
  4. Return gas and water to the appliance.

Allow the water heater time to fill up with fresh water and heat up. The heating time for the appliance may vary, depending on your brand's make and model. Once the water heats up, turn on the hot water tap in your bathroom or kitchen to see if the water stays hot or turns cold. Also, listen to the appliance for a few days to see if it makes any noises. If the heater sounds normal and the water stays hot during showers, baths and washing dishes, you solved your issues.

If you continue to have problems with the appliance after a few days or so, contact a water heater contractor, such as those at H.R. Stewart Inc., for services.