Is Your Water Heater Making Noise?

Note: This post may contain affiliate links. This means that at no cost to you, we may receive a small commission for made purchases.

Water heaters may make a wide variety of noises, sometimes indicating a problem, and sometimes nothing to worry about at all. On the other hand, identifying the noises being made can give you early warning of components that need maintenance or replacement.

Need to Hire a Plumber?
Get a free estimate online from top local home service pros in your area.

Although there are exceptions to every rule, here are the basic sounds you may hear and the most common water heater problems associated with them.

Crackling, Popping and Rumbling

Sediments collect around the element tubes of a water heater. When the element is off, the caked sediments trap water beneath them, and the water heats until it makes a cracking or popping sound as it is forced through the deposits. This is more common on older units, and the noise increases as the deposit layer thickens. Clean or replace the element.

noisy-water-heaterAnother indication the heater needs maintenance is a rumbling sound, produced by sediments being stirred by the water flow inside the tank. Use a deliming mixture to clean the tank and drain the water heater.

If maintenance does not cure the problem, the noises may be something as simple as the expansion and contraction of the main steel tank or expansion tank during normal operation. Metal pipes can make similar noises in situations where the water is heated beyond about 125 degrees.


The element in an electric water heater is commonly placed vertical in relation to the tank. Water flowing around the element can cause vibrations in this situation, creating a humming noise. Tighten the element slightly to correct the problem.

Knocking or Hammering

A knocking sound in your walls is related to pipes heating internally, and is literally known as “water hammering.” When water entering or leaving the tank is abruptly turned off, it can cause the pipes to move, banging against studs or the interior of walls. This can be caused by a dishwasher or toilet bowl, or by a water pump without a holding tank.

The noise is not dangerous to your water heater, but could lead to eventual wall damage if it is not corrected. Install a water hammer arrestor between the offending device and the water heater.

Singing, Screaming or Screeching

Screaming sounds are created by water being forced through a small opening. This is usually caused by a valve that is not fully opened, either at the water heater or at a particular outlet such as a sink. Check the valves in you water lines.

Ticking or Tapping

Many water heaters have heat traps or check valves installed in the pipes on top of the heater. These traps are designed to prevent water from flowing in the wrong direction in the pipes, and may make ticking or light tapping sounds.

This is normal, but you can replace the heat trap with an ordinary dielectric nipple if it disturbs you. You should also be aware that your plumbing may make similar noises as the hot water in them cools down.

Other Noises?

Sorry, can’t help you there.

Tankless Water Heater Noise

Tankless water heaters have their own distinct noises. If you hear a clicking noise, this is typically just the flow switch turning on and off to start and stop the flow of water and is completely normal. If it’s making a lot of noise when turned on, it may be because calcium deposits are being left behind due to hard water in your area.

Installing a water softener system may be necessary. Others reasons for a noisy tankless water heater model may be an issue with the burner, the fan may be dirty, or possibly a leak in the sealed combustion resulting in irregular gas combustion. Generally speaking, there is a lower chance of hearing strange noises with a tankless water heater vs tank model.

Water Heater Maintenance

The cure for most sounds associated with your water heater is found in regular care and maintenance. Since minerals in your water lead to sediments in your water heater, installing a water softener in your primary water line will reduce buildup and associated noises.

Similarly, flushing the tank with a deliming solution annually will prevent heavy build up in the tank and serve to keep the elements cleaner as well. Anyone can become a responsible water heater owner with a bit of easy maintenance.

Related Posts:


  1. We recently had a new electric water heater installed a few months ago. For the last couple of weeks, in the late evening/very early morning, it’s been making a loud donkey “hee haw” type noise. Why & what can I do to stop it?

    • Unfortunately, it’s fairly common for electric water heaters to makes various noises. This is usually because of the internal heating elements and how they react to minerals, water pressure, and other things.

      Because you’re saying you mainly hear the noises in the evening or early morning, it’s most likely related to outside temperature in your case and may actually be the piping leading to or coming out of the tank. The noise is probably nothing to worry about but if you are concerned, come have a plumber take a look at it.

  2. I have an electric water heater that makes a small dripping sound between 11.30pm and 1am approximately, during heating. In the lst couple of days the dripping has been replaced by intermittent soft hissing. Any ideas why?

  3. Moved into my first house last week. My girlfriend has had baths in the house before last night. But when she ran the bath last night after about 5 mins there was a screaming coming from the airing cupboard and I presume the water tank. When we turned the tap off on the bath the noise continues for another 10 minutes gradually becoming quieter. I had a shower after it had stopped and there was no noise at all. Anyone have any ideas?

  4. Hi , we are currently getting creeching noises coming from the the bathroom where ur hot was cylinder is , when it screeches I also hear water dripping in to the toilet water , you say t could be the valve so do you think it could be the valve at the toilet , if so what do I need to do ?

  5. My geyser is making sounds like a plane about to take off everytime we open the taps. There is barely any water pressure and doing washing in a top loader takes forever because the water takes ages to fill the machine.
    Showering is a not an option due to lack of water pressure.
    Please advise.

  6. Our immersion heater is rumbling and is literally making the entire house shake. Even if we have the hot water off and the central heating on. Our heating is set to come on at 6am but the other day we were awoken at 4am. The rumbling was so loud and intense the walls of the house were shaking as was our bed and the heating was on full whack despite the heating not meant to be on at that time.
    There is no gauge at the tank so I can’t see what the water pressure is and the rumbling is so loud and constant we’ve had to turn the hot water and central heating off for fear it could explode.
    We’ve lived in our rented property for 3 years and the boiler and tank have not been serviced in that time.
    Our landlord is currently away on holiday and we can’t contact him and are at a loss for what to do…

  7. My hot water heater is electric it’s making a noise and I have no water coming out the hot water side on all my sinks and showers. I’ve checked my breaker and it’s fine. Not sure exactly what’s going on

  8. Gas water heater is making loud noise like a running water inside when you open the line.
    Also, when you go to the bathroom, you here the same sound like running water enveloping the room. When you turn off the line of the gas heater, the noise of running water, minimize and so in the bathroom. And also, the flow of water coming out from the hot water faucet in the kitchen, bathroom, and shower are weak.

    Lastly, if you turn-off the main water line, all noises stop. What could be the problem? I have called 3 plumbers and said, there could be a leak on
    the pipe-line somewhere connecting the gas water heater. The flow of the cold water is normal flow.

    • Unfortunately, I’d have to agree it’s either a leak somewhere in the line after the water heater, a blockage in the line, restriction in an elbow, or kink in PEX tubing/piping (newer homes). All of these things would reduce water pressure and make an unnatural noise.

      You can try to better pinpoint the location of the issue by how far from the water heater the hot water faucet is. Start with the closest location. If you get low pressure and noise there, the issue is between there and the water heater.

  9. We have a water heater on our garage. We dont usually use it but there is also a bathroom and sink in there.
    We have been hearing loud noise like simuted dog barking sound.
    Can u let me know if this is not a problem that requires attention?

    • Could be sediment in the tank so flushing might help. Alternatively, it could be a water pressure issue. Adding an expansion tank (if you don’t have one) or a water hammer arrestor (if you do have an expansion tank) are also worth looking into.

  10. Lost power due to a storm about ahour or two later heard the electric hot water tank gurgling a few different times what should I do power still out

    • Typically gurgling noises are due to sediment at the bottom of the water heater. This develops if you don’t regularly flush the water heater. Here’s a link on how to do that. If it’s an old unit (12+ years), you might be better off biting the bullet and consider replacing it.

  11. Just had my brand new hot water heater (from PSE&G) and experienced something strange. We had a loss of hot water for probably a good 30+ minutes… when I looked at the hot water heater in the basement, the output pipe was luke warm and instead of seeing a light blue pilot light, I saw a bright flickering orange/yellow light and heard the sound of something like water dripping onto a very hot pan. I took a look inside where the flame was and actually saw water drops falling on the flame in the hot water heater. About 20+ minutes after I encountered the issue, it returned to the normal silence and blue light. I did read that this might be an indicator of a pressure build up and wanted to get someone’s take on this since it appears like an odd issue.

  12. Got a tankless gas what’re heater that roars when I turn on washer. I have had the unit about a year and it just started the noise. Checked exhaust and it was clear. Any ideas?

    • If an electric model, it’s often a loose heating element. For gas, could be a dirty or misaligned burner assembly or orifice. Possibly the T&P valve. Try to see what area the humming sound is mainly coming from.

  13. My electric immersion water heater has started making screeching high pitched noises when the water us heating up could it be dangerous. The water immersion is less than 5 years old

  14. The water pressure all over my house is low. One minute it will be low and 3 minutes later it will be okay. This has been going on for several weeks. The water company came out and the meter and line seems to be okay. Today after flushing the toilet or running bathroom sink faucet (not sure which) a terrible noise started. My husband thought the neighbor had an air compressor on but it was our hot water heater. The kitchen faucet was vibrating. When the kitchen faucet was turned on the noise stopped. Got any ideas to help? Thank you.

    • Did you ever figure that out? Mine is making a sound like an air compressor is on. Usually in the morning and usually just a few times. Should I call someone or ?

  15. Hi we got a tankless system and in one of our showers water and every thing works fine no banging of the pipes or vibrations in the walls but in our second shower with the hot water on the pipes are making alot of noise and banging and almost jumping out of the walls . could it be dirty pipes air in the lines or the shower regulator gone .. Just need some advice before i change any thing . the system was drained

  16. I have a electric immersion heater in my flat. At the end of last year a plumber put in a new element and drained the tank at the same time. There is a sound like running water which I hear at various intervals during the day, irrespective if water is being drawn off or not. I usually have it on all the time, but tried turning it off when it is not required , but the running water sound still continues. The noise is only for about thirty seconds each time. As I live in a flat my neighbour opposite says they often here a noise, and the neighbour underneath also hears the same sounds. When the plumber installed my element he commented that he had adjusted the temperature of the water by turning it up a notch. Could this be the problem ?

  17. hi my gas water heater was making a knocking noise and like a screeching noise after
    the knocking noise, I had it drained and flushed, but know is still making the knocking noise
    more frequently and the screech noise as well. none stop.
    the water pressure is worst after we drain and flushed the water too.
    any suggestions.

  18. had a leak under the house so I turned off the water and repaired leaking line. turned back on the water and now it keeps blowing out the pressure relief valve. bled system and all was fine till this morning. started doing it again. any ideas???

  19. We have had a brand new water heater installed and since it’s installation at various times of day and night the house almost vibrates with clanging noise.

    The company came back out and of course it doesn’t happen while they are here—but they say all is well.

    It can happen as many as 6x in 24-hours. Or as few as 1 or 2….

    It never happened prior to new installation.

  20. Hello, and thank you in advance for the help. I have an oil fired hot water tank. / / forced hot air. Whenever it goes on i hear a banging popping / clanking sound almost like a flap opening and closing. This ONLY happens when the hot water tank goes on and stops when it goes off. You can ONLY hear this banging noise in my living room near the chimney / fireplace. You can’t hear the noise while standing in front of the water heater while it’s on. I’ve had 2 service guys come out and inspect my hot water tank. They say it’s good and has good draft. One service guy heard the banging noise while standing in my living room near the chimney / fireplace and did not know what it was. I have the fireplace flew closed as we don’t use the fireplace. I climbed up on the roof, looked down both sides of the chimney and no animals, nests, or obstructions were present. I checked the hot water pipe from the tank and it was not lose or rattling. Both pipes from the tank go away from the chimney and wall where the noise comes from. I do not have a chimney cap, but it’s been like that for 20 years with no problems. One side of the chimney at the very top has a space between the bricks and clay. I don’t know if this has anything to do with it. ANY HELP WOULD BE APPRECIATED. THANK YOU!

  21. We have an on demand water heater and there is a short loud noise that we noticed coming from the intake vent as if caused by a vacuum of air when we use water. The vent pipe looks like a 4in size vents out with a 90degree elbow pointing downward. Calling the hvac people to see what can be done.

  22. Just moved into a new house , my hot water tank constantly makes a tapping sound that reverberates through the house especially at night , sound( tap—Tap, tap,tap tap) , I have flushed the tank and still hear it, sometimes more often and louder than other times. I get this tapping even when the heater isn’t heating. any clue what could be causing this.

    • I have the same issue. It is not constant but sporadic with a non-stop clicking sound that gets worse through the house. I can stop the sound by momentarily shutting off the inlet cold water. It did this for a couple days and then stopped but three months later started again.

      I had a plumber come and look at the check valve upstream of the water shut off but he said there was nothing wrong with it. Flushing the heater makes no difference. Ideas?

  23. My water tank has started making a noise like if u let air out of an inflatable about every half hour. Any ideas what it could be? Tia

  24. My electric hot water heater just had its element replaced. Hot water started coming out but then stopped. Now I have been noticing a noice that sounds like loud static coming from a speaker. It is constant but comes and goes throughout the day. I don’t much about stuff like that but worry if it can cause fire or not. Although it hasn’t yet. And also would like to know what could be causing these sounds and my water not getting hot. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

    • It shouldn’t be any issue but I would drain and flush the tank if you haven’t done that in a while. You may have some sediment in there that needs to be flushed out. Also, make sure the element was tightened correctly. If loose, it would make more of a humming sound but it could still be a possibility in your case.

  25. My hot water tank is shaking 2-5 times during the night…can really shake the bed on the 3rd floor…it’s singing and then I get what seems to be electrical zapping. I’ve had it looked at many time. They always say nothings wrong with it and make me feel stupid for even suggesting the problems I’m having. What can you suggest….?

  26. Our gas water heater makes a rattling sound from the TOP of the tank and only when the water is being used. It has the sound of a hard plastic ball inside a small enclosure like a check valve possibly. It has been flushed and a new anode rod installed. There are no other noises other than the gas flame sound at the bottom. It functions just fine and the safety valve is working properly. It’s not the flue baffle. If there is a check valve inside the top of the tank, it looks unserviceable since it is from inside and not from the expansion tank plumbing above the unit. Where is the check valve, if any, on a 40 Gal. Rheem Fury EverKleen?

  27. My Rheem water heater has started making one very loud boom every time the hot water is running for a while. It sounds like an explosion and literally shakes the walls and floor. It’s pretty scary if you are standing anywhere near it when it happens. Any thoughts on what might be causing this? Thanks.

  28. I have a humming sound in my attic, it sounds like a cicada. I have an electric water heater and a a/c heater unit in there. I don’t know if I should call an electrician or plumber.And I just happened to open the attic and heard this.

  29. Has anyone experienced this? While running a bath for a hot tub the hot water comes next and then after about 3min it comes on louder and turns ice cold! I have to turn it off, turn hot water on at sink, wait, it turns hot, turn if off go back to tub and it repeats this process. It takes me at least 4/5 times of this and then I have enough to bathe, seriously maddening! One repairman came, sat at the heater while he ran a gallon of vinegar through it and said that should do it. NOT!!

  30. I have just replaced my natural gas hot water service 2 weeks ago and installed a brand new hot water system by my plumber. I had a problem with the old hot water service that whenever we turned the hot water tap on for washing or for shower, a grinding noise comes continuously (which can be heard inside the hose in an area close to the hot water service outside) until we stop the hot water then the grinding noise stops completely.
    But with new hot water system installed, we still have the same problem. Hot water is on maximum # 7 (plumber recommended) and replaced only cold water outlet copper pipe. Do I call him and ask him to change the hot water copper pipe next to the adjacent to hot water water service or any simple remedy can be suggested to me.


Leave a Comment