Water heaters are remarkably robust creations. They can last anywhere from 10 to 15 years (or up to 20 if you have a tankless water heater), and require very little maintenance and repairs over the life of the unit.

That being said, what you may experience are periodic sounds coming from your tank. If you have a traditional storage tank heater, as many people do, you can hear anything from a popping sound to a screeching sound. Here's what they mean and what to do about them.


One of the most common sounds that people hear from the water heater is a popping sound that happens every few seconds. It can either be small, or rather loud, but either way, it usually is the result of sediment buildup inside your tank. Since 85% of American homes struggle with hard water, it's likely that no matter how old your water heater is, there is some form of sediment buildup inside. This can trap air and allow those pockets to trip to the surface and create the popping sound. It's not a very big deal now, but you should have it flushed before too much sediment gets inside your tank. If you have a gas water heater though, the pressure from those steam bubbles can also cause a water leak and possibly even an explosion, so get it looked at immediately.


Any type of sizzling sound at all usually indicates that water has dripped onto some kind of hot surface—usually a burner. While the sound isn't the problem, the water leak is, and needs to be fixed as soon as possible to prevent water damage. You'll also notice a drop in your water heater's efficiency, as your tank won't nearly be able to hold as much water as it used to. Scheduling water heater services to have it fixed now it is imperative for the proper operation of your water heater.


Since the water in your heater runs through a series of pipes at your home, any sort of restriction in those valves can cause a loud screeching sound. You may need to just simply turn the inlet valve to open it up more, or you may also have a pipe that is pinched. Open up the valve to see if that solves the problem, but if not, have it looked at by a professional plumber immediately. Contact a water heater company for more information.