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Why Is My Water Heater Making a Strange Popping Noise?

If it sounds like someone poured rice krispies in your water heater, the cause of that popping sound is sediment. It builds up on the bottom of the tank over time, creating tiny air bubbles that burst over and over.

While popping noises aren’t a serious issue at first, they can indicate significant damage if the sediment isn’t cleared quickly. To help you understand the situation and what you should do next, we’ll cover the following information here:

Get Your Plumbing Needs Covered Today

Caring for your water heater over time is the best way to minimize repair bills and extend the lifespan of your home systems. MSP covers your plumbing repair needs in the Twin Cities area, from popping water heaters and drain cleanings to sump pump repairs.

We’re Minnesota Tough and want to keep your water heater operating in peak condition. Call us at (651) 228-9200 to discuss your plumbing needs.

Why Sediment Causes Popping Noises

Buildup of mineral deposits surrounded by faint, turquoise water.

Water naturally has mineral deposits and can form “hard” water.

Your water naturally contains tiny particles of minerals like calcium and magnesium. As they move through your water heater's tank and your house, these particles settle at the bottom of your tank in the form of sediment.

Think of it as tiny dots of sand separating from the ocean and settling on the beach. Over time, the sand will accumulate as the waves continue to hit the shore.

Hard water contains more minerals and is thus prone to a faster sediment buildup. If you have never had your water heater cleaned or know that your water is hard, there’s a good chance you’ve accumulated quite a bit of sediment.

When the sediment reaches a certain point, air bubbles will form underneath. The air searches for an escape, popping the bubbles and creating that popping sound you hear in your home. It may sound alarming at first, but there is something you can do to fix the problem before the water heater sustains long-term damage.

How to Prevent Sediment Buildup in Your Water Heater

All systems in your home need routine maintenance to remain at peak performance over time. Your water heater is no different, andan experienced plumber will care for it during maintenance by flushing its tank. Regular flushes prevent significant sediment accumulations, so you never hear those popping noises.

Install a Water Softening System

Remember that hard water contains more minerals and leads to more sediment buildup? Well, many homes in Minnesota have hard water. You’re not alone with the sediment buildup and popping noises.

One way to combat the problem is to install a whole-home water softening system. Not only will you have softer water that is gentler on your skin when bathing, but you’ll also prevent a lot of wear and tear on your water heater, pipes, appliances, and even your clothing.

If you need guidance selecting the right water-softening system for your home, MSP can send an expert plumber to your home. Professional installation ensures your water softening system is effective and covers your entire home’s plumbing system rather than just one faucet.

What Could Happen If Left Untreated

Woman sitting at a white coffee table, holding a gold credit card with her left hand, a white click pen in her right hand, with a white lined notebook in from of her, a black calculator to the right of her, her phone to left of her, looking at an upright tablet that shows an invoice.

Sediment buildup can increase your utility bills.

Sediment buildup forces your water tank to work harder than it should. That requires higher energy consumption, so you’re likely to see your energy bill increase as the sediment collects. Every drop of hot water produced for your home comes at an unnecessarily high price until the tank is flushed.

With time, sediment will also collect on your burner or the metal heating elements if you have an electric water heater. That makes it more difficult to heat water for your home and can lead to damage that you will pay to fix at some point. You’ll end up paying for water heater repairs in addition to a flush to get rid of the sediment and prevent further damage.

Finally, you could end up with a water leak from your water tank. The buildup of sediment on your burner can lead to overheating and damage to the liner inside your tank. When that liner is damaged, it doesn’t do a great job holding water inside the tank. The water will eventually start to leak, leading to another repair bill. If you don’t notice the leak quickly, it could also cause damage to the flooring and walls in your home.

It's best to call a plumber as soon as you notice the popping noise. Better yet, call once a year to schedule an appointment for a routine flush to avoid sediment collecting. This maintenance maximizes the life of your water heater by allowing it to work efficiently rather than overworking to compensate for sediment buildup.

Are you ready to put those popping noises to rest with water heater care from MSP?

Our team of experts can clear the sediment and return your water heater to peak performance. We have the expertise to repair any water heater and are committed to prompt, friendly service, so we get the job done right the first time around. Call us today at (651) 228-9200 to see why we enjoy over a thousand 5-star reviews.