There are few noises more creepy coming from the basement than the banging of a hot water heater. This can be scary to children and frustrating for adults as they struggle to find out what the problem is A lot of homeowners wonder if they will need to replace the unit to get the noises to stop. While that is an expensive option, there is actually a much more simple fix to this common but annoying problem.
The problem with your hot water heater is that you have sediment that has built up in the bottom of the tank. This is normal and common in hot water heaters. What happens to cause the noise is that the burner heats the sediment, causing moisture to turn into steam that will burst into the water above. The rumbling is caused when the steam from the sediment hits the water.
Cleaning out the Sediment
Taking care of the sediment is fairly straightforward. First, turn the gas control to the pilot setting to keep it from being a larger flame while you are working. Your next step is to turn off the cold-water going into the heater so that you’re only working with the water that’s in the tank. Using a sink nearby, open the hot water tap and have it running, then open the drain valve in your hot water heater. It’s a good idea to attach a garden hose when you do this so you can control where the water goes as it drains out of the unit. You will let all of the water run out of the unit as long as it is murky with sediment. When it begins to run clear you will need to shut the valve.
Shutting the Valve
This can be a tricky part of the process, depending on corrosion and how much sediment there was in the heater. You may need to clean the corrosion off to be able to close the valve or use a hose cap to attach to the valve.
Refilling the Heater
Now you will need to refill your tank by opening back up the cold-water supply. Leave the hot water running, and wait until water flows freely. Then simply close it and turn the unit from “pilot” to “on”.
Don’t be alarmed if your hot water heater is making a banging noise. The sediment in the unit causes this annoying sound but can also eventually weaken the tank causing leaks. When you hear this noise be prepared to clean out your tank so that the water heater doesn’t overheat and cause future problems.