Does your water heater sound like popcorn? If you spend time near the water heater, you may hear a popping noise, or you may hear it fainter when you’re a few rooms removed. You’re right to be concerned about this unusual noise. It signals that something is wrong with your water heater. We’ll walk you through what’s wrong and what you can do about it.
What Causes the Popcorn Noise?
Have you ever boiled water for a few minutes, perhaps while you’re cooking pasta or boiling eggs? If so you may have noticed that your pot gets a thin white film around the edges. Boiling water makes it harder, or makes the mineral content in the water collect together.
Your water heater suffers from the same problem, but it’s running all of the time. Mineral deposits, especially calcium, gather at the top of the tank slowly, but surely. Eventually, this layer becomes thick enough that the hot water’s bubbles struggle to break through it. When they do, they create a popping noise.
Why Should I Get My Water Heater Fixed?
You can still safely use your home’s hot water when your heater has this problem. However, it’s wise to get the mineral build-up removed. For one thing, the minerals will stop your water from heating up as efficiently. This means your water heater will be less efficient and will drive up your energy usage and costs.
Your water heater will run longer in an attempt to get the water up to temperature, which may cause undue wear and tear on it, shortening its life span. The minerals will insulate some of the water from heat, but the parts that aren’t insulated may overheat. This can damage your water heater too.
So, its best to get a water heater that sounds like popcorn fixed right away.
What Will My Plumber Do?
You should call your plumber to get this problem fixed. You can burn yourself, damage your water heater, or otherwise risk your health by trying to remove the sediment yourself. Whatever you do, do not put descaling chemicals in your water heater. Remember, whatever is in your water heater will make it’s way into your drinking water.
When you call a plumber, they will flush your tank and use a safe method of mineral deposit removal. They’ll take a look to see if the build-up has damaged your water heater. We often find that anode rods are damaged in case of calcification. If you don’t get the rod, or other damaged parts of the tank, replaced then you will likely have to replace the whole tank soon.
Regular water heater maintenance will prevent this problem in the future. Or, if your water is particularly hard, your plumber may recommend you either install a whole house water softener or switch to a tankless water heater. Softer water will be easier on all of your appliances, faucets, and even your skin. But tankless water heaters have the benefit of providing you hot water for as long as you want it. It’s best to discuss with your plumber which solution will work best for you.