If your water heater starts making a sound that reminds you of a tea kettle, you should pay attention and take notice. That noise is usually an indication that your water heater needs attention.
The first strange noise you notice is when your water heater starts to sound like a tea kettle. Professionals refer to this as ‘kettling‘ because you might also hear a whistling sound from your water heater.
The tea kettle sound from your water heater is often caused by a build-up of sediment inside your heating device. It can also be an indication that there may be something wrong with the heating element on the bottom of your tank.
Before we look at what a home owner can do if they hear these noises, let’s look at what causes them.
What Causes Tea Kettle Sound in Water Heater?
The water heater ‘kettle‘ sound is often attributed to a build-up of sediment.
Sediment that has built up over time can interfere with the heat transfer inside your water heating system. This can cause pressure to build up inside your tank, which will be released through the safety valve on top of your device.
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In some instances as well, the sediment can build up in your water heater and create little air pockets. Water bubbles can then get trapped during the heating process.
As this water heats up within the heater, steam will be created and this will then escape through the thick layers of sediment.
This will then create a high-pitched whistling sound – very similar to steam escaping from the spout of a tea kettle.
Other Noises Caused by Sediment in a Water Heater
Sediment build-up is often caused by minerals in the water supply, they can include calcium, magnesium and iron.
If your water supply has high levels of these minerals, it can cause the deposits to form on the bottom of your water heater over time. The build-up will usually start off small, but it will grow over time and eventually restrict the flow of water inside your tank.
Some other noises this build-up can cause include;
- Banging – When the water heater sediment builds up, it can create a number of different noises. One of these is banging, which can often be heard when the tank starts to heat up the water.
- Rattling – This noise usually comes from the thermostat or element at the bottom of your tank. If there’s sediment build-up on your heating unit, it can cause a rattling sound when the water is heating up.
- Water Hammer – If your tank has a sediment build-up, you may also notice a ‘water hammer’ noise while your heater is in use. This sound usually sounds like the banging of an old steam locomotive traveling through a tunnel.
- Crackling – The sound of water pushing though the sediment as it boils can often be heard as a crackling noise.
What Can You Do If Your Water Heater is Making Tea Kettle Sounds?
A water heater making kettling noises will not be able to meet the hot water demands required in your home.
If you’ve noticed that your water heater has started to make a tea kettle-like noise, there are a few things you can do:
- Check the water supply – If the noise only happens when you first turn on your heater, then it could be that there’s sediment in your water. If this is the case, you should contact your supplier and get them to check for high mineral levels. This could result in issues with corrosion, debris build-up or even sediment build up on the bottom of your heater.
- Reduce the temperature – If you hear your water heater making noises after it has been turned off, it will usually because there is still sediment in the tank causing issues with pressure and steam creation. You might find that turning down the temperature of your water could reduce this issue.
- Flush out sediment – This solution is the best way to solve the noise issues you have. You should consider doing a powerflush of your heating system regularly. This will help remove any sediment that has built up over time
- Descale the water coming into your home – Another good way you can eliminate CaCO3 deposits and stop them from building up in the future is by using a water softener in your home. You could also install a whole house filter to clean the water before it enters your heating system.
CaCO3 deposits don’t happen overnight. They’re caused by calcium and magnesium in your water supply, which causes these deposits to form over time – usually when the tank has been turned off for an extended period of time.
So if you have recently moved into a vacant house or just bought a house with an old heating system, then you need to be aware that it might make some noise when the heating system has been turned off for an extended period of time.
However, if the issue is new and you have already checked your water supply for high mineral levels, then it’s usually a sign that there’s sediment built up inside your water heater causing the ‘kettling’ noise.
If you’re still experiencing these noises and you’re worried about your water heater, then contact a professional plumber to have the problem assessed.
However, if it’s making tea kettle noises while heating water, then there are several things you can do yourself to reduce the issue and prevent it from causing further damage to your system.
Water heaters aren’t really a complicated piece of machinery, and they shouldn’t be making strange noises like a tea kettle.