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  • Running Water Noise From Water Heater

    Hello all,

    We have recently noticed a noise coming from our water heater. Initially, it sounded like rumbling or boiling, but after several days, we are thinking it might be more like running water.

    We read about sediment building up causing water to boil, so we tried flushing out the tank. The drain clogged, and we actually ended up running a hose from an outside spigot to the drain, to force the clog out by running it in reverse. We repeated this process at least a dozen times -- running water into the empty tank until the drain clogged, then forcing the clog back out with the garden hose. Nothing changed -- we are still hearing the same sound. I believe there is a large chunk of sediment that will not fit through the drain, and it gets kicked up each time we run water into the tank, but that only explains the persistent clog, not the noise.

    The power to the water heater has been off for 36 hours, the tank has been drained for several hours and flushed at least a dozen times, and the water supply to the tank is shut off, AND the main water supply to the entire house is shut off. We are still hearing the noise! What could possibly be going on?

    The only other thing I can say is that we can feel a vibration in the pipe that feeds the tank. I initially figured that this was due to boiling water causing the pipe to vibrate, but with it being off for 36 hours, I don't see how it could possibly still be boiling. But, I also don't see how it could possibly be running water. I know that the water valves close properly, because we had them both replaced a few months ago, and we don't get any running water in the house when the valves are closed.

    Please help!

  • #2
    Re: Running Water Noise From Water Heater

    You could have a leak from the main in the yard.


    J.C.
    Last edited by BobsPlumbing; 11-14-2010, 01:41 AM.

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    • #3
      Re: Running Water Noise From Water Heater

      JC may be right, your water piping system is like an intercom and will transmit noise. Make sure that your water heater is totally full of water (test by running your hot water from a fixture) before you turn the electrical back on or you will blow out your elements. Then go check your water meter when everything in the house is turned off and see if it is moving.

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      • #4
        Re: Running Water Noise From Water Heater

        Originally posted by Entroper View Post

        The power to the water heater has been off for 36 hours, the tank has been drained for several hours and flushed at least a dozen times, and the water supply to the tank is shut off, AND the main water supply to the entire house is shut off. We are still hearing the noise! What could possibly be going on?

        Please help!
        Big clues in here and I think JC's correct. For proof positive, disconnect one side of your water meter so the water service pipe is completely disconnected from, and not touching, your water piping located on the house side of the meter. Then, take a hardhandled screwdriver and touch the metal end to the water service pipe coming from the street and touch the handle to your jaw, forehead, near your ear. (Use the screwdriver like a stethoscope). If you still hear water running you have a leak in your water service and you should get it repaired ASAP.

        Frequently leaks in water services come to the surface near the leak so you know you have a problem. If they don't, water has found an easier route to go on its merry way and it's washing substrate soil away with it. You could end up with a sinkhole.

        Good luck.
        Time flies like an arrow.

        Fruit flies like a banana.

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        • #5
          Re: Running Water Noise From Water Heater

          you mentioned that the power to the heater was turned off, so i'll assume it's an electric water heater.

          traditionally the electric heaters don't have the sediment buildup boiling issues like the gas heaters do. this is because the elements are centered in the tank. they are 100% immersed in water.

          removing the drain hose bibb will allow you to flush out the loose sediment without plugging, but that's not necessary for your situation.

          go outside and check your water meter. there should be a little needle or triangle to indicate small movements.

          if you have a well, shut off the pump and check for noises.

          i'll assume you don't have a hot water circulating pump that's on.

          rick.
          phoebe it is

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          • #6
            Re: Running Water Noise From Water Heater

            Was having the same problem, it was my water heater that was causing not full

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            • #7
              Re: Running Water Noise From Water Heater

              Thanks everyone. We were able to get our water meter open today, and it is churning at 5 gallons per minute with the main to the house shut off. And we JUST got our water bill in the mail yesterday -- $750. Wonderful.

              I am convinced we had both problems, as the water heater can no longer be heard from upstairs. Looks like our bad water heater tipped us off to a much bigger problem.

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              • #8
                Re: Running Water Noise From Water Heater

                Originally posted by Entroper View Post
                Thanks everyone. We were able to get our water meter open today, and it is churning at 5 gallons per minute with the main to the house shut off. And we JUST got our water bill in the mail yesterday -- $750. Wonderful.

                I am convinced we had both problems, as the water heater can no longer be heard from upstairs. Looks like our bad water heater tipped us off to a much bigger problem.
                Is your water meter in your basement? Or at the street? I forget that not everywhere is like Minnesota where water meters are in basements for the most part. Never outside.
                Time flies like an arrow.

                Fruit flies like a banana.

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                • #9
                  Re: Running Water Noise From Water Heater

                  Originally posted by geno gardner View Post
                  Is your water meter in your basement? Or at the street? I forget that not everywhere is like Minnesota where water meters are in basements for the most part. Never outside.
                  It's at the street. I think we've located the leak between the street and the house, as there is some soggy ground where the grass has grown more rapidly than the surrounding area.

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                  • #10
                    Re: Running Water Noise From Water Heater

                    Originally posted by Entroper View Post
                    It's at the street. I think we've located the leak between the street and the house, as there is some soggy ground where the grass has grown more rapidly than the surrounding area.
                    Been there, done that. Call the water department tomorrow. They sometimes can show mercy.


                    J.C.

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