Home Inspector Said the Water Heater is Popping

I get questions all the time from my home inspection clients and actually from real estate agents that work with a different home inspector. Scottsdale Home Inspection Water heater noise

I recently was asked about a gas water heater that was making a strange popping sound from inside when it was on.

My home inspector said the gas water heater in the garage is making a popping noise and he suggested further evaluation.

Does this popping noise mean the unit is at the end of it’s life? Someone told me that it was from debris in the tank. Will draining the tank fix the issue?

The popping noise in the water heater is from the build up of sediment in the bottom of the tank. When the burner fires, the water between the tank and sediment will reach nearly boiling, and it’s the lifting action of the water popping through the sediment that you hear.  This issues tends to happen more frequently in areas with hard water and I see it frequently on Phoenix home inspection.

Will flushing the tank take care of it?

Probably not… most likely the sediment will be nearly solid almost rock like and will not drain out. It wouldn’t hurt, but I doubt it will fix it either. You will however experience tank failure it could be in 2 years could be 10, but it will go bad. I would get in the habit of visually checking the tank frequently. As a Phoenix home inspector, I hear these making noises frequently, some are only one year old.

There is an A.O. Smith bulletin that explains about the noise and how to flush the tank with acid to clean it out.

The sediment is the most common cause, but there could be another cause.

In parts of the United States where the water supply has a high pH, it might react with the aluminum anode in newer water heaters and produce excessive amounts of aluminum hydroxide. This by-product settles to the bottom of the tank near the heating element and interferes with combustion.

Check for this condition by removing an aerator from a faucet. Blue, green or gray jellylike beads in the aerator are indicative of aluminum hydroxide. Excessive aluminum hydroxide buildup can be cured by replacing the aluminum anode with a magnesium anode. Unless you are skilled in working with pipes, this job is probably better left to a plumber.

If the anode rod is deteriorated, Your water will smell like sulphide or rotten eggs.


I attached a video i made during a home inspection, so you can hear what kind of noises the water heater makes.

Yours may be more or less noisy than this unit I saw on an inspection in Phoenix AZ.

 Should I hire a home inspector?

Possibly, Home inspections are performed for a number of different reasons. You may want to hire a home inspector for a warranty inspection on one or two year old houses.

You may want a pre-listing home inspection so you know what needs to be addressed or disclosed before a buyer hires their own inspector.

You may want to hire a home inspector to inspect a property before you rent a home to document the condition so there is no dispute when you move out.

Or maybe you want a maintenance home inspection

There are several other reasons to consider hiring a home inspector. Click the link for more info.

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