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Old 10-29-2010, 12:03 PM   #1
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Electric water heater noise


My electric heater sometimes sounds like there is running water in it even when there isn't...is this sizzling of debris on the elements? Is it something I should worry about?

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Old 10-29-2010, 01:19 PM   #2
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Electric water heater noise


Just had the exact same problem with mine. It turned out to be mineral deposits on the lower heating element causing the noise. Apparently the water between the element and the deposit boils and makes a sound like water being drawn. I replaced the lower element with a new one and no more noise.
I don't think it will hurt anything if you leave it alone but mine got pretty noisy and required attention. I have well water and reset my softener to regenerate more frequently to prevent further episodes.

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Old 10-29-2010, 01:55 PM   #3
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Electric water heater noise


My heater is only about 2 years old, bradford white. Is changing the elements pretty easy? Expensive?
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Old 10-29-2010, 04:18 PM   #4
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Electric water heater noise


Yes, changing an element is easy, and no, it is not expensive.
If you need help with a detailed how-to, just let us know.
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Old 04-05-2011, 07:48 AM   #5
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Electric water heater noise


Is it possible that this problem could lead to having less hot water (ie. making an element not work properly)? It seems as my hot water runs out faster than it used to, which isn't much, since i live alone. Also, how do I know which element is making the noise, just by trying to listen?

Could this still be under warranty at about 3 years old, or no?

If I were to change one, do I:
1. Turn off breaker
2. Drain the tank below the element to be changed
3. Take off cover plate and Disconnect wiring
4. Unscrew element, put in new one
5. Connect wiring
6. Fill the tank
7. Turn on breaker

Am I missing anything?
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Old 04-07-2011, 07:53 AM   #6
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Electric water heater noise


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Old 04-07-2011, 08:43 AM   #7
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Electric water heater noise


You are on the right track Andy, but after shutting the power off to the water heater and disconnecting the wires, check the element with an ohmmeter. With the wires removed, you should have continuity between the two terminals; no continuity would indicate that the element is bad.
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Old 04-07-2011, 10:16 AM   #8
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Electric water heater noise


Is there a specific resistance I should see between the two terminals?
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Old 04-07-2011, 10:33 AM   #9
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Electric water heater noise


Only being a couple years old, isn't there a simple way to just clean the crud from the element if it has no other problem?
CLR maybe or something similar, then just put it back in? If it ain't broke, don't fix it, just clean it!

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Old 04-07-2011, 11:03 AM   #10
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Electric water heater noise


Sorry, Andy, for getting in a hurry and missing a couple of things. Regarding resistance, maybe someone else has experienced some anomolies, but it's just a loop inside the water heater, and as far as any that I have checked, they have been intact, i.e. no resistance, and working, or they have been broken, i.e. no continuity, and not working. I had also meant to mention, as DM did, that 2 years is an extremely short life. In fact, just as an example, even though it had to be dumb luck, I think that I only replaced one element in our old electric water heater, over its' almost 30 years of service; maybe more, but I can't recall them. So, for all it would take to do it, I would check the elements, but am more inclined to think that you have a build up of sediment in the tank. Have you drained any water out of it, to see what you get?
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Old 04-07-2011, 11:38 AM   #11
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Electric water heater noise


I will drain some water tonight and see what I get out of it. I did once about a year and a half after purchase, and it was clean...
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Old 04-07-2011, 11:50 AM   #12
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Electric water heater noise


Perhaps I should explain, upon re-reading my post, I think it could be misinterpreted.
Our water heater is about 6 years going on 7 soon and is starting to make the same noises as you describe, so I know it's about due for a cleaning. Having never had an electric before I installed this one, (NG at old house) I am asking the guys here what the best way to clean the rods would be? Clean the ends in CLR or Limeaway or similar or can they possibly damage the element?
Just trying to soak this thread for all the info we can get! Po)

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Old 04-07-2011, 11:56 AM   #13
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Electric water heater noise


From years of repairing electric water heaters I will agree that the sound you are hearing is due to mineral deposits on the heating elements. As stated, when these elements get hot the mineral deposits will actually, sometimes, expand then "crack-off", this is the sort of popping noise you hear. When this happens it is just a bit more mineral deposits falling down into the bottom of the tank. Later, this will build up and cause the lower element to burn out. I have even seen this bent so bad I would have to use a hack saw blade, no handle, to cut them in two for removal. Doing a test for resistance, IMO, is not a way to determine the amount of deposits on and element. To determine whether or not the element is working-Yes. One tool I have that is valuable to me is a piece of 3/4" steel hydraulic tubing, which I have bent on the end at two angles. I have made a way to attach this to my wet/dry shop vac, and after draining a water heater completely, I can use this to vacuum out a lot of this mineral deposit stuff from within the tank via the bottom element hole. Some homeowners are really shocked to see what I have gotten out of their water heaters. As far as soaking an element to remove mineral deposits: I suppose it could be done, but this would take days of soaking to remove the deposits. An element is not that expensive if you consider what it does.
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Old 04-07-2011, 12:04 PM   #14
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Electric water heater noise


Is there any way to quickly and easily (and safely) clean them of deposits that you know of?
Any tips or cautions for re-inserting them?


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Old 04-07-2011, 12:45 PM   #15
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Electric water heater noise


Hey Andy, just to back up a bit, and possibly eliminate any confusion, I was responding to your recent post regarding the possibility that your heater may not be functioning properly, rather than your initial post regarding noise, and, that said, I do agree fully with Thurman. What I described will tell you whether or not your elements are functioning, even though it sems that they should not have failed by now, but it will not tell you anything about the amount of crud on them, and, so while they may be "working", it is very possible that they are not doing their job. I'd still run some water off, as I mentioned earlier, and, factoring in the noise factor, I would pull them out and look at them, even if the ohmmeter tells you they are fine. And, if they are heavily encrrusted after just a few years, I would get the water tested, to see what the issues are, and start thinking about some manner of water treatment. DM, as for cleaning them, as Thurman said, they're not that expensive, so if they are bad, I wouldn't spend any time cleaning them. Without knowing what is in the water, how would you know what chemical reaction you are dealing with, and if I were to have the water tested, to see what minerals it contains, I would treat the water, not the heating element.

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