dripping sound from water heater
Kristina Davis

Hearing any type of dripping sound from water heater can be alarming, especially if you have kids in the house.

At first, I never really thought this was an issue until it bugged me every single time I turned the heater on.

I decided to take a deeper look into what’s causing this and resolve it as soon as possible.

The dripping sound from your water heater is caused by condensation in the vent pipe. Flush your water heater to get rid of sediments and debris that could have built up, replace your water heater, or contact your trusty plumber.

What’s Causing the Water Heater Dripping Sound?

what cause heater dripping

To be straight and direct, the dripping sound of the water heater is caused by heat – not just any type of heat, but heat affecting the pipes of the water heater.

Leakage in the Tank

Probably the culprit most people would point their fingers to would be a leakage in the tank.

Since your tanks are situated in hidden, concealed parts of your home, when there’s leakage, it could echo, creating the loud distinct sound that water is dripping.

Heat and Warmth

This typically happens when the water heater fires up first, starting the condensation inside the machine.

Regardless of the temperature in the area, you’re in, the warmth of the water that’s flowing in and out of the pipes rubbing against the walls.

Sediment Build-Up

the sediment build up

Just like any other type of machine with pipes and vents, hot water heaters can have a buildup of dirt, dust, and moss, as well as other types of sediment, too.

This is what causes sediments inside the tank to form. When there are sediments, the hot water could bubble at the top of the crust, creating some type of dripping sound.

Small or Undersized Tank

The dripping sound is not always caused by problems or dilemmas with the tank. Sometimes, it’s simply because of the tank size.

The smaller the tank, the faster the hot water runs out, especially if you use it regularly.

When this happens, the tank needs to be refilled from the bottom part with cold water, and it is possible that when it hits the inner lining of the tank, it creates some type of sizzling sound.

This is the closest to when you hear water heater sounds like water dripping on flame.

Identifying Where the Dripping Sound is Coming From

There are 2 ways of identifying this problem: dripping sounds in the wall and dripping sounds from the water heater.

Dripping Sounds in the Wall

You may hear it coming from the water heater.

But there’ll be instances where you will notice the dripping sound coming out of the wall adjacent to or near the water heater.

This sound occurs when hot water is used, why?

Because hot water moves subtly and slowly due to the rubbing of the pipe against the wall, not to mention the thermal expansion involved.

You don’t have to worry, though, because this is totally harmless.

Dripping Sounds From the Water Heater

On the flip side, the sound of dripping water on fire would typically be because of the vent pipe dripping back into the burner.

a dripping sounds

In simpler terms, these are all due to the condensation in the pipe vents.

You can imagine it to be the formation of little clouds from your mouth because of a warm breath on a cold and windy day.

Don’t worry about what type of sound you’re hearing. It can be dripping, ticking, and tapping sounds.

They’re light, subtle sounds that resonate throughout the entire water heater.

Hissing or Crackling Sound

If the sound you’re hearing is a hissing or a crackling sound, then it’s most probably due to power and electricity.

Unlike dripping, the crackling or hissing sound is not usually a big deal – it doesn’t happen too often.

Should the problem still continue, all you have to do is contact your plumber.

This is because the issue could be serious enough that it can be hazardous not only for your water system but your entire home.

How Do You Fix the Dripping Sound From Water Heater?

fix dripping sound

I decided to take a step forward and find out how I could resolve this.

At first, I thought of rushing to be serviced by my plumber, but then, I learned a simple trick that has been helpful in getting rid of this sound – flushing your water heater.

Flush Sediments From Your Water Heater

Right before you pick up the phone to contact your local plumber, try getting the matter into your own hands, first.

And how do you do that? Simple – By flushing sediments out of your heater.

fixing the dripping sound

Here’s how you can flush your water heater correctly to get rid of sediments that are causing the dripping sound of water inside the pipe.

  1. Turn the water heater off – twist it into the off position.
  2. Then, turn the cold water valve off. This stops the water from flowing back into the tank.
  3. Once done, wait for the water inside the tank to cool down. This would usually take about 1 to 2 hours.
  4. Attach the hose to the tank’s drain valve, which is positioned on the side of the tank.
  5. Then, place the end of the hose down the drain. If you don’t have one, prepare a sturdy and heat-proof bucket.
  6. Turn on and activate the hot water in the faucet. This stops the forming of heat inside the pipes, which condenses in the tank.
  7. Drain the valve on the tank using a screwdriver.
  8. After the valve is drained, turn the drain valve off, and then turn the cold water back on, and the water heater back on.
  9. Before turning the hot water on, make sure that you run cold water for a few minutes first.
NOTE: Turn it on for about 3 minutes or until you see clear water coming out of the hose. Always remember to turn the cold water mechanism off first before the hot water.

Check For Signs of Leakage

check signs of a leakage

Leakage is one of the easiest and earliest culprits of water heater dripping sounds.

So, what you want to do is check for any signs of leakage. The goal here is to identify (1) if there’s a leakage, and (2) where the leakage is.

  1. Turn off both the water and power supply (gas supply for gas heaters).
  2. Check the inlet and outlet.
  3. Check the pressure relief valve.
  4. Examine both the water temperature and pressure.
  5. Check the bottom part of the tank.
  6. Lastly, have a look at the drain valve.
TIP: What I usually do to make things easier is use a paper towel or a thin cloth and run it through these components. When it gets damp or wet, then I know where the leakage is.

If you have good eyes, you’ll easily spot if there is a leakage, or even know the exact location of the leakage.

Otherwise, you can use some type of paper towel or cloth for aid.

Replace Your Water Heater

replacing water heater

This would be typical if your water heater has been with you for years already.

Akin to all other types of machines, devices, and equipment, your water heater undergoes the wear and tear process, too.

So, what you want to do is replace your water heater.

You can contact a professional for that, but if you have the right tools, skills, and experience, you’ll definitely be able to replace it in less than an hour.

How to Replace Water Heater

At first, I thought that replacing it was dangerous, but it was not. You would need experience, though.

replace water heater

Here’s how you can replace your water heater.

  1. Shut off gas, electricity, and water.
  2. Drain the water heater tank.
  3. Disconnect water lines, electrical lines, and gas lines of the water heater.
  4. Then, disconnect the vent of the water heater.
  5. Position the new water heater in place.
  6. Install the relief valve and fittings.
  7. After that, connect water, gas, and electrical lines.
  8. Then, reconnect the vent (for gas heaters).
NOTE: If this is your first time doing it, it’ll be better to contact a professional to do it for you. 

My line of work is in the electrical and plumbing industry, so, doing these things is like my A-B-Cs.

Final Thoughts

Is the dripping sound from water heater causing too much noise that leaves you barely relaxed?

It may not be as alarming as it sounds, but it can be bothersome not only with the sounds they make but also because of the inconvenience you can experience in terms of flushing or worse – replacing.