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Noisy surge in showers (not water hammer)

We recently replaced our electric water heater.
Ever since, we've experienced smelly water (that was expected) and a crunchy-gurgling sound in the showers, accompanied with a sudden pulse of water. It's the sound/pulse that I'm trying to troubleshoot.

You'll be standing in the shower with the water running, then you'll hear this crunchy-gurgling noise gradually coming through the pipes, then a pulse in the spray. We aren't seeing this in any of the sinks, though.

This sound is different from what I recall water-hammer being. That's more of a sudden "slam" from a valve being closed somewhere in the system and inadequate air chambers in the plumbing. This is more of a gradual "release"...like it's part of the water flow.

Could this be connected with the smelly water in anyway? Does that process result in gas pockets in the lines?

FWIW, we are on a well, with the attendant pump and pressure tank. I might suspect the tank, if we were seeing this noise/pulse problem everywhere, but, since it's just the showers, I'm not sure. I have no idea how to trouble-shoot the tank.

Any help will be appreciated.


Re: Noisy surge in showers (not water hammer)

Thanks, DW.
I was going to rip into the heads today or tomorrow. I wasn't sure if the heads would be the problem since the noise sounds like it's coming up from the pipes below. It's worth a shot, though.

As for the smell...yes, the nasty old rotten-egg smell. I was expecting it, since it's completely common in this area. The old heater (that came with the house) apparently had the anode removed by the previous owner. We had no smell with it.

Since it's a new water heater, I'm not ready to void the warranty by removing the anode completely. I've thought about replacing the stock anode with an aluminum one, but I've heard that it's only a 50-50 chance that it will work.

Re: Noisy surge in showers (not water hammer)

I cleaned the shower heads. They were mighty nasty, but flow smoothly now. However, this did nothing to alleviate the surging.

To me, it sounds/acts like I am getting air bubbles in the hot water flow somehow. It seems worse if we have more than one hot water outlet running (two showers in the morning, for example) The other night, I noticed, for the first time, the pulse at the kitchen sink hot water tap.

Again, this is not a banging or hammering. It's the sound of something (like air bubbles) "whooshing" up the pipes to the shower head, followed by a brief pulse of water. We'll get 3 or 4 of these in a row. Then it settles down for awhile. Then a couple more pulses.

Could this be associated with the well pump running? I haven't been able to determine if the surges occur when the pump runs. Or, could my water heater (since this started right after it was installed) somehow be scavenging air into the hot water supply?

I know I grasping for straws here, but this is really perplexing me.

Re: Noisy surge in showers (not water hammer)

Do you experience this with the cold water also ?

Re: Noisy surge in showers (not water hammer)
canuk wrote:

Do you experience this with the cold water also ?

No. This seems to be strictly a hot water problem.

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