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djohns
Strange water heater problem .

A friend of mine asked me to come over and listen to the strange noises that his water heater was making . It's a KENMORE natural gas unit , about 45 gals. or so . Whenever you turn on any of the hot water faucets in the house , the cold water inlet pipe ( copper ) starts to vibrate and sounds like a bunch of small ball bearings rattling inside . The sound seems to come from the entire length of pipe that is visible before it dissapears down into the wall . The house has good water pressure . Any ideas ? BTW , he just moved into this house and the previous owner said that he heard it as well .

canuk
Re: Strange water heater problem .

size of I/O piping ?

djohns
Re: Strange water heater problem .

Uh , yeah . :confused: If I remember correctly , seemed to
be 3/4 or 1 " .

canuk
Re: Strange water heater problem .

hmmm ... piping seems to be large enough.

How about draining the tank to rid of sediment.
Noise coming from gas models can often be caused by the sediment build up in the bottom of the tank. Steam bubbles form under the sediment. The thumping and popping noises are created by the bubbles escaping from under the sediment.

Just a thought.:)

djohns
Re: Strange water heater problem .

No , it's coming from the cold water inlet pipe , just as soon as the hot water faucet is opened . It's a rattling sound , like small BB's or ball bearings . VERY strange . :eek:

canuk
Re: Strange water heater problem .

Yep ... strange.

The piping seems large enough so you wouldn't think velocity noise.
If the noise only exists with water flow .. i guess that does rule out the burner heating the sediment.

.... scratching head.:confused:

Sherry
Re: Strange water heater problem .

Does the cold water pipe make the sound even when the hot water is on low? Does the flow rate make any difference in the sound? What happens when you hold the cold water pipe when it is making the sound?

goldhiller
Re: Strange water heater problem .

Fluttering check valve on the inlet pipe, perhaps.

Scroll 4/5ths of the way down this page.

http://www.plumbingsupply.com/hotwater.html

The heater in question may have an older ball type rather than a flapper type. More likely to make the noise you describe.

canuk
Re: Strange water heater problem .

By golly I believe goldie's got it. :D

djohns
Re: Strange water heater problem .
SherryH wrote:

Does the cold water pipe make the sound even when the hot water is on low? Does the flow rate make any difference in the sound? What happens when you hold the cold water pipe when it is making the sound?

Well , we were in the attic and he yelled down to his wife to turn the hot water on . In other words , I can't say if she varied the flow rate . Probably not . I held my hand on the inlet pipe and felt the vibration .

Goldie , you might be on to something with the check valve thing . I'll tell him .

Thanks all .

Re: Strange water heater problem .

yes hello the reason why this nosie is happening is today water heaters come with pre-installed "heat trap nipples" basically they have these small little balls in them.. (that explains the ball bearing rattling noises) there supposed keep the heat in. i have had sevral customers call and complain about this problem i just remove them and install brass nipples on all my water heaters.
so remove the short hot and cold nipples from the tank and look to see if you have little balls or some times rubber dampers/ if so install brass nipples if you have copper pipe / or galvinized if you have steel pipe don't forget unions. good luck
- Sean the plumber

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