my hot water heater is whistling -- is this serious?

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by Doc, Aug 3, 2006.

  1. Doc

    Doc Well-Known Member Supporter

    Messages:
    986
    Joined:
    Jun 4, 2003
    Is there a plumber in the house? Mine has gone home and leaves no emergency number.

    Last night as I was washing dishes, suddenly there was a whistling noise -- high pitched -- lasted about ten seconds. Enough to startle me. I thought it was the undulating fan on top of the refrigerator. Thought no more about it.

    Until a little while ago: I walked in the kitchen and it was the same whistling sound, but it went for a long time. It's a cabinet model and not more than a year old.

    I called an electrician and he didn't have a clue. Does anyone here?

    Just need to know if I'm safe -- or what to do?? :shrug:
     
  2. insanity

    insanity Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    890
    Joined:
    Aug 22, 2004
    Location:
    Clarksville TN.
    Pressure release valve perhaps? Probably plumbed threw the floor.So the water is blowing out under the house.
    Could be malfunctioning valve.But it could also be releasing pressure form the tank because.Well because it building to much pressure.Is the water hotter than normal? A thermostat may have malfunctioned and isn't shutting off.Causing it to continue heating past the temp it is set at.

    IS it gas or electric?

    Might be a safe bet to turn the power and water off to it just in case.At least the power.

    I'm not a plumber so i dont no where the relief valve is located on your unit.Note familiar with cabinet models.But it brass/gold in color.And has a little lever on top of it.Just pull it up and it will open the valve.See if thats the sound you heard.Turn the power off first,encase something wrong,and things may be wet inside the unit.
    If its electric its a 220 breaker,in your fuse box.
     

  3. Doc

    Doc Well-Known Member Supporter

    Messages:
    986
    Joined:
    Jun 4, 2003
    It is electric. Could you explain to me why I should do one or the other or both?
     
  4. insanity

    insanity Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    890
    Joined:
    Aug 22, 2004
    Location:
    Clarksville TN.
    The tank can burst from the pressure! Hot water every where.Plus 220 volts!

    You could try leaving the water on.And just see if it does it any more.(but id cut the power off!) You'd still have hot water for a pretty good while.Likely enough to have a warm shower in the morning.The heating of the water is what creates the pressure.

    Sorry about the editing.My kids are running and riping cause they have a freind over so i couldn't think/or typ. :D
     
  5. Farmer Willy

    Farmer Willy Well-Known Member Supporter

    Messages:
    1,249
    Joined:
    Aug 7, 2005
    Location:
    A short way past Oddville
    Where you wearing anything provocative or revealing when it started whistling at you?
    Has it engaged in any other flirting besides the whistling? I'd tell it to stop and then call the sherif if it continued.
     
  6. Doc

    Doc Well-Known Member Supporter

    Messages:
    986
    Joined:
    Jun 4, 2003
    Power is off -- do I turn off the hot water under the sink, or somewhere in that tank? I haven't a clue where to do that in the tank. Does that mean I can't take a shower tonight?
     
  7. insanity

    insanity Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    890
    Joined:
    Aug 22, 2004
    Location:
    Clarksville TN.

    Read above.Sorry!
     
  8. insanity

    insanity Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    890
    Joined:
    Aug 22, 2004
    Location:
    Clarksville TN.
    I'm actual clueless as to where your shut off might be,should you need to turn it off.On my grandmothers cabinet unit it was buried between the wall and unit.Ye way back in there.

    If your is next to the sink it might very well have the pipes coming in threw there.It will be on the cold water inlet to the hot water heater.Should be two pipes side by side.Cold in hot out.

    It might not have a cut off.Some do some don't.

    As long as you don't here or see water running under the house you can leave the water on.So you can use the hot water left in the tank.
     
  9. Doc

    Doc Well-Known Member Supporter

    Messages:
    986
    Joined:
    Jun 4, 2003
    No, it isn't next to the sink. There is no valve behind the heater, just pipes. Don't see anything about it in the manual, either.
     
  10. dirty

    dirty Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    125
    Joined:
    Oct 13, 2005
    Location:
    upper michigan
    does it have an adjustable thermostat? it sounds like the water is being overheated causing to much pressure in the tank. which cause the safty valve to blow off the excess pressure.
     
  11. insanity

    insanity Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    890
    Joined:
    Aug 22, 2004
    Location:
    Clarksville TN.
    Most likely it will be OK.(Isn't leaking) It should have just popped off to relieve the pressure and then closed back.
    I was just scared it didn't fully close back or the tank might have actually been under that much pressure and caused a leak around the heating elements or somewhere.If it didn't close back all the way you most likely could hear a weird noise coming from it as water spewed threw it.
     
  12. insanity

    insanity Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    890
    Joined:
    Aug 22, 2004
    Location:
    Clarksville TN.
    Do you have a thermometer you can hold under the water faucet to check the temp right now.No need to turn the power back on.
     
  13. scaryguyoy

    scaryguyoy Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    64
    Joined:
    Aug 29, 2004
    Location:
    Ohio,Indiana border
    Heres a different perspective.I am not a plumber but i had a similar problem.You have to determine if it is a whistle or a sizzling kind of sound.Our tank would do this sometimes when one of the elements was covered with scale from the tank.It was just the element sizzling when it was heating up the water.
    Scary
     
  14. Doc

    Doc Well-Known Member Supporter

    Messages:
    986
    Joined:
    Jun 4, 2003
    It is whistling, not sizzling. I've tried to describe it and that's all I can do.
     
  15. goatlady

    goatlady Well-Known Member Supporter

    Messages:
    1,731
    Joined:
    May 31, 2002
    Location:
    No. Cent. AR
    Everytime my electric water heater whistled it meant the bottom element was buring out and needed replacing. Just my experiences. Since your's is a small tank model even in a year the elements have gotten lots of use.
     
  16. rambler

    rambler Well-Known Member Supporter

    Messages:
    8,275
    Joined:
    Jan 20, 2004
    Location:
    MN
    I would _not_ turn the water off unless it was leaking water. You will have about 1/2 the capacity of the unit in hot water to use, even with the electricity turned off.

    I would have it checked out to find out why it whistled. Steam pressure venting can be a bad thing if it stops venting, but keeps adding more steam - BOOM. Could easily be crud on an element as someone mentioned, but we have no way of knowing from way out here. :)

    --->Paul
     
  17. froggirl

    froggirl Feelin' Froggy

    Messages:
    448
    Joined:
    Jan 29, 2005
    Location:
    WA
    You may want to call the 1-800 number on your tank and talk to a rep. about it. Sometimes they will diagnose the problem over the phone and send you a correct part for the plumber to install....especially if it's still under warrantee.
    --f.g.
    (wife of plumber :) )
     
  18. Doc

    Doc Well-Known Member Supporter

    Messages:
    986
    Joined:
    Jun 4, 2003
    The power was turned off overnight. Called two plumbers (one promising in his message to return the call in thirty minutes). Twelve hours later, I haven't heard from either.

    Electrician is here (for another project) and he doesn't see anything that would cause the whistling. Wouldn't an element burning out cause the breaker to trip?

    Good idea about the 1-800 number. I'll see if there is one somewhere. Maybe they'll have some suggestions. It is still under warranty -- five years left on it. Fairly new tank.
     
  19. Doc

    Doc Well-Known Member Supporter

    Messages:
    986
    Joined:
    Jun 4, 2003
    My plumber called and left a message -- he was on his way to a golf tourney and couldn't talk long!! But, he confirmed Goatlady's analysis -- bottom element heating up causes it to whistle. And if it persists, and I'm sure it will, it will be replaced. If the whistle is a nuisance at night, turn off at breaker. Isn't going to burst.

    Thanks Goatlady!!
     
  20. froggirl

    froggirl Feelin' Froggy

    Messages:
    448
    Joined:
    Jan 29, 2005
    Location:
    WA
    Glad you got to the bottom of it....since you're going to have to replace it, now would be a great time to call the water heater company and ask for the replacement part. Just because it's under warrantee doesn't mean your plumber will go thru the warrantee process or is authorized by the water heater company. I always tell our customers to call the manufacturer first so you can find out the terms of the warrantee....
    Glad you got a hold of him! Good luck!
    --f.g.