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Thread: Noisy Electric HW Heater

  1. #1

    Default Noisy Electric HW Heater

    The trailer I'm renting has a 1 y.o. Reliance 606, 30 gallon HW tank that is not only uneconomical, but noisy as hell.

    When it heats the water, it makes a loud whistling sound, like wind passing through a slightly open window. At the same time, there is a vibrating sound. Both noises disappear when the water is done being heated.

    The tank is in my bedroom closet and it wakes me up sometimes.

    I know next to nothing about electric HW tanks. Is this noise normal for this tank?

  2. #2
    Aspiring Old Fart, EE, computer & networking geek Mikey's Avatar
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    I know nothing about that particular unit either. Sounds like the normal noise associated with water being heated. Maybe the tank just doesn't have enough insulation to a) suppress the noise, and b) keep the heat transfer down to a minimum. Try wrapping it with a bunch of fiberglass insulation.

    OTOH, maybe it's about to explode . I'm sure someone will tell you if that's the case .

  3. #3

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mikey
    OTOH, maybe it's about to explode . I'm sure someone will tell you if that's the case .
    I'm not too far from where they used to do all that nuclear weapons testing, so maybe you're onto something, Mikey. BTW, did you know that when the first atomic bomb was exploded right here in SW NM, the guy who created it thought there was a good chance that there would be a chain reaction that would blow up the whole planet. He was sweating bullets as they say.

  4. #4
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer jadnashua's Avatar
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    Do you know if there is a pressure reduction valve in your plumbing or a check valve? Do you have an individual water meter (some of them have a check valve in them)?

    When water is heated, it expands. If there is a check valve somewhere as that water expands, it is forced back out through that valve, and it can make some whistling noises.

    The solution, if that is the problem, is to install an expansion tank. That gives the heated water someplace to go.

    An inexpensive test is to buy a pressure gauge. You can screw it on the hose bib. Check the pressure when the noise is happening and see if it climbs then slowly drops as the noise stops.
    Jim DeBruycker
    Important note - I'm not a pro
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer; Schluter 2.5-day Workshop Completed 2013, 2014

  5. #5

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    There's no PRV and no check valves that I can see. There's only one water meter for the whole complex. The owner pays the water bill.

    Nope, it's just a noisy, expensive water heater. I'll be moving soon, so hopefully I'll get a normal 20 gal. gas HW tank next time, and I'll see my electric bill drop way down.

  6. #6
    Plumber Cass's Avatar
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    I'm curious, why do you say expensive?

  7. #7

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    Expensive in that it costs more than twice as much to operate this 30 gallon electric water heater than the normal 20 gallon gas HW heaters I'm used to having.

    I use so little hot water, I generally turn the temp. way down. It seems that with this electric heater, you can't even turn the temp. down nearly as much as with a gas.

  8. #8
    Plumber Cass's Avatar
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    I suspect you have some other problem as the difference in the operating cost between a 20 and 30 gallon WH is so small that it should be hardly noticed. If you are in a cold region of the country and there is no insulation in the WH area that could be the cause of increased cost. If there is a leak under the trailer(and they are famous for leaks) in the HW line that would / could cause both the noise and greatly increase the operating cost and cause you to not be able to control the temp setting well. Pull off a section of the skirt and get a good bright flashlight and carefully crawl around and look for any leaks. They can be hard to find / see sometimes.

  9. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by Cass
    I suspect you have some other problem as the difference in the operating cost between a 20 and 30 gallon WH is so small that it should be hardly noticed. If you are in a cold region of the country and there is no insulation in the WH area that could be the cause of increased cost. If there is a leak under the trailer(and they are famous for leaks) in the HW line that would / could cause both the noise and greatly increase the operating cost and cause you to not be able to control the temp setting well. Pull off a section of the skirt and get a good bright flashlight and carefully crawl around and look for any leaks. They can be hard to find / see sometimes.
    I've always been told that electric HW heaters are about twice as expensive to operate as gas...And I've proved it. No, there's no leaks.

  10. #10
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer jadnashua's Avatar
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    Not necessarily true. Just depends on your utility rates. Move to Vegas, while it may run out soon (I don't know), they got a super price for electricity when they built Hoover Dam...electric heat, WH, etc. is the norm there. Subsidized rates can do that. God help them if and when that rate break ends - think of all of the lights there! Where my father lives, they have a co-op electric company (hydro)- cheaper to heat with electric, too and that is in upstate NY.
    Jim DeBruycker
    Important note - I'm not a pro
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer; Schluter 2.5-day Workshop Completed 2013, 2014

  11. #11

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    Quote Originally Posted by jadnashua
    Not necessarily true. Just depends on your utility rates. Move to Vegas, while it may run out soon (I don't know), they got a super price for electricity when they built Hoover Dam...electric heat, WH, etc. is the norm there. Subsidized rates can do that. God help them if and when that rate break ends - think of all of the lights there! Where my father lives, they have a co-op electric company (hydro)- cheaper to heat with electric, too and that is in upstate NY.
    I love it here in SW NM. Vegas isn't my cup of tea and New York is too cold. I did solve one noise problem, though. Turns out the vibration was due to the breaker box cover vibrating whenever the HW heater went on. The box is on the other side of the wall from the HW tank. I just taped the door closed with some duct tape, and it's no longer vibrating.

    I could digitally record the whooshing sound that the tank makes when it's heating the water, but the audio file would be too large to post here. Anyone know of a place I could post it and link it up to here?

  12. #12
    DIY Senior Member abikerboy's Avatar
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    Verdeboy; Drain the tank, and remove the element. You will probably find that it is covered in lime deposits. Have the same problem here all of the time. I was told that the element gets covered with mineral deposits, which causes a crackling popping sound for a few minutes after the heater starts, and which turns into a high pitched whistling noise after the popping is done, and which lasts until the heater shuts off. When this starts, I remove the element, clean both it, and the bottom of the tank, and reinstall the element. All is quiet then for months. Also, had a 30 gallon, single element tank once, which actually cost me almost twice as much to run as my current dual element 50 gallon tank does. Shut the heater off at night, restart it about noon, shut off again in the early afternoon...say 2:00 and restart it again at night (around 7:00 pm) for a couple of hours(until about 9:00 pm). I installed a timer which does this automatically, and I see on average about a $20/month reduction in electric use.

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