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Old 01-25-2016, 11:22 AM   #1
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Water Heater Making a Strange Noise

Hello everyone,

We have a 2016 Flying Cloud we got in June. We are full time. Yesterday our water heater starting making a strange noise. On the electric side, when I turn it on it starts out fine and once it kicks in, it starts to make a noise that sounds almost like air flowing. It does not make this noise when using the propane. Does anyone have any idea what might be happening? Thank you in advance!
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Old 01-25-2016, 11:26 AM   #2
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That sounds to me like it is running on propane, i.e. the switch is backwards. It should be silent on electric and sound like a burner going when on propane. When it is making the noise, go turn off the propane tank(s) and see if it stops.

Al
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Old 01-27-2016, 10:55 AM   #3
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Hi Al,

Thank you for the reply, but that's not it. We've being living in it full time since June and the switches are not backwards. The other day was the first time it had ever made that noise.
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Old 01-27-2016, 11:24 AM   #4
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Now that's a real mystery. One wild idea...I do not know if there is some way the heating element could be super heating the water and causing it to boil and creating steam... an internal short? Very high voltage from your hook-ups? Even so, would it sound like air flowing?

Have you gone outside and tried to see from what part of the heater the sound is coming from? A cardboard tube from a paper towel roll, or one made from rolled up paper, can help you focus on different areas. Or maybe it's a vibration. Try touching different components (wear a rubber glove!).
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Old 01-27-2016, 11:34 AM   #5
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Almost reminds me of that great line from Bill Murray in Ghostbusters:

“Generally you don't see that kind of behavior in a major appliance.”
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Old 01-27-2016, 11:48 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by hollycwright View Post
Hi Al,

Thank you for the reply, but that's not it. We've being living in it full time since June and the switches are not backwards. The other day was the first time it had ever made that noise.
Do you hear the normal burner noise when on propane? The fact that you said it was quiet is what made me think the switch was backwards. I'm stumped, but a failed electrical element is not out of the question. Another thought is an air bubble. Have you bled any potential air out of the heater tank by running the hot water faucets until it stops spitting air?

One more thing to check. On top of the tank there is a pressure relief valve. Look in the outside compartment and make sure it isn't leaking.

Other than that, it's a mystery to me.

Al
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Old 01-27-2016, 12:59 PM   #7
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Home electric water heaters can fill up with calcium over time. If it gets bad you can get all sorts of sounds out of them. Mine started to make a cracking and popping sound when the calcium built up to the point of covering the lower element.

I don't have an electric heater in my coach but you might want to consider flushing it out real well and see if that makes a difference. This would be an easy option.
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Old 01-27-2016, 05:48 PM   #8
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Holly-

Google it or check your W/H manual for "restoring the air cushion/bubble" in your water heater. It sounds like that may be a possibility, especially with the new model W/H's that heat to an extra hot temperature to make it last longer in use.......... They can make some strange sounds as they heat, and can create high water pressures leading to leaks without a proper air bubble in the tank.

Hope this helps.
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Old 01-27-2016, 06:11 PM   #9
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We "half time". Our experience is leaving the water heater on all the time will eventually cause water (and the air bubble) to seep out the water heater temp/pressure relief valve. You might hear it. More likely with the electric mode on, even more likely with both on.

Turn it on well before you need it, turn it off when you don't need it, are away, or over night.
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Old 01-28-2016, 11:42 AM   #10
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I think I've heard the sound you're describing.

We turn on the electric side of the water heater 15-20 minutes before we get up in the morning. If we're using the fresh water tank instead of city water, we soon hear a "cooking" sound as the element heats up. To remedy the noise, I run a little hot water through the faucet.

I think I have a slight vacuum leak in the pump's back flow valve which causes the issue. It's not bad enough to fix yet.

I don't have the issue when connected to city water.
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Old 01-28-2016, 12:46 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Siegmann View Post
Almost reminds me of that great line from Bill Murray in Ghostbusters:

“Generally you don't see that kind of behavior in a major appliance.”
Fantastic line, but would you believe there's not a single meme made from it? Major malfunction, yes; major appliance, no.
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Old 01-28-2016, 09:39 PM   #12
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Siegmann,

I went outside and looked all around... didn't see anything out of the ordinary.
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Old 01-28-2016, 09:44 PM   #13
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dkouttm, I think you hit it! I did leave it on for a while, I usually don't. But I read in the Airstream for beginners book that you could. I won't be from now on.

Thank you everyone for your advice. It is not making the noise anymore. So I am guessing it was from leaving it on continually, which I thought was ok... guess not. I appreciate everyone's help!
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Old 01-28-2016, 10:08 PM   #14
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I don't know. Leaving it on continuously, with over-pressure developing, I guess could cause a hiss of air coming from the pressure relief valve. But I presume you were hearing the noise inside, and then went outside (Post #12), and didn't see or hear anything?

If you do confirm that it was coming from the pressure relief valve, I would suggest opening and closing it a few times to see if that stops it, if it occurs again.

While I too only heat the water when I need it, I used to leave it on all the time with no issues. I believe that you should be able to leave it on with no problems.
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