Popping noises in a water heater result from a buildup due to hard water. These deposits trap water under the lime. As the unit heats, steam breaks through the scale to cause the popping noise. Adding a water softener to the home or deliming the water heater followed by regular maintenance of the unit reduces the deposits and the popping, according to SF Gate.
Periodic maintenance for a water heater includes flushing the tank to remove any accumulated sediment. Flushing is a process most homeowners can complete safely themselves, but a popping tank requires use of a deliming solution to dissolve the accumulations..
If deliming the tank does not solve the popping noises, the problem is likely with the anode rod. Manufacturers install these devices to attract minerals, but they deteriorate in the process. Once the anode rod is spent, the minerals attack the tank itself. Owners should contact a plumbing contractor to install a new rod in the tank.
Lowe's claims that the life expectancy of a water heater is 8 to 12 years. If the popping water heater is approaching the end of its life expectancy, replacement is often a better option than repairs. Once the owner installs a new unit, annual maintenance helps to ensure trouble-free operation.