Sudden turbine-esque noise in water pipes?

Two days ago our hot water heater and/or pipes started sounding like a turbine. The noise starts right after the water (any water) is turned on and continues for a few minutes after it’s turned off. It’s audible throughout the house regardless of where or what uses the water- toilets, dishwasher, etc.
The house is 12 years old. The hot water heater is functional, but this noise bothers me. It doesn’t seem to be weather or temperature related, things have been relatively moderate recently.
Does anyone have any insight into what’s causing this? I don’t want to call a plumber over nothing, but if this is a sign of the heater’s imminent demise, I’d rather act now than after.


Sounds like a hot water heater exhaust blower, and one that is about to go bad. It’s a guess but you are describing it exactly.

Can that be replaced as a component, or do I need a whole new heater?

Do you have a gas or electic water heater, Mike?

It’s probably nothing.

We get terrible noise in the water system in our house if air gets into the system. This happens if we switch off the water to the whole house, or if the DWP does work in the neighborhood and switches off the water supply. It usually goes away after a day or two.

It can absolutely be replaced if that’s what it is. These are installed on gas water heaters. You would know if you have that type of system because normally you would only hear that noise near the side of the home where that exhaust would vent, and it’s usually muffled. You’re describing that same sound only it’s gotten tremendously louder, which for a motor will usually mean something got stuck in the unit, a bad bearing, or similar. There are other pieces to a blower, like the controller that determines when it runs, the exhaust out from the house, etc.

A quick call to a plumber would get you an estimate if you’re unsure of the cause and how much a replacement would cost.

Worst case for this would mean a new water heater, but the motor itself is indeed replaceable, or at least it was on a home I lived in with the same issue. It wasn’t that expensive if I remember right, even with my plumber doing the job.

What jojo is describing can also make a loud racket related to water being turned on and sounds more like the end of an impact wrench noise. You would also get sputtering and spitting from the faucets in the home.


Hah, we have gas.

Thanks! It’s definitely not a banging or hammering, and the water pressure is unaffected. I’ll bring a plumber in and see what the damage is.

The noise was caused by the pressure regulator valve between the street and the house starting to fail, causing the water to run at a higher pressure than intended. It’s a $350 repair, but cheaper than a new water heater. Cue the fail music for my above observation that the water pressure was unaffected. Apparently it was.

I’m told that the water arrives at the house at 150 PSI and is stepped down to 50 PSI internally. Now I want to overclock my house and try to get that awesome hotel shower water pressure…

Also, I’ve realized how redundant “hot water heater” is.

Thanks for all the help!

Hell yes. I’ll take some of that higher water pressure as well. This reminds me of the episode of Seinfeld with the “low flow shower heads.”

Thanks. This post helped me fix the same exact problem. It was the pressure reducing regulator. The brand was WATTS and Amazon had it for $254. Installed it in about a half hour.

Water pressure is always an issue for us, because we have a well and the entire system is not exactly new. It’s damn near impossible to get anyone to actually come out and inspect the whole thing and figure out what we could do better, though. Around here getting people to actually come out and take your money for contracting work is a chore.