My water heater is 4 1/2 years old. I recently started hearing strange noises. There is some banging and popping. I’m wondering if this can be caused by sediment buildup. Is this an accurate assessment?
I was thinking about completely draining the tank. But I’ve been told if you’ve never opened the drain valve (which I haven’t), don’t do it, because it will begin to leak? Is this true?
You did not state whether the heater is gas or electric, so we will have to guess. It is a gas water heater. When water is trapped inside of dirt near the central heating tube, the water turns into steam inside the dirt and the steam pressure forces the steam out into the water where it collapses. When water collapses it is like steel rods hitting each other – very noisy.
If the dirt is piled so high that it covers the drain hole, big bits of dirt are likely to move between the valve parts causing a drip after flushing. But the tank must be cleaned to continue to be used. Dirt will allow the metal to fail from excessive heat. That can be very dangerous. So try to flush the water heater. If it drips, you will be safer while you arrange for a water heater replacement.