Bad Water Heater Noise?

I'm doing laundry, washing a load with hot water. I just noticed that, while the water is running to fill the washer, there are noises coming from the water heater. It sounds a little like when you throw your tennis shoes in the dryer: that bumping sound they make.
Is this a bad noise? Can anyone tell me what's causing it?
The water heater is about eight years old. I have very hard water and have never "drained" the water heater.
Thanks for any help.
--
8^)~ Sue (remove the x to email)
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Suzie-Q wrote:

I would drain it.
You probably have a lot of scale on the heating elements (assuming it's electric). Draining it might or might not help, but it won't hurt.
If it has a plastic drain valve, buy a metal replacement before you start the project. The plastic ones have a habit of breaking on the first use.
If draining doesn't help, live with the noise until you start seeing signs of impending failure, then replace it.
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Steve Bell
New Life Home Improvement
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if you attempt draining know that valve will likely leak, and if you do get it open probably never close leak free again.
besides the small passages wouldnt allow crud to drain.
buy a ball valve, and just replace it.
but with a old tank it will likely cause a leak either short or long term and the sediment decreases efficency.........
i would just leave it be and nose around or a new tank. although you dont need to buy today
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wrote:

Mine has made noises like that for years. It doesn't seem to hurt anything, except maybe efficiency.
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wrote:

I would not drain the water heater, now. I had a heater about 7 years old and decided to drain it. A month or so later the tank failed and flooded the garage floor. If you flush the tank routinely from the day of install would be best, but not this late in use.
The tips on replacing the stock drain pipe on a new unit is smart. Metal pipe and ball valve.
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