What causes your water heater to make loud rumbling noises?

What Causes Your Water Heater To Make Loud Rumbling Noises?

Loud noises coming from your hot water heater is obviously concerning. The good news is that it isn’t dangerous; it’s not going to blow up. But you do need to fix the problem so you can keep taking those hot showers we all enjoy, especially in the winter!

So what’s causing the noise and what should you do about it?

The most common culprit is that sediment has built up at the bottom of your water heater tank.

Where does the sediment in the tank come from?

It’s from the water itself. As water makes its way from rain falling on the ground, through waterways and into our water systems, it collects minerals (mostly calcium and magnesium.) Homes that have ‘hard’ water are particularly susceptible to mineral buildup.

What does this sediment do to your water heater?

As the sediment builds up in the tank you will began to hear a rumbling sound. As the amount of sediment increases, the noise increases.

The sediment sinks to the bottom of your tank where the heating element is. Water gets mixed in and trapped underneath the sediment. As your water heater’s burner heats that water, it creates steam bubbles that are forced to escape the sediment layers and that’s what causes the loud knocking or rumbling noise.

The sediment acts like insulation, reducing the heat transfer within the tank, so your water heater’s burner has to work harder. And working harder mean less efficiency and higher utility bills.

A bigger issue is that sediment buildup can overheat the water heater’s metal tank, causing it to deteriorate. It will only be a matter of time before the tank will rust and begin leaking or burst, causing possible water damage in your home.

So how is this water heater problem fixed?

Your hot water heater needs to be drained and the sediment flushed out. You can do it yourself or call a professional plumber. Draining your water heater is fairly straight forward but the process has number of steps that must be followed exactly to avoid damage.

We’re biased, of course, and suggest you let one of our licensed plumbers do it for you. While we’re there we can thoroughly inspect your water heater to make sure there are no other problems. An efficiently running water heater not only saves on utility bills but also prolongs the life of your water heater.

So if you don’t feel confident about doing it yourself or don’t have the time, just give us a call and we’ll be right over.

If you have any questions feel free to contact us at (804) 358-9333 or at jamesriverair.com. If you want to learn more about our Tankless Hot Water solution visit this link: Tankless Water Heaters.

A Look Back Into artoberVA


Let’s take a look back into our experience during artoberVA. What is artoberVA? Every October, CultureWorks presents events, exhibits, collaborations, and any arts or culture in the Richmond area for the entire month. If you love art, then the month of October in Richmond is a special month for you. As a company, we were able to participate in a couple of ways. The first thing we were able to do was hang an extraordinary piece painted by Matt Lively, who did an incredible job. This piece was purchased by our owner, Hugh Joyce, during an auction that benefited the Cure Alzheimer’s Fund. Drop by our office anytime to check it out. We would love to have you and maybe you can get a picture with the bow tie man himself, Hugh Joyce.

Lastly, we were able to collaborate with RVA Coffee Stain created by Doug Orleski. RVA Coffee Stain is a cartoon strip and blog that has been featured in Style Weekly, ABC 8 News’, and more. Doug has a tradition where he leaves random pieces of art around Richmond and post on his social media where they are located and if you find it you are able to keep it. We thought that was cool, so we partnered with him to leave 4 pieces at 4 different locations on October 14th, 2017. The art abandonment that day was a complete success. With the art pieces, we even threw in a couple of James River Air swag for the people who found the pieces. Congratulations to all the people who found the art abandonment’s!

We are excited for artoberVA next year. It’s good to come together to celebrate art and culture in Richmond. Thanks to Matt Lively and RVA Coffee Stain for celebrating artoberVA with us. Remember if you ever need James River Air we are hear for you!


Your HVAC system isn’t working? What the heck!

Temperatures soared to 100° – Your HVAC system isn’t working?  What the heck!

Last week, in the RVA, temperatures soared to almost 100°.  Most of us were cool and comfy in our homes and not terribly concerned with the extreme heat…it was outside and out of our minds.


During these high temperatures was your air conditioner performing well?  Was it able to keep up with temperatures close to 100° for five or six days consecutively?  If your answer is no, you’re probably asking yourself why!  Why are you paying a HVAC company to come out and check your equipment regularly?  Why did you just invest thousands of dollars to install a new HVAC unit only for it to disappoint you when you need it the most?  This can all be very frustrating for you!  We are here to tell you…the equipment is not the scoundrel in this story!

Let us explain.  In the RVA, your air conditioner is designed to run optimally when outdoor temperatures are as high as 95° and the indoor temperature is 75°.  Most of the summer, you will achieve the temperature you’ve set on the thermostat but when outdoor temperatures are above 90°, the system isn’t designed to lower the inside temperatures to 72-73°.  If the system installed at your house was designed to accommodate high temperatures for 10 -20 days a year, the system would be grossly oversized and would create a dreadful humidity problem in your home.

What’s the solution?  Insulation and sealing of your homes envelope is the best way to keep temperatures cool inside.  Keep the cold air in and the warm air out!

Contact us at (804) 358-9333 or www.jamesriverair.com for more information on how to keep the cold air in and the warm air out.

Behind The Scenes Of Our Latest Commercial Shoot

Hugh with dogs

Hugh Let The Dogs Out

We always have a blast working with the Richmond SPCA, but we especially have a good time when we can shoot a commercial showing off some of the best dogs and cats.

But what good is it when no one else knows? So we decided to give everyone an exclusive look behind the scenes of our latest fall promotion commercial shoot “Hugh Let The Dogs Out.”

watching video

Hugh and others viewing the recorded shot.

hugh with cat

On set recording with Richmond SPCA cat.

Director preparing for the shoot.

Director preparing for the shoot.

Getting ready for the shoot.

Getting ready for the shoot.



Say cheese!

Ted Linhart, Hugh Joyce, and The Official Mascot of the Richmond SPCA

Dogs ready for action.

Dogs ready for action.

Thank you, Richmond!

You helped us raise over $5,000 for the Richmond SPCA!

Last month, we ran a campaign on our Facebook page.  One like for James River Air = $1 donation to the Richmond SPCA.  Photos of artists’ work from the Plein Air Richmond event = $5 donation to the Richmond SPCA.

We were very happy with the results!  We received 4,885 new likes ($4,885) and there were 88 ($440) photos posted.  We rounded up our donation to $5,000 for the likes bringing the total raised to $5,440!

Thank you everyone for helping us support the Richmond SPCA and all the great work they do here in Richmond!


Dirty Sock Syndrome

dirty_sockIf you smell something when your A/C first starts up and / or when your heat pump goes into defrost…

From the Desk of Tom Pugh, Residential Service Manager

Dirty Sock Syndrome is a product of the environment.  Where you live can have a lot to do with whether or not you will have Dirty Sock; it is not the equipment’s fault.  That being said, we sometimes have clients experience Dirty Sock after installing a new unit.  They’ll tell us that they never smelled it with the old unit; it’s just since the new unit was installed.  They are correct!

The new evaporator coils are larger and run at a warmer temperature because of government mandates for higher SEER ratings.  This 2-3° difference has opened up a new can of worms.  It is estimated that up to 2% of all HVAC systems in North America have Dirty Sock Syndrome.

The cure is not always simple.  One way to eliminate the problem is to coat the coil with a sealant that will prevent the microbiological growth from adhering to the coil.  The sealant makes the coil slick.  Another way is to install indoor air quality accessories, like a UV light or bipolar ionization system.  These can come with a cost of $1,000-$2,000.

Bottom line:  the bacteria / microbiological growth is a nuisance for the homeowner, but can be treated.  Contact us today if you’re experiencing Dirty Sock Syndrome – we can help!

Whole-House Dehumidification Systems

One product we like to recommend to our clients is a whole-house dehumidification system.  When you’re looking at ways to increase your comfort during the humid summers in Richmond, one of these can make a huge difference.

A well-insulated, tightly-built home, while efficient, can trap moisture, causing a sticky feeling, window condensation, odors, and uncomfortable conditions.  A whole-house dehumidification system removes that moisture, and unlike a portable dehumidifier, it doesn’t require manual emptying.

While your air conditioner can bring your home’s temperature down to where you set it, it can’t always remove the humidity down to a comfortable level.  Without a dehumidifier, you might find your home is at your desired temperature, but you’re still uncomfortable!  On the other hand, with a dehumidifier, you may actually be able to turn your thermostat up and run your air conditioner less, saving on cooling bills, because the dehumidifier costs less to run than the air conditioner.

We install several major brands of dehumidifiers, including Honeywell and AprilAire.  They require little maintenance, usually just a filter change once per year.

Contact us today for more information!

We Still Have Golden Tickets!

Richmond-area homeowners:  Our Golden Ticket promotion is going until April 20th!  We still have plenty of Golden Tickets remaining.  We’ve had a lot of winners, but one of the $1 system tickets is still out there!

Call, contact us online, or stop by our office for a free ticket!


Snow & Your Home Heating System

Please remember to make sure snow doesn’t affect your home heating system’s operation!

  • Make sure your gas flue vents are free of snow.  High-efficiency furnaces use PVC exhaust piping which must be kept clear of snow.
  • Brush any ice off your outdoor heat pump units.  Never try to pick ice off with a sharp tool of any kind!

Give us a call if you have any other questions or would like to set up a service call!

Cold Weather Tips

Cold weather is here again, so it’s time again for us to give you a few tips on keeping your home safe and warm.


  1. In extreme conditions, leave your faucet dripping to guard against frozen pipes.
  2. Keep cabinet doors open in extreme cold so that warm air can circulate to the pipes.
  3. Turn the light on in the crawl space.
  4. Put a cover over any outdoor water spigots.


  1. Make sure your filter is clean.
  2. Don’t turn the thermostat up because it’s colder outside; leave it at the same temperature you normally have it set on.
  3. Get your unit(s) checked a minimum of once per year for proper, safe operation.
  4. Make sure your unit is clear of snow and ice.  Never try to remove ice from your unit with sharp objects or tools of any kind!

Need more tips?  Give us a call at (804) 358-9333 or send us an e-mail through our Contact Form!