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What's this slime in the water heater?

38669227's picture

I do handywork/maintainence on some rural property in N.CA. and was working on a plumbing leak in the guest cottage. I decided to drain off the water heater since it probably hadn't been done in quite a while. What came out, in fits and starts, was gallon after gallon of this weird whitish slime. It looked like that Shout stain remover (actually, it looked like something else, but isn't this a family oriented forum?) and it didn't smell at all. It's a compact electric about thirty gallons, and it's supplied by well water that's a little hard. The client doesn't use the appliance continuously and shuts it off at the panel when there are no guests. I would say that it's on about 15 of every thirty days.
Has anyone seen this? Can it pose a health problem?

(post #82551, reply #1 of 13)

It's probably just lime sludge.


What is wanted is not the will to believe, but the will to find out, which is the exact opposite. --Bertrand Russell


Of all the preposterous assumptions of humanity over humanity, nothing exceeds most of the criticisms made on the habits of the poor by the well-housed, well-warmed, and well-fed.  --Herman Melville

(post #82551, reply #2 of 13)

Every water heater has a sacrificial anode that degrades so that the water heater doesn't rust as much or as quickly. These are made of Mg (magnesium) and some are aluminum. When they "RUST" they form gelatinous precipitates that settle to the bottom of the water heater and because the water heater wasn't maintained by periodically draining the ppt. builds up. Drain the heater several times and replace the anode, if you can get it out.

The magnesium reacts with the calcium in your water to form Mg(OH)2 which precipitates as a whitish gelatinous, SNOT-lIKE goop! Same with aluminum but only more so.


Edited 5/23/2008 4:20 pm by woodway

(post #82551, reply #3 of 13)

Thanks! I'm not sure if I can get that anode out but I'll give it a try. I just looked up Peter Hemp's FHB article on the subject. Now, where the heck do you get a torque mutiplier wrench?

(post #82551, reply #4 of 13)

Yes, I read the same thing and never heard of it. Physics tells me torque is torque, moment arm and force applied, simple and straight forward and no gizmo attached to the nut will change that. You could slip a pipe over the wrench but that's too simple.

Make sure you have a new magnesium anode and is the tank already too far gone to help.

(post #82551, reply #5 of 13)

Will do. Thanks again!

(post #82551, reply #7 of 13)

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http://www.newmantools.com/morton/x4.htm
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A-holes. Hey every group has to have one. And I have been elected to be the one. I should make that my tagline.


Edited 5/23/2008 9:49 pm by BillHartmann

. William the Geezer, the sequel to Billy the Kid - Shoe

(post #82551, reply #8 of 13)

Cool, the old gear reduction. Makes sense now! I reviewed P Hemp's article and that is indeed what he used. Now see what you've done, I've got to go out a buy one even though I don't need it.

(post #82551, reply #9 of 13)

I'd use an impact wrench.


What is wanted is not the will to believe, but the will to find out, which is the exact opposite. --Bertrand Russell


Of all the preposterous assumptions of humanity over humanity, nothing exceeds most of the criticisms made on the habits of the poor by the well-housed, well-warmed, and well-fed.  --Herman Melville

(post #82551, reply #10 of 13)

So far I've been only able to find one multiplier wrench for less than 200.00. It's on E-bay and is used to pull lug nuts off rvs. It looks cheap and is at 40.00. Hey, let me know if you guys find something more reasonably priced.

(post #82551, reply #11 of 13)

If that anode is that difficult to remove and you found a lot of precipitate in the bottom of the water heater, it might be easier just to buy a new one now and just maintain it on a more regular basis, going forward. For $200 you could just about buy a new water heater, which is probably where you should be headed.

(post #82551, reply #12 of 13)

Most mechanics that work for companies that service BIG equipment have them on their trucks. For a one-time use, think about who you know, neighbor, etc. that drives a service truck for Caterpillar, John Deere, etc. Rental yard might just have one, too.

Greg

(post #82551, reply #6 of 13)

before you go and put a wrench onto the tank and PULL! make sure the tank is actually attached to something (bolted to the floor,temporarily strapped to a wall, etc.). Most tanks are kept in place solely by the supply pipes. One good yank on the wrench may compromise the fittings and/or twist the pipes further down the line.

toolman65

(post #82551, reply #13 of 13)

38,


That light colored "slime" might have come from your water well....


If you've had a new one drilled since you install the water heater, it's the clay-stuff that came from the drilling foam and drilling debris.  It can be a bear to get out of the drain faucet and is complicated by the use of a long garden hose that slows down the drain-off.


Maybe one way to check is to lift the top lid off your commode's water tank.  Run your hand passed the float and rub your fingers on the bottom of the water tank (not the toilet bowl ;>).  If there is the same stuff on the bottom, then it's that fine sediment from your well or water source that just gathers after time passes.


  Bill