3.5 years ago I bought a 12 year rated 50 gallon GE heater, made by Rheem. Yesterday went to flush it and change the anode rod, with a new “R-series” 44″ anode rod from Rheem, that is supposed to do better in soft water.
When I pulled the old rod it was almost still fully intact after 3.5 years in salty soft water, so I recognized the symptoms of a passivated rod, but what got me is that the rod was coated with a thick brown greasy scum. Really gross. Underneath that was a white calcified layer over the magnesium.
So, I flushed the tank out (someone should invent a brass outflow valve that will emit more than a thin stream of water, so you could really get a heavy outflow!) Got some rusty looking brown water in the first few gallons, and then it ran clean for the most part, except for occasional flakes of this brown scummy stuff, which may have scraped off the rod when I was pulling it out, not sure.
I ran it clear for another 5 gallons, replaced the rod and it all looks good. I called Rheem, and they confirmed that the standard rod was magnesium, and told me I had a “water condition that wasn’t covered by the warranty.” I’m not looking for a warranty claim, I just want to make sure that the brown scum isn’t all over the inside of the tank, stuck there?
Rheem said I should “fix the water condition, and chlorine flush the tank.” OK, but I’ve been using the same soft water at the same PH for 20 years. Just the particular anode rod seemed to mind. Hopefully the new R-series rod will corrode normally.
What bugs me is I’ve had straight soft water eating away at my nice 12 year tank for 3.5 years now, with evidently no protection from this gummy passivated rod!? By the way, the female threads in the tank were also oozing this stuff, and sticking my fingers inside I could feel the same stuff on the first inch of the top of the tank around the hole. Not sure how much is covered with it though.
So, have any of you ever seen this kind of brown scum? Is it on the inside of the tank do you think, despite the clear outflow? Should I flush with chlorine even tho there’s no odor to the outflow water? Hopefully the new “R” type rod will not have this issue, but guess I will pull it in 6 months and hope to see some normal erosion to the rod.
In the meantime the water temp was at the low end to save energy, so I increased the temp a bit, and hopefully the new rod / hotter tempo combo will fix things.
Honestly, if the rod were just white and passive I wouldn’t be writing, but that brown sludge on the rod was thick and messy and got me wondering.
It sounds like you have iron oxide bacteria. GOOGLE for relevant information. Are you on a well or municipal?
Do you have a gas WH where it is easier to adjust thermostat temperatures? The 140 degree setting will help control/kill legionella bacteria. But water temp to fixtures has the be reduced to 120 degrees.
If it is iron bacteria, the initial treatment should be chlorine (1 GAL) in the WH and let sit (power off) for 24-48 hours. You would then want to sanitize the distribution system.
The WH (and house system) needs to be thoroughly flushed after the chlorine treatment. The stuff is not good for you.
You would then figure out a maintenance plan and H2O2 is one of those.