Gel and Brown colored water

The Tank Gel and Brown colored water

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    Recently, when I had the pressure relief valve and drain spigot replaced on my 8 year old gas fired water heater.

    When replacing the spigot, the technician pointed out some globby gel that spattered onto the floor from the tank. He mentioned that this is most likely caused by an Aluminum Anode Rod used with very hard and softened water. He recommended that I replace the Anode Rod with a Magnesium rod and have the Tank flushed.

    I live in a city, which pulls water from a well. The water hardness is ~24, and is softened using a Kenmore automatic softener.

    My original rod was crumbling about 8 inches down from the top. Three years ago, I replaced the original with a rod from HomeDepot. There was only one option. The other home improvement stores in the area do not carry an Anode Rod. I did not know that there was a choice ot make.

    Last weekend, I pulled the Anode Rod to inspect it and to perform a tank drain to get rid of the gel. In doing do, I noticed that in addition to the gel, the water was running out with a brown tint.

    As a reference, I have drained a few gallons from the spigot valve every 6 months for the life of my 8 year old tank. However, the tank has never had a full tank and hot water pipe drain, before last weekend.

    My questions are: 1) Is the gel substance due to my water and the aluminum rod? 2) Should I replace this rod with another metal, possibly magnesium? 3) Is the brown tinted hot water an indication of something severe, or normal age?
    4) Is it critical that I should flush the water heater of the gel substance?

    Thanks much!

    Larry Weingarten

    Hello: You’re getting some good advice from your plumber 🙂 And, if you’re talking grains of hardness, you’ve got some hard water at about 430 parts per million! The gel is almost certainly from the aluminum anode. The brown tint is uncertain, but could be from various sources including steel pipe, iron bacteria, rusting tank, even flushing copper pipe can give brown water. Flushing is a good idea as it will help keep the tank quiet and you really don’t need/want aluminum in your water. Magnesium is good. I’ll add that the softener should be set to leave 60 to 120 parts per million (PPM) of calcium hardness in the water. Softening more than that can damage plumbing and greatly speed anode consumption.

    Yours, Larry


    I just ordered up a Magnesium rod from your site.

    Thanks for the quick response and confirmation!


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