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#75089 - 05/01/04 07:16 PM White jelly like slime drained from water heater
Anonymous
Unregistered


I've been searching the web for hours trying to find out what the white jelly like substance is that washed out of my hot water heater when I drained it yesterday. I've seen it once before at somebody elses house and it was so bad it clogged up the garden house we were draining it through. It looks kind of like fish eggs or something as it is tons of tiny jellyish balls about 1/8 inch round that are easily squished into slime. I can't help but think it has something to do with the water heater as I have only had this water heater for about a year. My previous heater drained clear when I removed it a year ago--it had sprung a leak. The old heater was here when I got here and I've been here 10 years and it was clear.

On the internet I couldn't find much on white slime or jelly just on scale--it isn't scale. There is also NO odor. It settles to the bottom of the tank, it does not float, and therefore is never pulled into the faucets. I had the well tested in 1999 and it shows Calcium and Magnesium are in it but nothing else they test for showed up in measurable quanties. I do get hard water spots but I can live with that. The jelly is just disqusting to think of being in my water heater especially not knowing what it is. I finally found a post here from Nestor_Kelebay dated December 2003 where he mentioned jelly vs. scale but that guy's problem was scale.

Can someone fill me in on the jelly issue?


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#75090 - 05/01/04 09:23 PM Re: White jelly like slime drained from water heater
kframe19 Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 03/05/03
Posts: 8537
Loc: Virginia
It is pre-scale. It's minerals that have precipitated out of the water in the heater.

I helped a friend replace his water heater today, as a matter of fact, and we could barely get it to drain because it was so loaded with scale and pre-scale.
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#75091 - 05/02/04 09:12 AM Re: White jelly like slime drained from water heater
Gary_Slusser Offline
Handyman

Registered: 03/15/04
Posts: 729
Loc: Wherever I park the motorhome
I'm going to have to disagree. IMO this being per-scale is impossible. Hardness scale is rock; dissolved lime or sand stone that comes out of solution as the water is heated. Other scale is from sulfates, chlorides or from high TDS (total dissolved solids) found in the water.

There are slime forming bacteria, algae and other life forms found in water which is my guess. I suggest inspecting the toilet tank(s). Check the tank, not bowl, water surface from various angles and light source angles for an oily film. Then flush the toilet and wipe the palm of your hand on the sides of the tank from the water line down looking for slimy snotty not just slippery. It can be clear to an organish rusty brown color. My guess is that it's IRB (iron [manganese maybe] reducing or other bacteria). Over time slime forming bacteria can cause hard encrustations but usualy in a well. I've not heard of that ocurring in a water heater and I pay close attention to these things.

If I'm right, and easy fix is to raise the temp on the heater to 140f for a few days and then check for the slime. Bacteria found in water heaters can not survive that.

Anyone that would like information on well rehab and/or ground water quality issues, roam around this site for awhile;
http://www.groundwatersystems.com/#TARGET%201

Gary
Quality Water Associates
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Gary Slusser 22 yrs in water treatment and well pumps, 13 yrs helping people on the 'net.

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#75092 - 05/02/04 10:55 AM Re: White jelly like slime drained from water heater
kframe19 Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 03/05/03
Posts: 8537
Loc: Virginia
"pre-scale" is a non-scientific term to the max degree.

If you've got dissolved sandstone (quartizte) in your water, it's probably undrinkable, or even deadly. Sand doesn't dissolve in water, only some extremely agressive acids like hydrofluoric. If it's a conglomerate sandstone the surrounding matrix may dissolve in water.

As you note, when water is heated, dissolved minerals precipitate out and head for the bottom of the tank. Here's an ugly, ugly fact about most water heaters... They have a "dead" layer on the bottom about 1/3rd of the tank that never fully flushes out. Once those minerals fall to the bottom of the tank, they rarely make it out through the plumbing system.

I'm going to stick with my guess that this is just a soup of precipitate minerals that hasn't had a chance to form hard scale yet.
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#75093 - 05/02/04 05:50 PM Re: White jelly like slime drained from water heater
Anonymous
Unregistered


I'm aware of slime forming bacteria and all I see on the internet about that calls it brown or blackish. It isn't that. There is no slime in the toilet tank and I do not experience any staining of fixtures.

Pre-scale is possible but it just doesn't seem quite right. I should have noted it is an electric water heater. My understanding of scale is it forms on the elements of electric heaters and flakes off to settle at the bottom.

How do we explain my old hot water heater didn't have any of this in it when I replaced it?



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#75094 - 05/02/04 07:02 PM Re: White jelly like slime drained from water heater
kframe19 Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 03/05/03
Posts: 8537
Loc: Virginia
Could be that your old water heater did a better job at flushing out, but that's just a guess.

The water heater I helped replace yesterday (gas) exhibited all of the same symptoms that you described, yet with absolutely no odor, and no indication of anything in the toilet tanks, etc.
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#75095 - 05/03/04 07:41 AM Re: White jelly like slime drained from water heater
Gary_Slusser Offline
Handyman

Registered: 03/15/04
Posts: 729
Loc: Wherever I park the motorhome
Of course my comment was directed only to the calcium and magnesium hardness minerals causing the scale, not the actual sand stone.

Gary
Quality Water Associates
_________________________
Gary Slusser 22 yrs in water treatment and well pumps, 13 yrs helping people on the 'net.

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#75096 - 05/03/04 08:09 AM Re: White jelly like slime drained from water heater
Gary_Slusser Offline
Handyman

Registered: 03/15/04
Posts: 729
Loc: Wherever I park the motorhome
I've been in the water treatment industry for a long time and I've never heard of "pre-scale" in a water heater so forgive me but I don't beleive it exists. Especially when talking about scale formation that would be made up of or by anything other than bacteria/algae etc. caused encrustations.

Calcium, magnesium, chloride or sulfate scale is a variation of hard and as far as I know scale caused by them doesn't start as a soft clear gel like substance. But I don't know everything.

One thing I do know though is that an electric water heater forms scale on the heating elements. If the scale doesn't stay on the elements, it falls off as hard 'C' shaped pieces caused by expansion/contraction of the elements and they collect on the bottom to the tank. Another thing I know is that bacteria and other life forms form gel like and other clear to colored coatings and biomasses. Also, water quality varies from time to time and this problem may have nothing to do with the new heater but... the new heater will have an intact anode rod while the old one probably didn't. Certain bacteria react with the various types of materials the rods are made of. Aluminium is being used today to replace magnesium to help reduce odor caused by (SRB, IRB and MRB) bacteria that thrive in water heaters; especially electric water heaters. The main cuprit is sulfate reducing bacteria they use the magnesium to produce H2S. If I haven't suggested raising the temp of the heater to 140f already, do so and see what effect if any that has on this material.

Check out www.waterheaterrescue.com and see if you find anything on this "pre-scale" subject. I was there a few weeks ago concerning the AL anode rod change and didn't look for it but didn't see it mentioned either. I've been on that site numerous times over 7+ years and have never heard of pre-scale... maybe that's a local phenom?

Gary
Quality Water Associates
_________________________
Gary Slusser 22 yrs in water treatment and well pumps, 13 yrs helping people on the 'net.

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#75097 - 05/03/04 10:16 AM Re: White jelly like slime drained from water heater
kframe19 Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 03/05/03
Posts: 8537
Loc: Virginia
Again, my use of the term "pre-scale" means ONLY the enriched "mineral soup" that collects in the bottom of a water heater as minerals precipitate out of the water column.

It's not a scientific term. It's not even a term that I've seen used elsewhere. It's MY construct, again used to describe the mineral soup.

Some of that crud will eventually coalasce (sp?) into calcium deposits on the elements, sides, and bottom of the tank, in much the same way that lime beds are formed on the ocean floor.

Lime beds in deep water environments can exhibit a jelly like consistency. Whether or not that's the case with the mineral soup in the bottom of water heater, I don't know for certain.

And yes, I'll be the first to admit that bacteria could be the cause.
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THAT'S RACIST!

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#75098 - 05/03/04 11:06 AM Re: White jelly like slime drained from water heater
Anonymous
Unregistered


I called the number for my water heater today 1-877-817-6750. The lady didn't even hesitate when answering the question. She said it was a result of the minerals in the water reacting with the aluminum anode rod. Just to verify I described the substance again and told her my old heater (10+ years old) didn't have any and she said yes. She confirmed that was what she was refering to and said that my old heater probably didn't have an anode rod or it had deteriorated away years ago. No mention was made of bacteria. As mentioned I don't see any of the other signs commonly associated with bacteria either, so I guess it isn't bacteria.

Anyway she said all that is required is draining it once a year to flush that stuff out and that it isn't harmful.

I understand what KFrame19 is talking about pre-scale. While it isn't a term used in the business I know what he is refering to. I'd say that this jelly is kind of a mineral/aluminum soup. I will not go so far as to say it is in the process of becomming scale--I will not say it isn't either but I saw no hard scale chips. Perhaps it remains jelly at the bottom of the tank just waiting for someone to discover how good it tasts with peanut butter? Don't think I'll be trying that though--looks to disgusting.

Oh yea, it has no odor and if left in a tin in the sun it dries to white crystals that when touched turn to powder.

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