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Thread: Old Water Heater - Good or Bad?

  1. #1
    DIY Junior Member Curtis336's Avatar
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    Default Old Water Heater - Good or Bad?

    I recently bought an old house and had to remove the water heater as I am re-plumbing the entire house (more on that later). When I drained the heater, it didn't drain well, because the drain valve kept clogging up with some sort of clear-ish gelatin globule type substance.

    I was a little disappointed because I had planned on using the hot water heater until I could to afford to replace it. It is an electric heater, fairly new looking. I think it might be ten or fifteen years old, and I think the house sat empty for over a year. Any ideas on what that stuff could be and if I should use the tank?

    The stuff looked like little globules of the stuff you might see on the inside of a baby diaper if you opened it up and took out the absorbent stuff after it got wet.

  2. #2
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer jadnashua's Avatar
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    We like to think the water we drink is totally pure and clean. It generally is, but after a year, the effects of the chlorine or anything else that may have been used to limit the growth of stuff would have been overwhelmed. There are some algae and bacteria that could produce slime. As to whether you can sanitize it to then use it, I'd guess yes, but don't know. You might call the manufacturer and see if they have any suggestions on how to sanitize it so you can then use it. Some of that may have gotten into the pipes. You could probably hook up a pump, and run some bleach through it and the pipes, but I'd talk to someone that may know how best to handle this..
    Jim DeBruycker
    Important note - I'm not a pro
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer; Schluter 2.5-day Workshop Completed 2013, 2014

  3. #3
    Journeyman & Gas Fitter Doherty Plumbing's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Curtis336 View Post
    I recently bought an old house and had to remove the water heater as I am re-plumbing the entire house (more on that later). When I drained the heater, it didn't drain well, because the drain valve kept clogging up with some sort of clear-ish gelatin globule type substance.

    I was a little disappointed because I had planned on using the hot water heater until I could to afford to replace it. It is an electric heater, fairly new looking. I think it might be ten or fifteen years old, and I think the house sat empty for over a year. Any ideas on what that stuff could be and if I should use the tank?

    The stuff looked like little globules of the stuff you might see on the inside of a baby diaper if you opened it up and took out the absorbent stuff after it got wet.
    I'm not sure what's in the tank however if it's 10-15 years old it's not "fairly new". I would replace it just because of it's age.

    Take all the aerators out of your faucets and flush out the hot water tank by opening up all the hot faucets. I'd even go as far as maybe to add some bleach to the HWT to help steralize anything that may of been growing in there.

    I hope this helps.

  4. #4
    Moderator & Master Plumber hj's Avatar
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    The stuff is probably an anode rod which has become gelatinized. Pull the rod, but do it as carefully as possible so you scrape as little of the gelatin into the heater as possible.

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