hot water heater corroded nipple

The union that connects the copper pipe and the nipple that comes out of the heater for the hot water is corroded. I got a plumber here to replace it. He got here, turned off water, turned off electric, unscrewed the union and wow, I saw some scary stuff. Inside the union. It's black, looks like a pile of tar. I could not believe it. I was wondering if it could be sewage back flowing into the water heater, totally black yucky stuff. He looked at it and told me it's normal, just "stuff" from minerals in the water getting heated and turn into this. Is this normal? It looks scary to me, that stuff is in the water I take shower with? Could it be sewage blackflow?
MC
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miamicuse wrote:

He's right. Normal. Not sewage. The water in the heater is ideal for organic growth of all kinds. Molds thrive, some bacteria don't mind the high temps. Worse if you are on well water, not chlorinated, but happens on city water too.
Now the bad news. There IS a genuine threat from Legionnaires' disease in the home. Remember the cases some years back? If the bacteria exists INSIDE the water heater it will be carried off in an atomized spray by the shower head, perfect for inhaling into the lungs!!
Read this article carefully:
http://researchnews.osu.edu/archive/legion.htm
Then, do a GOOGLE search for: "water heater" legionnaires
Jim
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I don't know if it's inside the water heater or not. This is something that was on the inside of the connection where the hot water comes out of the heater, so it is travelling along with the hot water, and when I looked closer to a section of copper pipe he cut out from the hot water supply line, it's sort of greasy and brown.
MC

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miamicuse wrote:

While you didn't say it, I bet the nipples (and maybe the union) were steel.
What you see there is soft corrosion products (rust) which cngegates there because of galvanic corrosion from to the juncture of dissimilar metals. If you run copper, including a copper union, all the way to the tank you won't get that stuff there.
The page from Rheem explains it:
http://www.rheem.com/includes/resourceLibraryPDF/1221.pdf
Jeff
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Jeffry Wisnia

(W1BSV + Brass Rat \'57 EE)
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I've had this problem over the years -- corrosion at or next to the pipe nipples. With steel nipples and copper piping the nipple corrodes like mad in our softened hard water. With copper nipples, corrosion occurs on the tank next to the nipple. Recently, plastic lined steel nipples have become available for this connection. I got mine at Lowe's after reading about them somewhere. I'm very hopeful that this will solve a pesky problem.
SJF
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Listen to the man, it is just normal "stuff" found in water every day. Minerals, corrosion, NOT sewage.
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NAW

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