water heater gelatin


First time poster here. I'm fairly adept at doing my own home repairs but this one has me stumped. I searched the google archives and found nothing on this one.
My mother found some clear gelatin on the inside of her electric water heater when she pulled the elements to clean the scale from them. I've never seen anything like this and can't find the magic combination of keywords for google to help.
The specifics are: Very hard well water. 125 degree temp setting. No hydrogen sulphide smell. The gelatin is colorless and will easily rinse off with cold water. The heater is about 2 years old. Piping from the well to the heater is PVC.
Does anybody know what this stuff is? Is it unhealthy? What do we need to do to prevent this stuff from forming? I'm assuming that a sufficient build up will cause the elements to burn out.
Thanks in advance. Oscar
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Resident wrote:

depending on what type of water heater you have. Some have silica gel bands in them, which over time deteriorates and starts leaking. Sounds like the hard well water could have eaten away at the gel band. I'm not an expert at this, this is mostly from listening to my hubby and buddies talking about water heaters. If it were me, i would replace the heater.
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Pat wrote:

When I flushed it the water came out like gray Jello. These were made ' 93-'95 This pdf from A. O. Smith says the gel could be Aluminum Hydroxide caused by hard water reacting with the aluminum anode: http://www.hotwater.com/lit/training/tc049r2.pdf "In a few isolated parts of the United States where the water supply has a relatively high pH (8+), water conditions will react with the aluminum anode to form excessive amounts of aluminum hydroxide on the anode and in the bottom of the tank. Aluminum hydroxide looks like "jelly beads" or a green, blue or gray gel like substance in the heater drain or at faucet aerators." It goes on to detail how to correct the problem. Hmm learned something here! Richard
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The original poster and I found a clear jelly on the element. I assumed it was caused by the local water not the tank and ignored it. This was located in Grand Ronde, Oregon and was the only instance that I have done work on their water system.
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Our case is in Prescott Valley AZ and the jelly is on the bung of the heating element and inside of the tank, not the actual heating element itself. Oscar

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