What is this?

The water heater on my inspection last night had this clear gel substance all over the control valve. The water heater was leaking inside the burn chamber and also was not operating. Any idea of what the gel like substance is? My thought is corrosion but from where?

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Good call I to would be concerned .
I wonder could it be a DC voltage generated in the thermocouple ?
is there any chemicals close chlorine ,ammonia or animal urine?
could it be from dissimilar metals?
Possible strange voltage getting into the system from another source ?
Please keep us posted .
I will give this more thoughts
Roy Cooke Sr

Added .
could it be damp and an incorrect flame back drafting
causing an acid to form on the white metal ?

I wish it would have been running. I would have been curious of its operation.
Everything was on and the house had been vacant for about 6 months. I’m thinking that the pilot was put out by a leaking tank.

If you look at the thermostat controls again you will notice the Pilot light control knob on top is in the OFF position. Once a tank starts to leak the WH needs to be replaced. Anything else is secondary. I would probably write there is an unknown substance covering the thermostat, point out the leaking tank and leave it at that. Without a lab analysis of the substance you are just guessing. For all you know the previous homeowners kid could have smeared K-Y jelly on the controls.

It’s in the on position.

I of course recommended the WH be replaced. I am just curious as to what might have caused this.

K-Y jelley… LOL that’s great:D

There ain’t noooo telling what that is. You probably don’t really want to know. I sometimes have to scald my hands when I get out of the house and on the way home. I carry a bottle of hand sanitizer just in case I forget and scratch my nose or something. Some folks are just nasty!

Same with me Doug!

My guess is it was corroding and somebody put petroleum Jelly or antirust jelly on it to stop/slow it down.