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Black on outside of hot water tank

The outside of my hot water tank is black above the opening to the pilot light. I have cleaned it off, but the black soot keeps on returning. How can I fix this and what is causing it?

Re: Black on outside of hot water tank

If it has any age on it it may be time for a new one the soot is from flame role out-you could have blocked flue or poorly vented flue-or you could have a bad valve or misadjusted gas pressure.
If it new it may be set up for LP but you may have natural gas or vise versa
If it is 10-15 years old it might be safer and more to your advantage to scrap it

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