In a typical water heater tank setup you have a dip tube that transfer your main cold water from the top of the water heater tank to the base of the tank, this process insures you have a fast circulation and heating of the water when warmed at an equal form. The dip tube will eventually need to be replaced and this can be done by your self and will extend the life cycle of your water heater tank. dip tubes usually retail from $5-$25 from your local hardware store depending on size make and model if your water heater is under warranty then you may be able to get one under your warranty .
Where do you find your water heater dip tube? home water tank-type heaters which can either be gas or electric types are made up of two plumbing lines incoming and outgoing pipes. The incoming line inside the heater is the dip tube (also known as the dt tube) or the cold water inlet extension which consists of a plastic tube and the metal head. It goes from the top of the heater to several inches from the bottom of the tank. The purpose of the dip tube is to deposit cold water to the coming in to the tank to where it is heated. Heated water then rises to the top where it exits the tank through the hot water outlet.
Test! Do you need a Dip Tube Replacement?
What do you need to look for? Gas and water heater manufactures from the 1993-1997 where typically installed with defective dip tubes. Find your water heater serial number the first 4 numbers indicate the month/year when it was manufactured usually at the back of the tank. In the event that you see a decline in water pressure or at most serious instances plastic particles in your water, you will need a replacement of your dip tube this is an easy process and it is usually an inexpensive part to replace and fix your self.
Test your water pressure by attaching a water house to your tank drain valve and open the valve. Water will come out hot and then cool quite fast this is a simple indication that your dip tube is working.
Safety Before you start
- Turn off the gas / power units.
- For electric units, turn off the electrical switch in your electric board.
- For gas units, find the dial and swing it to either the “Off” or “Vacation” position.
Turn off the cold water inlet valve on top of the water heater I always close off water at the meter or pump to be extra safe.
Maintenance and How to replace gas and electric water heater check list
We cover this in extensive detail draining the tank is also a simple process it involves some simple tools follow the process here.
- Cut the power
- Turn cold water valve off
- Open Pressure Relief Valve
- Drain water tank
- Remove the dip tube
- Replace the water heater dip tube
Replacement of Damaged Water Heater Dip Tube
#1: Cut the power to the hot water heater
Ensure that the power is off before performing any maintenance work on your dip tube water heater. For electric water heater, check the breaker at your circuit breaker panel that connects to your water heater and turn it off. If you have a gas water breaker, locate the “on/off” dial on your water breaker and turn it off.
#2: Turn the cold water inlet valve off
Shut off the cold water supply to the water heater before performing dip tube replacement. The cold water shut off valve is usually found just above the water heater.
#3: Drain a few gallons of water from the tank
Clear any remaining water from the hot water pipes that are above the level of the top of the tank. This is done by draining a few gallons of water from the tank through the drain valve you can read more information on how to do this here.
#4: Disconnect the cold-water supply line at the top of the water heater
To remove the internal dip tube from your water heater, cut the pipe between the cold water shut-off valve and the water heater. Tighten the tubing cutter around the pipe and rotate until it is completely cut. Some water may come out after you have cut the pipe, although it may not be much.
#5: Remove the Dip Tube
At the top of your water heater you will see your dip tube it will typically have a pipe nipple remove the connector and then you can begin the loosen the nipple counterclockwise with a wench. The dip tube is connected to the nipple be care-full when removing as you could have a broken dip-tube.
Using a pipe wrench, remove the remaining pipe from the dip tube followed by the dip tube itself. If you find your dip tube in good condition, then it may be affected by other problems. However, if it is heavily corroded and there are missing chunks due to disintegration, then it is likely that you need to replace the dip tube.
#6: Replace and Install the New Dip Tube
With your new dip tube Wrap the threads with plumber’s tape or with pipe joint compound this will seal the threads and prevent leaks. Insert the dip tube all the way into the tank insuring the tube is flush with the top of your tank and then reconnect your pipes with a wrench.
#7: Refill the tank
disconnect your hose and close the drain valve , begin to turn the pressure relief valve counterclockwise to close it then turn on all your hot water taps and you can then open the inlet pipe valve . you need to refill the water heater tank back with water so open your cold pipe valve for this to allow the water back into the tank. one you have left your water taps open for 3 mins you can begin to close them this will remove any air and water in the system. after a successful flush you can turn back the power to your tank and at your mains.
Replacing the hot water heater dip tube is something that anyone can do and can help you save time and money. All you need are the right tools and the knowledge to do it feel free to comment on any problems you may have while replacing your water heater dip tube.