How to Replace a Water Heater Dip Tube


Is your hot water not so hot anymore? Are your showers more lukewarm than comfortably warm? The problem might not be as complex as you might think; the culprit could be a broken dip tube in your water heater.

The dip tube, connected to the cold water inlet, sits within your water heater's tank and plays a crucial role in ensuring you get hot water when you need it. It keeps the cold and hot water separate within the tank, channeling the cold water to the bottom where it is heated. The hot water, being less dense, rises to the top, ready to be drawn when you turn on a hot tap. If the dip tube is damaged or broken, the cold water might mix with the hot water at the top, leading to an output of lukewarm water. If you've started experiencing such a situation, your dip tube is most likely the problem.

But worry not, replacing a dip tube isn't a massive task and can be done following some simple steps. We'll guide you through the process of removing the faulty dip tube and installing a new one.

Getting Ready for the Dip Tube Replacement

First things first, before starting any repair work, you must ensure safety. That means turning off the power supply to your water heater.

For a gas water heater, locate the thermostat on the tank's lower side, which controls the temperature. Switch the setting to "Pilot," which will effectively turn the main burner off.

For an electric water heater, locate the breaker panel in your home and switch off the breaker connected to the water heater.

Next, you'll need to turn off the cold water supply to the water heater. Look at the top of the water heater, where you'll find two pipelines. One of these pipelines should have a valve. Turn this valve such that it's perpendicular to the pipeline, effectively shutting off the cold water supply. If you can't locate this valve, you might need to turn off the main valve. Follow the pipeline entering your home to find this valve and turn it perpendicular to the pipeline.

Draining the Tank

With the cold water supply shut off, you'll need to drain some water from the tank. This step is crucial to prevent any water spillage when removing the dip tube. Open a hot water faucet in your home and let about 5 to 10 liters of water drain out.

Now, you're ready to install your new dip tube.

Dip Tube Removal

Head over to the cold water inlet located at the top of your tank. Unscrew the cold water inlet and set it aside to expose the dip tube's head. Next, unscrew the nipple, which is the threaded end that's been holding the dip tube in place, and remove the dip tube.

Inspect the removed tube. If it doesn't appear broken or clogged, your lukewarm water problem might be stemming from another issue.

Installing the New Dip Tube

Before installing the new dip tube, wrap its threads with Teflon tape in a clockwise direction. Doing so helps ensure a tight, leak-proof fit. Wrap it about three times for good measure.

Once prepared, place the new dip tube back into the tank. Start by hand-tightening it to avoid any cross-threading and then use a wrench for the final tightening. Remember, over-tightening can damage the threads, so be cautious.

After the dip tube is secure, reattach the copper cold water supply pipe to the dip tube and tighten the connection.

Restarting the Water Heater

Turn the cold water supply back on and let the tank refill. As it fills, check the inlet connection for any leaks by running your finger around the connection.

Finally, turn the thermostat back to your preferred setting.

With that, you've successfully replaced your water heater's dip tube, and you should be back to enjoying hot showers. Always remember, if you ever feel uncertain or uncomfortable performing these steps, it's best to call a professional plumber.