How to Install a New Water Heater Dip Tube

Install a New Water Heater Dip Tube

If your hot shower abruptly became icy cold this morning, then you probably have a defective water heater dip tube. The good news is, a broken dip tube needs only a simple fix.

What is the dip tube? This is a plastic pipe that goes straight down from the cold-water inlet and stops a few inches shy of the bottom of the water tank. This pipe is responsible for dumping the cold water where it can get heated up—at the tank bottom. If a crack develops in the dip tube, however, then the cold water will get released early, cooling the hot water that collects at the top of the tank.


How to Know if a New Dip Tube is Needed 

Needing a new dip tube that delivers incoming cold water to the bottom of the tank instead of mixing in with the hot water at the top of the tank is one of the most common water heater tank problems, and should be checked when troubleshooting a hot water heater issue. Checking the circuit breaker, checking for excess sediment, leaking drain valve, or anode rod issues are all part of troubleshooting your gas water heater or electric water heater.

A few signs that you need a new dip tube are:

  • If you have a sudden loss of hot water
  • You have to add more and more hot water as your shower or bath continues
  • You have to adjust the thermostat on the heating element to go as high as it can go
  • You get lukewarm water temperature whenever you try to  get hot water out of the faucet


Replacing the Water Heater Dip Tube

Dip tube replacement can be a do it yourself (DIY) project, however if terms like hot water supply, pex pipe, inlet nipple or pilot light make you cringe, then you may want to contact the professional plumbers at A-1 Sewer & Septic to look at your gas water heater or electric water heater.

There are a few tools you’ll need before you get started, including a pipe wrench, plastic tube, new dip tube, teflon tape, pipe connectors or pex connectors depending on what your setup looks like. Step by step instructions will vary based on the kind of system you have, but here are some general tips on the process.

  • Turn off the water heater’s power, typically at the circuit breaker
  • Shut off the cold-water inlet valve to stop water pressure going to the water heater, turn on a faucet and run the hot water side
  • You may want to use a garden hose or a a bucket and partially drain the tank so the water level goes below the connections at the top of the tank, through the drain valve
  • With a wrench, detach the cold-water supply line (found on the top of the water heater)
  • Take out the nipple to access the dip tube (the nipple is a stub of threaded pipe)
  • Take out the dip tube (Put a screwdriver at an angle to pry the dip tube out)
  • Slip your new dip tube through the opening

Then all you need to do is put the nipple and supply line back in place, and switch the water and power back on. Presto! Your hot water should be ready to go.

The peace of mind that comes from using a professional plumbing service to repair your water heater is huge, and knowing that the work was done in a way that is the most safe for you and your family lets you rest easy at night. 

If the problem wasn’t the dip tube, and you still are experiencing problems with your water heater? In that case, an experienced plumbing technician can help you detect where the real trouble lies, and perform fast reliable repairs. We have more than 45 years of industry experience with which to help you, and our plumbers can even talk to you about moving to a tankless water heater, or any other plumbing improvement projects you might have.


Call or request service from A-1 Sewer & Septic Service, Inc. today to get the speedy, excellent service that you deserve from a Kansas City plumber!

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