Water Heater Troubleshooting Guide | How to Change a Dip Tube in a Water Heater

water heater
Dip tubes are important to the operation of your gas or electric water heater. The dip tube is a long plastic tube that fits into the cold water inlet of the water heater and stops at about eight inches above the bottom of the tank.

With a broken dip tube, it’s difficult to get enough hot water in your home. That’s because a dip tube directs incoming cold water to the bottom of your water heater, where the gas burner or primary electric heating element is located.

Keep reading to learn about the signs of a failing dip tube, as well as simple dip tube replacement steps.

Need help right now with a water heater emergency? Call Mr. Rooter® Plumbing for immediate assistance.

Hot Water Heater Dip Tube Problems

Over time, plastic dip tubes can disintegrate. One sign of a failing dip tube is little white flecks of plastic in your hot water supply, and/or your water may not feel as hot as it used to. Dip tubes normally last as long as their water heaters, but some types of dip tubes can become brittle after spending a few years submerged in hot water.

Note that not all water heaters have a standard dip tube. If your water heater has its cold-water inlet located at the bottom of the tank, your water heater doesn’t have a dip tube.

Dip Tube Replacement Steps

Changing a dip tube in a water heater is a relatively easy process. Here’s how to change the dip tube in your water heater:

  1. Turn off the circuit breaker that delivers power to your water heater.
  2. Turn the cold water inlet valve off.
  3. Drain the hot water heater tank to get rid of any plastic flecks left behind from your broken dip tube.
  4. Disconnect the cold-water supply line, which is located at the top of your water heater.
  5. Remove the short piece of pipe threaded at both ends to expose your dip tube.
  6. Remove the dip tube. A flat screwdriver works best for this step.
  7. Drop a new tube into your water heater. Choose a dip tube made of cross-link polyethylene (PEX), which won’t break down inside the hot water tank.
  8. Reconnect the cold water supply line, refill the water heater tank with a faucet open on the hot side of the fixture to release the air, and only then restore power to your water heater.
  9. Turn on the hot water in your home to check that the new dip tube is functional.

Need Assistance with Water Heater Issues?

If the steps above do not restore your water heater to full performance, there must be another problem with the unit. Contact Mr. Rooter for all of your hot water heater repair and replacement needs. Schedule your water heater inspection and service today by calling Mr. Rooter or, you can easily request an estimate online.