How to replace a water heater dip tube. How it works and how regular inspection can affect your heater performance. Dip tube problems and solution.
When looking at the top of the tank-type heater, either gas or electric type, you will notice two plumbing lines; incoming and outgoing pipe. The incoming line inside the heater is actually the dip tube or cold water inlet extension. This system consists of the plastic tube and the metal head, and it goes from the top of the heater to only several inches from the bottom of the tank.
The dip tube is used to bring the cold incoming water from the home plumbing into the heater - lower part of the tank. Some manufacturers are using this plastic tube as a solution for the sediment build-up problem. Such "sediment fighters" systems are utilizing ports to create turbulent flow inside the heater's tank while preventing the deposits on the heating elements and the bottom of the tank. This advanced design can be found in Rheem and Ruud water heaters as the Everkleen system, Hydrojet in Bradford White and Dynaclean in AO Smith water heaters.
Hot water heater dip tube inspection and potential replacement should be done carefully. The first symptoms of the broken tube or incorrectly sized inlet tube are "no hot water", slow recovery and high operating costs. In such cases, cold water really enters the tank from the top of the unit, but doesn't reach the bottom part; it goes directly into the outlet without being heated (it is diluting hot with cold water).
Another problem is associated with the material quality used for building these tubes. As the dip tube is being exposed to the water condition for longer time, it might start falling apart so small particles will affect the water flow.