What is a water heater dip tube anyway? It is a long plastic tube inside your hot water heater that forces the cold water to go to the bottom of the tank. Without the dip tube, you will get lukewarm water, especially when the hot water is being used.
There are other reasons why you might not have enough hot water. Was your water heater made in the mid 1990's? Yes, then it could be your dip tube. Is your water heater newer than that? Check out the article 'Electric Hot Water Heater Troubleshooting' for an electric hot water heater. Is your water heater gas fired? 'Gas Hot Water Heater Troubleshooting', is the article you want to see.
What Does a Dip Tube Do?
Without the dip tube the cold water would mix with the hot and you will have lukewarm water. There goes the hot bath. There is not much to repair on dip tube. Depending on when it was made you may need to replace it.
This is not that hard of a job, unless your water heater is old and the pipes are corroded. They do not go bad that often. Unless you have a defective one that was manufactured in the 1990's. Sorry, you are too late to get in on the class action lawsuit.
Locating a Water Heater Dip Tube
The water heater dip tube runs from the top of the tank to near the bottom. It is on the inside of the water tank so that you cannot see it. It is inserted into the tank at the cold water inlet.
To see it you would have to shut down the tank and remove the cold water supply line. Once that is done, the dip tube is easy to remove.
Water Heater Dip Tubes - The Issues
What Can You Save? - The part is only about $10 to $15. It is a little bit of work to change and will take between a half an hour and a hour. Probably between $125 and $150 for labor.
How Hard Could It Be? - Replacing a water heater dip tube involves some work. More work if the piping is old and corroded. These repairs will have a Difficulty Level of: A Bit of Work. These repairs require a Skill Level of: Handyman. For and explanation of the terms in this section, see 'How to Use This Site'.
Check the Simple Things! - There is not really anything simple you can do. It is as much work to check the dip tube as it is to replace it.
What Can Go Wrong? - You may find that your dip tube has disintegrated or broken off. Pieces of plastic may turn up in your faucet strainers. A tube that is broken off may move around inside the tank when the water is running. Not getting the hot water tank back together can leave you without hot water. You will get some complaints about this.
Troubleshooting Water Heater Dip Tubes
A low volume of hot water can be indicative of a bad or broken water heater dip tube. It can also be caused by a lower heating element that is not working on an electric hot water heater. Check the links above if you are not sure of the cause of your problem.
The article 'Removing a Water Heater Dip Tube', outlines the procedure for taking out an old dip tube. Since you need to shut down the hot water heater, there is some preparation involved.
Before you can install the dip tube, you will need a new one. The article 'Purchasing a Water Heater Dip Tube' gave you some information about where to look.
The last step would be to install the new dip tube. 'Installing a Water Heater Dip Tube' discussed the installation and putting the water heater back together.
The toughest part of this job is getting the nipple loose that is connected to the tank. After that it get's pretty easy. Now that you have completed your water heater dip tube project you can consider your next move. It's your choice, more repairs or watching the ball game.