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How to Replace a Water Heater Dip Tube

When the hot water in your shower suddenly turns ice cold, you have the right to be frustrated. (That is, if the hot-water supply hasn’t been drained due to recent use.) If you receive this rude wake-up call, the culprit may be that your dip tube or the water-heater nipples need a little TLC.

A water heater dip tube consists of a plastic pipe that travels vertically within the water-heater tank from the cold-water inlet to within a few inches of the bottom of the tank. The dip tube brings cold water in the bottom of the tank where it can be heated. If the dip tube is cracked or broken, the cold water mixes with the hot water at the top of the tank (heat and hot water rise), resulting in your unwelcome early-morning shock. When this condition arises, a cracked or broken dip tube is usually to blame.

Changing a dip tube is easy:

  1. Cut the power to the water heater.

  2. Turn the cold-water inlet valve off.

  3. Disconnect the cold-water supply line at the top of the water heater.

    You’ll need to break out a wrench for this step.

  4. Remove the nipple to expose the top of the dip tube.

    The nipple is a short piece of pipe threaded at both ends.

  5. Remove the dip tube by inserting a screwdriver and prying the tube out of the opening.

    It’s best to hold the screwdriver at an angle and use friction to pull out the dip tube.

  6. Drop a new tube into the opening.

  7. Replace the nipple and supply line, turn on the water and restore power to the unit and you should have hot water!

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