View Full Version : Dip tube question

Gary Swart
02-16-2007, 12:03 PM
I have a 10 year old 50 gallon Richmond gas water heater. Recently I have noticed that when I begin using hot water, like showering, the water is quite hot, but after a few minutes, to maintain the hot temperature, I have to keep advancing the temperature valve until finally reaching the point where it is in the full hot position. I have not found any debris in my screens, and I have drained the tank and I didn't see any debris there either. Is this the way a failed dip tube word act? Any other ideas?

02-16-2007, 02:05 PM
One of the things that happened is that the dip tube just broke off at the top, leaving the tube loose in the tank, and all the incoming cold right at the top. SO this could be your problem, and the time frame is about right. If you go to the manufacturer web site, they should be able to confirm by serial number if your tank was affected.

Gary Swart
02-16-2007, 02:08 PM
OK, I've Googled the hell out of the dip tube subject, and I am totally convinced that it is the dip tube at fault. The tank was made in 1996 which was when the bad tubes were used. It lasted this long, so I have no complaints on that. In looking at the cold water intake, I can not determine just how the the dip tube is removed and replaced. All that I can see without taking anything apart is the nipple that goes into the top of the tank. I could use a little insight on the R&R before I just plunge blindly into the job. What do I see when the nipple is removed and how do I get the old piece out? I've installed several heaters, but never had to deal with a dip tube.

master plumber mark
02-16-2007, 02:53 PM
when the dip tube is broke off in the tank...

thats where I call it a day and tell the customer
that it would be in their best interest
to get a new water heater becasue you simply
CANNOT get it completely out of the heater....

in fact, its gonna sit in the tank and break down over
a period of time and could eventually clog up all the faucets
and appliances in the home...

you can put another one in the heater....and that will work
but the old one is like a ticking time bomb and eventually
will cause them greif...

thats what that law suit was all about and it ended in 01.

so it jsut depends on the customer .....

Gary Swart
02-16-2007, 03:36 PM
Yeah, I know I can't get the broken piece out, but I'll deal with the clogging problems as they happen. So far there hasn't been a trace of debris, but I know that's subject to change at anytime. I can easily drain the tank frequently so maybe that will forestall the problem. Thanks of the advice, I know you're right, but I'm just going to stretch the life of the tank as long as possible. It's in an easy to access area so changing it will not be a problem when I absolutely have to. I am fortunate that I live in an area where the water is very high quality, so heaters don't fail too often, this dip tube problem aside.

02-16-2007, 03:44 PM
The ones I've seen have already disintegrated. You should be able to stick your pinky finger in the cold water inlet and sometimes there is only a ring left of the old dip tube. You can pick up another one at a plumbing store.

02-16-2007, 03:44 PM

The dip tube slides down thru the cold water fitting, it's about 5/8" id, with a flare on the top of it to keep it from going in too far. Just remove the cold water nipple and you should be able to feel it, they're not easy to remove... and how are you going to get the new one in? I wouldn't worry about the old one breaking down in the heater, after all it's been there for over 10 years now, and it's pvc so if it breaks down in water then we're going to have a massive class action suit against the pvc mfg's.

Good Luck, sounds like it's more trouble than it's worth.


02-16-2007, 04:19 PM
Or just for kicks take a piece of 1/2" copper and cut it so it stays off the bottom about 16". Use pliers or anything to make kind of a flair. Just wide enough to keep it into that old nipple or on top of it's threads and put it back together.

Easier to do if there is a union there.

Gary Swart
02-16-2007, 06:49 PM
Well, it's done! I got a new dip tube and went to work. There was just a ring left on the top. Fished it out, took a 3/4" wire fitting cleaner brush and cleaned off the gunk. There was enough flex in the new tube to put it in without draining the tank and tipping it. Had to cut about 5" off the tube, but after that it was simple. I'll give it the shower test this evening, but that has to have cured the problem. If I get start getting pieces of the old tube in my fixtures, I'll drain and flush the tank and lines. I have a 3/4" ball valve on the tank drain and the tank sets over a concrete basin with a floor drain so draining is quick and easy. Thanks to all who offer advice, even if I didn't use all of it! Today has been a learning day for me.