How to Replace the Dip Tube On a Recirculating Hot Water System

The water heater dip tube is an important part of your recirculating hot water system. Without a properly functioning dip tube, less and less cold water will reach the bottom of the hot water tank to be fully heated. The result will be cool showers and lukewarm water for laundering, washing dishes and other cleaning tasks in your home. Follow the directions below to replace the dip tube in your recirculating hot water system.

Tools and Materials You Will Need
  • Plumbers tape
  • Adjustable pipe wrench
  • Snub nose adjustable pliers
  • New water heater dip tube
  • Heat resistant rubber or silicone gloves
Step 1: Determine That the Dip Tube Is Broken

Key signs that the dip tube in your water heater is broken are that you are getting only lukewarm water from all your hot water taps all the time, and the presence of white or grey flakes or chips of plastic in your hot water. Dip tubes installed on water heaters made between 1993 and 1997 are most prone to failure, as they were made from a type of plastic that had low resistance to heat.

Step 2: Turn Off and Disconnect the Water Heater

Turn off the electric or gas supply to the hot water heater, and switch off the circuit breaker or remove fuses, so you can make the dip tube replacement safely.

Step 3: Turn Off the Cold Water Inlet Valve

Turn the cold water inlet valve, at the top of the hot water heater, anticlockwise to stop water flow.

Step 4: Assess Your Working Space to Remove the Dip Tube

Check that there is at least 3 feet of open space above the hot water heater to enable you to remove the dip tube without having to drain water from the hot water tank. Otherwise, drain off about 5 gallons of water from the tank so you can pull the dip tube out.

Step 5: Disconnect the Cold Water Inlet Pipe

The dip tube is attached to the cold water inlet pipe for the hot water heater. Using the adjustable pipe wrench, turn the nut where the cold water pipe enters the heater anticlockwise slowly to loosen it.

Step 6: Pull Out the Dip Tube

Use the snub nose adjustable pliers to grasp the remaining piece of the dip tube and pull it out of the hot water tank. Pull on the dip tube firmly with your hands to get it out of the cold water pipe.

Step 7: Install the New Dip Tube

Wind plumbers tape snugly around the top of the new dip tube. Push the tube vertically down into the hot water heater and attach the cold water inlet pipe. The dip tube should fit firmly into the cold water inlet.

Step 8: Restore Fuel or Electricity to the Hot Water System

Reactivate the gas supply or circuit breakers for an electric hot water system, and turn on the hot water heater. Allow approximately 1 hour for the system to reheat.

Step 9: Test the Hot Water Flow

Test the hot water flow at each sink, appliance and shower one at a time, the turn on 1 tap per floor of your home. If you get hot water flow each time, your replacement dip tube is working correctly.