My Water Heater Is Running Out of Hot Water Faster Than Normal

Are you running out of hot water quicker than you used to?

That’s usually caused by a bad dip tube. But, if you have an electric water heater, the culprit could also be broken heating elements or a faulty thermostat.

Confused about what those are? Don’t worry—we’ll go into more detail about each of these 3 problems and how you can fix them.

Let’s start with the most common issue, a bad dip tube…

Need a plumber to fix this issue? Just give us a call and we’ll get your hot water running normal again.

The most likely problem: A bad dip tube

What’s a dip tube?

A dip tube is a long tube that attaches to the cold water inlet of the water heater (pictured above), and stops about 8 inches above the bottom of the tank. A typical dip tube looks like this.

The purpose of the dip tube is to push incoming cold water to the bottom of the tank, where the water is then heated by a gas burner or electric heating elements (depending on what type of water heater you have).

But, if your dip tube goes bad, the incoming cold water will mix with the heated water near the top, which means you’ll feel colder water a lot faster than normal.

2 reasons your dip tube goes bad

1. Normal wear and tear

The dip tubes in most newer water heaters should last the lifespan of the unit (8–12 years). However, some dip tubes also function as a “sacrificial anode rod”, which means it’s designed to attract all the corrosive elements in the water, ultimately protecting the tank from corrosion. Because these dip tubes “sacrifice” themselves, they usually have a shorter lifespan than the unit itself and will need to be replaced.

2. It’s defective

Some dip tubes are more prone to disintegrate and break down than others. Most water heaters made between 1993–1997 have defective dip tubes because during those years, many manufacturers bought and installed tubes with lower quality polypropylene plastic.

You’ll need a new dip tube if you notice these 2 signs:

1. Your water heater was manufactured between 1993–1997. You’ll know if you see the any numbers between 93 and 97 in the 4th and 5th digit of your water heater’s serial number.

2. Small white plastic particles are suddenly clogging your faucets. These little pieces of plastic come from a disintegrating dip tube.

How can I replace a bad dip tube?

Replacing a bad dip tube isn’t complicated, but you’ll still need a professional’s help. You’ll need a plumber to flush your water heater to get rid of any disintegrated plastic particles that may be floating in your tank.

Dip tube not the problem? If you have an electric water heater, check for these problems…

Bad heating elements

Electric water heaters have 2 heating elements (upper and lower) to heat water in your tank. Since the coldest water is on the bottom of your tank, the lower heating element does most of the work.

So if you’re getting cold water really fast, a bad lower heating element could be to blame. Contact a plumber to test your heating elements for continuity (to see if current flows). If your heating element is broken, they’ll replace it.

Faulty thermostat

An electric water heater has 2 thermostats that control each of the heating elements. As with all electrical components, sometimes these malfunction or break down with time. If one of the thermostats is broken, then it will limit your home’s hot water supply.

Contact a professional to inspect your thermostats to make sure they’re running correctly.

Need water heater help from a Florida plumber?

Contact Aztec Plumbing & Drains to schedule a water heater repair. We’ll send one of our certified plumbers to check out the source of the problem and then repair it so you can have normal hot water again.

Further Reading:

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