Repair or replace?

Discussion in 'Water Heater Forum, Tanks' started by adamw, Dec 11, 2009.

  1. adamw

    adamw New Member

    Messages:
    26
    Location:
    Pennsylvania
    I have a Bradford White WH manufactured January 1999. It has been in service since May 1999. Yesterday morning while showering, I had to start out with the faucet turned further than usual. During my ten minute shower, I had to keep turning it further and further hot to keep it warm enough. This has never happened before yesterday morning. Nothing else was different. No one else (or nothing else) was using water at the time. My wife experienced the same issue later in the day, and I experienced it again this morning.

    After doing some research online, it seems that the likely culprit is the dip tube. The burner burns, there are no leaks. It seems that replacing the dip tube is something I can easily accomplish myself. (I think the hardest part will be draining some water out without it getting all over the floor. It's in a basement, so I can't easily run a hose from it to the outside and there are no drains lower than the spigot.)

    I found a local plumbing supply store that has a dip tube. It's 6 bucks.

    So my question to you all is, do I bother trying to fix this 10+ year old WH, or just bite the bullet and buy a new one?

    Thanks!
  2. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

    Messages:
    22,138
    Location:
    New England
    Gas or electric? If electric, you sure the elements are working? A dip tube may not be that hard to replace...depends. While you are at it, you might change the anode rod too. At 10-years, thoughit could be beyond it's livespan.
  3. adamw

    adamw New Member

    Messages:
    26
    Location:
    Pennsylvania
    It is gas. And yeah, I thought about the anode rod too.
  4. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Messages:
    26,825
    Location:
    Cave Creek, Arizona
    heater

    A bad dip tube should have given you about a 3 minute shower and then it would have been cold. There would have either not been any gradual change or if there were it would have happened very rapidly. Not sure what the problem could be without checking it personally, but after 9 years it is a crap shoot whether it is worth fixing. OR, if the fix would even cure the problem.
  5. Runs with bison

    Runs with bison Member

    Messages:
    892
    Location:
    Midwest
    It is worth trying to service it yourself. Beats the expensive crapshoot of calling a plumber who will charge several times more just for the call than you would have in it DIY. Have you ever blown it down? If you pull out the old dip tube and anode and find nothing wrong, then you will have a mystery.

    Have Plan B replacement option ready.
  6. Gary Swart

    Gary Swart In the Trades

    Messages:
    7,358
    Location:
    Yakima WA
    Checking the dip tube is a pretty simple operation. As HJ indicates, it is likely not the problem, but on the other hand, 1999 was at the end of the rash of defective dip tubes. If it is the dip tube, less than $10 will replace it and buy you some time. A failed dip tube leaves debris that can never be completely flushed, but you have nothing to risk and at least you will know.
  7. adamw

    adamw New Member

    Messages:
    26
    Location:
    Pennsylvania
    Thanks for the comments guys.
    I have the new dip tube and plan to pull out the old one tomorrow morning. Wish me luck!
  8. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Messages:
    26,825
    Location:
    Cave Creek, Arizona
    dip tube

    WE will, because you may need it. You may also need a big pipe wrench.
  9. adamw

    adamw New Member

    Messages:
    26
    Location:
    Pennsylvania
    Here ya go, folks. Broken dip tube!

    Attached Files:

  10. adamw

    adamw New Member

    Messages:
    26
    Location:
    Pennsylvania
    Oh, and I did need a big pipe wrench! Well, actually, I used a regular one and put a big regular wrench on the end. :)

    Anyway, 20 minute, $6 fix. Not bad. Now, I just sit and wait for the bottom to rust out, right?!
  11. Runs with bison

    Runs with bison Member

    Messages:
    892
    Location:
    Midwest
    Glad to hear that was it. Is that a metal dip tube or plastic? I'm wondering if it was acting as a sacrificial metal... Did you also do the anode or check it?
  12. Doherty Plumbing

    Doherty Plumbing Journeyman & Gas Fitter

    Messages:
    810
    Location:
    Penticton, BC
    It's plastic.
  13. adamw

    adamw New Member

    Messages:
    26
    Location:
    Pennsylvania
    Plastic. And no, I didn't check the anode
  14. Thatguy

    Thatguy Homeowner

    Messages:
    1,459
    Location:
    MD
    Re: bottom rusting out, it's 50-50 you reach 17 yrs with this NG WH.
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