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water heater with broken tip tube?

zepfan Member Posts: 312
Normally how long would it take for a heater to run out of hot water if a dip tube is broken? Te heater in question is a 50 gallon ao smith, electric, 7 years old with both elements new and working. The homeowner says that with one shower running in the morning the water gets luke warm within a few minutes. I don't know if its a broken dip tube, or the upper thermostat is going bad. When I looked at it before I had to adjust it up to get it to energize the upper element. Also with a broken dip tube how much head is need to get it out, or is there enough flex in them to remove? I only have about three feet above the heater before the ceiling. Thanks to all.


  • Big Ed_4
    Big Ed_4 Member Posts: 1,684
    The replacement drip tube will have a little flex to it ..
    I have enough experience to know , that I dont know it all
  • ChrisJ
    ChrisJ Member Posts: 11,549
    They run out pretty fast because it's dumping the cold water right on top.

    It's not that they run out, but you start getting cooler water.
    Single pipe quasi-vapor system. Typical operating pressure 0.14 - 0.43 oz. EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Control for Residential Steam boilers. Rectorseal Steamaster water treatment
  • hot_rod
    hot_rod Member Posts: 14,753
    I suppose it would depend at what level in the tank the tube reaches. It it is broken or deteriorated across the entire length, probably within seconds you would feel the blending.

    Elements and controls have been tested out? Element checked by current draw, not voltmeter?
    Bob "hot rod" Rohr
    trainer for Caleffi NA
    Living the hydronic dream
  • zepfan
    zepfan Member Posts: 312
    Yes I amped out both elements, and they were drawing current. The elements were replaced last year.
    JUGHNE Member Posts: 8,263
    I chased one of these problems years ago, even changed the dip tube to no avail.
    It turned out to be a cross connection between hot and cold.

    They had a single lever shower valve installed near the WC.
    It had a flex hose and shower head that was installed for bidet use in the past. However it was not in use but the head removed and hose capped. The valve was on and cold flowed into the hot supply.
    Other suspects are mop sink and washer connections.

    FWIW, when changing both elements I also change both upper and lower tstats. I had too many callbacks to not do it.
  • Larry Weingarten
    Larry Weingarten Member Posts: 2,129
    hi @zepfan , Is there a hot water recirc line? If so, the check valve in it may be stuck open. Also try testing for cross connection by shutting off cold supply to the heater and opening a hot tap. If it keeps running there is a problem. Sometimes heaters get blamed for things they didn't do :o

    Yours, Larry
  • rick in Alaska
    rick in Alaska Member Posts: 1,178
    If the lower tstat isn't working, it will do that. Turn the upper thermostat down to make sure the lower one is engaged, tuen up the lower tstat, and then do an amp check on the lower element. I believe it is around 13 amps when working right.
    The other thing to check is to run your water until it goes cold, and then feel the hot outlet, If the outlet pipe still feels hot, then there could be a cross connection.
    Also, yes. a broken dip tube will only allow a short draw, depending on how far down it is broken.
  • zepfan
    zepfan Member Posts: 312
    Thanks for all responses, no re circ line in the house. I am going to replace the thermostats and see what that does. If the heater was older and wasn’t in a confined area I would speak with the customer about just replacing it
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