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Well, this information sure is timely. We just bought a house and have been noticing that, while the water is good and hot at the beginning of the shower, it gets progressively colder during the shower. A bad dip tube would make sense.

In a water heater, the cold water input and hot water output pipes both attach to the top of the tank.
A dip tube is a long piece of tubing that sends the cold water coming into the water heater down to the bottom of the tank, so it won't go right back out the hot water output.

So I am sending for a certificate to have a plumber fix this for free, and I wanted to thank MikeShaw2 for the info. Posts like this save me time and money!

BTW, the serial numbers listed on the web site are just a little confusing. In my case (Rheem), the eligible serial numbers are listed as "0893****** to 0397******". These are date codes, so my serial number (0994D88963) does fall between the two listed numbers. This is a little clearer on the 800 number.

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