First one is a State water heater. That is a Rotoswirl Dip Tube.
The second one is a Home Depot Replacement Dip Tube.
The Third one is a Rheem GE Home Depot brand water heater dip tube.
What happened was the nipple or the connection in the top of the tank is either sloppy, or whoever from the factory, overtightened the nipple, thus pushing the dip tube past the rim in the fitting that holds the dip tube. All there is is a rubber washer that holds it in place, along with a very small flanged edge that can easily be popped down inside the tank.
What I ended up doing was using a State Brand Dip Tube on the GE water heater, due to customer preference. I strongly agreed with the decision since it was designed much better than the clear dip tube that only goes a little more than halfway down the tank.
When I called Tech Support, the guy tried to push it off on me for installer error. I could of reached through the phone on that statement alone.
I explained that I used Female Dielectric unions on the nipples already installed in the tank from the factory. I also explained that the nipples did not turn while cranking the dielectrics down tight.
When I removed that cold side nipple, it took all of my might, and the nipple was buried flush with the threads on the nipple, and once partiallly loosened, the connection between the two was loose and sloppy.
When I reinstalled the nipple, the used numerous wraps of teflon along with Megaloc thread sealant, and still, remained very loose between the two until 2/3rds the way in.
I believe the nipple ultimately being screwed in forced the dip tube out past the flange.
Something that the plumbers should check out next time you install a GE branded water heater, and the reason for the short dip tube, I have no idea why.
“Your best interest is secured by making the right decisions the first time.”