Recirculation Pumps

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One plumbing upgrade you may consider this winter is to have a recirculation pump installed in your home. These pumps will circulate the hot water in your home to ensure you always quickly have hot water to your sinks, bathtubs, showers and washing machines.

Why should I get a recirculation pump?

Save Time

  • The recirculation pump first and foremost saves you time. When you go to take a shower or wash your hands, you turn on the hot water and then you sit there waiting. Depending on the configuration of pipes in your house you wait 1-2 minutes, sometimes 10-20 minutes, or you may never even seem to get hot water to some fixtures. The recirculation pump will continuously move the hot water in your house saving you the waiting time whenever you want hot water.

Conserve Water

  • Secondly, you will conserve water. All that water that you let run down your drains as you wait for it to turn hot is wasted. The average household wastes 11,461 gallons of water a year just waiting for the water to warm up.

Protect Pipes

  • Thirdly, depending on how your system is installed the recirculation pump can also protect your pipes from freezing in the winter. Because the water is constantly moving inside the pipes, running water is more difficult to freeze. If your pump circulates both your hot and cold-water pipes you should not have to leave a faucet dripping in cold weather, saving even more water! To learn more about savings visit this page from Energy Star.


How a recirculating pump works

A recirculation system is fairly simple.

The pump is installed in your home on your hot water pipes. This pump will push hot water through your house and once it reaches the end of the hot water pipes it will be looped back to the water heater to be reheated. Then, it will travel through the hot water pipes to be used by you. Any hot water which does not get used, and has cooled down, is looped back to the water heater to be reheated. The system does not waste any of the water in order to keep water hot.


What do you need for a recirculation pump?

Depending on the plumbing configuration in your home there are a few different options; each has advantages and disadvantages, and you will need to work with your plumber to find a configuration that works for you.

One configuration places your pump in the hot water pipes usually near your water heater. The pump will push water through your hot water pipes and at the end of the hot water pipe system a plumber will install a new pipe connecting the end of the existing hot water pipe, running all the way back to the water heater and connecting it to the cold-water inlet on the water heater. This system is more common in new construction or when a home is being re-piped. Running the new pipe can be costly or difficult in a home which is already built.

Another option is to install the pump in the hot water system and find the fixture which is farthest away from the heater or the fixture which has the most trouble getting hot water quickly and create a loop at that fixture by connecting the hot water and the cold water together. With this configuration hot water leaves the heater and goes through the hot water pipes to that fixture, and it is then transferred to the cold-water pipes to be sent back to the water heater. This will allow a much less costly installation in an already finished home. The downside is depending on how your system and devices are calibrated you may get warmer water from the cold side of your plumbing fixtures.

To prevent wasting too much electricity running a recirculation pump you will need to have a timer or thermostat installed to regulate the operation of the pump. A timer will turn the pump on and off at different times to keep the water hot and not run the system until it needs to be reheated. With a timer you can also turn the system off during low use times like at night to save even more electricity. A thermostat is a device that is installed either on a pipe or with a sensor inside your pipes. A thermostat will ensure your water is always at the correct temperature and will turn the pump off when the selected temperature is achieved and then turn it back on when the water cools down. Knowing how much you use the hot water and when could be helpful in deciding which device to choose and let your plumber know how to calibrate it for you.

No Pump

Pump near fixture

Pump for entire home










The recirculation pump will save you time and water, but what does it cost? The pump will run on electricity and will need to have an outlet or wire ran to hook it up. The pump will also require occasional maintenance just like any other device in your house, like a water heater. You as the customer would need to decide if the system is a good fit for your home. Maybe your house is a little slow to receive hot water but not terrible or maybe it takes you 30 minutes to get hot water to the far bathroom in your house. Water conservation is important and should be considered in your decision.

Contact the experts at J D Precision Plumbing to discuss your options and decide what best works for you and your family. To learn more about water heater installation visit this page.