What are Hot Water Recirculation Pumps?

These special pumps, also known as hot water recirculation pumps or just circulating pumps, are attached to the water heater and recycle any leftover hot water back into it. They serve two purposes:

  • Speed accelerate the warming of the water
  • Reduce the waste of cold water.

Temperature sensors are used by recirculation pumps to keep track of the water’s temperature, and a check valve prevents water from returning to the return plumbing line. By doing this, it speeds up the process of getting water to the faucet by sending water in the pipe back to the water heater.

What Kinds of Hot Water Recirculation Pumps Are There?

There are two types of hot water recirculation pumps, each with advantages and disadvantages:

Full Recirculation Pump System

The plumbing system is connected to a special hot water return line that is used by these It makes a loop that goes from the water heater to the various fixtures and back. The pump directs any leftover hot water into this loop so that it is always immediately accessible rather than being left in the main pipe to cool.

The majority of full recirculating pumps use sensors to stop the flow of hot water after the loop has been completed, which lowers heating expenses. Some pumps have timers built in that let users schedule the pump’s operation and turn it off during periods of low demand, such as at night or throughout the day.

Recirculating Pump Comfort System

This pump returns any unused hot water to the heater via the preexisting cold water pipe as opposed to the full recirculating pump.

This is a more cost-effective choice because it doesn’t need a separate hot water connection.

Chilly water, however, sometimes comes out lukewarm or takes a while to turn chilly because the hot and cold water shares the same pipe. Homes using evaporative coolers may find this to be of special concern.

What Advantages Does a Hot Water Recirculation System Offer?

  • It’s convenient:

Recirculation systems significantly speed up the heating process, giving users access to hot water right away.

  • Greater water conservation:

The EPA estimates that waiting for hot water to reach the point of consumption consumes more than 3,650 gallons of water annually in the typical American home. By providing virtually instantaneous hot water for use rather than wasting water while waiting for it to heat up, recirculating systems reduce water losses.

  • Reduced utility bills:

The second-largest energy usage in an average home (behind space heating and cooling) is for heating water, according to data from the Energy Information Administration’s Office of Energy Consumption and Efficiency Statistics. By decreasing the volume of hot water used, a recirculation pump can lower the cost.

  • Ingenious heating:

Some pumps include timers or can be programmed to run just when there is a significant demand for hot water (for instance, they can be set to automatically turn on in the morning and shut off during work hours). This lowers expenses and wear by reducing unnecessary heating.

  • Rebates:

Recirculating system installation and purchasing costs may be refunded in some water-scarce jurisdictions.

What Consequences Can a Hot Water Recirculation System Cause?

  1. Needs a power supply close to the installation site.
  2. This may need rewiring or restrict the areas for installation.
  3. A leak in the pump could be hazardous.
  4. Model restrictions
  5. Complete recirculating systems can be costly and labor-intensive to install.
  6. Comfort systems: especially in hotter climates or during the summer, can produce lukewarm water.
    Pumps with timers won’t deliver hot water when it’s not needed. For homeowners who need hot water at inconvenient times, this can be upsetting.
  7. Chilly climate restrictions
  8. Pumps in cooler climates or throughout the winter months may have poor output.
  9. Needs effective plumbing systems
  10. Pipes that are outdated or have poor insulation may lose more heat.

In addition to putting more strain on the pump by making it operate longer, this can raise energy expenditures.

Refund Guidelines

Some cities and municipalities have efficiency requirements for the pump in order to be eligible for a rebate. While some look at the installation, others need UL certification.

What a Recirculating Pump Should Have

Recirculating pumps are available in many different types and configurations to support various types of water heaters. The following are some of the things to watch out for:

  • Compatibility with Water Heaters:

Make a note of the type of hot water heater you have before looking at recirculating pumps. Pumps with higher power requirements are typically needed for tankless water heaters and should be considered. The majority of pumps might not have enough strength to work with high-end gas or electric tankless water heaters.

  • Building Supplies:

Aluminum might not be as strong and long-lasting as cast iron. However, because rust might form in the system, it is not advised for use with potable water. High-end pumps are made of stainless steel, which combines cast iron’s endurance and sturdiness with aluminum’s rust resistance.

  • Timer:

If hot water usage in your home has a peak period, having this function allows you to only consume electricity during those times. In states where electrical prices are high, timers are also advised.

Automatic Versus Manual Activation

Before utilizing the faucet, manual on/off buttons on some pumps must be activated. These pumps are perfect for tiny homes with only a few fixtures that require hot water, like a single bathroom.

Other methods include temperature sensors that, if the water in the line drops below a predetermined level, turn on the pump automatically. These are suggested for larger households with more fixtures or higher hot water demands..

Will A Recirculation Pump Help You Save Money?

A recirculation pump is an excellent technique to reduce water usage in your home and provide “instant” hot water.

They can save on water costs, but they also put additional strain on the water heater. This is because the hot water system as a whole, rather than just the water inside the tank, is now kept warm by the water heater. As the loss of heat increases with system size, the water heater must operate more frequently to make up the difference. Some of the savings will be negated by this drop in efficiency and the small amount of electricity they use.

Recirculation pumps aren’t the most cost-effective option due to these issues, the original investment in the pump and installation, and the additional maintenance costs. The major reasons for selecting to include one of these pumps in your system are convenience and comfort.

How Long Is A Hot Water Recirculating Pump Expected To Last?

A hot water recirculating pump’s lifespan might vary based on the model and the environment in which it is operated. Generally speaking, a recirculating pump can last for several years if it is installed and maintained properly.

A recirculating pump of high quality can last for five to ten years. But if it’s not properly maintained, it can break down too soon. The longevity of a recirculating pump can be impacted by a variety of variables, including water quality, usage volume, and exposure to harsh chemicals. Regular upkeep, like cleaning and lubricating the pump, can help the pump last longer. It’s crucial to use the right kind of pump for your system because different types of pumps are better suited for different uses.


Some homeowners desire tank-less water heaters but are unable to afford them. The next best thing is a hot water recirculating pump, though. Although it won’t be a tank-less heater, it won’t last 20 years and won’t save space either. However, the tank-less water heater’s top advantage is that it provides hot water on demand. Therefore, you won’t have to sit around and watch your water drain. The pump will reduce water and energy use.

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