What Is a Recirculating Pump and How Does It Work?

What Is a Recirculating Pump?

A recirculating pump is a device installed on a water heater to ensure that hot water is readily available at faucets.

It works by returning unused hot water back to the water heater, eliminating the need to wait for hot water to travel from the heater.

There are two options for installing a recirculating pump: a full system with an additional pipe or a comfort system that utilizes the existing cold water pipe.

Both options reduce water waste and provide quick access to hot water.

While the cost of these pumps can range from $500 to $800, they save time, money, and water in the long run.

Key Points:

  • A recirculating pump ensures hot water is readily available at faucets
  • The pump returns unused hot water back to the water heater, eliminating the need to wait for hot water to travel from the heater
  • There are two installation options: a full system with an additional pipe or a comfort system that utilizes the existing cold water pipe
  • Both options reduce water waste and provide quick access to hot water
  • The cost of these pumps can range from $500 to $800
  • Recirculating pumps save time, money, and water in the long run

Did You Know?

1. Recirculating pumps are commonly used in plumbing systems to circulate water continuously, but they can also be found in other applications such as hot water heaters and radiant floor heating systems.

2. The average recirculating pump has a lifespan of around 10-15 years, depending on usage and maintenance. However, some high-quality pumps can last up to 20 years or more.

3. One of the key benefits of using a recirculating pump is improved energy efficiency. By keeping hot water constantly available, it reduces the time it takes for hot water to reach the faucet and therefore minimizes water waste.

4. Recirculating pumps can be operated manually or programmed to run on a schedule. Many modern pumps also have built-in sensors that detect temperature changes and automatically activate the pump when hot water is demanded.

5. In commercial buildings, recirculating pumps are often employed to ensure consistent water temperatures throughout the entire facility. This is especially important in large establishments where hot water demand can vary greatly between areas, such as hotels or hospitals.

Related Post:  Can I Wash Clothes During a Boil Water Advisory: Essential Guidelines for Maintaining Clean and Safe Laundry

Introduction: What Is A Recirculating Pump

A recirculating pump is a device that ensures hot water is readily available at faucets, eliminating the need to wait for water to heat up. When hot water is turned on, cold water initially comes out because it takes time for the hot water to travel from the water heater. This often leads to wasting a significant amount of water before the desired temperature is reached.

A recirculating pump solves this problem by returning unused hot water back to the water heater, creating a continuous loop of hot water availability.

Option #1: Full Recirculating Pump System

One option for installing a recirculating pump is a full recirculating pump system. This system requires an additional pipe to be installed, creating a loop from the water heater to the faucet and back.

By using a pump and sensors or timers, the full recirculating pump system controls when the pump is activated, ensuring hot water is available when needed while saving energy during periods of non-use.

This system is effective in reducing water waste and provides hot water quickly throughout the home.

Option #2: Recirculating Pump Comfort System

For homes where option #1 is difficult to install, the recirculating pump comfort system offers a cost-effective solution. Instead of creating a separate loop, this system utilizes the existing cold water pipe to send unused hot water back to the water heater. While it may not be as efficient as the full recirculating pump system, it still effectively reduces water waste and provides hot water quickly in areas far away from the water heater. This option is particularly useful in retrofitting existing homes where the installation of additional pipes may be challenging.

Benefits And Drawbacks Of Recirculating Pumps

Recirculating pumps offer several advantages that make them attractive to homeowners:

  • Time-saving: They eliminate the need to wait for hot water, which is especially beneficial in areas of the home that are far from the water heater, like separate floor bathrooms or kitchens.
  • Water-saving: By ensuring hot water is always available, these pumps significantly reduce water waste. According to data from the U.S. Department of Energy and the U.S. Census Bureau, households waste between 400 billion and 1.3 trillion gallons of water annually due to waiting for it to heat up.
  • Energy conservation: Recirculating pumps limit the energy required to treat and pump water to homes, contributing to energy conservation efforts.
Related Post:  What to Do When Well Runs Dry: Tips for Ensuring Water Security

Despite their benefits, recirculating pumps have a few drawbacks:

  • Lukewarm cold water: In systems where hot and cold water share the same pipe, the cold water may be lukewarm or take some time to get cold. This inconvenience is particularly noticeable during the summer months when cold water is desired. Some homeowners choose to turn off the pump during these periods to address this issue.
  • Upfront cost: The initial cost of installing a recirculating pump can range between $500 and $800, depending on the chosen system. While the long-term savings on water and energy make these systems cost-effective, the upfront investment may discourage some homeowners.

Cost And Installation Of Recirculating Pumps

The cost of recirculating pumps depends on the type of system chosen. Full recirculating pump systems with additional pipe installation typically range between $500 and $800. On the other hand, recirculating pump comfort systems that utilize the existing cold water pipe may cost less than $400, making them a more affordable option. It is important to consult with a plumbing professional to determine the best system for a specific home and ensure proper installation.

To install a recirculating pump, a plumbing professional should be contacted. They can assess the home’s layout and locate the optimal position for the pump to provide efficient hot water delivery. With their expertise, they can also ensure the pump is correctly connected and functional, maximizing its benefits. It is worth noting that some jurisdictions offer rebates for the purchase and installation of hot water recirculation systems, further incentivizing homeowners to invest in these water-saving devices.

In summary, recirculating pumps are a valuable addition to any home, offering immediate access to hot water while reducing water waste and energy consumption. By choosing between the full recirculating pump system or the recirculating pump comfort system, homeowners can find a solution that suits their needs, budget, and home’s layout. Despite a few drawbacks, the benefits of recirculating pumps make them a worthwhile investment for saving time, money, and water in modern households.

Related Post:  What Is a Holding Tank and How Does It Work Efficiently?

Check this out:


Frequently Asked Questions

When should you use a recirculating pump?

If you find yourself in a building where the furthest fixture is located beyond 50 feet from the water heater, it would be beneficial to utilize a recirculating pump. As mandated by the International Plumbing Code, this ensures that hot water is readily available at all fixtures in a timely manner. By implementing a recirculating pump, buildings can enhance their plumbing system and provide efficient hot water distribution, offering convenience to its occupants.

Where should a recirculating pump be installed?

A recirculating pump should ideally be installed in the hot water supply line going out of the water heater into the house. Placing it on the left side allows for more efficient water circulation throughout the entire hot water system. By having the pump in this location, it ensures that hot water is readily available at the taps and reduces the time wasted waiting for hot water to reach desired locations in the house.

What is the function of recirculating unit?

The function of a recirculating unit is to minimize water wastage by reducing the amount of water that goes down the drain while waiting for the desired temperature to be reached. Whether operated manually or automatically, recirculation systems help conserve water by recirculating the water back to the water heater, ensuring that it is readily available at the desired temperature when needed. This not only saves water but also reduces the time and energy wasted waiting for hot water, thus promoting greater efficiency and sustainability in daily water usage.

What is the difference between a pump and a circulator?

The key difference between a pump and a circulator lies in their operation within different systems. While a pump is typically used to create pressure differentials between the inlet and outlet sides, a circulator functions within a closed and pressurized hydronic system. In this system, the circulator is responsible for circulating fluid throughout the system to maintain a balanced and consistent flow. Unlike a pump, a circulator does not necessarily create a substantial pressure differential but focuses on ensuring efficient circulation within the closed system.

References: 1, 2, 3, 4