Pros and Cons Of Hot Water Recirculating Pumps (1)

Whether you’re looking into a new hot water recirculating pump to replace your old system or thinking about installing one for the first time, there is a lot you should know.

The main pros and cons are listed below, but with there being so many different varieties of pumps to choose from, you’ll need to do a little research into the specific hot water recirculating system you’re considering before purchasing.

The Pros

  • The main advantage of the hot water recirculating pump is that it reduces water waste while you’re waiting for hot water to arrive.
  • Hot water arrives very quickly when you need it, so there’s no waiting around.
  • Some pumps allow you to set a timer, so they only recirculate hot water when it’s needed. For example, your pump can start working at 7 am, ready to produce instant hot water at 7.30am when you need a shower. The timer will then shut off the pump at 9 am when everyone’s left the house and hot water is no longer needed.
  • Most pumps use your existing pipework, so all that needs to be installed is the pump itself.
  • Once set up, these systems are largely maintenance free.
  • Hot water sensors are used in on-demand pump systems. They recirculate cold water back to your water heater, instead of running it out the taps. Once the water reaches a specific temperature, the pump turns off. No water is wasted, and no energy is used by the pump once the water is at the desired temperature.
  • Having hot water run through the pipes in your home will, to an extent, keep your house warm without turning on the heater.

The Cons

  • Certain types of pumps, namely instant hot water systems, require a power source near your water heater or sink. Without being plugged in, the hot water recirculating pump won’t work.
  • If you set your timer for hot water, but then decide not to use hot water at this time, you’re just wasting energy. It can be hard to predict when you will need hot water outside of your usual schedule.
  • Pumps that use the cold water pipes to create a loop can send warm water through the cold taps when they’re first turned on. You will waste a little water waiting for the cold water to come through, but not as much as you’d waste waiting for hot water without a recirculating pump.
  • Constantly pumping water through your pipes even when you’re not using the hot water can speed up corrosion.
  • If you’re using a manually activated pump (a switch by your shower, for example) you’ll still need to wait for the water to reach the right temperature through recirculation. You’ve saved water, not time.

How a Hot Water Recirculating Pump Works

A hot water recirculating pump provides hot water when you need it instantly.

There are a few different types available:

  • Basic recirculating system – a pump is fixed near your water heater. It continuously pumps hot water through the hot water pipes in your house, creating a loop. The hot water continues to circulate through your hot water pipes and dedicated return pipes until you turn on the hot water tap. Hot water is instantly available 24/7.
  • Over the water heater systems – the pump is located over the water heater and a valve is located under the furthest sink, shower or other taps in your home. Hot water is pressurized by the pump through the hot pipes. If the tap is off, the valve is closed under the sink and the water runs back through the cold tap to create a loop.
  • Under the sink systems – the pump is located under the sink, it pushes the hot water through the cold pipes to all other fixtures, giving you hot water on demand.
  • Timer systems – whether they use return pipes or the cold water pipes, and no matter where they’re located, timer systems allow you to pre-set when you want hot water to be available and when the pump should shut off.

Depending on your budget and the plumbing system in your house, there are a huge variety of different pumps you can use. Look out for additional features from low energy pumps to adjustable temperature settings!

Antonio Fleming plumber

Jake is a clean water enthusiast and blogger. He has spent his university days in Chicago studying various water filtration technologies and now enjoys helping people live healthier lives when it comes to water consumption.