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How Does A Hot Water Recirculating Pump Work?

Learn how a hot water recirculating pump works, their benefits, types, installation tips, energy savings, and maintenance for increased home comfort!

Hot Water Recirculating Pump


Have you ever turned on your shower, only to wait an eternity for hot water to flow? It’s a common frustration, but what if I told you there’s a simple solution? Enter the world of hot water recirculating pumps!

These useful devices can transform your daily routine by delivering hot water instantly to your taps. Whether you’re an eco-conscious homeowner or simply tired of waiting, a hot water recirculating pump is a game-changer.

Hot water recirculating pumps are designed to keep hot water flowing through your pipes, ensuring you get hot water on demand. Say goodbye to wasting water while waiting for it to heat up.

Plus, there are several benefits to enjoy, from convenience to energy savings. Ready to learn more about these incredible systems? Let’s get started!

What does a Recirculating Pump do?

Hot Water Recirculating Pump

A recirculating pump is a small device that circulates hot water throughout your plumbing or heating system. Instead of letting the water cool down and stagnate in the pipes, the pump keeps it moving, ensuring that hot water is always available when you turn on the tap. It’s like having a hot water concierge at your service 24/7!

Imagine the luxury of instant hot water in your kitchen, bathroom, and laundry room. With a recirculating pump, that’s exactly what you get. This not only makes your home more comfortable but also reduces water waste significantly. No more running the tap and watching precious gallons go down the drain as you wait for it to heat up.

How does a Hot Water Recirculation Pump work?

So, how exactly does this practical device work? A hot water recirculation pump typically connects to your water heater and the plumbing or heating system. It creates a loop, constantly moving hot water through your pipes and back to the heater, keeping it hot and ready for use. Some systems include a return line, while others utilise existing cold water lines to recirculate the hot water.

Modern systems often come with advanced features like timers, thermostats, and sensors to enhance efficiency. For example, a hot water recirculating pump with a timer can be programmed to run during peak usage hours, while a thermostat-controlled pump ensures the water stays within a desired temperature range. Overall, these smart features make the system more cost-effective by saving energy and reducing operating costs.

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Why use a Hot Water Recirculating Pump?

There are plenty of reasons to consider installing a hot water recirculating pump. First and foremost, it saves time. No more standing around waiting for hot water to arrive. This is particularly beneficial in larger homes where water has to travel a longer distance from the heater to the faucet.

Additionally, hot water recirculating pumps offer significant water savings. By reducing the amount of water wasted while waiting for it to heat up, these pumps help conserve this precious resource. Over time, this can lead to lower water bills, making the investment in a recirculating pump a financially savvy decision.

Hot Water Recirculating System Components

A typical hot water recirculation system consists of several key components. The pump itself is the heart of the system, responsible for circulating water through the pipes.

A check valve ensures water flows in the correct direction, preventing backflow. Additionally, advanced systems may feature timers, thermostats, and sensors to control the pump’s operation and enhance efficiency. These components work together to provide a seamless, energy-efficient solution to your hot water needs.

Types of Hot Water Recirculating Pumps

Hot Water Recirculation Pump

Demand-Controlled Recirculating Pumps

Demand-controlled recirculating pumps are designed to operate only when hot water is needed. They are equipped with sensors that detect when a faucet is turned on and activate the pump to provide hot water flow quickly. Furthermore, this type of pump is highly efficient because it minimises energy use and maximises convenience.

Timer-Controlled Recirculating Pumps

Timer-controlled recirculating pumps run on a set schedule, turning on and off at predetermined times. This is ideal for households with predictable hot water usage patterns, such as in the morning and evening. By limiting operation to specific times, these pumps save energy while ensuring hot water is available when you need it most.

Temperature-Controlled Recirculating Pumps

Temperature-controlled recirculating pumps maintain water temperature within a specified range. These pumps activate when the water temperature drops below a certain point, ensuring a constant supply of hot water flow. Therefore, this type of system is particularly useful for maintaining consistent water flow temperatures in climates with fluctuating temperatures.

How to Install a Hot Water Recirculating Pump

First, identify a suitable location near your water heater to install the pump. Most systems come with detailed installation guides to assist you. You’ll need basic plumbing tools and materials, including wrenches, pipe cutters, and Teflon tape.

The installation process typically involves connecting the pump to your water heater and heating or plumbing system, installing a check valve, and setting up any additional components like timers or thermostats. Once installed, test the system to ensure it’s functioning correctly and adjust settings as needed.

Energy Efficiency and Cost Savings

One of the standout benefits of hot water recirculating pumps is their energy efficiency. By reducing the amount of water wasted while waiting for it to heat up, these pumps help lower your overall water consumption. This translates to lower water bills and a reduced environmental footprint.

Moreover, advanced models with timers and thermostats optimise energy use, running only when necessary. This precise control can lead to significant energy savings over time, making hot water pumps a smart investment for eco-conscious homeowners.

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Common Issues and Troubleshooting Tips

Like any mechanical device, hot water recirculation pumps can occasionally run into issues. Common problems include noise, leaks, and reduced efficiency. However, regular maintenance and timely troubleshooting can help address these issues promptly.

If you experience noise, check for loose components or air in the system. Leaks can often be fixed by tightening connections or replacing worn-out seals. If the pump isn’t working efficiently, ensure the timer or thermostat is set correctly and that there are no blockages in the pipes. Regular inspections and maintenance can keep your system running smoothly.

How to Size a Hot Water Recirculating Pump

Choosing the right size pump is crucial for optimal performance. Factors to consider include the size of your home, the distance from the water heater to the farthest faucet, and the flow rate required. A professional plumber can help you determine the best pump size for your specific needs.

An undersized pump may not provide sufficient hot water, while an oversized pump can lead to unnecessary energy consumption. Proper sizing ensures your system operates efficiently and delivers hot water flow promptly to all fixtures.

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Maintenance Tips for Your Recirculating Pump

Maintaining your hot water recirculating pump is essential for long-term performance. Regularly check for leaks, tighten any loose connections, and inspect the pump and components for signs of wear. Clean the pump’s inlet screen to prevent debris buildup and ensure smooth operation.

It’s also important to test the system periodically to ensure it’s working correctly. Adjust timers and thermostats as needed to match your hot water usage patterns. By following these simple maintenance tips, you can extend the life of your pump and keep your hot water system running efficiently.

Environmental Benefits

Hot water recirculating systems offer significant environmental benefits. By reducing water waste, they help conserve this vital resource, especially in areas prone to drought or water shortages. Additionally, energy-efficient pumps lower overall energy consumption, reducing your home’s carbon footprint.

These systems contribute to sustainable living by minimising water and energy waste. For eco-conscious homeowners, installing a hot water recirculating pump is a step towards a greener, more sustainable future.

Hot Water Recirculation Pumps in Software like h2x

Hot Water Recirculating Pump

Did you know that you can automate your hot water recirculation calculations within h2x?!

Simply sketch the pipe layout, add balancing valves, and use the auto-connect feature for fixtures. With one click, h2x combines your layout with project settings for accurate pipe sizing, flow rate calculations, and pump duties.

View results in the software or export them as a spreadsheet. You can also export your drawing to PDF, AutoCAD, or Revit files.

Check out the video below to see how it works. For more details, read a case study here showcasing real-world results matched exactly with the h2x calculations.

If you’re interested in learning more about h2x, we’d love to hear from you. You can book a free demo or sign up for a 14-day free trial today!


Conclusion: Are Hot Water Recirculation Pumps Worth It?

In conclusion, hot water recirculation pumps are a valuable addition to any home. They offer convenience, water and energy savings, and environmental benefits. Whether you’re looking to reduce water waste, lower your utility bills, or enjoy instant hot water, a recirculating pump is a worthwhile investment.

With various types available, including demand-controlled, timer-controlled, and temperature-controlled pumps, there’s a solution to suit every household’s needs. Therefore, consider your hot water usage patterns and specific requirements to choose the best system for your home.


How much does it cost to install a hot water recirculating pump?

Installation costs can vary depending on the type of pump and whether you hire a professional or do it yourself. On average, professional installation can range from £400 / $500 to £1,200 / $1,500.

Can I install a hot water recirculating pump with a tankless water heater?

Yes, many hot water pumps are compatible with tankless water heaters. However, be sure to choose a pump designed for this type of system.

How often should I maintain my hot water recirculating pump?

Regular maintenance should be performed annually, including checking for leaks, cleaning the inlet screen, and testing the system.

Do hot water recirculating pumps save energy?

Yes, especially models with timers or thermostats that optimise operation. By reducing water waste and running efficiently, these pumps can help lower energy consumption.

What are the best hot water recirculation pumps on the market?

Some popular brands include Grundfos, Laing, and Watts. Look for models that match your home’s specific needs and offer features like timers, thermostats, and energy-efficient settings. Also, be sure to read reviews and consider professional recommendations to find the best pump for your setup.

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