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Hot Water Recirculating Pump: What You Should Know

Note: This post may contain affiliate links. This means that at no cost to you, we may receive a small commission for made purchases.

Hot water is a modern convenience we use every day. We often take it for granted until something goes wrong. If you’ve ever waited several minutes for the water to get hot, then you might want to learn more about hot water recirculating pumps.

Hot Water Recirculating Pump

About Hot Water Recirculating Pumps

These systems ensure that there is a constant supply of hot water available whenever you need it.

A hot water recirculating system saves energy by recycling hot water. Hot water recirculation systems are designed to help conserve water by keeping hot water flowing when it isn’t needed. 

This system works by sending cold water back into the tank to heat up again. These systems are more expensive to install than regular hot water tanks, but they save money over time because there is less water wasted.

Why Should You Get A Hot Water Recirculating Pump?

A lot of water is wasted by having a non-recirculating pump. This means that much of the water is left in the pipes to be cooled. A lot of energy is used to heat this water.

Hot water recirculating pumps can save a lot of money. Your savings could make up for the extra expense incurred by installing one.

Types Of Hot Water Recirculating Pump

Recirculating pumps are used to conserve energy by maintaining the temperature of hot water in your house. There are some different types available. You can install these pumps yourself or hire an electrician to do it for you.

Full Recirculating Pump

A full recirculating pump system is very efficient and saves lots of water. However, it costs more money than other options.

In this system, your plumber installs additional hot water pipes in order to return the unused hot water back into the water heater. This allows for more hot water (see also ‘Hot Water Not Hot Enough: Common Problems and How to Fix Them‘) to be available whenever needed.

Hot water flows through a continuous cycle throughout your entire plumbing system, so that there is a constant supply of hot water, reducing your wait times and wasting less water.

A sensor detects the temperature of the hot water in the pipe, then stops the circulation of the hot water when it reaches a certain temperature. Most pumps are designed with sensors to turn off when hot water makes a complete loop.

Timers allow you to control when the pumps are active. Plumbers can install these features if your pump doesn’t already have them.

Even though you may not want to pay extra money for a sensor or timer, it’s still possible to use a simple thermostat instead. Your plumber can easily install this device into your existing plumbing system.

You’ll still need to run some additional piping throughout your house, but this shouldn’t be much different from installing a regular thermostat.

Recirculating Pump Comfort Systems

These recirculating pumps use less energy than other types of systems because they reuse water. Hot water circulates throughout your house instead of going into a tank or boiler.

Comfort systems come with one major drawback. Water coming out of the cold tap initially will probably be warm. This isn’t a big deal unless you’re using the water for drinking.

You should turn off your pump if you’re planning to use cold water for drinking or cooking. During the summer, you’ll probably be using less hot water than usual, so you won’t need to run the pump quite as often.

This is the most common type of pump used in homes today. It is also known as an inline pump. It is installed under the skin or near the point of use. It has a toggle switch that opens up when the pump is operating.

When the faucet is closed, the hot water passes through to the cold water pipe. When the faucets are opened, the hot water returns to the boiler through the pipe.

These types of pumps should be used when there is a lot of water usage. This type of pump does not use any electricity to operate. You can turn off your main power source and still use these types of pumps.

Which Hot Water Recirculating Pump System?

A full recirculating system is recommended if you want to use your hot water as often as possible. You’ll get the most benefits out of a full recirculating unit because it will heat your water when you need it.

Comfort systems are cheaper than full recirculating units, but they won’t warm your water when you’re using it.

A timer is used to control the operation of a system. You can program the timer to start and stop the system at any time. This makes it easy to schedule the system to run at certain times.

Timers are very simple devices. They are easy to use and install. However, you might not be able to customize them as much as you’d like. Electronic timers are more flexible than mechanical ones. They allow you to change your schedule without having to reset the device.

Things To Consider

Many comfort systems can be DIY-installed. Better to go with professionals if you need new plumbing or if you’re unsure about your DIY plumbing abilities. Drain the water heater before beginning any work.

Hot water recirculating systems require a little maintenance. You should be able to hear if there is a leak or other sound coming from your hot water system. If you notice anything strange, call a plumber right away.

Recirculating pumps are an efficient way to heat your house. They lower the initial cost of installing them. But they share the pipes with the cold water supply, so the water coming out of the cold faucets (see also ‘Why Won’t Cold Water Come Out Of My Faucet?‘) might be warm or even tepid.

To avoid this issue, some people shut down the recirculation pump during the summer months.

You may not realize that you have a recirculating water system. A previous homeowner might have unplugged the water pump. It is worth looking for it near the top or bottom part of your water heater.

Your plumber can help you locate the pump and make it work again. You can also check yourself near the top or the bottom of your water heater for the pump.

Insulating pipes helps to keep them warm, and can prevent damage from cold weather. It will also save money by keeping the water hot for longer periods of time.

California is known for having hard waters, and if you don’t have a water softener, the minerals in the hard water can wreak havoc to your hot water recirculation pump. You should buy a water softener to make sure your pump lasts longer.

Water consumption by households could be drastically reduced if people were to install a hot water recirculation pump. No major lifestyle changes need to be made to reduce water usage.


Water doesn’t heat up in your system until the cold water runs through the pipe first. This means that there is colder water than hot water in the pipes. Hot water travels from your water heater to your faucet.

After turning off the tap, the hot water stays in your pipes until it loses its heat. Cold water remains in your hot water pipes over time.

Hot water recirculating pumps save water by cutting off the flow of cold water when you turn on the tap. You’ll get instantaneous hot water from every sink.

Water heaters should be placed near the kitchen sink, because the kitchen is usually the busiest room in the house. Placing the water heater close to the kitchen also means less time waiting for hot water.

Cold water must travel through the pipes before hot water reaches you. You’ll notice that as you use the shower, for example, the temperature of the water drops off until it gets warm again.

The further away the water heater is from the faucet, the colder the water will be when you turn it on.

Tankless Water Heaters With Recirculating Pump

A tankless water heater is an excellent choice if you want to save money and energy. You won’t have to worry about running out of hot water because it heats up instantaneously.

Tankless water heaters also provide endless hot water without wasting any energy.

Tankless systems are very efficient but require a lot of maintenance. Recirculating pumps are not as efficient as tankless systems. You should consider your needs when choosing a tankless or tank system.

Hot Water Recirculating Pump Problems

Hot Water Recirculating Pump Problems

Installing a hot water recirculating system (see also ‘4 Common Hot Water Recirculation System Problems And How To Fix Them‘) is a very complicated process. You need to know what kind of equipment you need, how much money you should spend on it, and how to install it properly.

There are many things you need to consider when installing this type of system.

A hot water recirculation system can come with many problems you need to learn about.

Power Waste

Water heaters are usually located near bathrooms or kitchens. Hot water reaches the tap quickly. Older models waste energy by keeping the pump running even when there isn’t any hot water.

Recirculating systems are very expensive. You should consider other options before purchasing this type of system.

There are several ways to save electricity. Insulating pipes helps prevent heat loss. Switching off pumps during the night saves electricity. Timers turn pumps off when they’re not needed.


Flow-accelerated corrosion occurs when there is excessive flow velocity or aggressive water chemistry. This causes metal surfaces to corrode. Red rust can be seen on the steel surface of the system. Eventually, the water inside the pipes erodes them away.

Pipes get bent, elbows, and tee joints. These areas are the most common places for corrosion to occur. When the pipes burst, the water inside the system erodes the wall away until it explodes.

Installing a smaller pump is one way to fix it. Minimizing sudden changes in water flow direction is another way to fix it. Changing the direction of the pipe is another way to fix the problem. 

Using a pump with a bigger inlet/outlet is another way to fix this problem. Using a pump that has a rotor sleeve and a replacement cartridge is another way to fix these problems. These pumps can last longer in hard water areas.

Noise Problems

Noise from your hot water recirculating pump means there is an issue with your hot water recirculation system. This could mean that your hot water circulator is full of air or something else is wrong with your hot water recycling system.

You’ll need to open the tiny air escape valve to release the air pressure inside the tank. Then repeat for the other valves. The noise your recirculation pump makes may be an indication that the bearings are worn. Replace the pump before it completely fails.

Low Flow Rate

Hot water recirculation pumps should be capable of creating enough head pressure to turn on a tankless water heater.

To avoid future failures, make sure the pump is suitable for the water heater before installing the water heater. You should do this before installing the water heater because if there is a problem with the pump, you won’t be able to use the water heater.

Valves And Water Lines

Systems that siphon water from hot water lines when bringing up cold water must be avoided. When you use a cold water faucet in this situation, tepid to warm water will flow out first.

This is unusable and wastes water. These systems are prone to temperature swings because they use inferior check valves and thermostat valves.

Older heating systems tend to fail sooner because of the lack of proper maintenance. Newer models include more efficient components, such as bypass valves that prevent hot water from entering cold pipes. These new models also last longer.


Low-quality systems need more maintenance than high-quality ones. Newer, better models are less expensive to maintain. Ask for recommendations from professionals. They’ll tell you which brand is better than others.

Pros And Cons

Hot water recirculation pumps are great for people who want instant hot water. They are very easy to install and maintain. However, they do require an electric power source. They also aren’t as efficient as other types of heaters.


Recirculating pumps are used during the winter months when water levels drop. They help prevent pipes from freezing.

Recirculating pumps are used to provide instant hot water. They are very effective at getting hot water into your house quickly. They are also very energy-efficient.


Recirculating pumps are an inexpensive way to save water. However, they need regular maintenance. You’ll also need to install an outlet near your sink. A plumber can install them, but it won’t be cheap –  around $500 to $1,000 minimum.

Is A Hot Water Recirculating Pump Worth It?

Recirculating pumps are great for families who use lots of hot water. They’re also very expensive. In 5 or so years, a family could pay off a $200 pump – but it might not be the most efficient way to use the money.

Traditional pumps are usually more expensive than other types of pumps. Smaller pumps are less expensive. They do not use much electricity because they are smaller.

Recirculating pumps usually have timers on them so they won’t run all night long. Hot water circulates throughout your house during the day. You’ll need a plumber to install a pump and connect pipes.


A recirculating pump will help you save time and money, and help conserve water. However, make sure you’re making the best choice for your needs!

author avatar
Charlie Hardcastle


On Key

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