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A hot water recirculation system is a set up that allows for near instant hot water to a number of fixtures. This is usually accomplished by piping the hot water in a loop, with a circulation pump that turns on when the water in the pipes cools, to flow more hot water into the system from the water heater.
The principal behind recirc systems
When you turn on a hot water faucet, the water is drawn from the water heater. Any cold water that is sitting in the hot water piping between the water heater and that faucet must first be used up, before the hot water makes it to that faucet. This is why the water sometimes takes a while to “heat up”.
Once you are done with the hot water, you turn the faucet off, and the water in the pipes will start to cool over time. The next time you use that faucet for hot water, you have to, again, wait for the water that has cooled to be used up before you get the actual “hot water”.
Hot water recirculation systems have the hot water pipes run as close as possible to the individual fixtures, then have a return line that goes straight back to the source (your water heater). Once the water in the line cools to a certain point, the circulation pump kicks in, and pumps the cooled water out of the lines and back into the water heater where it can be reheated.
This means that when you turn on the faucet, the heated water is right there, so it is at the faucet (or other fixture) pretty much instantly.
There are trade-offs
There are really two main benefits to having a recirc system in your home.
1 – You save time. No more turning on the water and waiting for it to warm up. This can be especially good in the cold, winter months when the water in the pipes cools faster, and is at a lower temperature.
2 – You save water. When you turn on a faucet, and wait for the water to “heat up”, all that water that goes down the drain is wasted. It goes done the drain, through the sewer, into the city sewer and eventually to the sewage treatment facilities. At best, it is a waste of money. In drought seasons, it is even more important to save water.
While those are some pretty big benefits, there are a couple of drawbacks…
1 – You use more energy. Since you are heating the water in the water heater more often with a recirc system, you do use a bit more energy (natural gas or electricity, depending on your setup).
2 – The pump itself uses some electricity – not a lot, but it does use some.
A couple of things can be done to mitigate those extra expenses. A good job of insulating the hot water pipes is one of those ways, as it slows the rate at which the water in the pipes cools. Another way is to have the system on a timer, so that it does not allow the system to function in the middle of the night when no one is using the hot water.
So, is a hot water recirculation system right for you?
Having your home converted to a recirc system can be fairly simple, or it can be quite complex. That depends, to a great extent, on your existing plumbing layout. If after looking at the benefits and drawbacks, a hot water recirculation system sounds like a good idea for you, give Gogo Rooter Plumbing a call. We will come out to your home, go through the options, and help you to make a fully informed decision. We can often begin work the same day, if you would like.
Give Gogo Rooter Plumbing a call today!