Recirculating Pumps for Water Heaters: Why They are Important?

How to get hot water faster with the recirculating pumps. Importance of installing hot water circulating pumps in your home.

Does it take too long to get hot water in the kitchen and bathroom sink, or a shower? Are you tired of getting the surge of cold water while expecting a nice hot bath?


Use a hot water recirculating pump so you don’t have to wait any longer.

Recirculating pumps for water heaters: Do I need one?

Grundfos recirculating pumpGrundfos recirculating pump

Check out the buying guide and selecting tips and see the popular models of the circulating pumps for water heaters.

Most larger homes have long plumbing connecting from a water heater or a boiler to the delivery point (a faucet, shower, sink, etc.), making hot water travel for a long time. This slows down the heating process and obliges users to let some water go down the drain before the warm water is delivered, wasting time, energy, and water, while losing money.

Also, this can be extremely frustrating as those first minutes provide mostly uncomfortable showers and an unpleasant overall experience – so the users naturally blame a water heater.

That is why many homeowners decide to buy a hot water circulation pump and install it in the recirculation loop, shortening the wait time and reducing waste.

Yes, there are other options, like; installing a water heater booster or tankless unit with the integrated pump or unit upgrade, but the circulating pump seems to be the most efficient and cost-effective solution.

Hot water recirculating pumps are a great solution in domestic water heating systems because they guarantee fast water delivery, warm or hot, from the water heater, plumbing pipes, and fixtures. It can be said that hot water is delivered instantaneously, but it depends on the type.

This is done by circulating hot water through the pipes even when the tap is not open and there is no demand for hot water.

These systems are known as recirculation systems. With the installed pump comes a dedicated return line connecting the fixture and water heater. A dedicated return line is recommended due to its independence of the supply line, and mainly in new homes, as its installation in an existing one can be expensive.

If the dedicated line is not a viable option, then the existing cold water line combined with the bypass valve can be utilized, where cold water is recycled back to the heater instead of down the drain.

But not all hot water circulating pumps are worth the money. So you’ll need to learn what you should go for before buying one.


Types of the recirculating pumps

Circulating pumps mentioned here belong to a group of centrifugal types, the most common type seen in home plumbing and heating. They utilize the mechanical force from a motor and transfer to an impeller, increasing the water velocity.

In open systems such as the water heating systems where the fresh water is delivered regularly, the cast iron pumps should not be used because when the iron is exposed to oxygen, it will rust fast. Choose the type made of stainless steel or bronze instead.

Several types of circulating pumps are used in water heating systems; continuous (ON/OFF), on-demand, temperature, and time-controlled.

Continuous or ON/OFF pumps

This is the simplest type. It runs non-stop (continuously), resulting in additional stress, shorter lifespan, and unnecessary energy consumption when hot water is not needed.

On-demand circulating pump

On-demand models utilize a motion sensor or a manual switch to activate them. Upon activation, hot water is delivered to the fixture.

Time-controlled pumps

This type utilizes the timer to run but only at the set time or when, for example, the demand for hot water is the highest.

Thermostatic pump

The thermostatic type is the temperature-controlled pump that ensures that the water with the desired temperature is always available at the fixture. Once the set temperature is achieved, the device turns OFF or ON when the temperature drops.

This type can also be combined with the timer.

How to choose a recirculating pump

There is a list of features you should consider when it comes to selecting the recirculating pumps for plumbing or water heating. Despite looking simple and straightforward, some features may change your entire experience when installing and using, such as:

Connection size

When we talk about the size, we don’t mean the size of the device but the size of the connections. These can vary from 1/2 inches to 3/4 inches, and more. This will tell you whether it fits your home’s pipe system or not and what must be done.


There’s nothing more useful in hot water circulation pumps than a timer. This allows users to fit their needs promptly, following their usual water usage routines. Most of them come with a 24-hour timer which makes them much more efficient and easy to use.

Flow rate

Recirculating pumps aid by delivering hot water faster than average, yet it is the flow rate or GPM (gallons per minute) measure that will tell you how fast the device is. Most of these models provide GPM measures from 0 to 9, but it all comes down to how long your pipe system is; the longer it is, the more GPM you will need.


A perfect water pump will aid users in saving a lot of water in a year. An efficient model may save from 12,000 up to 30,000 or even more gallons. This means from 30 to 100 gallons per day. The more efficient the product is, the more water and money you save in the long run.

These features will completely vary according to the model and type of device. To help you find the right model, here you have some interesting options to consider.

Top-selling water circulating pumps

Grundfos Comfort Series Circulating Pump

With a single-phase 115v motor and a maintenance-free design, the Grundfos provides a fantastic performance when it comes to recirculating water. It comes with stainless steel construction, which makes it much more durable than others. Works with a low-watt connection and can help you save up to 38,000 gallons of water per year.

It also boasts a 24-hour timer which allows users to use it according to their needs. What’s more, it is effortless to install near the water heater in under 2 hours and will help increase the effectiveness of home appliances without problems.

Watts Recirculating Hot Water System with Built-In Time

The 50800 circulating pump model from Watts helps to save up to 15,000 gallons of water per year thanks to its 10% efficiency-wise design. Its installation is entirely straightforward, where a professional can do it in an hour or so. The device comes with a 10 ft. power cord and a 24-hour timer for more convenience.

It only works with tank-type water heaters, yet it provides superior performance than most, thanks to its excellent GPM. It is maintenance-free and includes two additional 12-inches supply lines for productive use.

Laing AutoCirc ACT E1

Designed with an ECM/PM technology, it is highly efficient and easy to use. It’s perfect for recirculation and doesn’t require an additional recirculating pipe to use. It comes with an adjustable 24-hour timer and a 6-foot power cord for easy installation. It can be installed under the sink, far from the water heater.

It works by automatically turning on when the water is 89 F or below, heating it up until it meets 95 F when it automatically turns off again. It goes better with tankless water heaters. It works with only 14 watts and can save up to 17,000 gallons of water a year.

 Advantages of using recirculating pumps


Using a recirculation pump immediately provides a boost to hot water efficiency and comfort. No more complaints that it takes too long for hot water to reach the shower. No cold water splashes. Hot water is there almost instantaneously, as soon as you open the tap. They save you time and money.

Water conservation

Without a circulating pump, water heating systems tend to make users waste water before delivering hot water to the tap. And when installed, spending water inefficiently is a thing of the past.

Easy and fast installation & use

Most recirculating pumps are a lot easier to install than other similar-purpose systems, demanding only an hour or so for the installation. Moreover, most of them work automatically without human interaction. There are no special permits needed for the installation. Once installed, there is no maintenance required.


Waiting for hot water to come down the sink is a pain in the neck… The solution is to purchase a quality recirculation pump.

Buying a suitable model and professional installation will guarantee energy and water conservation, followed by an enhanced comfort and convenience. Expect to pay a few hundred dollars, especially for the best ones, such as reviewed above.

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