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Signs There’s a Problem with Your Hot Water Recirculating Pump


A hot water recirculating pump is great for convenience and comfort, as it means getting hot water faster when you turn on the hot tap. For homes with on-demand or tankless water heaters, this is important, as it can otherwise be a little bit of a wait before the cold water clears out of the pipes and the hot water reaches you. When a hot water recirculating pump starts having or causing problems with the system, though, it can become more frustrating than anything else, especially if you don’t know what to do about it. Here are a few signs there is a problem with your hot water recirculating pump, and what to do about it.

A Long Wait for Hot Water

The purpose of a hot water recirculation system is to provide you with hot water faster, so if you find yourself waiting for hot water when you turn on the tap, there could be something wrong with your system. Here are a few potential problems:

  • The pump is not working. If the pump fails, you’ll be waiting for the hot water to reach you from wherever you have the tankless water heater installed. You may need a new pump or your existing pump may need to be maintained.
  • Your pump is not compatible with your system. Many recirculation pumps have low flow rates which might not be powerful enough for your system.
  • There’s a problem with the bypass valve. The bypass valve opens when the hot water in the pipes cools, allowing the pump to push it into the cold line so the hot line can fill with freshly heated water. If the valve isn’t opening when it should, the water in the pipe will continue to cool and you’ll have to clear it out of the way when you turn on the tap.
  • The hot pipe needs to be better insulated. Proper insulation is needed to prevent the hot water from cooling down as quickly.

Hot Water in the Cold Pipe

If you turn on the cold water and get hit with hot water instead, you may actually have a problem with the bypass valve that’s a part of your hot water recirculation system, rather than the pump itself. The valve is designed to close and keep the hot water in the pipes once it’s up to temperature. When it cools down too much, the valve opens and the pump pushes the water back into the cold lines, making room for freshly heated water in the hot pipe. If you have hot water in the cold side, on the other hand, the valve may actually be staying open when it shouldn’t be.

A Noisy Pump

Like with most things, a lot of noise coming from your hot water recirculation pump isn’t a good sign. Once again, there are a few different things it could be.

  • Air in the line: If there has been a power outage or air has gotten into the line for another reason, the pump can make a lot of noise. The air will need to be bled out of the system.
  • Wrong size pump for the system: A noisy pump may just be either too powerful or not powerful enough for your system. A professional can help you determine what size pump you need.
  • Bad bearings: Excessive noise could also be coming from the bearings, signaling that the pump is about to seize. Have a professional inspect the system right away to have the pump maintained or replaced as needed.

Professional Service You Can Trust

A hot water recirculating pump is supposed to make your access to hot water more convenient, not less. If you notice one of these signs that your recirculating pump isn’t performing at its best, call Maeser today. One of our experienced technicians will get you back up and running as soon as possible.

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