How Does a Water Circulation Pump Work?

If you’ve dreamed of getting instant hot water to any faucet in your home, you might have considered installing a water circulation pump. Not only do these circulation pumps deliver instant hot water throughout your home, but they can save thousands of gallons of water per year. In a plumbing system without a pump, hot water can’t arrive at the faucet until the cold water in the pipes escapes, meaning lots of wasted water down the drain. A circulating pump keeps hot water flowing through the system so that its immediately accessible. 

girl in a bathtub with a water circulation pump

Types of Circulation Pumps and How They Work

There are three types of circulation pumps that are most commonly used in modern homes. The most simple form is the basic circulation pump. This device is continuously on and constantly circulate water through the water heater and pipes. When the hot water faucet is on, the hot water is pumped out of the faucet. Otherwise, water is returned to the heater. Due to its inefficiency and wear and tear, we do not recommend homeowners install a simple pump. 

On-Demand Circulation Pumps

As the name suggests, on-demand circulation pumps only operate when someone turns on the hot water in a sink, bathtub or other location. This system is equipped with either a switch or a motion detector that activates the pump when water begins to move in the hot water line. The pump will continue to circulate hot water from the water heater until the desired temperature is reached or until the water flow is switched off by the user. While this system can save a lot of energy and water, it may not be as instantaneous as other types of circulation pumps.

Time and Temperature Circulation Pumps

This type of circulation pump turns on at a programmed time and pumps water into a loop until it reaches a designated temperature. This is usually when a family uses hot water the most: in the morning during showers or in the evening when washing dishes or doing laundry. The aquastat can be changed at any time to fit changing household needs. Since the pump only operates when it’s needed, it can save a lot of money while still providing immediate hot water. There is a possibility that families can overuse this type of pump and expend excess energy, but this is an avoidable situation. 

Possible Disadvantages of Circulation Pumps

Having instant access to hot water can be a blessing, but the convenience can come with some side effects. One is that cold water will likely be lukewarm when first turning on the faucet rather than cold if there is no dedicated return line in the home. For pumps that need power, it’s possible the homeowner will need to install a new outlet, and that can add to the initial costs. There’s also some evidence that pumps can shorten the lifespan of pipes since they will be dealing with more heat and pressure than normal.

Installing a Circulating Pump

It’s always a good idea for homeowners to hire professional plumbers to install any new components in their plumbing system. Circulation pumps are not incredibly complicated, but an expert installation will ensure that the system works correctly the first time. It’s also the best chance of avoiding problems down the line that could cost a lot of time and money. 

Maeser has successfully installed countless water circulation pumps for property owners throughout the Louisville area. Our experts will be happy to answer any questions you have about this technology and whether or not its right for your home. Request a quote or schedule an appointment today by calling or sending us a message. 

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