Are you interested in learning the pros and cons of hot water recirculation pumps?
Instant hot water pumps can be a great investment so you don't have to wait several minutes for a hot shower. (Here is my review on the best hot water recirculating pumps.)
In this guide, I will go over...
- The #1 advantage of getting instant hot water for your whole home
- The biggest con which is the installation (and upfront cost)
- How the average home can save 10,000 gallons of water a year
- A little-known con which is temporary lukewarm water in the cold water supply line
Let's get started with this guide!
What Are Hot Water Recirculation Pumps?
Before we get to the pros and cons, let's first quickly go over what exactly are hot water recirculation pumps.
These instant water pumps are generally installed above the water heater. There is also a sensor valve that is installed under the farthest sink from the water heater.
The sensor valve "senses" when the temperature drops below around 90 degrees open a valve allowing more hot water to flow. This in turns triggers the hot water pump to pump more hot water.
In general, a hot water pump can save you 1-3 minutes of waiting for hot water at a shower or sink --- you will still have to wait a few seconds however.
My 7 Pros And Cons of Hot Water Recirculating Pumps
Are you short on time? Do you want to quickly go over the pros and cons of instant hot water pumps and skip the main article?
Check out my list below of seven pros and cons...
- No More Waiting. Hot water recirculating systems can save minutes (in a large home) in waiting at your shower or sink for hot water.
- Save Water. Save gallons per shower or sink so you aren't wasting water.
- Save Money. The dollars aren't tremendous, but you will save some money over the long term.
- Initial Cost. There is no way to avoid the upfront cost of the pump and installation (possibly hiring a plumber).
- Lukewarm Water. One issue with hot water pumps is that when you want cold water, you will have to wait a few seconds more than normal.
- Sensor Valve. The sensor valve is installed at the farthest sink, and many owners complain of having to replace it frequently.
- Outlet. Most hot water pumps can just be plugged into a regular 120-volt outlet. But if you don't have one nearby, you will have to do extra wiring.
What Are The Pros?
Here are a few advantages to buying a water heater recirculation pump for your own home…
Pro #1. No More Waiting
The hands down number reason to have a hot water pump is that there is no more waiting! No more waiting when you are barely awake, standing on the cold floor of a bathroom waiting for a warm shower.
And no more waiting just to wash your hands because you want to avoid the icy embrace of cold water. I don’t know about you, but I’m not a big fan of arctic water for a shower or for my hands.
The long wait for hot water is one of the top complaints of new homeowners — and my clients usually are not shy to let me know.
When I am inspecting a home, and I'm waiting minutes for hot water at a shower, my client immediately gets suspicious. “Should it take this long to get hot water?” My usual answer unfortunately is “Yes, it’s quite normal.”
Most people just live with it. But an on demand hot water pumps are a relatively easy solution — even simple enough to install yourself within 30 minutes if you have a little DIY skill.
Pro #2. Save Water
Undoubtedly, having a hot water recirculation system will save you a tremendous amount of water over the year. According to one study, the average person wastes 1-3 gallons of water while they wait for hot water to reach them at the fixture.
Every time you turn on the shower or faucet and wait several minutes for hot water, a significant amount of water is being wasted.
Even if the actual monetary cost isn’t that much, wasting water definitely isn’t good for the community nor friendly to the environment.
We highly recommend that you buy a water heater pump with a timer included so that you can program the pump to turn on when you are likely to need hot water. You can program the pump to turn on for 2-3 hours in the morning, and a few hours in the evening for example.
All other times, the pump will not turn on.
Pro #3. Save a Small Amount of Money
To be honest, the amount of money that you may save probably isn’t very substantial. The amount of money that you save in water usage will likely be offset by the installation costs and the ongoing operating the pump.
However, after the pump is paid off, you may see some cost savings especially if you have a big family or otherwise a big water user.
What Are The Cons?
Like every home device that makes are lives easier, there will always be a few disadvantages even if it is just the initial upfront cost and hassle.
Here are a few cons that I think you may want to know about…
Con #1. Initial Cost
The biggest con in my opinion is probably the upfront cost, especially if you hire a plumber.
You can buy a hot water pump in the $100-$300 range, but if you hire a plumber, the total cost could be in the $500-$1000 ballpark. If you have any DIY skills, the install really isn’t that difficult, and can be installed in less than 30 minutes.
It is interesting to also consider that domestic hot water in a home is the second biggest expense only after HVAC expenses.
Con #2. Lukewarm Cold Water
If your hot water pump doesn’t have a dedicated return line for the hot water (which it probably won’t) then it is going to take a minute or two to get cold water.
Trade offs… what can you do?
For me, having instant hot water is more important than instant cold water.
Con #3. Changing The Sensor Valve
Some homeowners have reported that they have had to frequently change the sensor valve such as every two years.
The sensor valve is a device that is usually installed under the furthest sink from the water heater, but it may also be a part of the pump itself. If it is outside of the water pump, replacement is pretty easy.
If the valve is located inside the water pump, the whole pump may need to be replaced.
Con #4. Needs A Plug For Unit
Most units will simply be plugged into an outlet, which is great, if you have one.
Otherwise you may have to install a new outlet, or hardwire the under sink hot water pump into something else.
I hope you enjoyed my article. If you have any questions or comments, please leave it at the bottom of this article in the comment box.