How to Install a Recirculating Hot Water System

What You'll Need
Copper pipe
Pipe insulation
Check valve
Recirculating water pump

A recirculating hot water system has a huge advantage over other water systems in that it provides instant hot water. Because of this, many people choose to switch to this type of system for their homes. Proper installation is the key to success. By following the steps below, you can safely install a recirculating hot water system as a DIY project.

Step 1: Setting Up a Loop

Because hot water, like heat, rises, and cold water sinks, you will need to create a loop to ensure that your hot water is delivered through the recirculating loop. To do this, it is necessary to install copper piping so that the water will move through the system. The first part of the loop begins at the water heater and goes to the sources of hot water in your home. A return loop is needed in a recirculating hot water system. So, the piping must be run in the opposite direction. If you don’t install a loop, the hot water cannot move continuously throughout the system.

Step 2: Installing a Special Water Pump

Next, you need to examine the area where your hot water heater sits. If the pipes are required to dip below the water heater, it is essential that you install a recirculating water pump to defy gravity. There isn’t much pressure to these pumps, and they aren’t very fast. However, that won’t make a difference, as their job is to push the water through the system at a steady rate. Installing a pump will prevent having low water pressure at the faucet as a result of the recirculating hot water system.

Step 3: Insulate

Loops like the one you created in an earlier step are not very energy efficient. This downfall of a recirculating hot water system can be remedied with a little insulation. Fitting a bit of insulation over the pipes will result in a lower water-heating bill.

Step 4: Air Locks

Double-check your work at this point. Ensure that you have not left a trap for air to collect. Air in your pipes will disable your recirculating loop.

Step 5: Check Valve

Near the end of the loop where the pipe begins to meet the lower end of the water heater, you should install a check valve. Check valves only allow hot water into your loop so that there are no surprises from sudden flashes of freezing water when you jump in the shower.

Step 6: Final Connection

The bottom of the heater also holds a drain valve. Remove this valve completely. Instead of the valve, you are going to put an insulated nipple in its place. The reason for this is simple corrosion reduction.

Step 7: Shut Offs

Ensure that you only have a shut off valve installed on the cold-water side of the line. If you have this type of valve installed anywhere else, it could pose a safety threat if the pressure in your water heater builds up and is not released properly through the release valve. It is safer to be careful and check that only the cold side contains the shut off than to be sorry later.