A hot water circulating pump is a device installed on a plumbing system that drives cooled water back to a water heater for heating. They are permanent fixtures in luxury hotels, modern resorts and other big business establishments, however there are models designed for home use as well.
As with almost anything, there are pros and cons of a hot water circulating pump.
The number one benefit of a hot water circulating pump is convenience as hot water is available on demand or each time you turn on a tap for heated water. Without one, it would take some time before hot water will reach a fixture since heaters would only start to work only when a faucet is turned on. When taps are turned off, heaters automatically shut down. With a hot water circulating pump, cooled water in pipes is pushed back to heaters for heating so hot water is always available.
Another benefit of such pumps is less water wastage. Since hot water is almost instantaneously available, wastage is avoided since one would not need to wait for flowing water from the faucet to reach a certain temperature before using the water; the cost savings for heavy users could be substantial. Such devices are extremely handy in areas where water is in short supply.
The circulating pumps are also widely available in retail stores and easy to install and operate. You don’t need special tools or highly advanced mechanical skills to mount one on your piping system. Almost all major hardware supply stores carry hot water circulating pump lines. Depending on the model, power consumption can be minimal. There are modern models that can be turned on whenever a user needs hot water; others can be programmed to shut on and shut off at intervals.
The design of most models is simple and can be fixed on standard and conventional piping systems found in most homes.
You do not need to apply special permits when installing such pump devices. There are even localities that offer tax breaks and discounts on the installation and purchase of hot water circulating pumps.
Hot water circulating pumps for homes are small and very compact and can be incorporated easily into plumbing systems.
There are relatively few drawbacks to hot water circulating pumps. The number one disadvantage to owning one would be the initial cost. Models can cost from $400 upwards; this could discourage potential users. Additionally, older and less sophisticated models are expensive to operate since they work continuously, around the clock. So even if you are not using hot water, the pumps continue to consume electricity.
Heat loss from constantly heated pipes can also be a consideration. Some older models can only be installed in single story houses.