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Hot Water in a Hurry

  • 4 March 2015
  • Author: Dan Santee
  • Number of views: 4085
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Hot Water in a Hurry

We live in a two-story house, and as such, it seems like an eternity before the water in the basement reaches the tap when you first turn it on. Actually, I timed it once - over three minutes. It's annoying and wasteful, so I decided to tackle the problem the only way I know how - with science!

There are a couple of commercially available water recirculation pumps on the market which will make this process actually rather painless. If you can install a faucet, this project is for you. The system consists of two parts - a water pump and a recirculation valve. The pump does pretty much what it sounds like - it moves water around so you don't have to. The valve is installed under the sink where you want the water to be hot the fastest. You can purchase more valves if you want one in the bathroom and in the kitchen, guest bathroom, etc. Here's what I used:

The pipe connections and lines for under the sink are a bit dependent on your setup. The pipe connections will go between the pump fittings and water pipe above the heater - for me, I used 3/4" SharkBite connections. These push on to the end of the pipe and require no soldering - but if you're happy sweating copper, knock yourself out and go with the less expensive solution. The lines under the sink go between the shutoff and the valve (or the valve and the faucet - your choice). You'll have to look at your particular sink setup to find out what size you'll need.

The pump connects to the outlet of the water heater, and it has an arrow to show you which way water will flow through the pump. Depressurize your water system and cut the outlet pipe, leaving room for the pump and fittings (my water heater has braided lines on it, so I didn't have to be too precise). Attach the pump fittings using the pipe connections, making sure to use Teflon tape on the threaded connections. Connect the pump using the two rubber seals and four nuts and bolts. Go ahead and re-pressurize your water system and check for leaks. If everything is okay, go ahead and attach the wire you purchased for the electrical connection, but do not plug it in to the wall yet.

At this point, go to the faucet you selected for the valve and connect the valve in between the shutoff and faucet. It's labeled "Hot" and "Cold", so make sure you connect it correctly, or it won't work. This valve allows water to flow from the hot side to the cold side, so that the pump can push water from your heater to your sink with the faucet shut off. You can now plug in the pump - I strongly recommend the use of a timer or home automation switch, since there's really no need for the pump to run continuously. It uses about 75 watts while running, but I have mine set to run for two minutes, and then turn off for ten minutes (Your Mileage May Vary). Based on our rates, this equates to about $.03 per day. Well worth it to us!

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