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Plumbing a Hot Water Recirculation loop



Plumbing a Hot Water Recirculation Loop and Pump

Hot water plumbing recirculation loop

A hot water recirculation loop and pump can help reduce water waste and provide instant hot water at the taps throughout your home. This efficient system works by continuously circulating hot water through the pipes, reducing the wait time for hot water and minimizing the amount of cold water wasted. In this article, we will guide you through the process of installing a hot water recirculation loop and pump in your home.

Choose the appropriate recirculation system:

There are two main types of hot water recirculation systems: dedicated loop systems and integrated loop systems. Dedicated loop systems require the installation of an additional return pipe that connects to the furthest fixture from the water heater, while integrated loop systems use the existing cold water line as a return pipe. Integrated loop systems are generally more straightforward and cost-effective for retrofitting in an existing home, while dedicated loop systems are more common in new construction.

Select the right pump:

Choose a hot water recirculation pump that is compatible with your chosen system and meets the flow rate and head pressure requirements of your home. Some pumps also come with built-in timers or temperature sensors, allowing you to customize the operation of the pump based on your needs and preferences.

Turn off the water and power supply:

Before starting the installation, turn off the water supply to your home and shut off the power to your water heater by switching off the circuit breaker or removing the appropriate fuse.

Install the recirculation pump:

For integrated loop systems, the recirculation pump is typically installed on the hot water line near the water heater. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions to securely attach the pump, making sure to position it correctly in relation to the flow of water. You may need to cut and remove a section of the hot water pipe to accommodate the pump. Use appropriate fittings and pipe materials, such as copper or PEX, to connect the pump to the existing piping.

Install the bypass valve:

Integrated loop systems require a bypass valve to be installed at the furthest fixture from the water heater. This valve allows hot water to flow back through the cold water line when the recirculation pump is operating. Replace the existing shut-off valve under the sink with a bypass valve, ensuring that it is properly connected to both the hot and cold water lines.

Insulate the hot water pipes:

To maximize the efficiency of your recirculation system and reduce heat loss, insulate the hot water pipes throughout your home using pipe insulation sleeves or wrap. This is especially important for pipes located in unheated areas, such as crawl spaces or garages.

Reconnect the water and power supply:

Once the pump and bypass valve are installed, turn the water supply back on and restore power to the water heater by switching on the circuit breaker or replacing the fuse.

Test the system:

Turn on the hot water tap at the fixture furthest from the water heater to test the recirculation system. If the system is functioning correctly, you should have hot water at the tap almost instantly. Check for any leaks at the pump, bypass valve, and pipe connections, and address any issues as needed.

Set the pump controls:

If your recirculation pump has a built-in timer or temperature sensor, adjust the settings according to your preferences. You may want to program the pump to run during peak usage times, such as in the morning and evening, or set a specific temperature threshold for activation.


Installing a hot water recirculation loop and pump in your home can provide the convenience of instant hot water while reducing water waste and energy consumption. Although the installation process may seem complex, with the right tools, materials, and careful attention to detail, it is a manageable project for homeowners with some plumbing experience. By choosing the appropriate recirculation system and pump, insulating your hot water pipes, and properly installing and adjusting the pump controls, you can enjoy the benefits of an efficient and eco-friendly hot water system in your home. Always remember to follow the manufacturer’s guidelines and consult a professional plumber if you encounter any difficulties or uncertainties during the installation process.

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