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Old 02-07-2009, 10:10 PM   #1
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Hot Water Recirculation Issue


I'm hoping someone here can provide some insight to the following issue we are having - we moved into a house built in 2004 about 5 weeks ago. We got our first electric bill this morning, and we used about 3,000 kWh of electricity in January, which is amazing since we never turned on the A/C.

It turns out that 75%+ of that electricity was being consumed by the electric water heaters. There is a recirculating pump which makes it so you don't really have to wait for hot water anywhere in the house. Apparently, the water is circulating, but is cooling down while it is circulating, so it has to be reheated constantly.

As soon as I turned off the recirculating pump, the electric consumption at the meter slowed drastically (75%). Problem solved, or so I thought. Now we don't have any hot water at all to parts of the house, no matter how long we wait for it.

I don't really understand the fundamentals of why no hot water is going to our master bathroom. Does anyone understand why this would be the case? Also, if I can't "fix" the problem, I'd like to put some kind of sensor on so that the pump only runs when someone turns on the hot water, but I'm not sure if this is possible.

Any insight that you can provide before I call in the professionals would be greatly appreciated. Thanks in advance,

Joseph

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Old 02-08-2009, 01:58 AM   #2
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Hot Water Recirculation Issue


I'm stumped, but am replying to bump your question back up toward the top of this section to get it seen. Hopefully someone with more knowledge of hot water circulating systems will come along and help!

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Old 02-08-2009, 07:08 AM   #3
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Hot Water Recirculation Issue


My circulating pump has a timer, but the weekend hot water needs were different than the Monday - Friday needs, so I leave it on all the time now. I insulated the hot water pipes that I could access. I've got a gas water heater, but makes me wonder how much I'd save if I didn't have the circulating pump.

Something you may want to consider is one of those instant water heaters that are located near the source you need hot water (like under the sink). Its a small box about 10" wide X 12" tall X 3-4" deep. I've been seeing them used in new construction lately, and have considered installing one to try it out. It may just do the trick for your needs.
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Old 02-08-2009, 07:59 AM   #4
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Hot Water Recirculation Issue


I wonder if the pump and heating elements are switched together. Is there hot water in the tank even though the pump is off?

(theres a drain valve somewhere on the outside of the tank. Fill up a bucket)
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Old 02-08-2009, 08:16 AM   #5
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Hot Water Recirculation Issue


Guys, thanks for the replies so far. Here is an update - some additional information that became clear to me in the middle of the night.

My cold inlet line to the hot water tank is insulated, which I found odd. When I felt it, it was warm to the touch (also odd). The recirculation pump is placed down at the bottom of the tank where the drain valve sits, and in diagrams I have seen, it is supposed to pump water back into the hot water tank.

I would be willing to bet that it is pumping water out of the hot water tank instead of back into it, and that it is using the cold inlet as the return line (why else would it be insulated?). I'd also further bet that when I unplug the pump, it doesn't let any hot water through it, which is why I don't get hot water to my master bathroom.

I'm guessing that if I just take out the recirculating pump altogether, then my problems will be solved, but I'm not certain about that. I've never done plumbing work with copper pipe before, but I'm thinking it is worth a try.

Your thoughts are very much appreciated,

Joseph
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Old 02-08-2009, 08:18 AM   #6
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Hot Water Recirculation Issue


Quote:
Originally Posted by II Weeks View Post
I wonder if the pump and heating elements are switched together. Is there hot water in the tank even though the pump is off?

(theres a drain valve somewhere on the outside of the tank. Fill up a bucket)

There is definitely hot water in the tank - and it still flows to our kitchen with the pump off, it just doesn't make it to the bathrooms.
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Old 02-08-2009, 08:37 AM   #7
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Hot Water Recirculation Issue


originally posted
Quote:
Now we don't have any hot water at all to parts of the house, no matter how long we wait for it.
so that changed.


are you getting any water at all on the hot sides in your master BR? same presure as the cold side?

as far as the cold water pipe being warm, they might have used the cold water side as the return for the hot water recirculting instead of running a loop system.

How far away are the bathrooms? With the price of fuel and electric, maybe youre right and it might be worth the wait or have the pump on a timer set to your families schedule.

Last edited by II Weeks; 02-08-2009 at 08:46 AM.
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Old 02-08-2009, 08:44 AM   #8
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Hot Water Recirculation Issue


Let me clarify that a little bit - we don't get hot water at all to either of the bathrooms, but we do still get it to the kitchen. What I really meant there was that parts of the house don't get hot water with the pump off, but parts of the house still do.

The water pressure seems to be unaffected by turning the pump off, but we only get cold water.

It sure seems like the hot water to the kitchen is coming from the standard "hot out" outlet on the water tank, and that the hot water to the bathrooms is going out through the recirculating pump.

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