Recirculating Pumps Are the Key to Getting Hot Water Fast

Becca Stokes
Written by Becca Stokes
Updated October 11, 2021
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When you’re tired after a long day, the last thing you want to do is wait for your shower to slooowly heat up. But if your shower’s far from the water heater, that means it takes longer for hot water to reach your showerhead. A recirculating pump can warm you up fast—without leaving a dent in your wallet.

What’s a Hot Water Recirculating Pump and How Does It Work?

A recirculating pump gets hot water to your shower (and all your plumbing!) faster, without replacing your pipes.

The pump itself is installed close to the water heater. Sensors are installed in the fixtures that need more hot water (your showerheads and sink faucets). When the shower is turned on, the sensor communicates with a valve, telling it to move water towards the pump. The pump, in turn, warms the water before it enters the water heater. Because the water heater is receiving warm water, it doesn’t use as much energy (or take as long) to make the water hot.

Along with being speedy, a hot water recirculating pump makes heating water less expensive by reducing the amount of energy a water heater needs to expend.

Who Needs a Hot Water Recirculating Pump?

It’s normal to turn on water in your home and wait a few moments after adjusting the temperature. But if you are waiting for several minutes or longer, you might seriously benefit from a hot water recirculating pump.

If you live in an area with regular droughts, you may also want to consider a hot water recirculating pump. That’s because when you leave the water on to wait for it to get hot, you aren’t just wasting your own time—you are wasting water.

How Much Does a Hot Water Recirculating Pump Cost?

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The average cost for a hot water recirculating system ranges between $200 and $400. Ultimately, the cost of your hot water recirculating pump is going to be affected by what it’s made from:

  • Stainless steel: $200

  • Three-speed stainless steel: $400

  • Bronze: $400 or more

  • Cast iron: $400 or more

What Size Hot Water Recirculating Pump Do I Need?

To have your system sized properly, you should hire a licensed local plumber in your area. Installation is a big job that requires a lot of experience. The process takes several steps, including the  measurement of all the pipes as well as calculating the BTUs per hour of your water heater. An experienced plumber should be able to install it properly and make sure it’s working well.

Are There Any Disadvantages to a Hot Water Recirculating Pump?

Nothing is perfect, so there are some things to think about when considering a hot water recirculating pump.


While the pump can save you money on your energy bills in the long-run, the cost of the system and of hiring a plumber to install the system can be a lot upfront.

Not Great for Cold Water

If you turn on your faucet and get lukewarm water, you’ll still spend some time waiting for cold water even if you have a recirculation pump.

Sensors Get Worn Out

Sensors for the system located at high-traffic areas (like kitchen sinks) might need to be replaced fairly regularly.

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