Ask the Woodchucks: Instant Hot Water

Question: We recently moved to Sun City and love our house, but it takes forever in the morning to get hot water to the bathroom sink. Is there any way to get hot water faster?

Answer: The system you need is called the Watts recirculating pump. It is a device that will give you instant hot water at any sink in your house. The reason that you get cold water from the hot water tap for from one to five minutes is that all the water in the pipes between your sink and the water heater, that has cooled down to room temperature, must run through the faucet before the heated water from the tank comes through. In my house the faucet in the laundry room produces hot water in ten seconds because the water heater is directly below this sink in the basement. The faucet in the master bathroom takes three minutes to run hot because it is on the opposite end of the house from the water heater.

The Watts recirculating pump has a bypass sensor that mounts to the hot and cold water lines under the sink where you want instant hot water. It also has a pump that mounts on top of the water heater to pressurize the hot water side. When the temperature of the hot water at the sink drops the sensor valve senses this and opens. This allows the hot water in the water heater to flow to the sink and force the cooled down hot water into the cold-water pipe where it returns to the water heater. There is a timer on the pump, so you can set the system to only deliver instant hot water when you are awake to use it. Below is a four-minute video that will show you the parts and how they get installed:

This system can be installed by a moderately competent home owner. Most plumbers have experience installing this system and can give you a quote to install one in your house.

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