Hot Water Recirculating Pump Problems

A hot water recirculating pump is convenient and adds comfort, as it means getting hot water faster when you turn on the hot tap. Homes that have on-demand or tankless water heaters, this is significant, since otherwise it would be a bit of a wait before the cold water clears out of the pipes and the hot water reaches you. When a hot water recirculating pump begins causing issues with the system, it can become more frustrating, especially if you don’t know what your next move is. Here are a few signs there are problems with your hot water recirculating pump, and what to do about it.

A Long Wait for Hot Water

A hot water recirculation system’s purpose is to provide you with hot water faster, so if you are having to wait for hot water when you turn on the tap, there may be something wrong with your system. Here are a few potential problems:

  • The pump is not working. If the pump fails, you’ll be waiting for the hot water to reach you from wherever you have the tankless water heater installed. You may need to invest in a new pump or your existing pump may need to be maintained.
  • Your pump is not compatible with your system. Many recirculation pumps have low flow rates which might not be powerful enough for your system.
  • There’s a problem with the bypass valve. The bypass valve opens when the hot water in the pipes cools, allowing the pump to push it into the cold line so the hot line can fill with freshly heated water. If the valve isn’t opening when it should, the water in the pipe will continue to cool and you’ll have to clear it out of the way when you turn on the tap.
  • The hot pipe needs to be better insulated. Proper insulation is needed to prevent the hot water from cooling down as quickly.

Hot Water in the Cold Pipe

If you turn on the cold water and get hit with hot water instead, you may actually have a problem with the bypass valve that’s a part of your hot water recirculation system, rather than the pump itself. The valve is designed to close and keep the hot water in the pipes once it’s up to temperature. When it cools down too much, the valve opens and the pump pushes the water back into the cold lines, making room for freshly heated water in the hot pipe. If you have hot water in the cold side, on the other hand, the valve may actually be staying open when it shouldn’t be.

A Noisy Pump

If you hear noise coming from your hot water recirculation pump, that isn’t a good sign. Once again, there are a few different things it could be.

  • Air in the line: If there has been a power outage or air has gotten into the line for some reason, the pump can make a lot of noise. The air will need to be bled out of the system.
  • Wrong size pump for the system: A noisy pump may indicate it is too powerful or not powerful enough for your system. A professional can help you determine what size pump you need.
  • Bad bearings: Excessive noise could also be coming from the bearings, signaling that the pump is about to seize. Seek a professional to inspect the system right away to have the pump maintained or replaced as needed.

Professional Service You Can Trust

A hot water recirculating pump is supposed to make your access to hot water more convenient, not less. If you notice one of these signs that your recirculating pump isn’t performing at its peak, call your neighborhood plumber today. An experienced Greenwell Plumbing technician will get you back up and running as soon as possible.