How does a circulating pump work? We answer

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So, how does a circulating pump work? Get all the answers in this informative guide

Hot water is an important requirement in our households but it is not always available when needed.

A smart way to meet this demand is by installing a circulating pump.

This article answers a common question first-timers ask: How does a circulating pump work?

We shall first look at what a circulating pump really is..

What is a circulating pump?

A circulating pump refers to a pump that is designed to circulate hot water throughout a heating system to ensure that you get hot water as soon as you turn your hot water faucet on.

In short, with a circulating pump, hot water conveniently flows out of the faucet instantly and you won’t be waiting for water even for a second as it’s often the case in systems without a circulating pump.

Though its most common application is in circulating domestic hot water, a circulating pump can also be deployed to circulate gases or even slurries in loops or closed circuits.

But how does this handy equipment work and how is it able to eliminate the annoying wait for hot water?


How does a circulating pump work?

To start with; let us look at a scenario where you have not installed a circulation pump…

When a circulating pump is not installed

Let’s say you already have a one-way plumbing system in place minus a circulation pump.

In this arrangement, hot water is produced by the boiler/heater and flows through your plumbing and finally to the faucet.

Now, in such an installation, all the water in the pipes cools off when you turn off the faucet.

As a result, the tap will first run cold water- now that the pipes have cool- until the hot water from the boiler finally reaches the faucet.

This wait is not only inconveniencing but can also be costly..

In fact, you may waste hundreds and possibly thousands of liters of this precious liquid as you wait for hot water in just one year.

When a circulating pump is installed

When you have the pump in place, hot water will be available almost instantly any time you open a hot water tap.

This is because the circulating pump continues to circulate hot water throughout the pipes even after shutting off the faucet.

You’ll, therefore, cut down on water wastage significantly.

And the good thing is that the device is not energy-hungry (it has the same consumption as a typical 25-watt light bulb).

In addition, modern-day circulating pumps feature smart energy-saving features to help conserve the energy even further.

For instance, some pumps come with a built-in timer and you can set it to only run during those hours you need hot water like in the morning (for 1 hour) and in the evening (perhaps for another hour).

If that does not appeal to you, you can choose to mount an On/Off switch to allow you activate the pump at the time hot water is wanted instead of having it run continuously.

How does a circulating pump work exactly

To eliminate the long wait for hot water, a circulating pump draws water from the boiler and forces it through the pipes that feed your taps, shower, your hot water storage, etc.

This water is then pumped back to the boiler via the cold-water lines to ensure a constant cycle of heated water in your house.

You can also use a circulating pump in a solar water heating system…

In solar-based systems, water is often pumped to the collector where it is heated.

The heated water is then moved to a water tank, where it passes heat to the water already present.

This creates a complete loop of hot water.

Where is a circulation pump installed?

For the most part, circulation pumps are installed near your hot water heater.

However, you can reduce energy consumption by fitting a thermostatically-controlled circulation pump model at the system’s farthest fixture instead.

The greatest advantage of these types of circulation pumps is that you can select the temperature you desire the hot water within the pipes to remain at.

Once you have set this, the pump cycles on only when there’s a drop in the temperature and will cycle off as soon as the water flowing out of the faucet has attained your chosen temperature.

This setup will obviously consume less energy compared to continuously operating pumps.


Costs of installing a circulating pump

A water circulation pump may cost anything between $200 to over $500 (materials plus labor) with the price of the pump itself ranging from $100 to $ 350+.

Of course, the quality of the pump will have a huge say on your budget with the cheaper model generally offering a shorter service life than their pricier counterparts.

Plumbers will charge you another $125 all the way to $250 depending on the amount of work to be done.

There are other supplies to add based on the setup of your plumbing system and this may push the total spending higher.

Note that these are just average estimates at the time of writing this article and you need to confirm the current cost when budgeting.


How long can a circulator pump last?

Well, it can last for even over 10 years if you bought a good brand but the real answer is it depends.

We say so because factors such as bad water and excessively high temperatures may kill it and you must tackle them if you want a longer lifespan.

Proper installation is also key to longer service life.

Final words

Since you have the answer to the question how does circulating pump work, you may be considering buying one.

Now, when buying, always go for new models since they are manufactured with energy conservation in mind hence they will save you more power than the older models.

Don’t forget to insulate your hot water pipes too- this minimizes heat loss meaning that your pump won’t need to pump a lot of water (this saves energy) to keep hot water available.



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