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hot water heat loop, Lees Summit Plumber, hot water pump Water Heaters

Standard Hot Water Heat Loop

After moving to Lees Summit, Missouri I needed to install a hot water heat loop. My wife didn’t want to wait for the water to get hot at the kitchen sink faucet. My house was already built but I had a basement and access to all the water piping. So of the three options for a hot water heat loop I chose a thermosyphon. However, if you have a new home build or an unfinished basement, you can install a standard hot water heat loop.

hot water heat loop, Lees Summit Plumber, hot water pump
Standard hot water heat loop

3 Types of Hot Water Heat Loop

We began this discussion in my previous post. Generally, there are 3 types of hot water heat loop. Without wandering into solar energy or wind energy these three options are the most common.

  1. Standard hot water heat loop – An extra hot water pipe & pump.
  2. Retrofit hot water heat loop – A pump with a cross connection on hot & cold water pipes.
  3. Thermosyphon – An extra hot water pipe circulating hot water using convection.

Standard heat loop

In this post we’ll be discussing the standard heat loop. For this type of hot water heat loop you’ll need access to all hot water pipes. These are usually installed during home construction.

Standard hot water heat loop construction

In a home there is normally a cold water pipe that enters the home from the city utility provider. From this point it’s distributed throughout the home. Where hot water is needed the cold water will be directed into a heating appliance such as a hot water heater. From there the water will be heated and a second configuration of piping will distribute hot water to various plumbing fixtures.

Standard heat loop components

A standard heat loop is installed at the base of the water heater & run to the point of usage; usually the furthest plumbing fixture from the water heater. To install this you’ll need the following:

  1. A hot water pump
  2. An extra run of piping
  3. A check valve
  4. Two water shut offs
  5. Various pipe connections

For any of these parts you can go to Reeves – Wiedeman plumbing parts.

How a standard hot water heat loop is installed

At the base of a water heater is a drain valve. You’ll need to install a tee connection between this drain valve and the water heater. Then install a water shut off on the tee’d branch. Then, in a horizontal direction of flow install a check valve. This will prevent inadvertent backward flow. Then the hot water pump is to be installed. Then a second water shutoff is to be installed. The check valve and pump are between the water shut offs so that maintenance may be performed as needed. Then the pipe is run to the furthest plumbing fixture. The pipe is tied into to the hot water pipe closest to the furthest fixture.

How a hot water heat loop works

A heat loop is a second hot water pipe that leads from the furthest plumbing fixtures hot water pipe to the base of the water heater. A pump will draw water from the hot water pipe and circulate it toward the bottom or coldest part of the water heater. This will maintain the temperature in the main hot water pipe and therefore allow almost instant hot water at that particular plumbing fixture. And the other hot water branch lines will get hot faster when used. The check valve will prevent backward flow if a pump fails or during maintenance. The water shutoffs will allow for maintenance without draining the water heater.

In Conclusion

I never realized how much water I wasted when waiting for the kitchen faucet to get hot. And the other plumbing fixtures get hot much more quickly too. A hot water heat loop is good for the environment. It also saves money. Does it pay for itself? I don’t know. But I think so. But even if it doesn’t it’s a luxury that is good and is justified. If you find yourself waiting too long for the water to get hot give your local Lees Summit plumber a call. We’ll save you money and improve the efficiency of your hot water heater system. Advocate Master Plumbing is the homeowners advocate.

Gas Water Heater

Lees Summit Heat Loop

Since moving our plumbing service business to Lees Summit, Missouri we’ve tried to downsize our home. Since the business is run out of our home a lot of organization has gone into it. The first of many upgrades to the smaller house I made was to upgrade the water heating system.

I’ve never been a fan of large water heaters. They tend to be a lot of unnecessary upfront expense. And I don’t feel there’s enough value to justify it. I prefer a dual standard tank style water heating system. It’s simple. And if there’s ever a need for maintenance and I’m not around my wife can find help easily.

Dual water heater installation

Installing the dual State 40 gallon natural gas water heating system was pretty straight forward. I opted to install it with both hot and cold water shutoffs in a parallel piping configuration. This allows for hot water to be drawn from both tanks at the same time equally. It also allows us to shut off one water heater in the case of tank failure without losing hot water.

Thermosyphon, hot water recirculating loop, instant hot water
Dual water heaters with thermosyphon

Hot water recirculating options

The next project was installing a hot water loop. I’ve installed hot water recirculating loops before that involved a pump. Some were installed at the time of the home being built. This allows for a pipe to be run to the furthest fixture. But these use a lot of electricity.

And some were retrofitted. They needed special bimetal connectors that cross connect the hot and cold water pipes. But these needed maintenance every few years. They also introduce a little warm water to the cold water side of a plumbing fixture.

I wanted a maintenance free option that was good for the environment. I also wanted a hot water heat loop my wife wouldn’t have problems with if I wasn’t around. So I installed a thermosyphon.

Thermosyphon installation

A thermosyphon is a gravity heat loop. I just like saying thermosyphon. I feel smart when I do. But it’s pretty simple. A thermosyphon is a passive hot water recirculating pipe using convection. A hot water pipe is connected to the bottom of the water heater. It’s then connected to the point in your home that you want instant hot water. In our case it was the kitchen sink.

After running the extra pipe you insulate the whole pipe except for the last 15 feet closest to the bottom of the water heater. Then insulate all the hot water pipe starting at the top of the water heater and ending at the fixture. This will create a situation in which all the hot water pipes in that loop will be hot except that last 15 feet. Since cold water is heavier than hot water, the cold water will fall to the bottom of the water heater. This will push the hot water toward the fixture in the loop. Once the “engine” is started it will run continually.

Benefits of the thermosyphon

The results are instant hot water at our kitchen faucet. We can now turn on our dishwasher and know that it’s hot water cleaning our dishes and not the cooled water that’s in the hot water line due to no recent use. We use a lot less water since we don’t let it run until it’s hot. And there’s no pump. I don’t know the exact figures but I’m sure that the savings on water more than makes up for the extra hot water heating due to the uninsulated section of the heat loop and constant heating of hot water.

Not everyone is a candidate for a thermosyphon. If you have no basement or don’t have enough access to your water pipes, you’ll have to be happy with a hot water recirculating pump. But there are options. There will be more about this on my website plumbing services page later.

Lees Summit hot water recirculating systems

For now, I’ll just say that Lees Summit has been very good to my family and my business. And I’m very grateful. I look forward to serving my plumbing customers and neighbors. And hopefully can offer this new hot water recirculating service to them. For more information about our water heater services go to our water heater services page or water heater DIY page under water heaters.