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.
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.
- Standard hot water heat loop – An extra hot water pipe & pump.
- Retrofit hot water heat loop – A pump with a cross connection on hot & cold water pipes.
- 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:
- A hot water pump
- An extra run of piping
- A check valve
- Two water shut offs
- 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.
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.