The Dual Roles of a Recirculating Pump

A recirculating pump (also referred to as a Circulating Pump or Circulator Pump) in your basement could serve one of two functions. It might be part of your hot water heating system, or it could be an integral component of your plumbing system.

In the context of a hot water heating system, the pump recirculates hot water to provide warmth throughout your home. This circulation is achieved through a boiler system using pipes designed for in-home space heating.

Conversely, in a plumbing system, a recirculating pump comes in handy when there’s a need for hot water in areas far from the main plumbing system. In such cases, the pump ensures a constant supply of hot water by maintaining a continuous loop of circulation.


How Does a Recirculating Pump Work?

graphic diagram of a recirculating pump used in a hot water system

If you live in a large house with multiple stories or a long rambler-style design, you may notice that hot water takes a while to reach certain areas. This delay occurs because the hot water has to displace the tepid water left in the pipes that has already cooled down.

A recirculating pump solves this problem by keeping hot water circulating continually. As the water in the distant pipes begins to cool off, the pump sends it back to the water heater for reheating, ensuring a constant supply of hot water.

Commercial vs. Home Circulator Pumps

Commercial recirculating pumps are typically designed to run continuously during business hours. They often feature automatic controls and a built-in 24-hour clock, enabling them to operate only during periods of high hot water usage.

Home recirculating pumps, on the other hand, are designed to turn on based on personal usage. They activate when they sense excessive water flow or when the water temperature drops below a certain point. This design allows hot water to be available more quickly when needed.

Location and Maintenance

Even though recirculating pumps are usually located near the hot water heater, they can be placed anywhere along the plumbing line. Modern plumbing systems have introduced efficient ways to implement these pumps, often using existing piping, eliminating the need for a third pipe.

Like any mechanical device, a recirculating pump will eventually wear out and need replacement. Regular maintenance, typically once a year, is recommended to ensure its longevity and proper functioning. While some older systems require annual oiling, most newer ones do not.

In conclusion, understanding the function and maintenance of your recirculating pump can help enhance its efficiency and lifespan. If you have a recirculating pump installed in your home or business, consider scheduling regular inspections to ensure it continues to function optimally.

If you need help installing or maintaining a recirculating pump in your home or business or need the services of a quality professional plumber in the St. Paul and Minneapolis metro area, give St Paul Pipeworks a call today!

Yours Truly,

Matthew Dettwiler

Social Media Manager

FAQs About Recirculating Pumps by St Paul Pipeworks

Q: What are the dual roles of a recirculating pump?

A: A recirculating pump can serve two main functions. It can be part of a hot water heating system, ensuring warmth throughout your home by circulating hot water through in-home space heating pipes. Alternatively, it can be an integral component of your plumbing system, maintaining a continuous loop of circulation to provide instant hot water in areas far from the main plumbing system.

Q: How does a recirculating pump work to provide instant hot water?

A: In homes with multiple stories or extensive layouts, hot water often takes time to reach distant faucets due to cooled water in the pipes. A recirculating pump solves this issue by constantly circulating hot water. As the water in remote pipes cools, the pump sends it back to the heater for reheating, ensuring a consistent supply of hot water without delays.

Q: What distinguishes commercial and home recirculating pumps?

A: Commercial pumps run continuously during business hours using automatic controls and timers. Home pumps activate based on personal usage, sensing water flow or temperature drops. This design ensures hot water is available promptly when needed and helps conserve energy compared to continuous operation.

Q: Where are recirculating pumps located and how are they maintained?

A: While usually located near the water heater, recirculating pumps can be positioned anywhere along the plumbing line. Modern plumbing systems integrate them efficiently, often using existing piping to eliminate the need for additional lines. Regular maintenance, recommended annually, helps extend the pump’s lifespan and functionality. Newer models typically don’t require oiling, unlike older systems.

Q: Why is understanding recirculating pump function and maintenance important?

A: Understanding how your recirculating pump works and maintaining it properly can enhance its efficiency and lifespan. Regular inspections are advisable to ensure optimal functionality. If you need installation, maintenance, or professional plumbing services in the St. Paul and Minneapolis metro area, don’t hesitate to contact St Paul Pipeworks for assistance.

Conclusion: Enhancing Convenience and Efficiency with Recirculating Pumps

The recirculating pump stands as a crucial innovation, streamlining our daily routines and enhancing comfort. Whether it’s providing immediate hot water in distant corners of our homes or ensuring warmth through space heating, these pumps play a dual role that simplifies our lives.

Understanding their functions and maintenance requirements empowers homeowners and business owners to optimize their efficiency and longevity. Regular maintenance, such as that offered by St Paul Pipeworks, ensures that these pumps continue to operate seamlessly, delivering the convenience we’ve come to rely on.

So, if you’re looking to upgrade your plumbing or heating system in the Twin Cities area, don’t hesitate to reach out to the experts at St Paul Pipeworks for top-notch service and expertise.


What Is a Recirculating Pump? Ask a Plumber…