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Hot Water Recirculation System Problems [Troubleshooting]

Installed a hot water recirculation and it’s not working out like you thought it would? Or you want to be aware of the problems you might face before you buy one. This calls for knowing these problems and how to fix them.

How to fix hot water recirculation system problems?

While a hot water recirculation system is very convenient, it comes with few problems.. Power waste, corrosion, noise problems, and low flow rate are the most common problems people face. The solutions can be installing a low-capacity pump, draining the system, etc. 

We thoroughly discussed the solutions in this article. If you want to install this system, this article will help you. Read along to find out how!

Common Hot Water Recirculation System Problems People Face

Here are four common issues you should know about these pump systems. This will help you understand your problem.

Power Waste

The pump consumes a lot of power as it is constantly pumping hot water via the pipes. The pump also gets very heated. It might take a long time for hot water to reach the taps. Especially if the water heater’s location is far from your kitchen and bathroom. 

Most pumps nowadays are built to achieve a nice combination of fulfilling your hot water needs. It also conserves electricity. But you have an older pump model, wasting electricity may still be an issue.  

You’ll need to determine if a recirculating system is cost-effective for you. 


There are a few different techniques to reduce heat loss and wasted power. To prevent as much heat loss as possible, all supply and return pipes should be well-insulated. 

Ensuring the pump is switched off late at night can also assist reduce energy waste. To do this, put a timer on the pump. Otherwise, the pump will also run at night unnecessarily. 


Flow-accelerated corrosion is an issue that recirculation pumps are prone to. Excessive flow velocity or aggressive water chemistry induce corrosion. 

The signs of corrosion on metals would be zinc oxidizing. Also on the steel surface of this system, red-colored rust can be seen. 

Then the water inside the pipes eventually erodes them away. Bends, elbows, and tees are the most commonly affected locations. The pipe walls become so thin that they finally explode.


Installing a lower-capacity pump is one way of fixing it. Another one would be minimizing sudden changes in water flow directions. 

Change the water flow direction by changing the direction of the pipe. 

To avoid calcium deposits from forming at the connections, use a pump with a big inlet/outlet. A stainless pump with a rotor sleeve and replacement stainless cartridge will be needed. They can provide you with extended service in hard water zones.

Noise Problems

If you can hear a noise from your hot water circulating pump, this is not a good sign. Your hot water recirculating system may be occupied with air. And this is the reason why you’re hearing noise from your pump. It occurs after a power loss. 


You’ll need to drain the system to let the air out to repair the problem. Open the tiny air escape valve until water pours out. Repeat for the rest of the valves.

Your recirculation pump’s noise might also indicate that the bearings are worn out. In this case, you should replace the pump before it fully fails. 

Low Flow Rate

Hot water recirculation pumps often have a tiny motor. They can’t create a lot of head pressure. This may have an adverse effect on the flow rate. Many of these pumps are incapable of turning on a tankless water heater. 


To avoid future failure, make sure the pump is suitable for the water heater. Do it before you install the water heater. 

A recirculating hot water system may be a useful and water-saving feature for any home. But you have to be ready to solve any difficulties produced by it. 

Consider these difficulties and concerns before deciding to have one installed. And do your homework to determine whether this system is suitable for you.

Things to Do to Prevent Circulation Issues

There are several models of hot water recirculation systems on the market now. You may improve your chances of acquiring the finest models. You can do this by understanding the features of a hot water recirculating system. 

This way, you will face less common problems caused by a hot water recirculation system.

Type of Recirculating Pump 

When purchasing a hot water recirculating pump, opt for one manufactured of bronze. Bronze is anti-corrosive. This function is useful because the oxygenated water passes through residential pipes. It might generate rust but bronze prevents that. 

Also, there are modern features with cutting-edge technologies. This helps to avoid calcium and mineral build-up. 

Pumps that continue to run even when hot water reaches the desired temperature should be avoided. The cost of running these pumps may be extremely high. They force your heater to operate longer than it should. Thus shortening its lifespan. 

Examine the operation of a certain pump. Choose models with quiet motors. Steer clear of pumps that vibrate heavily. Here are the bronze recirculating pumps we’re suggesting: 


Temperature Settings

Select recirculating systems that allow you to control the temperature of the hot water. This ensures that the hot water that comes out of the faucets is to your preference. 

Push-button or motion sensor-operated devices can save you a lot of money. Pumps that function just when you need hot water are used in this sort of design. This saves energy.

Bypass Valves And Water Lines

Systems that siphon water from the hot water line when bringing up cold water should be avoided. When you turn on a cold water faucet in this situation, tepid to warm water will first flow out of the fixture. 

This is unusable and wastes water. These models are prone to temperature swings. Because they utilize inferior check valves and thermostatic valves. 

When the temperature of the water in the pipes is less than 95 degrees Fahrenheit, the valves remain open. It causes the heater to function even when no hot water is required. This puts additional strain on heaters. The heater’s anticipated lifespan may be shortened.

Buy a newer version of this system. Because newer versions include effective bypass valves. It prevents hot water from entering cold water pipe systems. This ensures that you always have cold water when you need it.


Some low-quality systems require cleaning and maintenance on a regular basis. This can be time-consuming and inconvenient. Look for newer models with fewer maintenance requirements.

Compare the qualities among the hot water recirculation systems you prefer. Go for the one that fits your requirements. You can ask for suggestions from professional plumbers. They know which brands are reliable and they can help you. 

We’ve come to the end of this discussion. By now you should have a complete idea about hot water recirculating pump system problems. Now you should be able to fix these.


Question: How can I know my hot water recirculation system is working?
Answer: Feel the pipe at the circulator pump. If the pump is operating, the pipe will get tepid, then hot.

Question: How much electricity bill does a hot water recirculating pump require?
Answer: The tiny pump for 250 feet of pipe will cost you $1.40 to $1.59 a year. So, you see it’s not a lot. 

Question: Why is my recirculating pump not working?
Answers: This might be something wrong with the bypass valve of your pump. This is why the water cannot flow through the valve. 


Now you know the hot water recirculation system problems. You also know the prevention of these problems. If you’re already facing these problems, you now know how to solve them. 

People face these problems because homeowners have recently started using it. This system is usually installed at hotels and restaurants. This is why these are most commonly faced problems till now because we’re still new to it. 

Hopefully, this will be a helpful guide for you. Take care!