Our Solution for Getting Hot Water to a Distant Master Bath – FAST!

Hot Water Heater

The standard boiler drain was removed and the new drain and water line were installed.

By Steve Bredernitz

It’s a common scenario – a master bath located on the opposite side of the house from the water heater.  If you are accustomed, like we were, to long waits for morning showers or warm water to wash your face and hands, you understand how frustrating this can be.   We were tired of the wait and we were tired of the waste, so we came up with a solution that is a variation on a typical hot water recirculation system – a direct loop to our master bath.

The COLD End of the Loop
Our home is about six years old, a ranch style just under 1850 square feet.  We have four bedrooms, three full bathrooms, and a finished basement.

When we designed the home, we put the high efficiency furnace and water heater on one side of the basement.  This allowed me to keep all the mechanicals in one area so when I finished the basement, there was lots of open space.   That part was good.  However, we soon discovered this made for a long wait for hot water.  My wife was frustrated with the wait and I was concerned about watching all that treated water go down the drain.

Temperature Contolled Pump

The pump with the temperature sensor flanked on each side with ball valves.

We live in the country and have our own well and septic systems.  We have to pump water from roughly 150 feet under the ground.  From there it goes into a pre-filter and then to the water softener.  The water softener removes the remaining iron and softens the water by running it through a resin bed that uses salt.

 

Faster Hot Water!
My first attempt to correct this was to wrap all of the hot water copper lines with pipe insulation.  This helped, however it was not a solution.  We still had to wait for hot water in our master bathroom.  This was bothersome to me as a homeowner because of the inconvenience, but also because I happen to be a green builder and wasting water bothers me.

The solution came one day while working with our plumber.  Since this is a ranch style home and I had installed a suspended ceiling when finishing the basement, we decided to create a temperature-controlled loop on the hot water line.  This may sound complicated, but it was really very simple.

At the water heater, we drained the tank and replaced the boiler drain (valve near the bottom of the tank) with a “T” fitting that allowed a new plumbing line and a drain valve.  This new plumbing line was connected at the furthest point away from the water heater and just under the master bathroom.  At this point, we added another ‘T” connection to the existing hot water line.  This creates a loop on the hot water line from the water heater tank to just under our master bathroom.  Back at the water heater, we installed a temperature controlled pump.  When the temperature in the copper pipe drops below the setting, the pump is activated circulating water from the hot water tank to just under the master bathroom. The result is that we have hot water almost instantly at the master bathroom.  Less wait means less water wasted down the drain.   Plus, we discovered another energy saving benefit–I was able to turn the temperature setting on the water heater down one full setting!

Dedicated Recirculation Line

The high efficiency water heater. You can see the modifications to the boiler drain (near the bottom), the copper pipe coming up to the pump. From the pump, the new line runs to just under the master bathroom. Note: This new water line is typically wrapped with insulation (removed for pictures).

My wife is happy to get hot water in our bathroom without having to wait and I am thrilled to be saving money on our gas bills and not pouring treated water down the drain.

 

Steve Bredernitz, owner of Bredernitz Professional Services, Inc., is a licensed Michigan builder residing in southeastern Michigan.  Steve specializes in remodeling and home improvement services.  Steve is also a part-time instructor at Washtenaw Community College where he teaches remodeling classes.

5 Responses »

  1. Steve – a looped system with a pump is a good solution for keeping hot water at a distant fixture. But you’re still getting line loss, maybe even more than before the loop was in place – depending on ambient temperature, thickness of pipe insulation & owner-usage. Maybe consider a point-of-use water heater (tankless), which will deliver almost zero line loss, or a second standard water heater within 10-feet of its primary volume use fixture. Low-profile units are available for attic or basement installation. Use plenty of pipe insulation.

    Also consider a couple solar panels for pre-heating the water. They can be plumbed directly into your water heater(s) from its solar storage tank. This is probably the best solution of all. Free heat from the sun.

    Good luck,

    Will
    Will Thomas Designs

  2. Steve,
    Happiness, Good HEALTH and Peace to you and those whom you care for.
    Thanks for the Post.
    Like the pics and the KISS Keep it Simple Silly… Method.
    Have been Using this Good Solution with clients for about 10 yrs.
    Little Different Method BUT same Result, HOT water in Bath.

    It ALWAYS gets me more Work and also my Associates.
    ALSO like to see People like us who have good Solutions in the Community Colleges Teaching….
    I have been helping on and off at 5 Colleges in my Area.
    Especially Students who are INTERESTED and Attentive.

    Would it be OK if I forward your Post? I will make sure you and Trish Get Credit.

    Trish is that OK with you also ?

    Again Thanks for the Great POST.
    Take care and enjoy the Beauty of NATURE and Spring Flowers and Blooms slipping into Summer SUN.
    MJD
    Mark J. Demyan
    Owner MDCC
    Consultant

    • Mark, you may repost the blog with credit to Greenspiration AND a direct link back to the website. Thanks!

      Trish

  3. We are looking at doing something similar for our house where we already have installed a “whole house” tankless water heater. We are looking at installing a fast (high flow) recycle pump and a timer or temp sensitive sensor device which, before we take a bath or shower or need hot water, we hit the wireless switch and it cycles the loop through the cold water inlet of our tankless unit and the timer or sensor will shut the unit off automatically. Will probably have to add a check valve too.

    I already insulated the pipes too.

    As you can maybe tell, I am not a plumber or engineer, just a thinker backyard tinkerer!

  4. An interesting solution which I will likely share with folks. It’s similar (I think) to having multiple heating zones, but now you’d say you have multiple hot water zones.

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