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.
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!
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.