How to Get Hot Water Faster
LESLIE: Paul in Texas is on the line with a water question. What can we do for you?
PAUL: I have a long run from the main hot-water heater to the both bathrooms: the master and the guest. And I was wondering if I could take a smaller hot-water heater, like a 6- or 7-gallon, and put it near the bathrooms – a little electric one – and run it in series with the main hot-water heater so that initially – that I have hot water immediately. And by the time that that hot-water heater gets empty, the main hot-water heater will be supplying it. And I was curious if there are any issues with that or if there is a better idea or a better way of doing it.
TOM: Well, Paul, as you’ve correctly identified, the issue here is really the distance between the water heater and the plumbing fixture. The longer that water has to travel, the longer you have to wait for the water to get hot. Now, you asked if adding a water heater closer would help. Yeah, it would but you’d have to split that water off into, basically, two completely separate zones.
There’s a better option now and it’s called a “water-recirculating system.” There is one that just came out that’s available at The Home Depot called Watts Hot-Water Recirculating System. It’s only a couple hundred bucks. And the way it works is it’s a recirculating pump that’s put on top of the water heater that will actually cycle the water between the water heater itself and the fixture that’s farthest away from it.
There is a bypass valve that goes in at the fixture that’s farthest away. And that’s a very easy thing to install. It’s a sort of sensor valve at the sink, generally, as far away from the water as you can get. And then what’ll happen is it will always have hot water recirculating through those lines at the ready.
Now, the key to saving money with this is it’s on a timer, so you only run this when you need it. So when would that be? Well, typically, it’s, say, first thing in the morning. An hour or so before you wake up, you have the timer turn the recirculator on and maybe a few hours at night. But that really can save you quite a bit of water.
PAUL: Then don’t you have to run return plumbing from the fixture back to the hot-water heater?
TOM: No. Actually, you don’t. The pump is hooked up to the water heater and the sensor valve gets installed at the sink that’s farthest away from that water heater. It installs – the whole thing installs, believe it or not, in less than an hour. And everything is included in the kit, so it’s really the way to go if you’re trying to solve this problem the easy way.
PAUL: Huh. OK. Well, I’ll check that out then.
TOM: Alright. Well, take a look at that. It’s called the Watts Hot-Water Recirculating System. It works really, really well.
PAUL: I’ll look at it then. Thanks.