Hot Water - Dedicated Recirculation Pump Approach?

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JayPoorJay

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Good Morning, Good People!

Listen y'all. I'll say it now. I'm super grateful for your willingness to share hard worked for experience, ideas and information! It's much appreciated! Honestly, I couldn't afford my home if it wasn't for y'all, and forums like this. Jus say'n. So, deep bow, many thanks.

I basically do all my own work. Old Porsches, Jaguars and some American cars. Minor residential electric, woodworking and tile. Water problems, drainage and and... I like to work with my hands and have SOME experience. Have some tools. Have NO time, lol. That said,,,

Trying to solve that common problem. Takes a long long time for hot water to reach the second floor bathroom. Hot water tank is in the basement.

I'd like to install a dedicated return line and have a recirculating pump at the tank BUT I have some very basic issues like,,, I've NEVER DONE ANYTHING like this before and,,, I need guidance with basic questions about installation, right materials and smart equipment and other things I don't know about yet, if you know what I mean.

I'm hoping to take figuring out the "game plan" one step at a time so as not to get overwhelmed or confused in laying out the "plan" .

First question(s)... It seems that as soon as the hot water reaches the sink at the second floor bathroom, hot water has also reached the shower. Behind a wall, the lines to that sink are/can be accessible. So, I'm thinkng (where my troubles ALWAYS begin) that where the line or junction where the HW pipe reaches the sink is a good place to start my recirculating run BACK to the hot water tank. Is that right thinking???

Basically, if I run the bathroom sink until the water is hot (shower off) and I go over to the shower and turn on the water it takes about 5 seconds (less even) before the water gets hot... So, can I tie in the return just BEFORE the split to the sink and shower lines?

Then, questions about copper vs pex. Elbows, unions and connectors etc etc.

I've never soldered copper pipe.

Super open to suggestions here.
Thanks again!
 

Jeff H Young

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switch it around try running shower till its hot and then check the lav as well. I think you are on track totally! also it might make a differace on demo out of walls to do this for access you can tee off either spot whichever is easier , supplys hot water in time desired, but your idea of testing is perfect I think
 

JayPoorJay

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Ha! Thanks Jeff. And apologies for the loooong OP.

Ok. So, I'll do the test to double check. Makes total sense.

If it's a yes,,,, and the shared line IS there,,,,

I am willing to go into the wall and seal it back up afterwards. But, once in there,,,

One - is that how it actually works? Simply T off the hot line in (or out of) the wall (right behind the sink in the upstairs bath is a staircase. At about waist level on the second flight of stairs UP if I dug into the wall I would find the plumbing) behind the sink and run a pipe (which gets into my next questions) back down the void in the wall and route it back to the tank??? Next question is,,,

Two - what do folks think about red pex and shark bite products? I don't meant to strike up a great debate (I know how forums can be)... Could shark bite and red pex make this a much easier (cheaper) ordeal??? At the same time I would like to FINALLY try my hand at braising/soldering copper... Which is the right way to go? I've heard that some municipalities DON'T allow shark bite and pex behind walls,,, and insurance companies also may not like or cover a problem if caused by pex and shark bite.

What say you (all)? I'm all ears...
 

John Gayewski

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For the recirc line itself your probably gonna wanna use pex unless you can actually feed copper into the stud pocket of your wall. Not saying it's impossible, but pex is gonna be your easiest option. You'll want something to hold your piping near your new connections. If you're dangling pex down a wall there's not gonna be many options to secure it so you'll, at a minimum, wanna pin to to something near your new pipe transition.

I would use type A pex and either buy a cheap hand expansion tool or rent an electric one locally. You'll be able to practice your soldering when you tie into the copper of you want, but inside of a wall isn't a great place to learn. For tying into the copper you could rent a propress of you don't like skarkbite fittings like me.
 

Jeff H Young

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Id avoid the sharkbites as well but if it was only outside the wall and acessable I wouldnt worry too much
 

JayPoorJay

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Good morning...
This is where I worry a bit too, Jeff. The connection at the sink, second floor, will be the only connection behind a wall. I've worried about this myself.
 

Jeff H Young

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under a sink you can use a compression fitting instead of a shark bite for peace of mind ? It can still look clean somtimes a pipe has to be in a cabinet instead of a wall on remodel work . substituting a half dozen joints (especially is impossible reach spots) with straight shots can be enticing jobs have compromise but function and reliability acessability to service or repair are a priority arestetics and clean workmanship are important too. so keep thinking things through.
I think PEX A be good way to go with the expansion fittings , Id probebly go copper on a existing copper home but thats me this is what I do is copper Pex is pretty easy though and you follow the rules try to allow for movement protect from rubbing on nails make proper joints it should get you 50 years I hope and think thats reasonable to expect at least 30 that would kinda suck my opinion to only get 30 years
 

Jeff H Young

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True thats one way, inferior system but might be good enough my dad had one but he wouldnt even concider the real circ system because of the cost and he liked it. a bit mediocre but better than nothing i thought of one here in my house or even a full system but havent done it
 

Tuttles Revenge

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I prefer a dedicated return line. Point of connection to the bathroom basically doesn't matter so long as its nearby. Within 20ft of the bathroom will be about 5-15 seconds to hot water depending on the GPM of the fixture used. Closer is better and closer to the shower is best IMO.

2 things to consider.. actually 1 thing that affects the other. The size of the pipe that you'll be connecting to at your bathroom. It will be the smallest diameter of the system. If its .5" then I would suggest that you would want to have a .5" return line and a small / slow pump. If its .75" then you would want to install a bigger / faster pump. The reason is that water velocity will wear out a small diameter pipe if you install a fast/big pump on the .5" copper.

Insulate as much if not ALL of the recirc loop so you don't end up with a big radiator in the wall.
 
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