We added a kitchen last year and now we're not getting enough hot water on that end of the house. I've heard that circulation pumps are more expensive to buy but cheaper in the end since you don't have to run the water while it heats. Is that true?
Aaron F. ~ Newark, New Jersey
If you are not getting enough hot water or water that is not hot enough, it sounds like it is a water heater problem. If the water is plenty hot but you have very low flow, you have a situation where you will likely need to increase the water supply line size to meet the fixture demand. It is not uncommon to add more fixtures to an existing water supply line, but you have to make sure that the line is sized properly to accommodate the additional fixture load.
If the problem is a long wait to get hot water, a recirculating hot water system will reduce the time it takes to get hot water. A recirculating hot water system is generally not going to save you any money, in most cases it is going to cost you more money. You are going to be running a pump all the time unless you have it set on a timer, and this massive loop of pipe with hot water flowing through it is like a giant radiator under your home wasting BTU's even if the pipes are insulated.
These systems are best used on a tank style water heater, so if you have a tankless water heater it is going to be much tougher to get to work. A short wait for hot water is great, but it isn't free.