Waiting for hot water in a shower is frustrating, and it can waste hundreds of gallons of water a year. So, this isn’t just a comfort issue; it’s also a water-conservation problem that should be addressed.
First, let me bring everyone up to speed on why, in some bathrooms, it seems to take forever to get hot water flowing to the showerhead. It depends on how close your water heater is to your shower. If the water heater is in the basement right below the shower, you should get hot water fairly quickly. But if the water heater and shower are on opposite sides of the home, then hot water must make its way through long lengths of piping before it reaches your shower.
In new construction, plumbers can install a recirculation system with feed and return hot-water lines. This setup can keep a constant flow of hot water to the bathroom area. However, in existing homes it’s usually not practical to open up walls and floors to add hot-water return lines. So what you can use is a hot-water recirculating pump.
For a master plumber, installing one is a fairly easy job, and the pump system itself is affordable for most homes. This type of recirculation pump pulls hot water from the water heater, while pushing the cooler water through the home’s existing cold-water lines, right back to the water heater to complete the loop. This can give you available hot water closer to the shower.
Now, this is a very basic explanation, since the system includes special control valves to meet most local codes. Recirculating systems should be installed only by a licensed master plumber, and along with a licensed master electrician to wire in the pump itself.
Bottom line: Just ask your plumber to install a recirculating hot-water pump, to cool down your shower frustrations.