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Recircling

Domestic Hot

PSD 169
Water Systems

Continuing Education from Plumbing Systems & Design

JULY/AUGUST 2010

PSDMAGAZINE.ORG
CONTINUING EDUCATION

Recirculating Domestic
Hot Water Systems
INTRODUCTION obtaining hot water at fixtures has become as critical an issue as the
It has been determined through field studies that the correct sizing energy losses caused by hot water temperature maintenance systems.
and operation of water heaters depend on the appropriateness of the To reduce the wasting of cooled hot water significantly, the engineer-
hot water maintenance system. If the hot water maintenance system ing community has reevaluated the permissible distances for uncir-
is inadequate, the water heater sizing criteria are wrong and the culated, dead-end branches to periodically used plumbing fixtures.
temperature of the hot water distributed to the users of the plumb- The new allowable distances for uncirculated, dead-end branches
ing fixtures is below acceptable standards. Additionally, a poorly represent a trade-off between the energy utilized by the hot water
designed hot water maintenance system wastes large amounts of maintenance system and the cost of the insulation, on the one hand,
energy and potable water and creates time delays for those using the and the cost of energy to heat the excess cold water makeup, the cost of
plumbing fixtures. This chapter addresses the criteria for establish- wasted potable water, and extra sewer surcharges, on the other hand.
ing an acceptable time delay in delivering hot water to fixtures and Furthermore, engineers should be aware that various codes now limit
the limitations of the length between a hot water recirculation system the length between the hot water maintenance system and plumbing
and plumbing fixtures. It also discusses the temperature drop across fixtures. They also should be aware of the potential for liability if an
a hot water supply system, types of hot water recirculation system, owner questions the adequacy of their hot water system design.
and pump selection criteria, and gives extensive information on the What are reasonable delays in obtaining hot water at a fixture?
insulation of hot water supply and return piping. For anything beside very infrequently used fixtures (such as those in
industrial facilities or certain fixtures in office buildings), a delay of 0
to 10 sec is normally considered acceptable for most residential occu-
Background pancies and public fixtures in office buildings. A delay of 11 to 30 sec
In the past, the plumbing engineering community considered the is marginal but possibly acceptable, and a time delay longer than 31
prompt delivery of hot water to fixtures either a requirement for a sec is normally considered unacceptable and a significant waste of
project or a matter of no concern. The plumbing engineer’s decision water and energy. Therefore, when designing hot water systems, it is
was based primarily on the type of facility under consideration and prudent for the designer to provide some means of getting hot water to
the developed length from the water heater to the farthest fixture. the fixtures within these acceptable time limits. Normally this means
Previous reference material and professional common practices that there should be a maximum distance of approximately 25 ft (7.6 m)
have indicated that, when the distance from the water heater to the between the hot water maintenance system and each of the plumbing
farthest fixture exceeds 100 ft (30.48 m) water should be circulated. fixtures requiring hot water, the distance depending on the water flow
However, this recommendation is subjective, and, unfortunately, rate of the plumbing fixture at the end of the line and the size of the
some engineers and contractors use the 100-ft (30.48-m) criterion line. (See Tables 1, 2, and 3.) The plumbing designer may want to stay
as the maximum length for all uncirculated, uninsulated, dead-end under this length limitation because the actual installation in the field
hot water branches to fixtures in order to cut the cost of hot water may differ slightly from the engineer’s design, and additional delays
distribution piping. These long, uninsulated, dead-end branches to may be caused by either the routing of the pipe or other problems.
fixtures create considerable problems, such as a lack of hot water at Furthermore, with the low fixture discharge rates now mandated by
fixtures, inadequately sized water heater assemblies, and thermal national and local laws, it takes considerably longer to obtain hot water
temperature escalation in showers. from non-temperature maintained hot water lines than it did in the
The 100-ft (30.48-m) length criterion was developed in 1973 after past, when fixtures had greater flow rates. For example, a public lava-
the Middle East oil embargo, when energy costs were the paramount tory with a 0.50 or 0.25 gpm (0.03 or 0.02 L/sec) maximum discharge
concern and water conservation was given little consideration. Since rate would take an excessive amount of time to obtain hot water from
the circulation of hot water causes a loss of energy due to radiation 100 ft (30.48 m) of uncirculated, uninsulated hot water piping. (See
and convection in the circulated system and such energy losses have Table 3.) This table gives conservative approximations of the amount of
to be continually replaced by water heaters, the engineering commu- time it takes to obtain hot water at a fixture. The times are based on the
nity compromised between energy loss and construction costs and size of the line, the fixture flow rate, and the times required to replace
developed the 100-ft (30.48-m) maximum length criterion. the cooled off hot water, to heat the pipe, and to offset the convection
energy lost by the insulated hot water line.
Length and Time Criteria
Recently, due to concern about not only energy conservation but also Note: All decimal equivalencies in the metric calculations are rounded.
the extreme water shortages in parts of the country, the 100-ft (30.48-m) Therefore, the metric conversions shown in the text may vary slightly
length criteria has changed. Water wastage caused by the long delay in from the answers shown in the metric equations.

Domestic Water Heating Design Manual II, Chapter 14: “Recirculating Domestic Hot Water Systems,” © American Society of Plumbing Engineers, 2006

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Table 3(M) Approximate Time Required to Get
Hot Water to a Fixture
  Delivery Time (sec)
Table 1 Water Contents and Weight of Tube or Piping per Linear Foot Fixture Flow 0.03 0.10 0.16 0.25
Rate (L/sec)
Copper Copper Steel Pipe CPVC Pipe
Nominal Pipe Pipe Schedule Schedule Piping 3.1 7.6 3.1 7.6 3.1 7.6 3.1 7.6
Diameter Type L Type M 40 40 Length (m)
Water Wgt. Water Wgt. Water Wgt. Water Wgt.
(in.)
a
(gal/ft) (lb/ft) (gal/ft) (lb/ft) (gal/ft) (lb/ft) (gal/ft) (lb/ft) Copper DN15 25 63a 8 21 5 13 3 8
½ 0.012 0.285 0.013 0.204 0.016 0.860 0.016 0.210   Pipe DN22 48a 119a 16 40a 10 24 6 15
¾ 0.025 0.445 0.027 0.328 0.028 1.140 0.028 0.290
1 0.043 0.655 0.045 0.465 0.045 1.680 0.045 0.420 Steel Pipe DN15 63a 157a 21 52a 13 31a 8 20
1¼ 0.065 0.884 0.068 0.682 0.077 2.280 0.078 0.590   Sched. 40 DN20 91a 228a 30 76a 18 46a 11 28
1½ 0.093 1.14 0.100 0.940 0.106 2.720 0.106 0.710
CPVC Pipe DN15 64a 159a 21 53a 13 32a 8 20
a
Pipe sizes are indicated for mild steel pipe sizing.   Sched. 40 DN20 95a 238a 32 79a 19 48a 12 30

Note: Table based on various fixture flow rates, piping materials, and dead-end branch
lengths. Calculations are based on the amount of heat required to heat the piping, the
Table 1(M) Water Contents and Weight of Tube or Piping per Meter water in the piping, and the heat loss from the piping. Based on water temperature of
60°C and an air temperture of 21.1°C.
Copper Copper Steel Pipe CPVC Pipe
Nominal Pipe Pipe Schedule Schedule a
Delays longer than 30 sec are not acceptable.
Diameter Type L Type M 40 40
Water Wgt. Water Wgt. Water Wgt. Water Wgt.
(mm)a (L) (kg) (L) (kg) (L) (kg) (L) (kg)
DN15 0.045 0.129 0.049 0.204 0.061 0.390 0.061 0.099 Results of Delays in Delivering
DN20 0.095 0.202 0.102 0.328 0.106 0.517 0.106 0.132
DN25 0.163 0.297 0.170 0.465 0.170 0.762 0.170 0.191 Hot Water to Fixtures
DN32 0.246 0.401 0.257 0.682 0.291 1.034 0.295 0.268 As mentioned previously, when there is a long delay in obtaining
DN40 0.352 0.517 0.379 0.940 0.401 1.233 0.401 0.322
hot water at the fixture, there is significant wastage of potable water
a
Pipe sizes are indicated for mild steel pipe sizing. as the cooled hot water supply is simply discharged down the drain
unused. Furthermore, plumbing engineers concerned about total
system costs should realize that the cost of this wasted, previously
heated water must include: the original cost for obtaining potable
water, the cost of previously heating the water, the final cost of the
Table 2 Approximate Fixture and Appliance waste treatment of this excess potable water, which results in larger
Water Flow Rates
sewer surcharges (source of supply to end disposal point), and the
Maximum Flow Ratesa cost of heating the new cold water to bring it up to the required tem-
Fittings GPM L/Sec perature. Furthermore, if there is a long delay in obtaining hot water
Lavatory faucet 2.0 1.3
Public non-metering 0.5 0.03 at the fixtures, the faucets are turned on for long periods of time to
Public metering 0.25 gal/cycle 0.946 L/cycle bring the hot water supply at the fixture up to the desired tempera-
Sink faucet 2.5 0.16
Shower head 2.5 0.16 ture. This can cause the water heating system to run out of hot water
Bathtub faucets and make the heater sizing inadequate, because the heater is unable
Single-handle 2.4 minimum 0.15 minimum to heat all the extra cold water brought into the system through the
Two-handle 4.0 minimum 0.25 minimum
Service sink faucet 4.0 minimum 0.25 minimum wastage of the water discharged down the drain. In addition, this
Laundry tray faucet 4.0 minimum 0.25 minimum extra cold water entering the hot water system reduces the hot water
Residential dishwasher 1.87 aver 0.12 aver supply temperature. This exacerbates the problem of insufficient hot
Residential washing machine 7.5 aver 0.47 aver
water because to get a proper blended temperature more lower tem-
a
Unless otherwise noted. perature hot water will be used to achieve the final mixed water tem-
perature. (See Chapter 1, Table 1.1.) Additionally, this accelerates the
downward spiral of the temperature of the hot water system.
Another problem resulting from long delays in getting hot water to
Table 3 Approximate Time Required to Get the fixtures is that the fixtures operate for longer than expected peri-
Hot Water to a Fixture
ods of time. Therefore, the actual hot water demand is greater than
Delivery Time (sec) the demand normally designed for.
Fixture Flow 0.5 1.5 2.5 4.0 Therefore, when sizing the water heater and the hot water piping
Rate (gpm)
Piping 10 25 10 25 10 25 10 25 distribution system, the designer should be aware that the lack of
Length (ft) a proper hot water maintenance system can seriously impact the
required heater size.
Copper ½ in. 25 63a 8 21 5 13 3 8
  Pipe ¾ in. 48a 119a 16 40a 10 24 6 15

Steel Pipe ½ in. 63a 157a 21 52a 13 31a 8 20 Methods of Delivering Reasonably Prompt Hot
  Sched. 40 ¾ in. 91a 228a 30 76a 18 46a 11 28 Water Supply
CPVC Pipe ½ in. 64a 159a 21 53a 13 32a 8 20 Hot water maintenance systems are as varied as the imaginations of
  Sched. 40 ¾ in. 95a 238a 32 79a 19 48a 12 30 the plumbing engineers who create them. They can be grouped into
Note: Table based on various fixture flow rates, piping materials, and dead-end branch three basic categories, though any actual installation may be a com-
lengths. Calculations are based on the amount of heat required to heat the piping, the bination of more than one of these types of system. The three basic
water in the piping, and the heat loss from the piping. Based on water temperature of categories are
140°F and an air temperture of 70°F.
1. Circulation systems.
a
Delays longer than 30 sec are not acceptable. 2. Self-regulating heat trace systems.
3. Point-of-use water heaters (include booster water heaters).

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CONTINUING EDUCATION: Recirculating Domestic Hot Water Systems

Circulation Systems for Commercial, Industrial, and Large


Residential Projects
A circulation system is a system of hot water supply pipes and hot
water return pipes with appropriate shutoff valves, balancing valves,
circulating pumps, and a method of controlling the circulating pump.
The diagrams for six basic circulating systems are shown in Figures
1 through 6.

Fixture 1  Upfeed Hot Water System with Heater at Bottom of System.


* See text for requirements for strainers.

Figure 2 Downfeed Hot Water System with Heater at Top of System.


* See text for requirements for strainers.

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Figure 3 Upfeed Hot Water System with Heater at Bottom of System.
* See text for requirements for strainers.

Figure 4 Downfeed Hot Water System with Heater at Top of System.


* See text for requirements for strainers.

Figure 5 Combination Upfeed and Downfeed Hot Water System with Heater at Bottom of System.
Note: This piping system increases the developed length of the HW system over the upfeed systems shown in Figures 14.1 and 14.3.
* See text for requirements for strainers.

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CONTINUING EDUCATION: Recirculating Domestic Hot Water Systems

Figure 6 Combination Downfeed and Upfeed Hot Water System with Heater at Top
of System.
Note: This piping system increases the developed length of the HW system over the downfeed systems shown in
Figures 14.2 and 14.4.
* See text for requirements for strainers.

Self-Regulating Heat Trace

Over approximately the last 20 years, self-regulating heat trace has


come into its own because of the problems of balancing circulated
hot water systems and energy loss in the return piping. For further
discussion of this topic, see Chapter 15.

Point-of-Use Heaters
This concept is applicable when there is a single fixture or group of
fixtures that is located far from the temperature maintenance system.
In such a situation, a small, instantaneous, point-of-use water heat-
er—an electric water heater, a gas water heater, or a small under-
fixture storage type water heater of the magnitude of 6 gal (22.71
L)—can be provided. (See Figure 7.) The point-of-use heater will be
very cost-effective because it will save the cost of running hot water
piping to a fixture that is a long distance away from the temperature
maintenance system. The plumbing engineer must remember, how-
ever, that when a water heater is installed there are various code and
installation requirements that must be complied with, such as those
pertaining to T & P relief valve discharge.
Instantaneous electric heaters used in point-of-use applications can
require a considerable amount of power, and may require 240 or 480
V service.

Figure 7 Instantaneous Point-of-Use Water Heater Piping Dia-


Potential Problems in Circulated Hot gram.
Water Maintenance Systems Source: Courtesy of Chronomite Laboratories, Inc.
The following are some of the potential problems with circulated hot
water maintenance systems that must be addressed by the plumbing
designer.

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Water Velocities in Hot Water Piping Systems A Delay in Obtaining Hot Water at Dead-End Lines
For copper piping systems, it is very important that the circulated Keep the delay in obtaining hot water at fixtures to within the time
hot water supply piping and especially the hot water return piping be (and branch length) parameters given previously to avoid unhappy
sized so that the water is moving at a controlled velocity. High veloci- users of the hot water system and to prevent lawsuits.
ties in these systems can cause pinhole leaks in the copper piping in
as short a period as six months or less. Flow Balancing Devices
The following are the more common types of balancing device.
Balancing Systems
It is extremely important that a circulated hot water system be bal- Fixed Orifices and Venturis
anced for its specified flows, including all the various individual loops These can be obtained for specific flow rates and simply inserted into
within the circulated system. Balancing is required even though an the hot water return piping system. (See Figure 8.) However, extreme
insulated circulated line usually requires very little flow to main- care should be taken to locate these devices so they can be removed
tain satisfactory system temperatures. If the individual hot water and cleaned out, as they may become clogged with the debris in the
circulated loops are not properly balanced, the circulated water will water. It is recommended, therefore, that a strainer with a blow-
tend to short-circuit through the closest loops, creating high veloci- down valve be placed ahead of each of these devices. Additionally, a
ties in that piping system. Furthermore, the short-circuiting of the strainer with a fine mesh screen can be installed on the main water
circulated hot water will result in complaints about the long delays line coming into the building to help prevent debris buildup in the
in getting hot water at the remotest loops. If the hot water piping is individual strainers. Also, a shutoff valve should be installed before
copper, high velocities can create velocity erosion which will destroy and after these devices so that an entire loop does not have to be
the piping system. drained in order to service a strainer or balancing device.
Because of the problems inherent in manually balancing hot water
circulation systems, many professionals incorporate factory preset flow
control devices in their hot water systems. While the initial cost of such
a device is higher than the cost of a manual balancing valve, a preset
device may be less expensive when the field labor cost for balancing
the entire hot water system is included. When using a preset flow con-
trol device, however, the plumbing designer has to be far more accu-
rate in selecting the control device’s capacity as there is no possibility
of field adjustment. Therefore, if more or less hot water return flow is
needed during the field installation, a new flow control device must be
installed and the old one must be removed and discarded.

Isolating Portions of Hot Water Systems


It is extremely important in circulated systems that shutoff valves be
provided to isolate an entire circulated loop. This is done so that if
individual fixtures need modification, their piping loop can be iso-
lated from the system so the entire hot water system does not have to
be shut off and drained. The location of these shutoff valves should be
given considerable thought. The shutoff valves should be accessible
at all times, so they should not be located in such places as the ceil-
ings of locked offices or condominiums.

Maintaining the Balance of Hot Water Systems


To ensure that a balanced hot water system remains balanced after
the shutoff valves have been utilized, the hot water return system
must be provided with a separate balancing valve in addition to the
shutoff valve or, if the balancing valve is also used as the shutoff valve,
the balancing valve must have a memory stop. (See the discussion of
“balancing valves with memory stops” below.) With a memory stop
on the valve, plumbers can return a system to its balanced position
after working on it rather than have the whole piping system remain
unbalanced, which would result in serious problems.

Providing Check Valves at the Ends of Hot Water Loops


The designer should provide a check valve on each hot water return
line where it joins other hot water return lines. This is done to ensure
that a plumbing fixture does not draw hot return water instead of hot
supply water, which could unbalance the hot water system and cause Figure 8 Fixed Orifices and Venturi Flow Meters.
Source: Courtesy of Gerand Engineering Co.
delays in obtaining hot water at some fixtures.

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CONTINUING EDUCATION: Recirculating Domestic Hot Water Systems

Factory Preset Automatic Flow Control Valves


The same admonition about strainers and valves given for “fixed ori-
fices and venturis” above applies to the installation and location of
these devices. (See Figure 9.)

Flow Regulating Valves


These valves can be used to determine the flow rate by reading the
pressure drop across the valve. They are available from various man-
ufacturers. (See Figure 10.)

Balancing Valves with Memory Stops


These valves can be adjusted to the proper setting by installing insert-
able pressure measuring devices (Pete’s Plugs, etc.) in the piping
system, which indicate the flow rate in the pipe line. (See Figure 11.)

Sizing Hot Water Return Piping Systems and


Recirculating Pumps
The method for selecting the proper size of the hot water return piping
system and the recirculating pump is fairly easy, but it does require
engineering judgment. First, the plumbing engineer has to design Figure 10 Adjustable Orifice Flow Control Valve.
Source: ITT Industries. Used with permission.
the hot water supply and hot water return piping systems, keeping in
mind the parameters for total developed length1, prompt delivery of
hot water to fixtures, and velocities in pipe lines. The plumbing engi-
neer has to make assumptions about the sizes of the hot water return
piping.

Figure 11 Adjustable Balancing Valve with Memory Stop.


Source: Courtesy of Milwaukee Valve Co.

1
See American Society of Plumbing Engineers, 2000, Cold-water sys-
tems, Chapter 5 in ASPE Data Book, Volume 2, for piping sizing meth-
Figure 9 Preset Self-Limiting Flow Control Cartridge.
Source: Courtesy of Griswold Controls. ods.

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After the hot water supply and hot water return systems are designed,
the designer should make a piping diagram of the hot water supply
system and the assumed return system showing piping sizing and
approximate lengths. From this piping diagram the hourly heat loss
occurring in the circulated portion of the hot water supply and return
systems can be determined. (See Table 4 for minimum required insula- Table 5(M) Approximate Insulated Piping Heat Loss and Surface Temperature
tion thickness and Table 5 for approximate piping heat loss.)
Next determine the heat loss in the hot water storage tank if one is Nominal Insulation Heat Loss Surface
Pipe Size Thickness (W/m) Temperature
provided. (See Table 6 for approximate tank heat loss.) Calculate the (mm) (mm) (°C)
total hot water system energy loss (tank heat loss plus piping heat loss) DN15 25 7.7 20
in British thermal units per hour (watts). This total hot water system DN20 25 9.6 21
DN25 25 9.6 21
energy loss is represented by q in Equation 1 below. Note: Heat losses DN32 25 12.5 21
from storage type water heater tanks are not normally included in the DN40 25 12.5 21
hot water piping system heat loss because the water heater capacity DN50 or less 13a 23.1 or less 23
DN50 25 15.4 21
takes care of this loss, whereas pumped hot water has to replace the DN65 38 11.5 19
piping convection losses in the piping system. DN80 38 15.4 20
DN100 38 18.3 21
DN150 38 26.0 21
DN200 38 30.8 21
Table 4 Minimum Pipe Insulation Thickness DN250 38 36.5 21
Required Insulation Thickness for Piping (in.)
Note: Figures based on average ambient temperature of 18°C and annual average wind
Runouts speed of 12 km/h.
2 in. or 1 in. or Less 1¼–2 in. 2½–4 in. 5 & 6 in. 8 in. or
Lessa Larger Uncirculating hot water runout branches only.
a

½ 1 1 1½ 1½ 1½
Note: Data based on fiberglass insulation with all-service jacket. Data will change depending
on actual type of insulation used. Data apply to recirculating sections of hot water systems
and the first 3 ft from the storage tank of uncirculated systems. Table 6 Heat Loss from Various Size Tanks
with Various Insulation Thicknesses
a
Uncirculated pipe branches to individual fixtures (not exceeding 12 ft in length).
Insulation Tank Approx. Energy Loss
For lengths longer than 12 ft, use required insulation thickness shown in table. Thickness Size from Tank at Hot
(in.) (gal) Water Temperature
140°F (Btu/h)a
1 50 468
Table 4(M) Minimum Pipe Insulation Thickness 1 100 736
Required Insulation Thickness for Piping (mm) 2 250 759
3 500 759
Runouts
3 1000 1273
DN32 or DN25 or DN32–DN50 DN65–DN100 DN125 & DN150 DN200 or
Source: From Sheet Metal and Air Conditioning Contractors National Association (SMACNA)
Lessa Less Larger Table 2 data.
13 25 25 40 40 40 a
For unfired tanks, federal standards limit the loss to no more than 6.5 Btu/h/ft2 of tank
Note: Data based on fiberglass insulation with all-service jacket. Data will change depending surface.
on actual type of insulation used. Data apply to recirculating sections of hot water systems
and the first 0.9 m from the storage tank of uncirculated systems.
a
Uncirculated pipe branches to individual fixtures (not exceeding 3.7 m in length). For lengths
longer than 305 mm, use required insulation thickness shown in table.
Table 6(M) Heat Loss from Various Size Tanks
with Various Insulation Thicknesses
Table 5 Approximate Insulated Piping Heat Loss Insulation Tank Approx. Energy Loss
and Surface Temperature Thickness Size from Tank at Hot
Nominal Insulation Heat Loss Surface (mm) (L) Water Temperature
Pipe Size Thickness (Btu/h/ Temperature 60°C (W)a
(in.) (in.) linear ft) (°F)
25.4 200 137
½ 1 8 68
25.4 400 216
¾ 1 10 69
1 1 10 69 50.8 1000 222
1¼ 1 13 70 76.2 2000 222
1½ 1 13 69 76.2 4000 373
2 or less ½a 24 or less 74 Source: From Sheet Metal and Air Conditioning Contractors National Association (SMACNA)
2 1 16 70 Table 2 data.
2½ 1½ 12 67 a
For unfired tanks, federal standards limit the loss to no more than 1.9 W/m2 of tank
3 1½ 16 68 surface.
4 1½ 19 69
6 1½ 27 69
8 1½ 32 69
10 1½ 38 69
Note: Figures based on average ambient temperature of 65°F and annual average wind
speed of 7.5 mph.
a
Uncirculating hot water runout branches only.

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CONTINUING EDUCATION: Recirculating Domestic Hot Water Systems

(Equation 1) q  =  60rwc∆T able pump heads. It is quite common that a plumbing designer will
make wrong initial assumptions about the sizes of the hot water return
[q  =  3600rwc∆T] lines to establish the initial heat loss figure (q). If that is the case, the
plumbing engineer will have to correct the hot water return pipe sizes,
where redo the calculations using the new data based on the correct pipe
60 = min/h sizing, and verify that all the rest of the calculations are now correct.
3600 = sec/h
q = piping heat loss, Btu/h (kJ/h) EXAMPLE 1—CALCULATION TO DETERMINE REQUIRED CIRCULATION
r = flow rate, gpm (L/sec) RATE
w = weight of heated water, lb/gal (kg/L) 1. Assume that the hot water supply piping system has 800 ft (244
c = specific heat of water, Btu/lb/°F (kJ/kg/K) m) of average size 1 ¼ in. (DN32) pipe. From Table 5, determine
∆T = change in heated water temperature (temperature of the heat loss per linear foot (meter). To find the total heat loss,
leaving water minus temperature of incoming water, multiply length times heat loss per foot (meter):
represented in this manual as Th – Tc, °F [K])
800 ft × 13 Btu/h/ft  =  10,400 Btu/h supply piping losses
Therefore
(244 m • 12.5 W =  3050 W supply piping losses)
q   =  c (gpm × 8.33 lb/gal)(60 min/h)(°F temperature drop)
   =  1(gpm) × 500 × °F temperature drop
2. Assume that the hot water return piping system for the
[q  =  c (L/sec • 1kg/L)(3600 sec/h)(K temperature drop)
system in no. 1 above has 100 ft (30.5 m) of average ½ in. (DN15)
   =  1(L/sec) • 15 077 kJ/L/sec/K • K temperature drop]
piping and 100 ft (30.5 m) of average ¾ in. (DN20) pipe. From

Table 5 determine the heat loss per linear foot (meter):
(Equation 2) gpm  ≈ system heat loss (Btu/h)
100 ft × 8 Btu/h/ft  =  800 Btu/h piping loss
500 × °F temperature drop


(30.5 m • 7.7 W/m  =  235 W piping loss)
[L/sec  ≈ system heat loss (kJ/h) ]

15 077 • K temperature drop

In sizing hot water circulating systems, the designer should note that 100 ft × 10 Btu/h/ft  =  1000 Btu/h piping loss
the greater the temperature drop across the system, the less water is 1800 Btu/h piping loss
required to be pumped through the system and, therefore, the greater
the savings on pumping costs. However, if the domestic hot water (30.5 m • 9.6 W/m  = 293 W piping loss)
supply starts out at 140°F (60°C) with, say, a 20°F (6.7°C) temperature 528 W piping loss
drop across the supply system, the fixtures near the end of the circulat-
3. Determine the hot water storage tank heat loss. Assume the
ing hot water supply loop could be provided with a hot water supply
system in no. 1 above has a 200-gal (757-L) hot water storage
of only 120°F (49°C). In addition, if the hot water supply delivery tem-
tank. From Table 6 determine the heat loss of the storage tank @
perature is 120°F (49°C) instead of 140°F (60°C), the plumbing fixtures 759 Btu/h (222 W).
will use greater volumes of hot water to get the desired blended water
temperature (see Chapter 1, Table 1.1). Therefore, the recommended 4. Determine the hot water system’s total heat losses by totaling the
hot water system temperature drop should be of the magnitude of 5°F various losses:
(3°C). This means that if the hot water supply starts out from the water A. Hot water supply piping losses 10,400 Btu/h
heater at a temperature between 135 and 140°F (58 and 60°C), the B. Hot water return piping losses 1,800 Btu/h
lowest hot water supply temperature provided by the hot water supply
C. Hot water storage tank losses 759 Btu/h
system could be between 130 and 135°F (54 and 58°C). With multiple
temperature distribution systems, it is recommended that the recircu- Total system heat losses 12,959 Btu/h
lation system for each temperature distribution system be extended Total system piping heat losses (A + B) = 12,200 Btu/h
back to the water heating system separately and have its own pump.
[A. Hot water supply piping losses 3050 W
Using Equation 2, we determine that, if there is a 5°F (3°C) tempera-
ture drop across the hot water system, the number to divide into the B. Hot water return piping losses 527 W
hot water circulating system heat loss (q) to obtain the minimum C. Hot water storage tank losses 222 W
required hot water return circulation rate in gpm (L/sec) is 2500 (500 Total system heat losses 3799 W
× 5°F), (45 213 [15 071 • 3°C]). Total system piping heat losses (A + B) = 3577 W]
For a 10°F (6°C) temperature drop that number is 5000 (from Equa-
tion 2, 500 × 10°F = 5000) (90 426 [from Equation 2, 15 071 • 6°C = 90 From Equation 2, using a system piping loss of 12,200 Btu/h (3577 W)
426]). However, this 10°F (6°C) temperature drop may produce hot and a 5°F (3°C) temperature drop,
water supply temperatures that are lower than desired.
After Equation 2 is used to establish the required hot water return 12,200 Btu/h =  4.88 gpm (say 5 gpm)
flow rate, in gpm (L/sec), the plumbing designer can size the hot water 5°F temperature difference × 500 required hot water return
return piping system based on piping flow rate velocities and the avail- circulation rate

10  Plumbing Systems & Design  JULY/AUGUST 2010 WWW.PSDMAGAZINE.ORG


3577 W = 0.29 (say 0.3) L/sec Establishing the Head Capacity of the Hot
3°C temp. difference • 4188.32 kJ/m3 required hot water Water Circulating Pump
return circulation rate The hot water return circulating pump is selected based on the
required hot water return flow rate (in gpm [L/sec]), calculated using
Equation 2, and the system’s pump head. The pump head is normally
Recalculation of Hot Water System Losses
determined by the friction losses through only the hot water return
1. Assume that the hot water supply piping system has 800 ft
(244 m) of average size 1¼ in. (DN32) pipe. From Table 5 piping loops and any losses through balancing valves. The hot water
determine the heat loss per linear foot (meter): return piping friction losses usually do not include the friction losses
that occur in the hot water supply piping. The reason for this is that the
800 ft × 13 Btu/h/ft  = 10,400 Btu/h piping loss
hot water return circulation flow is needed only to keep the hot water
(244 m • 12.5 W/m  =  3050 W piping loss) supply system up to the desired temperature when there is no flow
2. Assume that the hot water return piping system for the in the hot water supply piping. When people use the hot water at the
system in no. 1 above has 100 ft (30.5 m) of average ½ in. fixtures, there is usually sufficient flow in the hot water supply piping
(DN15) pipe, 25 ft (7.6 m) of average ¾ in. (DN22) pipe, and to keep the system hot water supply piping up to the desired tempera-
75 ft (22.9 m) of average 1 in. (DN28) pipe. From Table 5, ture without help from the flow in the hot water return piping.
determine the heat loss per linear foot (meter): The only exception to the rule of ignoring the friction losses in the
100 ft × 8 Btu/h/ft  = 800 Btu/h piping loss hot water supply piping is a situation where a hot water return pipe
25 ft × 10 Btu/h/ft = 250 Btu/h piping loss is connected to a relatively small hot water supply line. “Relatively
small” here means any hot water supply line that is less than one pipe
75 ft × 10 Btu/h/ft = 750 Btu/h piping loss
size larger than the hot water return line. The problems created by this
1800 Btu/h piping loss condition are that the hot water supply line will add additional friction
[30.5 m • 7.7 W/m = 235 W piping loss to the head of the hot water circulating pump, and the hot water circu-
7.6 m • 9.6 W/m = 73 W piping loss lating pump flow rate can deprive the last plumbing fixture on this hot
water supply line from obtaining its required flow. It is recommended,
22.9 m • 9.6 W/m = 220 W piping loss
therefore, that in such a situation the hot water supply line supplying
528 W piping loss] each hot water return piping connection point be increased to pre-
3. Determine the hot water storage tank heat loss. Assume the vent these potential problems, i.e., use ¾ in. (DN22) hot water supply
system in no. 1 above has a 200-gal (757-L) hot water storage piping and ½ in. (DN15) hot water return piping, or 1 in. (DN28) hot
tank. From Table 6 determine the heat loss of the storage tank water supply piping and ¾ in. (DN22) hot water return piping, etc.
@ 759 Btu/h (222 W). When selecting the hot water circulating pump’s head, the designer
4. Determine the system’s total heat losses: should be sure to calculate only the restrictions encountered by the
circulating pump. A domestic hot water system is normally consid-
A. Hot water supply losses 10,400 Btu/h
ered an open system (i.e., open to the atmosphere). When the hot
B. Hot water return losses 1,800 Btu/h water circulating pump is operating, however, it is assumed that the
C. Hot water storage tank losses 759 Btu/h piping is a closed system. Therefore, the designer should not include
Total system heat losses 12,959 Btu/h static heads where none exists. For example, in Figure 1, the hot water
circulating pump has to overcome only the friction in the hot water
Total system piping heat losses (A + B) = 12,200 Btu/h
return piping not the loss of the static head pumping the water up to
the fixtures because in a closed system the static head loss is offset by
[A. Hot water supply losses 3050 W the static head gain in the hot water return piping.
B. Hot water return losses 528 W
C. Hot water storage tank losses 222 W Hot Water Circulating Pumps
Total system heat losses 3800 W Most hot water circulating pumps are of the centrifugal type and are
Total system piping heat losses (A + B) = 3578 W] available as either in-line units for small systems or base-mounted
units for large systems. Because of the corrosiveness of hot water
systems, the pumps should be bronze, bronze fitted, or stainless
Note: The recalculation determined that the hot water system heat steel. Conventional, iron bodied pumps, which are not bronze fitted,
losses remained unchanged and that 4.88 (say 5) gpm (0.29 [say 0.3] L/ are not recommended.
sec) is the flow rate that is required to maintain the 5°F (3°C) tempera-
ture drop across the hot water supply system.
Control for Hot Water Circulating Pumps
It should be stated that engineers use numerous rules of thumb to
size hot water return systems. These rules of thumb are all based on There are three major methods commonly used for controlling hot
assumptions, however, and are not recommended. It is recommended water circulating pumps: manual, thermostatic (aquastat), and time
that the engineer perform the calculations for each project to establish clock control. Sometimes more than one of these methods are used
the required flow rates because, with all the various capacities of the on a system.
pumps available today, exact sizing is possible, and any extra circulated
flow caused by the plumbing engineer using a rule of thumb equates to 1. A manual control runs the hot water circulating pump con-
higher energy costs, to the detriment of the client. tinuously when the power is turned on. A manual control

JULY/AUGUST 2010  Plumbing Systems & Design  11


CONTINUING EDUCATION: Recirculating Domestic Hot Water Systems

should be used only when hot water is needed all the time, See Table 4 for the minimum required insulation thicknesses for all
24 h a day, or during all the periods of a building’s operation. systems.
Otherwise, it is not a cost-effective means of controlling the If the insulated piping is installed in a location where it is subjected
circulating pump because it will waste energy. to rain or other water, the insulation must be sealed with a watertight
covering that will maintain its tightness over time. Wet insulation not
Note: The method for applying the “on demand” concept for control- only does not insulate, it also releases considerable heat energy from
ling the hot water circulating pump is a manual control. It can be used the hot water piping, thus wasting energy. Furthermore, the insulation
very successfully for residential and commercial applications. on any outdoor lines that is not sealed watertight can be plagued by
birds or rodents, etc., pecking at the insulation to use it for their nests.
2. A thermostatic aquastat is a device that is inserted into the In time, the entire hot water supply and/or return piping will have no
hot water return line. When the water in the hot water return insulation. Such bare hot water supply and/or return piping will waste
system reaches the distribution temperature, it shuts off the considerable energy and can seriously affect the operation of the hot
circulating pump until the hot water return system tempera- water system and water heaters.
ture drops by approximately 10°F [5.5°C]. With this method, The minimum required insulation thicknesses given in Table 4 are
when there is a large consumption of hot water by the based on insulation having thermal resistivity (R) in the range of 4.0
plumbing fixtures, the circulating pump does not operate. to 4.6 ft2 × h × (°F/Btu) × in. (0.028 to 0.032 m2 • [°C/W] • mm) on a
flat surface at a mean temperature of 75°F (24°C). Minimum insulation
3. A time clock is used to turn the pump on during specific thickness shall be increased for materials having R values less than 4.0
hours of operation when people are using the fixtures. The ft2 × h × (°F/Btu) × in. (0.028 m2 • [°C/W] • mm) or may be reduced for
pump would not operate, for example, at night in an office materials having R values greater than 4.6 ft2 × h × (°F/Btu) × in. (0.032
building when nobody is using the fixtures. m2 • [°C/W] • mm).
1. For materials with thermal resistivity greater than 4.6 ft2 ×
4. Often an aquastat and a time clock are used in conjunction h × (°F/Btu) × in. (0.032 m2 • [°C/W] • mm), the minimum
so that during the hours a building is not operating the time insulation thickness may be reduced as follows:
clock shuts off the circulating pump, and during the hours 4.6 × Table 4 thickness  =  New minimum thickness
the building is in use the aquastat shuts off the pump when
Actual R
the system is up to the desired temperature.

( 0.032 • Table 4 thickness  =  New minimum thickness)


Actual R
Air Elimination
In any hot water return circulation system it is very important that
there be a means of eliminating any entrapped air from the hot water 2. For materials with thermal resistivity less than 4.0 ft2 × h ×
return piping. Air elimination is not required in the hot water supply (°F/Btu) × in. (0.028 m2 • [°C/W] • mm), the minimum insu-
lation thickness shall be increased as follows:
piping because the discharge of water from the fixtures will eliminate
any entrapped air. If air is not eliminated from the hot water return 4.0 × Table 4 thickness   =  New minimum thickness
lines, however, it can prevent the proper circulation of the hot water Actual R
system. It is imperative that a means of air elimination be provided at
all high points of a hot water return system. The plumbing engineer
must always give consideration to precisely where the air elimination (0.028 • Table 4 thickness =  New minimum thickness)
devices are to be located and drained. For example, they should not Actual R
be located in the unheated attics of buildings in cold climates. If the
plumbing engineer does not consider the location of these devices Conclusion
and where they will drain, the result may be unsightly piping in a In conclusion, an inappropriate hot water recirculation system can
building or extra construction costs. have serious repercussions for the operation of the water heater and
the sizing of the water heating system. In addition, it can cause the
wastage of vast amounts of energy, water, and time. Therefore, it is
incumbent upon the plumbing designer to design a hot water recir-
Insulation culation system so that it conserves natural resources and is in accor-
The use of insulation is very cost-effective. It means paying one time dance with the recommendations given in this chapter.
to save the later cost of significant energy lost by the hot water supply
and return piping system. Also, insulation decreases the stresses
on the piping due to thermal expansion and contraction caused by
changes in water temperature. Furthermore, the proper use of insu-
lation eliminates the possibility of someone getting burned by a hot,
uninsulated water line. See Table 5 for the surface temperatures of
insulated lines (versus 140°F [60°C] for bare piping).
It is recommended that all hot water supply and return piping be
insulated. This recommendation exceeds some code requirements.

12  Plumbing Systems & Design  JULY/AUGUST 2010 WWW.PSDMAGAZINE.ORG


Bibliography 17. Cohen, Arthur. Copper Development Association. 1993. His-
1. American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air Condi- torical perspective of corrosion by potable waters in building
tioning Engineers. 1993. Pipe sizing. Chapter 33 in Funda- systems. Paper no. 509 presented at the National Association
mentals Handbook. of Corrosion Engineers Annual Conference.

2. American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air Condi- 18. Copper Development Association. 1993. Copper Tube Hand-
tioning Engineers. 1993. Thermal and water vapor transmis- book.
sion data. Chapter 22 in Fundamen­tals Handbook.
19. International Association of Plumbing and Mechanical
3. American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air Condi- Officials. 1985. Uniform Plumbing Code Illustrated Training
tioning Engineers. 1995. Service water heating. Chapter 45 in Manual.
Applications Handbook.
20. Konen, Thomas P. 1984. An experimental study of competing
4. American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air Con- systems for maintaining service water temperature in resi-
ditioning Engineers. Energy conservation in new building dential buildings. In ASPE 1984 Convention Proceedings.
design. ASHRAE Standards, 90A–1980, 90B–1975, and
90C–1977. 21. Konen, Thomas P. 1994. Impact of water conservation on
interior plumbing. In Technical Proceedings of the 1994
5. American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air Condi- ASPE Convention.
tioning Engineers. Energy efficient design of new low rise
residential buildings. ASHRAE Standards, 90.2–1993. 22. Saltzberg, Edward. 1988. The plumbing engineer as a foren-
sic engineer. In Technical Proceedings of the 1988 ASPE
6. American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air Condi- Convention.
tioning Engineers. New information on service water heat-
ing. Technical Data Bulletin. Vol. 10, No. 2. 23. Saltzberg, Edward. 1993. To combine or not to combine: An
in–depth review of standard and combined hydronic heat-
7. American Society of Mechanical Engineers. Plumbing fixture ing systems and their various pitfalls. Paper presented at the
fittings. ASME A112.18.1M–1989. American Society of Plumbing Engineers Symposium, Octo-
ber 22–23.
8. American Society of Plumbing Engineers. 2000. Cold water
systems. Chapter 5 in ASPE Data Book, Volume 2. 24. Saltzberg, Edward. 1996. The effects of hot water circulation
systems on hot water heater sizing and piping systems. Tech-
9. American Society of Plumbing Engineers. 1989. Piping sys- nical presentation given at the American Society of Plumb-
tems. Chapter 10 in ASPE Data Book. ing Engineers convention, November 3–6.

10. American Society of Plumbing Engineers. 1989. Position 25. Saltzberg, Edward. 1997. In press. New methods for analyz-
paper on hot water temperature limitations. ing hot water systems. Plumbing Engineer Magazine.

11. American Society of Plumbing Engineers. 1989. Service hot 26. Saltzberg, Edward. 1997. In press. Prompt delivery of hot
water systems. Chapter 4 in ASPE Data Book. water at fixtures. Plumbing Engineer Magazine.

12. American Society of Plumbing Engineers. 1990. Insulation. 27. Sealine, David A., Tod Windsor, Al Fehrm, and Greg Wilcox.
Chapter 12 in ASPE Data Book. 1988. Mixing valves and hot water temperature. In Technical
Proceedings of the 1988 ASPE Convention.
13. American Society of Plumbing Engineers. 1990. Pumps.
Chapter 11 in ASPE Data Book. 28. Sheet Metal and Air Conditioning Contractors National
Association. 1982. Retrofit of Building Energy Systems and
14. American Society of Plumbing Engineers. 2000. Energy Processes.
conservation in plumbing systems. Chapter 7 in ASPE Data
Book, Volume 1. 29. Steele, Alfred. Engineered Plumbing Design. 2d ed.

15. American Water Works Association. 1985. Internal corrosion 30. Steele, Alfred. 1988. Temperature limits in service hot water
of water distribution systems. Research Foundation coopera- systems. In Technical Proceedings of the 1988 ASPE Conven-
tive research report. tion.

16. Cohen, Arthur. Copper Development Association. 1978. 31. Wen-Yung, W. Chan, and Milton Meckler. 1983. Pumps and
Copper for hot and cold potable water systems. Heating/ pump systems. In American Society of Plumbing Engineers
Piping/Air Conditioning Magazine. May. Handbook.

JULY/AUGUST 2010  Plumbing Systems & Design  13


CONTINUING EDUCATION: Recirculating Domestic Hot Water Systems

Continuing Education from Plumbing Systems & Design


Do you find it difficult to obtain continuing education units
(CEUs)? Through this special section in every issue of PS&D, ASPE
can help you accumulate the CEUs required for maintaining your
About This Issue’s Article
Certified in Plumbing Design (CPD) status. The July/August 2010 continuing education article is “Re-
circulating Domestic Hot Water Systems,” Chapter 14 from

Now Online! Domestic Water Heating Design Manual II.


This chapter addresses the criteria for establishing an ac-
The technical article you must read to complete the exam is located
ceptable time delay in delivering hot water to fixtures and
at www.psdmagazine.org. Just click on “Plumbing Systems & Design
Continuing Education Article and Exam” at the top of the page. The the limitations of the length between a hot water recircu-
following exam and application form also may be downloaded from lation system and plumbing fixtures. It also discusses the
the website. Reading the article and completing the form will allow temperature drop across a hot water supply system, types
you to apply to ASPE for CEU credit. If you earn a grade of 90 percent of hot water recirculation systems, and pump selection
or higher on the test, you will be notified that you have logged
criteria and provides extensive information on the insula-
0.1 CEU, which can be applied toward CPD renewal or numerous
regulatory-agency CE programs. (Please note that it is your responsi- tion of hot water supply and return piping.
bility to determine the acceptance policy of a particular agency.) CEU You may locate this article at www.psdmagazine.org.
information will be kept on file at the ASPE office for three years. Read the article, complete the following exam, and submit
Note: In determining your answers to the CE questions, use only the material your answer sheet to the ASPE office to potentially receive
presented in the corresponding continuing education article. Using informa- 0.1 CEU.

PSD 169
tion from other materials may result in a wrong answer.

CE Questions — “Recirculating Domestic Hot Water Systems” (PSD 169)


1. What aspect of a circulated system causes energy loss in 7. Which of the following is a common type of balancing
the circulation of hot water? device?
a. convection a. automatic flow control valve
b. pressure b. flow-regulating valve
c. radiation c. pressure-regulating valve
d. both a and c d. both a and b
2. What delay period in obtaining hot water at a fixture is 8. What is the required insulation thickness for a 3-inch
considered most acceptable? runout?
a. zero to 10 seconds a. 0.5 inch
b. 11 to 30 seconds b. 1 inch
c. more than 30 seconds c. 1.5 inches
d. no delay is acceptable d. 2 inches
3. What is the approximate time required to deliver 9. What is the approximate heat loss for a 1½-inch pipe with
hot water to a 1.5-gpm fixture 10 feet from the hot water 1 inch of insulation?
maintenance system using ½-inch Schedule 40 steel pipe? a. 8 Btuh/linear foot
a. 8 seconds b. 10 Btuh/linear foot
b. 16 seconds c. 13 Btuh/linear foot
c. 21 seconds d. 16 Btuh/linear foot
d. 30 seconds
10. In the total hot water system energy loss calculation,
4. Which of the following is a type of hot water what does r stand for?
maintenance system? a. piping heat loss
a. self-regulating heat trace system b. flow rate
b. circulation system c. weight of water
c. point-of-use water heater d. specific heat of water
d. all of the above
11. What is the maximum recommended hot water system
5. High velocities in copper piping systems can cause temperature drop?
________ in less than six months. a. 1°F
a. corrosion b. 5°F
b. pinhole leaks c. 10°F
c. water hammer d. 15°F
d. decreased flow
12. What is the recommended material for a hot water
6. A ________ should be provided in circulated systems to circulating pump?
isolate an entire loop. a. bronze
a. balancing valve b. iron
b. control valve c. stainless steel
c. shutoff valve d. both a and c
d. check valve

14  Plumbing Systems & Design  JULY/AUGUST 2010 WWW.PSDMAGAZINE.ORG


Plumbing Systems & Design Continuing Education Application Form
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PS&D Continuing Education Answer Sheet
Recirculating Domestic Hot Water Systems (PSD 169)
Questions appear on page 14. Circle the answer to each question. Appraisal Questions
Q 1. A B C D Recirculating Domestic Hot Water Systems (PSD 169)
Q 2. A B C D 1. Was the material new information for you?  ❏ Yes ❏ No
Q 3. A B C D
Q 4. A B C D 2. Was the material presented clearly?  ❏ Yes ❏ No
Q 5. A B C D 3. Was the material adequately covered?  ❏ Yes ❏ No
Q 6. A B C D
Q 7. A B C D 4. Did the content help you achieve the stated objectives?  ❏ Yes ❏ No
Q 8. A B C D 5. Did the CE questions help you identify specific ways to use ideas presented in
Q 9. A B C D the article?  ❏ Yes ❏ No
Q 10. A B C D
Q 11. A B C D 6. How much time did you need to complete the CE offering (i.e., to read the
Q 12. A B C D article and answer the post-test questions)?

JULY/AUGUST 2010  Plumbing Systems & Design  15