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Can I have help finding a Wi-Fi controlled ON/OFF Timer for my water heater's recirculator pump?

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Jeff Handy

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A non-contact tester probe will still show which of the three wires at the cut end is the hot wire, if they are separated enough.

Or a simple a/c current tester with two probes will work, costs about ten bucks, cheaper than a funeral.
 

Jeff Davis

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Good wire strippers are about $14.00 at Home Depot.
They will last forever, buy one, much better than a paring knife or razor knife, which will cut off too many strands.

You will use them again, don’t cheap out.
I wasn't going to bore you guys with this but my delay isn't really for a trip but it's that I ordered a cheap 96¢ plastic Wire Stripper/Crimping Tool on 2/7 on Amazon (see the PrintScreen). I was just too embarrassed to tell you that I didn't have one. I'm sorry. It gets here next week & my plan all along has been to install the Aquastat when it arrives. At this time in my life (age 61), I don't need any $14 tools if I can get away without them. Life has changed for me and not in good ways. This is my only toolbox these days that I just bought so that I could get all of my tools out of the cardboard boxes around my house.

wire strippers.jpg toolbox lid decals.jpg
 
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Jeff Davis

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A non-contact tester probe will still show which of the three wires at the cut end is the hot wire, if they are separated enough.
Or a simple a/c current tester with two probes will work, costs about ten bucks, cheaper than a funeral.
I'm sure you've said what the problem is with the non-contact test probing I did that slightly lit up on the Neutral side. It's too close to the Hot side. That totally explains what I saw. My non-contact test probe had only been used once before.
 

Jeff Davis

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Please forgive me for having fibbed about a vacation rather than that I'm waiting for the wire strippers to get here. I was embarrassed to admit that I didn't have a pair of them anymore & that I was waiting for some that I'd ordered. We are going to Chicago from California at about that same time in early March for my mom's 85th birthday.
 

Jeff Davis

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YEEHAW!! I finally put that GRUNDFOS AquaLink on my recirculation pump. I'm a dumbo but as I did it, I noticed that right there on the end of the pump it says that it's a GRUNDFOS UP 15-18 SU SN 9301. Why I hadn't noticed that I don't know since it's big as heck.
Anyway, I carefully sliced into the wire to expose just the one that I'd identified as the powered one and I stripped it a little & then used a couple wire nuts that I had to connect it. I clipped the temp sensor switch onto the copper tube just above the pump. Then I plugged it in and it started that pump. The water heater fired up at 2 minutes in. The recirculation pump ran for 10 minutes & then it shut off. The little pipe the AquaLink is on felt hot as heck.
Now I was wondering how long it would be until it cooled enough to start up again. That took just under an hour. This time it ran for less than 10 minutes; I'm sure because the water coming into the pump hadn't been cooling for many hours.
How hot should I have the hot water heater set for or does it even really matter? I doubt it does but I thought that I'd ask. My wife says clothes & dishwashers need water at some certain temp to work the best but as far as I know, I think they both heat the water before they use it.
Here's 2 photos of my nice wiring job and the AquaLink clipped on above the pump.
Grundfos recirculation pump with Grundfos Aqualink added SIDE VIEW.JPGGrundfos recirculation pump with Grundfos Aqualink added.JPG
 

frodo

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Your pump is not installed correctly and needs to be reinstalled without elbows so close the the pump.
From reading this post I am positive that you will not correct this.
You WILL be replacing that pump with in 3 years.
 

Jeff Davis

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AS I recall that aquastat said Temperature Range: 105 to 115° F .
Is it capable of adjustment?
I'm sorry if I worded my question so badly. What I meant to say, which I thought was the only way that what I said could be seen to ask, was how warm I should have the water heater itself set for. When I'd asked that, I'd anticipated getting a reply something like "How warm do you want your hot water to be?"
Anyhow, I was really just wondering if it matters much or any, how hot the water in the hot water heater is set to be kept near, with regards to how well this Aqua-Stat works.
Maybe it's always different due to the home's plumbing and the environment?
 

Jeff Davis

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Your pump is not installed correctly and needs to be reinstalled without elbows so close the the pump.
From reading this post I am positive that you will not correct this.
You WILL be replacing that pump with in 3 years.
Thanks Frodo but could you answer a few questions?
1. Were you aware that this pump has been installed with this same plumbing since 1993 and the pump & it's plumbing is that old too?
2. What makes you say that I'll be replacing the pump within 3 years? I assume something about the elbows being too close to the pump?
3. Can you tell dumb me what having an elbow too near the pump can do to hurt it & what the damage is? I'd assume that the elbow directs water at a higher pressure towards the outer side of the pipe after the bend, causing swirls which work like sandpaper on the tubing?
Thanks for your help. You are right though when you said that I probably won't have it replumbed and that's since it has worked just fine for almost 30 years now with this same pump & plumbing.
 
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Mikey

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Well, I've been fascinated with this thread. Fascination aside, 2 comments:
1) The thermosiphon runs all the time, no? Doesn't that waste a lot of energy heating that water every time it runs around the circuit? Doesn't matter quite so much if you use solar heater(s).
2) The really cool way to turn on a "normal" recirc pump these days is with the smart receptacle (i.e., WiFi enabled) and something like Alexa. Then when you wake up, just mumble, "Alexa, hot water, please." If you run with the Watts system and sensors in all the the loops (i.e., there are multiple "farthest" fixtures), you'll have hot water everywhere. Realtors love to sell this stuff.
 

Jeff Davis

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I think a thermosiphon runs very slowly.
If the lines were insulated, it should be pretty efficient.
I feel dumb asking this but is a thermpsiphon that simple system someone here had suggested using that doesn't use a recirculation pump but instead just works with hot water that rises on its own?
If it is, don't worry since I'm convinced that I want to stick with what I have, which is what my house was built with 27 years ago, since it is so awesome except for my having had it start leaking from 2 different pinhole leaks in the 3' of copper pipe that are right before the recirculation pump in the past 6 months.
Those 2 leaks are what got me to start this question thread since I didn't want anymore leaks, especially any up in walls or upstairs that would ruin drywall bigtime. I was SO lucky that my 2 leaks had been so close to the water heater which is in my garage.
So when an Aqua-Stat was suggested, that made my day. It's the perfect answer since it's automatic.
I'm not into using those Alexa things although it is pretty funny that my wife of 40 years name is Alexa. ;-)ADC73C4A-F24E-4573-B737-121031368563.jpegC54E58F4-45EC-4585-9C20-7D25E0A98A16.jpeg
 
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Jeff Davis

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From what I understand, for the system to run correctly, you do not insulate the return line.
You WANT that difference in temperature to enable the loop to draw.
You bring up something that I'd thought of asking. Since I live in southern California where it gets pretty hot out in the summer out in the garage where the water heater & AquaStat are, how do you think the ambient air temp in my garage might affect things? If the AquaStat won't start the recirculation pump until it cools down to 105° days which it might never do on hot summer days, should I wrap some insulation around the AquaStat? The pipe that it's on is wrapped with a 1/2" insulation foam jacket.
 
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Jeff Davis

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Well, I've been fascinated with this thread. Fascination aside, 2 comments:
1) The thermosiphon runs all the time, no? Doesn't that waste a lot of energy heating that water every time it runs around the circuit? Doesn't matter quite so much if you use solar heater(s).
2) The really cool way to turn on a "normal" recirc pump these days is with the smart receptacle (i.e., WiFi enabled) and something like Alexa. Then when you wake up, just mumble, "Alexa, hot water, please." If you run with the Watts system and sensors in all the the loops (i.e., there are multiple "farthest" fixtures), you'll have hot water everywhere. Realtors love to sell this stuff.
Mikey, your answer might have been what I thought was what I wanted when I started this long thread so long ago. But I'm not into using those Alexa things. Although I love technology, I'm just not into adding, learning & relying on all of today's apps & wi-fi junk. It's cool but you also need to have more patience than I have to accept random failures that might be resolved after you Google it or call some 800# customer support person on the other side of the planet and listen to their never ending foreign version of American songs while you're on hold.
It is pretty funny though that my wife of 40 years name is Alexa. ;-)
54BFF051-D467-48EC-BA1D-0B635E06CB3F.jpeg
 

Mitchell-DIY-Guy

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From what I understand for the system to run correctly you do not insulate the return line
You WANT that difference in temperature to enable the loop to draw
No, no, NO! In fact here in N.C. the return line is mandated to be insulated; or so the plumbers tell me. Builders and plumbers sadly don’t give a rip about a homeowners convenience. Hence it’s rarely done.

Jeez. Thermosiphon works because hot water rises naturally in the pipes. That’s it.

Yes the flow is low and slow. Of course there are standby losses. Add a $5 ball valve and you can shut it off if you want.

Does that standby loss have a cost? Yes. So does wasted water. And many of us are willing to pay something for convenience.

In my new house I have silent words for the builder and plumber for every time I turn on hot water in my kitchen, as it’s 2-3 minutes before I get it. That’s just inexplicably wasteful and thoughtless...all to save the builder a few bucks of pennies-a-foot PEX...
 

JamieRI

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No, no, NO! In fact here in N.C. the return line is mandated to be insulated; or so the plumbers tell me. Builders and plumbers sadly don’t give a rip about a homeowners convenience. Hence it’s rarely done.

Jeez. Thermosiphon works because hot water rises naturally in the pipes. That’s it.

Yes the flow is low and slow. Of course there are standby losses. Add a $5 ball valve and you can shut it off if you want.

Does that standby loss have a cost? Yes. So does wasted water. And many of us are willing to pay something for convenience.

In my new house I have silent words for the builder and plumber for every time I turn on hot water in my kitchen, as it’s 2-3 minutes before I get it. That’s just inexplicably wasteful and thoughtless...all to save the builder a few bucks of pennies-a-foot PEX...
What frodo said is also repeated here https://www.jlconline.com/how-to/plumbing/q-a-standby-hot-water-without-a-pump_o "Insulate as much of the supply side piping as possible, but leave the return loop uninsulated. This will reduce standby heat loss and also help maintain the temperature differential that "fuels" this passive recirculation loop."
Here is why that it is important: The water density differential and height differential is what powers the circulation. The cooler the return line, the higher the flow. The denser cooler return water also must return to the bottom of the water heater because it is the distance between the low point and the high point that, with the lighter how water at the high point that drives this slow circulation.
 

Diehard

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Here's a question for you.
Would a thermosiphon system without insulation flow at the same rate as one fully insulated? With all else being equal, of course?
 

JamieRI

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I feel dumb asking this but is a thermpsiphon that simple system someone here had suggested using that doesn't use a recirculation pump but instead just works with hot water that rises on its own?
If it is, don't worry since I'm convinced that I want to stick with what I have, which is what my house was built with 27 years ago, since it is so awesome except for my having had it start leaking from 2 different pinhole leaks in the 3' of copper pipe that are right before the recirculation pump in the past 6 months.
Those 2 leaks are what got me to start this question thread since I didn't want anymore leaks, especially any up in walls or upstairs that would ruin drywall bigtime. I was SO lucky that my 2 leaks had been so close to the water heater which is in my garage.
So when an Aqua-Stat was suggested, that made my day. It's the perfect answer since it's automatic.
I'm not into using those Alexa things although it is pretty funny that my wife of 40 years name is Alexa. ;-)View attachment 24015View attachment 24016
Jeff, I saw this epic post because "WiFi" in the title and I also want instant hot water, but the electricity free thermosiphon is the one for me (and I am an electrical engineer...) You say you want to stick with a pump because it is "awesome" yet it seems like you are describing something rather cranky: It uses electricity, it pumps the water much faster than needed causing turbulence that erodes the copper pipes, the pumps wear out over time, you fuss with scheduling or manual activation with waiting for the water... Wouldn't it be even more awesome if you had the uninsulated return loop to the bottom of the water heater, not deeding a circulation pump, with no bother having to start the pump in advance of using your water?

To confirm for me, Does your setup look like this image 1586221999883.png
but with a recirculating pump where this photo shows a check valve? And is your water heater below the level of your sinks like the picture shows? If so, are you able to insulate the hot side and NOT insulate the return pipes so that water cools off and becomes heavier than the hot side? There are a lot of conditions here... if you can't meet them all, then the circulator is probably required.
I took this image from here: Tired of waiting for hot water? Hot water recirculation
Thanks for your family photos! I miss interacting with my local people, so here I am on a plumbing forum!
Jamie
 
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JamieRI

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Here's a question for you.
Would a thermosiphon system without insulation flow at the same rate as one fully insulated? With all else being equal, of course?
Uninsulated on the whole loop would cause slightly higher flow, yes, since the heat loss starts earlier in the loop, making water on the return side even cooler, and thus would flow faster. The temperature difference of the water heater's exit water and return loop's temp at the lower entry point of the water heater is what influences the velocity. Bigger temp differential, more flow because the return water is even heavier.

But, faster is not better. Having insulation on the hot side requires more flow needed to keep the water hot enough all the way at the third sink this picture. If the water cooled a lot by the time it reached the third sink, the experience would be "it warm when I open the faucet but gets hotter as I run the water" which is annoying. So, it is best if the hot side is insulated, and the entire return side is NOT insulated so it has a chance to create sufficient temperature differential to overcome the friction losses of every elbow, pipe diameter, and check valve along the loop.

If the entire loop is insulated, there would be less total waste heat for sure, but you might not get any flow because there needs to be enough differential in temperature to force open the check valve and overcome the other friction losses I mentioned. The photo Jeff provided in his first post looks like a circulator pump at the bottom of the water heater. Is it? I wonder if it was first plumbed without a circulator AND insulation on the return line, it didn't work, so a circulator was added?

I added some notes to the internet picture I stole to illustrate what I am saying above:

1586225128293.png
 

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