Do you wait for your hot water? Is the water coming out of your bathroom faucet cold for a minute or two? Is your washing machine getting the hot water it needs to sterilize your whites? Slow delivery of hot water can even be a problem with your dishwasher. This is not merely an inconvenience; it can be a health hazard. Water bills are not getting any cheaper either. There is a solution.
Traditionally, instant hot water at all sinks, tubs and showers, was attainable primarily by looping the fixtures serviced, in sequence and running a return line to the water heater and installing a recirculation pump. If this additional piping was not done when the plumbing system was originally installed, it generally proved to be an expensive proposition, requiring new lines to be run, a pump and timer added at the water heater and tied into the water heater drain. Typical cost for this generally ran (runs) between $1200-$2500, depending on the specific situation. In addition, substantial wall and ceiling repairs and painting were (are) required.
A few years ago, someone designed a system that would circulate the hot water through the cold system, using a special check-valve contraption and a pump that would be located under the sink furthest from the water heater. The main problem with that application was that an electrical outlet was required under the sink cabinet, which usually proved to be cost prohibitive.
Recently, a new system has been developed, where the pump and check valve apparatus can be located at the water heater, which generally has a wall outlet located nearby, negating the need for an electrician, in addition to not needing costly wall and ceiling repairs. This new technology makes it possible to have at least nearly instant hot water at a fraction of the previous cost. Now, instead of waiting 3-5 minutes for the water for your shower to get hot, you can have hot water in 5-15 seconds, depending on the distance your shower is from your sink cabinet.
Fixing this problem is not something that most homeowners can do by themselves. A professional should be consulted. Furthermore, state and local regulations might apply because your water is connected to a public water system. If you think you can do this yourself then be sure to call your local plumbing code enforcement office.