The Grundfos Series UP Comfort System is a hot water pump with a timer and an aquastat.
How much leeway are plumbing-heating-cooling contractors given to meet with customers and offer equipment upgrades? It depends, in part, on whether the owner is building the house or if it is being built on speculation - in which case there is no owner except the builder when the HVAC system is being designed.

It also depends on the product being offered for upgrade, and whether or not the homeowner can perceive its value. Think your customers would appreciate a hot shower with no waiting for the water to heat up?

Tom Phillips is a business specialist with Grundfos Pumps' Domestic Building Services (DBS), Olathe, Kan. "I don't know if the subcontractor generally gets a chance to meet with the end user," he said. "The home builder tells the subcontractor what to put in the home.

"It's a bit of a disappointment," because homeowners might be focusing on cosmetic things, like granite counters, instead of the home comfort system. "The home builder is looking at cost more than at quality or the type of product to put in."

Some products, fortunately, help subcontractors provide good value to the homeowner and the home builder - and are easy to install later on if the contractor doesn't get a shot at it during the design/construction phase.

In Hot Water And Loving It

Very briefly, here is the problem so many of us encounter: After a hot water faucet is turned off, water stays in the pipes, where it cools down. When someone turns on the shower the next morning, they have to wait for the water to reach a comfortable temperature again - the faucet has to run off all the water between the heater and the spigot.

Grundfos claims its Comfort System circulates water back to the heater so it is hot from the moment someone turns that faucet knob.

This coming year, Grundfos announced it is going to promote a hot water recirculation system to custom and high-end home builders, Phillips said.

The Grundfos Series UP Comfort System is a hot water pump with a timer and an aquastat that plugs into a 115-V outlet with a five-foot cord. The system uses a pump at the water heater to keep water in the line hot. According to the company, "a patented bypass valve at the faucet provides constant hot water availability."

The timer on the pump helps make it more efficient during downtime, like the middle of the night or midday.

"We are targeting certain home builders in regions in the United States," Phillips said. The UP 1016 hot water recirculating pump is installed during the home's construction.

"Usually this is run specifically off the hot water tank," Phillips said. "We market it on two main issues: comfort - you turn on your shower and you have hot water quickly, in two to five seconds - and money savings, especially in the Southwest and Sunbelt areas, or wherever water conservation is an issue.

"A lot of communities offer rebates for installing water-conservation products." According to the manufacturer, the average single-family house has 125 feet of 3/4-inch hot water pipe, which holds 3.14 gallons of water. Using the hot water faucet 10 times per day uses 31.4 gallons. "Over a single year that's 11,461 gallons wasted in one home."

Easy For Contractors

The Comfort System "can be very a profitable add-on item for contractors," Phillips said. "It's an upgrade that can be sold to the end user at a reasonable price and the contractor can still make a very nice profit."

It's very easy to install the system, Phillips said, and it takes from 45 minutes to two hours to complete the job. In new construction, the Comfort System can be installed while builders are running the pipe.

The system's motor is impedance protected, he explained, so no external motor protection is required. The timer can be set for 24-hour operation at 20-minute intervals. The built-in aquastat can be set to stop the pump at a preset liquid temperature ranging from 95 degrees to 100 degrees F.

Contractors also have an opportunity to profit from the product in its retrofit version (no return line is required), the UP15-10 with a patented Comfort Valve.

"It has become one of our star products," Phillips said. "As more and more people move into their new residences, they are going from a 2,000-square-foot home to 3,000 square feet. It takes longer for the water to warm up. If they call the home builder and complain, there's a product they can install that doesn't have a lot of disruption.

"It's better to install it during construction," he said, "but they can also install something quickly and easily after they have moved in. We're talking an add-on cost of $600 to $800."

The company is still in the early stages of its home builder program. "We are working with some home builders throughout the United States and have had initial conversations with these companies." The manufacturer has trained contractors in Arizona, California, Georgia, Illinois, Kansas, and Missouri.

For more information on the Comfort System, visit For information on Grundfos, visit

Publication date: 01/10/2005