Ohio A tale of Geothermal joy and woe,... Please help (advice/referrals/services?)

Discussion in 'Maintenance and Troubleshooting' started by Banquo, Sep 14, 2015.

  1. Banquo

    Banquo New Member

    Ok guys, I'm hoping someone can help me as I'm at the end of my rope here.

    I bought a house about 2 years ago. The house was WAY out of my price range. FLW inspired house on 5 acres of pristine woodland, with a river as one boundry. about 6Ksqft, and all the bells and whistles (pella in-pane blinds throughout, tons of intricate woodwork, full 3 room guest apartment above the garage. etc.. etc..

    The place was abandoned by the previous owner, It reverted to the bank, and then it wasn't winterized (so lots of burst pipes) all this caused a ton of toxic mold to setup. House hit the market, I put in my offer, and was immediately told I'm not even in the running. Lots of people outbid me on the house. 5 months later the bank calls me and asks if I still want to buy the house. I guess none of the other banks would lend on it once they found all the mold. I had a mold company w/a 100% lifetime xferrable warranty so I (the lowest bidder) got the house as I was the only one who could secure a loan (and or didn't drop out). House was appraised (before the damage) at about $550K, I got it for 190 and figured I'd have to put another 100K into it to get it livable, so a good investment all round even though I just wanted to live there as it was my dream house.

    The pipes and the dual geothermal systems in the house were wrecked and as part of the purchase the bank agreed to fix the pipes and the geo (They agreed to that instantly so I'm assuming they just took a pound of flesh from the company that does their winterization to cover the cost)

    So I move into the guest apartment above the garage (split system heating) and worked on the house. I notice in the main house the nice new geothermal keeps cutting out. So I have a HVAC guy come out and take a look. The system checks out 100% perfect, but he thinks it's running out of water. (oh crap! I didn't consider that at all)

    My well (via county records) shows 25GPM capacity and I have a 5 ton and a 3 ton Unit (23 SEER Carriers, shiny and new) I estimate I need 3GPM/Ton (24GPM) and the geo guy gives me a well guy to talk to. Well guy comes out and tests the wells. Rates my well at 6GPM (oh shit again) he says the water tables have dropped and there's a lot more people in the area now so that's why 25GPM is now 6GPM. Plus the place has set for several years w/out use, so maybe it's just "clogged" Tells me I need to "clean the well" and charges me $800 to drop a ton of dry ice in the well and they weld a cap on it and let it sit for a few days. They cut off the cap and test the well again 6.2 GPM

    So he says "lets just dig another well". (which I pay them 4K to do) and that well gets 6GPM and under load it starts to draw down the other well.

    So he says,.. "put in a cistern" and at this point I'm desperate as winter is coming so I agree and dish out $5K to put in a 5500gallon cistern which they tie into the geo so my pump and dump becomes a pump and partial loop and partial dump.

    Winter comes, I run my geothermal and I have heat throughout the house for exactly 2 days. Then the system shuts down (as the water is now at 32 degrees and the freeze limiter kicks on.) I adjust the dump portion to allow more water to dump than recirculate, and after letting the system charge for 5 days (running emergency heat and space heaters all the while) I start it up again and get about 2.5 days out of the system before it shuts down. So I spend winter on emergency heat and space heaters to the tune of $1200-1500/mo for about 4 months.

    Summer hits and the geo has NO problem keeping the house chilled to 68-71 degrees 24/7 has zero issues will cooling (obviously WAY more temp difference to play with heating water than cooling it, so the "system" works perfectly, I just need water.)

    I called in all the locals (who are all HVAC guys who kinda know some stuff about geothermal here n there) and they all just tell me to drill more wells and of course that's just a roll of the dice each time.

    I had one company tell me they could convert my pump and dump to a closed loop, but it would cost about 20K to get it done and add Vertical wells. And they'd have to gut my basement to do it (the one I just spent a year rebuilding) as it's all PEX now and they must have copper for the antifreeze solution.

    I can't just do Horizontal loops (surrounding my house is septic field/high slopes/forest/creekbeds etc..) and my current wells aren't deep enough to provide thermal xfer and are "water wells" so they'd have to be re-worked anyway.

    At this point I'm just so frustrated I don't know what to do. but I'm already 10K into trying to salvage my geothermal so... screams

    I have a few options on the table.

    A. Frakking - Someone suggested this to me as there are residential well frakkers who don't use chemicals they just use high pressure water) I've tried to find someone to do this and can't find anyone but the success rate is "listed" as VERY high for the info I can find on the procedure. No idea on costs (anyone know a contact??) B. Close the loop - again,.. $20K worth of piping and wells and then I have to follow up with drywall and painting. C. Replace with electric system - I can't afford this, my monthly bills would be too high ongoing as I make it a meat locker in the summer and an oven in the winter and it would actually cost more over the life of the house. D. As the Cooling works,.. just add additional heat like a pellet stove or something for the winters. - No room in the furnace area for this, not even sure if I could get ducting in from the outside, but this is looking like it may be my only option. E. Drill more wells (I only have enough "space" to drill maybe 3 more before I'm out of viable area, and it's a roll of the dice as to water amounts, or if they would even provide "additional" water, as opposed to just drawing down all the other wells.

    I really I don't have someone who "knows their stuff" in my area well enough to even know what route is best. (if anyone has ANY contacts I'd really appreciate it.) I'm in Lebanon Ohio and all the local yellow pages/web pages guys who say they know geothermal absolutely don't. Most of the guys I had out for free estimates couldn't even figure out load.

    Just looking for any help/advice/suggestions/hope/anything.... and needed to vent.
    especially as .... Winter is coming!
  2. geoxne

    geoxne Active Member Forum Leader

    For open loop 1 1/2 gpm/ton is adequate with entering water temperatures 50F and above.
    Also, If you are discharging to the same aquifer, you should not be drawing down the water table.
  3. Banquo

    Banquo New Member

    I'm pulling from the well and dumping into a creek bed behind my house, so it's not going directly back to the aquifer methinks.
    My current well setup is: Well A = Potable water to house.
    Well B. supplies cistern, cistern supplies geotherm, geo does partial dump to creek, partial return to cistern. (as just running full cistern freezes the water, and running full creek dump depletes the water. So basically a lot of money to extend my runtime by about a day.

    It's a horrible solution and in retrospect "Listening to the experts" was a complete waste of my cash.
  4. Mark Custis

    Mark Custis Not soon. Industry Professional Forum Leader

    I will be glad to help.

  5. Mark Custis

    Mark Custis Not soon. Industry Professional Forum Leader

    I am an expert and will use what you have to your best advantage.

    You must be in the Lebanon Geo Dessert. I am consulting on a job there and can not find anyone to drill closed loop.

    I can pull in drillers, but they need to pay for travel.

  6. docjenser

    docjenser Well-Known Member Industry Professional Forum Leader

    Sounds to me that you should bite the bullet and drill down for closed loop vertical wells. Otherwise you likely throw some more money away.
  7. Banquo

    Banquo New Member

    Yep,.. I'm thinking that's most likley,.. I just really hate the thought of gutting all the nice drywall/paint I did to fix up my basement as it's all PEX for the pump and dump, and that would have to be replaced with copper for closed loop. (or at least that's what I was told)
  8. Mark Custis

    Mark Custis Not soon. Industry Professional Forum Leader


    Why would you need to go copper?

    Pex is plastic and will out live most of the fish in the sea and me. It is cross/linked making it almost as tuff as spider webs.

    I was about to agree with Doc and opt for drilling closed loop wells at about $2K per ton in your area if you can find a qualified driller. Water wells and closed loop wells are not the same. I have calls out to "Drillers" any way south west of Columbus. Not even a return call or e-mail.

    Since with new water you need only 1-1.5 gpm properly plumbed and pumped, some one is not knowing what they think say or do.

    johnny1720 likes this.
  9. docjenser

    docjenser Well-Known Member Industry Professional Forum Leader

    No need to re-drywall, as Marc mentioned, you can use PEX inside. It is silly to tell you that you need copper inside for antifreeze. It will help with the pressures and PEX fittings if you go non-pressurized.
  10. Banquo

    Banquo New Member

    I'm a computer guy,.. website/database/computer/etc.. what I know about HVAC/Geothermal/Plumbing you could fit into a thimble. (though I've been picking up a lot of late)

    The guys I had out to do an estimate to convert to closed loop said I'd need to convert all my PEX to copper, and as all my PEX is bendy/curvy through my basement roof, they said I'd have to tear it out to replace with straight shots of copper. Said that PEX wouldn't work with the antifreeze,..

    Last guy (again not placing any faith in these guys) said I would need 200Ft/ton of well space, (so 1600ft total) and most of the guys in this area wanted about 2K for a 300-350ft well and wouldn't go any deeper per well.

    Yeah,.. there's only a few drillers in my area and they've all provided some seriously sub par performance and in retrospect were going to charge me potable well drilling prices for geothermal wells.

    Soo,.. 5-6 wells at $2K/pop plus the prospect of ripping out my basement was getting super expensive really quick and making me just consider moving to a new house. (Plus I don't even think I have enough accessible land to drill 6 wells w/out doing major deforestation.)

    I was wondering if it wouldn't be possible to just find a commercial driller who wanted to make some quick weekend pocket cash as they could go super deep on 2-3 wells on the cheap,..?

    Either way certainly glad I found this forum, thanks for the sanity checks everyone!
    (big thanks to Reddit's geothermal forums for pointing me here)
    Last edited: Sep 22, 2015
  11. urthbuoy

    urthbuoy Well-Known Member Industry Professional Forum Leader

    (big thanks to Reddit's geothermal forums for pointing me here)

    That would be me. I haven't stepped in as these guys have it covered.
  12. Banquo

    Banquo New Member

    I did find this info about "Keelix" piping causing major efficiency boosts to goethermal earlier in my digging as well,.. pretty interesting stuff, though I don't think my flow rates would be optimum for what they do.
  13. Mark Custis

    Mark Custis Not soon. Industry Professional Forum Leader

    Water or anti-freeze does not care if the pipe is bendy/flexy. It does care about the size of the pipe.

  14. Banquo

    Banquo New Member

    If I remember correctly (and this was a while ago) they said that the antifreeze would cause the PEX to get brittle and/or breakdown over time. (of course I didn't ask how much time, it could have been 100years and they had a lot of copper to get rid of) I just put that on my list of "potential expensive fixes" and looked at the next solution.
  15. urthbuoy

    urthbuoy Well-Known Member Industry Professional Forum Leader

    Unless you plan on exceeding 180F (you are definitely not), PEX is 100% resistant to all the antifreeze solutions used in the geo world.
  16. docjenser

    docjenser Well-Known Member Industry Professional Forum Leader

    Some efficiency claims warrant skepticism. The higher efficiency is limited since the more efficient borehole is now connected to lesser ground.

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