Feedback desired about DIY installation of Geothermal

Discussion in 'Geothermal Heat Pump Applications' started by Kevin Anderson, Jun 25, 2014.

  1. Kevin Anderson

    Kevin Anderson New Member

    The compressor of our 1993 TETCO ES-3.5 geothermal furnace bit the dust 2 weeks ago. The options we are looking at are having an HVAC tech replace the compressor, paying an installer $12K+ to install a new 4 ton unit (our existing horizontal 6 pipe, closed loop system seems to be fine and is rated for 4 ton max), or install a new 4 ton unit myself for $6-7K. I am an avid DIYer who built our home (with a lot of help) and does most auto maintenance. I have also done some electrical and plumbing. As a teacher I have more time for this in the summer.
    I would love to read feedback from others regarding DIY installations. Once I found that the geo units came pre-charged with R-410a it seemed possible. It appears that a couple of suppliers ( TerraSource and Ingrams Water and Heat) cater to DIY installations and offer tech support.
    Our home is in Southwest Ohio.
    Thanks!!
     
  2. urthbuoy

    urthbuoy Well-Known Member Industry Professional Forum Leader

    It is very possible. Though you'll likely do better to work through whoever supplies your heat pump.

    Things to keep in mind:
    - replacement units don't magically fix any other issues (loops, ducting, pump sizing, etc.)
    - warranty?
    - heat pumps sold directly to public are generally of "lesser" quality than those available from other brands (yep, I'll stand by that)
    - future service work?

    If you know what you're doing (plumbing, power, sheet metal), and have all the parts lined up. It's about 1.5 days of work.
     
    NathanB likes this.
  3. Bergy

    Bergy Member Industry Professional Forum Leader

    Modern Heat Pumps are more efficient than vintage units. Are you sure a three ton unit wouldn't be the better choice? How did the contractor come up with four tons? Also, a lot of DIY units are not Energy Star rated so they will not qualify for the 30% tax credit.

    Bergy
     
  4. Kevin Anderson

    Kevin Anderson New Member


    Thanks, Urthbuoy!
    Climate Master is the brand being considered. From what I read on the internet it has been around over 20 years and seems to be the top competitor with WaterFurnace. The supplier who is also an installer says that the warranty is good. Parts and labor allowance for 5 yrs. and parts for 10. Additional $375 takes parts and labor allowance to 10 years. Supplier also offers tech assistance and hook-up supplies. I will have to a get or fab new sheet metal duct to connect new unit to existing ductwork. Can you list any brands that may be a better choice? Both suppliers also provide tech assistance in installation. The one that is an installer also provides future service as he is in my local metro area.
    I will verify with the manufacturer on the warranty.
    I appreciate the input.

    Kevin
     
  5. Kevin Anderson

    Kevin Anderson New Member

    As you recommended I will verify the Energy Star rating with the manufacturers before proceeding. As for the 4.0 tons there were no calculations made. Two different installers came up with that when I told them that our old unit was 3.5 tons. It appears that the manufacturers only use whole numbers for tonnage now. The higher efficiency of the newer models is a good point so I will check this out further. Our house is 1620 sq. ft. with full basement and partial raised ceiling. ALso, super-insulated )R-21 outside walls, R-38 ceiling plus insulated windows. One chart I saw does indicate that 3.0 would be adequate. Thanks for these great points, Bergy.
     
  6. Bergy

    Bergy Member Industry Professional Forum Leader

    You may want to closely examine those contractors. If they are sizing Geo without a heat loss/gain calc what other shortcuts will they take?

    Bergy
     
  7. AMI Contracting

    AMI Contracting A nice Van Morrison song Industry Professional Forum Leader

    Yes your duct work may not handle 4 tons- code calls for 6 square inches of return air/1000 btus where the ICC is recognized. Climatemaster does have a 3.5 ton.
    I would favor the local support. I've found that some of the "ship and forget" companies will offer oversized equipment with complete disregard of the duct system. One that you mentioned offered my client a 4 ton and his manufactured home had 5X18 duct.
    Warranties do not necessarily cover 100% of repairs. Read the fine print. That means if you have one shipped to you and something goes wrong you may be writing a check even though it's under warranty.
     
  8. Mark Custis

    Mark Custis Not soon. Industry Professional Forum Leader

    Southwestern Ohio is in my AO. We are DIY friendly. With out doing the math I see a three ton load for cooling, but what about heating.

    I have been using Bosch of late.

    Mark
     
  9. Kevin Anderson

    Kevin Anderson New Member

    Good idea. I will press in with suppliers on this point. Going through my old records I have found the original calculations from our installer in 1993. This may be outdated but it listed 36,535 BTU for cooling and 45983 BTUs for Heat. Not sure if this accounted for the extra insulation. Our old TETCO was listed at 42-45K for cooling and37.4-46k for heat. It has always done the job keeping us comfortable. The EER for was 14.4 to 16 with a COP range of 3.6 to 4.1.
    It does stand to reason that a newer unit that is more efficient would be the same or smaller. Thank you!
     
  10. Kevin Anderson

    Kevin Anderson New Member

    Thanks for the info and perspective. My return air duct is 8" x 26" (with a 25 x 25 air filter). Am I right in calculating that that only allows for almost 35,poo BTUs?
    Also, I do remember that the warranties were described as limited. I will check out the ClimateMaster 3.5 ton. Thank you. TerraSource in Batavia is the closer supplier installer. They are mahout an hour away.
     
  11. Kevin Anderson

    Kevin Anderson New Member

    Mark,

    I will try to contact you by phone. I am not set on ClimateMaster so I would like to hear about Bosch as well. Did you see the 1993 numbers on our original install that I posted in reply to Bergy?
    Thanks for the reply!

    Kevin
     
  12. Kevin Anderson

    Kevin Anderson New Member

    Joe,
    I just read through al your blogs and it gave me a lot to think about. The ones on efficiency and use of auxillary make me think that the unit we have now is oversized. The geo alone has about always heated our home comfortably. Auxillary almost never kicks on unless we have to raise the temp quite a bit. Plus, we use a wood stove quite a bit in winter. Thanks for your great posts!

    Anyone out there care to comment on the pros and cons of repairing our 20 year old unit with a new compressor (cost between $1K to $2K).

    Thanks
     
  13. Mark Custis

    Mark Custis Not soon. Industry Professional Forum Leader

    I could not change the compressor for $2K if I lived next door. Parts, good refrigeration practices and on and on. If the heart transplant went well then what goes next?

    At 20 years old and with a good loop field a new unit is the way to go. Tax credit, multiple stages, ECM blower drive, dumping push pull pumping forgotten and single pump using just enough power to do the job.

    I think replacement is the way to go.

    It will get warm soon.

    Mark
     
  14. AMI Contracting

    AMI Contracting A nice Van Morrison song Industry Professional Forum Leader

    "Anyone out there care to comment on the pros and cons of repairing our 20 year old unit with a new compressor (cost between $1K to $2K)."

    The only reasons I can think not to replace a 20 year old and enjoy new warranties and efficiencies for 70 cents on the dollar (after tax credits) are if you are selling the house or if you just can't come up with the extra money right now.
     
  15. AMI Contracting

    AMI Contracting A nice Van Morrison song Industry Professional Forum Leader

    "The ones on efficiency and use of auxillary make me think that the unit we have now is oversized. The geo alone has about always heated our home comfortably. Auxillary almost never kicks on unless we have to raise the temp quite a bit."

    Hmmm, suggests you now know more about design than the two companies that want to sell you something. If your auxiliary use is very rare then yes I think a 3 ton is the better fit, but there is math to be done to prove it.
     
  16. ACES-Energy

    ACES-Energy Member Industry Professional Forum Leader

    I would like to say the compressor has to be $700-$1,100 i am guessing? Add your charge, labor and headaches of working on the unit and atleast one call back you must figure in to tune it...who ever is doing it for $2k is a steal..I dont think we would do it for less than $3,750..
     

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