Geo heat pump replacement questions

Discussion in 'Maintenance and Troubleshooting' started by JohnF, Apr 14, 2011.

  1. JohnF

    JohnF New Member

    Geo heat pump replacement question

    Here is my scenario – 16 yr old house in NJ, 2.5 ton FHP in the basement for first floor, 2 ton FHP in the attic for second floor. Both units are on open loop, both are 16 years old, single stage, desupeheater and heat strip (turned off) on the downstairs unit. I also have a cycle stop valve on the well pump to keep it running when the units are on without cycling. Been very happy with the system, especially with the two zone set up. Over the 16 years the only issues were small leaks that required 2 refrigerant recharges, and some issues with the return well. Some of my neighbors had more problems with the same units and switched to air-to-air heat pumps. A few days ago the compressor seized up on the downstairs unit, it buzzes but won’t kick in even with a new capacitor and a hard start kit. So it looks like it’s time for either a new compressor or new heat pump. I always figured their lifespan is around 15 years and I was planning on replacing both units with more efficient ones before the 2016 to get the tax credits, but was hoping to get a few more years out of them.

    So here are the questions:
    1. Does it make any sense to replace a compressor on a 16 year old heat pump to get a few more years out if it? I have a friend who’s in HVAC and could do the work for beer:)

    If replacing the whole unit:

    2. Are two stage geo heat pumps worth the extra cost?
    3. Any opinions on McQuay heat pumps? Both single and two stage units?
    4. Any other manufacturers sell to homeowners other than McQuay? I could go thru my buddy to get one if I have to but would prefer not to ask for too many favors:rolleyes:
    5. Can I upsize the current 2.5 ton unit to 3 ton without changing the ducts, or keep the pumo the same size? Seems that a bigger unit would not run as long, so it might save the well pump and the cost of running it.
    6. Do the tax credits apply to replacements units and not only to new installs, as long as they meet the efficiency requirements?
    7. Is a cupronickel exchanger a must in an open loop with hard water?


  2. Mark Custis

    Mark Custis Not soon. Industry Professional Forum Leader

    1. No
    2. Yes, in my opinon.
    3. They fund good research and write nice papers, but I have not worked on any of their geo products.
    4. One needs to have an EPA refrigerant ticket to buy products containing refrigerant.
    5. It depends on what is there for duct work. Why up size to reduce run time. Slow and steady wins the race in heat pumps and turtles.
    6. Yes
    7. It depends on the water. Water is the universal solvent.
  3. JohnF

    JohnF New Member

    Mark, thanks for the reply. Any opinions here about Miami Heat Pump geothermal units? Their prices seem very good, almost too good, SS cabinets, scroll compressors and cupronickel exchangers are standard. And they do sell to homeowners:)
  4. Mark Custis

    Mark Custis Not soon. Industry Professional Forum Leader

    I have not seen or used their product

    The trimmings are all fluff. Most domestic geos are made by one manufacturer. That is why they all look alike and are the same size. Only the compressors, blower drives and control systems are different.
  5. JohnF

    JohnF New Member

    Mark, so you're saying it doesn't matter who the manufacturer is? Is there much difference in warranties between different makers? Miami Heat Pumps covers parts only for a year, compressor for five, is that typical?

    Here are some rough specs, too good to be true for $1650?

    EER-22.0 (ground water loop)
    Stainless steel cabinet, stainless steel drain pan.
    Copeland scroll compressor.
    Cupronickel condenser coil.
    HI-LO pressure controls.
    Condensate overflow protection.
    Optional - Desuperheater


  6. Palace GeoThermal

    Palace GeoThermal Well-Known Member Industry Professional Forum Leader

    I have to differ with Mark, ( all due respect to you Mark ), about heat pump companies.

    Just like cars, which all look basically the same yet are made by completely different companies, most heat pumps are made by different companies.

    There are exceptions like Carrier rebranding ClimateMaster and a few others.
  7. docjenser

    docjenser Well-Known Member Industry Professional Forum Leader

    Climatemaster, waterfurnace and hydron I consider the 3 premium brands with good warranty (usually10 years) and support. There is also Florida Heat Pump and Econar. All of them are different manufacturers, which rebrand their products also under a different name with different support structures. Most of them use the same components (compressor, reversing valves), however, they have different controls, circuit boards etc. I would be hard pressed to find any difference for the consumer between any of the premium brands. It comes downfor the guy who designs it and bolts it in.....
  8. Mark Custis

    Mark Custis Not soon. Industry Professional Forum Leader


    I lost the link when my old laptop died, but I will try and re-find it. I think the company is called "Coil-max" or someting close. They build the chassies.
  9. JohnF

    JohnF New Member

    I just looked at my old heat pump specs, and it's actually single stage 2 ton, not 2.5 like I thought. Seems like 2 ton, 2 stage heat pumps are harder to find. If I went with a 3 ton unit, most of the time it would run in first stage, which would probably be around 2 ton anyway. Would that make sense or it that asking for trouble/waste money on a bigger unit? The old single stage 2 ton unit never had hard time keeping the house warm or cool, so should I just stick with a same size unit, also in single stage? House is 2700sf, 2 story, well insulated, 2nd floor has a second 2 ton GSHP. Thanks.

  10. Mark Custis

    Mark Custis Not soon. Industry Professional Forum Leader


    It depends:

    What do you want to do?

    Stay the same?

    Bump the loops to their capacity and get off what ever you used for aux?back-up heat?

    A jump in size from 2 tons, to 3 ton 2 stage is what I would look at.

    My first level of engagement is comfort, and second is operating costs. I rarely look at equipment costs, because if you need to do that you can not afford what I charge to do the math for you.
  11. docjenser

    docjenser Well-Known Member Industry Professional Forum Leader

    Both Waterfurnace and Climatemaster have a 2 ton-2 Stage heatpump. If you 2 ton unit was never too small, you would actually benefit from a unit running more often in 1st Stage.
  12. JohnF

    JohnF New Member

    Docjenser, I found the 2 ton 2 stage Climatemaster, is their 50YDV a good unit?

    Mark, I shut the breaker off for the heat strip about 15 years ago to avoid using it as aux heat when the cheap mercury thermostat was raised too fast. No problem at all, it did run a lot on coldest days, but not non-stop, and kept the house at about 70, so I guess the heat pumps were sized correctly. The electric bills did creep up in the last few years, but that's probably just the higher price of electricity after the energy deregulation in NJ. Or maybe the heat exchangers got too much build up from the open loop hard water?

    Another question I have using 1 vs. 2 units for 2 zones. 16 years ago, our new development was some kind of a power company/builder sponsored geo pilot. All new houses had a free option to upgrade from propane heat to geothermal, extra insulation, supposedly more efficient windows, etc, and most of the new homeowners did. ASAIK I was the first one to ask for 2 zone heating, and for 2.5K extra their answer was to install two separate heat pumps instead of one. From what I've bean reading, this is not as efficient as one bigger unit that runs two zones. Would it mean a lot of savings to go with one unit instead of two, enough to make it worth to redo the duct and returns? I actually like having separate units in case one goes out, and not having to rack up the electric bills with emergency heat. It's a good thing that the old unit died mid April and not July or December, so I can take my time looking into different options.

    Thanks for all the info, this forum is a gold mine for geo related questions.

  13. docjenser

    docjenser Well-Known Member Industry Professional Forum Leader

    50ydv is actually a Carrier model name, It is a Climatemaster clone and identical with the tranquility 27, which is an excellent unit. I would advise to have that water tested, or do not take any chances go with a Ni-Cu coil right away. Usually, the life expectancy is longer than 15 years. I see many heatpumps run strong after 25-30 years. Check your old coil when they take the old pump out!
    2 units are often the better, but significantly more expensive choice, instead of one. Most of the time we go with zoned ductwork and larger units, since that solution is more economical.
  14. engineer

    engineer Well-Known Member Industry Professional Forum Leader

    We generally install zoning to save on up front costs. I don't think zoning offers much in the way of operating cost savings.
  15. AMI Contracting

    AMI Contracting A nice Van Morrison song Industry Professional Forum Leader

    Comfortaire is a relabled CM with longer compressor warranty. It is a good pick for someone with a buddy in the business as they will sell to most any contractor.
    Bard has a decent 2 stage with more relays and less integrated controls making it a good pick for the do-it-yourself crowd.

    Make sure if you pick a new unit that it is listed with energy star for tax credits.

    I would not spend money on a compressor (even cost) if I intended to replace a unit in the next few years.

    If you are not using your auxiliary now, you have no reason to upsize. In fact you might be oversized already.

    2 stage units save water if you employ to solenoids.

    I would not consider FHP products less premier than CM or WF. With the Bosch purchase, they have the biggest balance sheet in the biz.
    Econar looks ok to me, but they don't have a big enough foot print for me to have seen many, so I have no opinion on their performance.

    Mark is correct that all units have the same compressor (engine) and many use the same coax. Difference between them is cosmetic.

    McQuay is unfortunately not in the biz of monitoring who sells their equipment and how. I would not expect much support if things go wrong for you.

  16. JohnF

    JohnF New Member

    Right now I'm leaning towards the CM 2 stage 2 ton unit, I can't find much info on the Bard heat pumps. I do like the idea of the simpler controls on the Bard, my old FHP units have simple relay based controls that had zero issues in 16 years, while some of my neightbors had a lot or problems with the early FHP integrated circuits panels. I can test relays, but IC's are basically black boxes to me without special testing tools. Are the CM control panels reliable? Obviously the controls for 2 stage compressor and VS blower need to be more complicatated than a single stage single speed blower.

    Another (somewhat unrelated) questions - do you guys install whole house humidifiers in fiber duct board ducts? The main runs in my house are fiber ducts, and the branches are flex ducts. I never installed one because I was worried of mold growing in the fiber.


  17. zach

    zach Member Forum Leader


    Have you measured you indoor humidity during winter? I cannot speak about the fiber duct board issue.

    I'd be very cautious about adding moisture to your home without first establishing a baseline level via measuring indoor RH.

    But, I found our indoor humidity levels were fine in upstate NY since the air delivery temperature is lower with our ghp v. the scorched air oil burner. I have an indoor humidstat so I monitor humidity.
  18. JohnF

    JohnF New Member

    Zach, the air is very dry in the winter, according to my thermostat it gets to about 10%. We use portable humidifiers all winter to bring it up to about 40%, otherwise we'll fall in the cracks between the hardwood floor planks:)
  19. AMI Contracting

    AMI Contracting A nice Van Morrison song Industry Professional Forum Leader

    Use a steam humidifier with fan interlock.

    Climatemaster requires factory training to purchase. If your friend will purchase equipment for you, find a comfortaire distributor- it is a CM relabel and has a 12 year compressor warranty. You do have to give up that cool stainless steel front door for a powder coat paint job though...
  20. JohnF

    JohnF New Member

    My buddy can get me a Climatemaster Tranquility 27 TT 2 ton/2 stage with cupronickel exchanger and desuperheater, 10yr all parts warranty, plus 2stage T-stat for 5K (unit only, no installation). Is that a good price? And that SS front panel is hard to give up:) It looks better than all of our kitchen appliances, almost a shame to hide it in a basement closet...

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