GEO n00b, have heat pump question

Discussion in 'General Discussions' started by J Perry, Feb 9, 2018.

  1. J Perry

    J Perry New Member

    Hi all,

    I, um, have some questions. Thanks for any input

    tl;dr

    Should a geo heat pump stop running as much (the heat strips then turning on) whenever at the outdoor temp is at or below 35 degrees? I assume the answer to that question is more nuanced than a yes or no.

    Long version:

    In August I moved into a home that had a geothermal system installed in 2015. It's a Bosch Greensource SM Series. To my understanding it is vertical.

    The system has been a nightmare.

    When closing on the home I was excited about having a house with a geothermal system (with 9 solar panels also on the the roof!). Since then I have had nothing but trouble with it since literally the day I moved in. Here is a rough timelime:

    1. late-August, first day after getting the keys, found pooled water at base of unit, not a ton but a few gallons. Called home warranty people. Tech came out and said unit was backed or clogged with algae and vegetation. Cleaned it out, took a Shop-Vac to the area, said it was fixed and left.
    2. Next day, more water. Guy came back out and said it was residual water. Seemed that he was correct as I Shop-Vaced the area and the problem did not return.
    3. mid-September, unit seemed to be running loudly and not cooling the house. Gave unit visual inspection. There was literal ice growing on the chassis of the unit. Not frost, ice, like icicles growing down the side of the unit. Called same Home Warranty guy. Came out, said the relay had welded its self shut or something and had to be replaced. Came back two days later and replaced it. Ran fine after.

    4. mid-January, very cold in KY. Unit seemed to be running loud one day. A day later, didn't hear the heat pump anymore. Cold-ish air coming from the vents in the house. Indoor temp dropped to 66 degrees (we keep it at 69). I suddenly realized I should just call the people who installed it. They came out and said the board was bad. Would order new one. Tech "did something" so we would still get heat in the house in the interim without the GEO running.
    5. four days later, whatever tech did to get us heat stopped working. Temp went back down to 66. Different tech came out and said previous tech "wired something wrong". Heat back on, still no board.
    6. monthly energy bill comes in the mail. $550 for using more than 5,500 kWh somewhere between 12/26 and 1/26. 3x times more than we've used thus far in the house.
    6. next day, heat back down to 66. My wife and I (plus our four-month-old, poor little guy) at this point say, pardon my french, but say "f*** this!". Turn temp in house down to 55 degrees (felt like that anyway) an moved in with some family.
    7. three days later board comes in. Tech installs it. Says we are good to go. move back home
    8. next day, heat pump out again. temp in house drops to 66.
    9. tech comes out and says previous tech forgot to do something with a "diode" and that we should be good now.
    10. next day, heat pump off again, temp in house drops to 66. Tech comes out says previous tech forgot to do something with the settings on the board. Said he fixed it.
    11. next day (yesterday), heat pump out again, temp drops to 66. tech comes out, says board was never even the problem, some more settings were wrong and the heat pump has been shutting off too early. Sets it to shutoff on only below 35 degrees - which I don't even know what the really means - cleans a compressor or something. Seems to be working now.

    Anyway, since I've been tracking the energy usage in late-Jan, we've been consuming 100-250 kWh per day. It had been violently cold there for a stretch with the low around 10 and the high in the 20s for several days in a row. But it's above freezing now and we are still consuming well over 100 kWh every day.

    The company's explanation with all the energy consumption was basically this: the heat pump was shutting off and the aux heat was coming on, and it took them a while to find the problem and fix it. They said heat pumps are really good until 35 degrees outside, after that the aux heat has to kick in and help out. Company has been really cool the whole time, we haven't paid a dollar for any of their service calls or parts.

    That aux heat cost us hundreds of dollars and never even blew remotely hot air out of the vents, and would never get the house past 66.

    Is this just the fact of life with a geothermal system? Really expensive bills, and a cold house in Winter and constant problems?
     
    Last edited: Feb 9, 2018
  2. Stickman

    Stickman Member

    Not unless it’s designed to perform like that

    It shouldn’t have to be that way.

    Take a look at this thread and try to gather as much of the info it asks for.

    https://www.geoexchange.org/forum/t...t-pump-system-troubleshooting-checklist.3080/

    There’s a lot of good help here. Hang in there and good luck!

    Steve
     
  3. J Perry

    J Perry New Member

    Ok, gotcha.

    Well, one question: how can I tell at any moment if the system is using auxiliary heat? Is there a panel I can open up and ascertain that? FYI there is no indication on my thermostat that aux heat is on.
     
  4. Stickman

    Stickman Member

    The simple answer is the temp of the supply air will increase by a fair amount (approx 10-20 degrees maybe) and it usually is accompanied by an increase in blower speed.

    I have to think that if your system is even close to being properly sized, you shouldn't be using aux heat when the outdoor temps are around 35F. My aux heat has its own breaker. Maybe see if yours does too, turn it off, and concentrate on getting the heat pump operating properly? This leaves the aux guess work out of the picture. While the repair company seems to be trying, you may want to consider finding another. While you're not paying them, seems like you've been paying your electric co a pretty penny.
     
  5. ChrisJ

    ChrisJ Active Member Forum Leader

    Not true for Ground Source Heat Pumps! (Geo)

    What type of thermostat do you have? How many pumps on the ground loop? Did anyone tell you what the Entering Water Temp(EWT) is?

    https://www.bosch-climate.us/products-bosch-thermotechnology/geothermal-heat-pumps/geothermal-residential-product-offering/water-to-air-geothermal-heat-pump-systems/greensource.html

    There are PDF's about aux heat and I/O manuals at above website.
     
  6. J Perry

    J Perry New Member

    How is there so much confusion on this topic... One can research when a heat pump should turn off with a geo system and you can get everything from 40 degrees to never. I don't get it.

    I have Honeywell thermostats. One on the first floor (https://www.wink.com/products/honeywell-thermostat-rth9580wf/) and one on the second (https://www.homedepot.com/p/Honeywe...mable-Thermostat-Free-App-RTH6580WF/203556922)

    I don't know how many many pumps are on the ground loop as I don't know what that means. None of the techs mentioned anything to me regarding water temp.

    Sorry I have little information here. I appreciate this forum's patience thus far.
     
  7. J Perry

    J Perry New Member

    I'm gonna check my panel for an aux heat breaker tonight. That might be a very good place to start.

    And, yep, and I am on pace to a $600 electric bill next month...
     
  8. arkie6

    arkie6 Member

    Be aware that in many instances the power for the blower motor is from the same circuit breaker supplying the electric auxiliary heating elements.
     
    ChrisJ likes this.
  9. moey

    moey Member

    If someone told you your aux heat will be coming on at 35F Id suggest you find another contractor. They probably have not charged you because they have no idea what they are doing. You should be able to essentially program out the logic for the electric heat on most thermostats. Basically making the settings for the electric heat on the extreme side so it doesnt come on.
     
  10. ChrisJ

    ChrisJ Active Member Forum Leader

    Sometimes there is a jumper that needs to be clipped when the system has freeze protection, anti-freeze in the ground loop.

    If that has not been set for closed loop it will lock out the compressor when the loops EWT approaches the mid 30's*F.
     
  11. docjenser

    docjenser Well-Known Member Industry Professional Forum Leader

    Geo heat pump operate independently of outside temperatures, and are not suppose to shut of when it gets cold. Sometimes they are designed in warmer climates to heat your house only partially, and the rest is made up by aux resistance heat. That is not the fault of the geo system.

    So the system should not shut off, check wether it has antifreeze in the loops and if the antifreeze setting is correct.

    Other than that we would need more info, for example what the loop temperature is. Go through the checklist here. Only than we can help, otherwise we just speculate.

    None of our systems shut off at 35F outside temperature, they actually work pretty well at -20F. Otherwise my entire family would hate me.;)
     
  12. ChrisJ

    ChrisJ Active Member Forum Leader

    ChrisJ
    Not true for Ground Source Heat Pumps! (Geo).


    How is there so much confusion on this topic... One can research when a heat pump should turn off with a geo system and you can get everything from 40 degrees to never. I don't get it.

    ChrisJ
    What type of thermostat do you have? How many pumps on the ground loop? Did anyone tell you what the Entering Water Temp(EWT) is?



    I have Honeywell thermostats. One on the first floor (https://www.wink.com/products/honeywell-thermostat-rth9580wf/) and one on the second (https://www.homedepot.com/p/Honeywe...mable-Thermostat-Free-App-RTH6580WF/203556922)

    I don't know how many many pumps are on the ground loop as I don't know what that means. None of the techs mentioned anything to me regarding water temp.

    Sorry I have little information here. I appreciate this forum's patience thus far.


    This response came in an email but didn't show up here.
     
    Last edited: Feb 20, 2018 at 2:01 PM
  13. ChrisJ

    ChrisJ Active Member Forum Leader

    When the search is for "Heat Pump" that will include air source heat pumps. Which some don't work well below 35-40*F.

    Ground source heat pumps (Geothermal heat pumps) Are water source heat pumps, water is pumped usually by a flow center through the pipes in the ground. So somewhere there is a pump or pumps that circulate the water/antifreeze mix. Checking the temp of that fluid is JOB ONE when troubleshooting your heat pump.

    Wi-Fi thermostats are cool but I'm not sure your's are compatible or maybe just not set up correctly. I did read in the manual that if connected to AUX heat it does not let the compressor run at the same time as the aux heat. Most systems allow the aux elements to run as a supplement to the compressor.

    See picture of one kind of flow center or ground loop pump.
     

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