Ground Loop Warranties

Discussion in 'Geothermal Loops' started by GeoDosch, Aug 3, 2017.

  1. GeoDosch

    GeoDosch New Member

    I have a Waterfurnace geothermal system that's about 7 years old, and it's apparent that I have a leak in the ground loop. I have a few questions for anyone who has dealt with this situation:

    The ground loop has a 50 year warranty from the installer. When I mentioned it to the tech performing the service, he seemed skeptical as to how much that would cover. Has anyone had their loop repaired under a warranty? (I fully realize every situation can be different. I just want to know what others have experienced.)

    If you're wondering why I don't just call the company that installed it and ask them, it's because it appears they're out of business. I'm trying to find out if someone else took over their customer base, though I haven't had any luck yet. It could be they declared bankruptcy and the warranty is worthless. But I'd still like to know the answer to the above, so I'll know how much effort to put into trying to get someone to honor the warranty.

    The company doing the work on it now is suggesting adding a leak sealer (like what you might put into the radiator of an old car) to see if that fixes the loop leak. They would also add something to automatically inject water into the loop as it needs it. I'll also need to replace the flow pump, since it's shot, probably from cavitation. My dilemma is, do I make a significant investment in getting the system fixed, with no certainty that it will work without replacing the ground loop, or do I cut my losses and convert the system to a heat pump.

    Any and all help is appreciated. TIA.

    -George
     
  2. waterpirate

    waterpirate Well-Known Member Industry Professional Forum Leader

    What the service tech is suggesting is standard operating procedure for a cranky loop. The size of the leak that is giving you trouble is rarely similar to a plumbing leak in size. I would take the techs advice and go forward.
    Eric
     
  3. urthbuoy

    urthbuoy Well-Known Member Industry Professional Forum Leader

    Our SOP for inheriting leaky loops is to convert to non-pressurized. Haven't had to progress past that stage so far in 11 years.
     
  4. GeoDosch

    GeoDosch New Member

    Eric, I'm hoping that it's a small enough leak that the sealant can fix it. I'm concerned because the system went 6+ years without needing to have water added, then it only went a week before it was flat again, and had air in the loop (you could hear gurgling in the pipes.) Is that a typical situation for a minor leak, or does that point to something more serious?

    Chris, what's involved with converting the loop to non-pressurized? Does that just mean not forcing extra water/antifreeze to bring the pressure up, or are other modifications needed as well?
     
  5. docjenser

    docjenser Well-Known Member Industry Professional Forum Leader

    A new flowmeter, usually only the canister. IT ensures that the loop is not pressurized anymore, and usually does not loose water anymore. I second that suggestion/measure as a first choice.
     
  6. GeoDosch

    GeoDosch New Member

    I had asked the tech about making it a non-pressurized system, but he said that would entail replacing the flow center, implying that would be a more expensive way to go. Right now I'm looking at ~$1800 for them bringing in the flush cart to purge the system, adding the sealant and installing the unit to keep the loop full/pressurized. How would the cost of converting to non-pressurized compare to that?

    In case it matters, here are some specifics on my system: it's a vertical loop with two 300' wells, and one continuous run through the two wells and back to the pump. The loops also cross my garage via the overhead crawlspace, so the highest point is about 9 feet above the condenser/pump (yes, it was a poorly planned configuration by the original installer.) I was reading some of the other topics here about pressurized & non- systems, and they mention the maximum 30' rise. Is that only between the flow center and condenser?

    I appreciate everyones input on this. The service company is still waiting on parts, so I haven't done anything yet.
     
  7. geoxne

    geoxne Active Member Forum Leader

    Non pressurized conversion tanks are available. They are designed for installation with an existing flow center. One example is here-
    http://www.geo-flo.com/?Accessories/Geo-Prime_Tank
    Waterfurnace has the same tank under the GeoLink label. This tank has 1" connections and may not be appropriately sized for your installation. A little research will find you the right tank.

    The 30' limit is any piping above the non pressurized tank. 24' would be a more conservative limit. There have been reports of PT ports sucking air above that.
     
  8. docjenser

    docjenser Well-Known Member Industry Professional Forum Leader

    A non-pressurized flow center should run you less than $1800, at least in my market.
     
  9. GeoDosch

    GeoDosch New Member

    I wanted to give an update: I'm going with the plan of replacing the flow pump, purging the system, adding a sealant and installing a pump to maintain pressure. For the pump I'm going to use the Geo-Booster. The service tech told me to go ahead and get one myself, otherwise he would have to charge me a mark-up from his cost (which I appreciated.) I purchased a new one for $330, and I will install it myself, except for plumbing it in. I have also checked with Geo-Flow, and they confirmed that the pressure setting could be changed from the factory setting of 35psi. So if the loop still leaks significantly, I can lower the pressure to help alleviate that.

    I'm of course hoping this is a long-term solution. But if not, hopefully it will at least get me to the cooler weather. My next step would be converting to a non-pressurized loop.

    Thanks for all the suggestions and advice!
     
  10. waterpirate

    waterpirate Well-Known Member Industry Professional Forum Leader

    Let us know how it goes.
    Eric
     
  11. GeoDosch

    GeoDosch New Member

    Today the work was done on my system. They replaced the flow pump, added sealant to the system, connected the Geo-Booster pump and purged the loop. The good news is that after 2+ weeks of no A/C during some very hot and humid weather, the system is working again. The Geo-Booster is working well. What's not so good is that it has been pumping water into the loop. Since the system was back up around 11:00 AM it has used 7 cups of fluid. I'm hoping that it's just a matter of the sealant not yet having a chance to do its job. So I'm going to have to see if the rate at which it's using fluid tapers-off, or if it continues at this pace (or gets worse.)

    The tech mentioned that the Geo-Booster was pre-set at 45 psi, though the specs say it comes from the factory set to 35 psi. He said the current recommendation from the manufacturer is for the loops to be kept between 45-60 psi, so it could be that Geo-Flo is shipping the pumps adjusted accordingly. I asked about lowering it due to the leak, though he said running at lower pressure puts the flow pump at risk for damage. I would think that as long as there's no air in the system, the pump should be okay, so I don't know if anyone here has insight on that.

    If the loop continues to need fluid added, then it seems the next step would be to switch the system to be non-pressurized, which would mean most of what I spent today would have been for naught (though I could try to sell a slightly used Geo-Booster to offset a bit of that.)
     
  12. docjenser

    docjenser Well-Known Member Industry Professional Forum Leader

    Good luck. Keep us posted.
     
  13. urthbuoy

    urthbuoy Well-Known Member Industry Professional Forum Leader

    Non-pressurized systems use the same pumps and run at 5psi or such (whatever the pump head and layout end up adding up to). So you can definitely lower the pressure from 45psi to reduce fluid loss. The engineering term you are looking for is pump NPSH (net positive suction head). This is the minimum pressure at which a pump is rated to operate at (suction side). The standard grundfos pumps in our industry are somewhat around 1 to 2 psi for NPSH (from memory).
     
    waterpirate likes this.
  14. GeoDosch

    GeoDosch New Member

    The fluid loss rate had initially begun to taper off, but now it's hit a plateau. I had to be away for a couple of days, so I topped it off before I left, and there was little in the bottom of the supply tank when I returned-- though thankfully it hadn't run dry, which I was concerned about while I was gone. I've been keeping careful track of the usage, based on what I've had to add to the Geo-Boost reservoir, and a chart of the rate is attached. If it continues to leak at this rate, I may have to start dropping the pressure. I really need to get a pressure gauge before I do that, since I certainly don't want to guess as to where it's at.
     

    Attached Files:

  15. Craig K

    Craig K New Member

    You are headed down the path I've been on for many a year. Tweak this and that, a constant drip drip drip from your bank account. My WF has leaked for years, every couple of months the tech comes by to add more fluid. Now they say there is dirt in the liquid, sure evidence that there is a leak in the outside loop. Oh, and my guy says WF will be glad to fix the leak but I have to find it!
     
  16. GeoDosch

    GeoDosch New Member

    Craig, did you do anything to the system other than adding fluid, such as using a sealant in the fluid? I'm curious as to what works and what doesn't.
     
  17. docjenser

    docjenser Well-Known Member Industry Professional Forum Leader

    Now, is your WF leaking or the pipe in the ground? If it is the pipe in the ground, what does WF has to do, they build the box. Anything wrong with the box? If your installer/technician keeps charging you and you have a discussion with him, why don't you have a discussion with him on how to dress the problem? Maybe you can elaborate why you are going on a rant against WF?
     
  18. Craig K

    Craig K New Member

    The pipe in the ground is leaking - what does WF have to do with it? I have a warranty issued by WF for the ground loop. It says WF will fix the leak but they are being slippery and are denying my claim.
     
  19. docjenser

    docjenser Well-Known Member Industry Professional Forum Leader


    Geothermal Services Contractor (GSC) certifies to WaterFurnace that in connection with the above installation it has installed purchasers’ GeoLink® piping system in accordance with WaterFurnace’s installation requirements for its 55 year “No Leak” warranty and has:

    • Used GeoLink® pipe, tubing and heat fusion fittings on the in-ground portion of the piping system.

    • Buried GeoLink® locating tape (maximum depth of one foot) over header and supply/return piping.

    • Performed all fusions by WaterFurnace trained fusion technicians only.

    • Installed GeoLink® Piping System to the standards described in WaterFurnace’s GSC manual and training programs..

    • Filled system with WaterFurnace approved additives or antifreeze solutions.

    • Installed the total piping length as specified by dealer, and had on-site modifications (if any) confirmed by the dealer or

      distributor.

    • Prepared and attached “as built” site plan detailing header, supply/return piping, individual circuit locations and indoor

      piping.

    • 55 Year “No Leak” Warranty must be purchased within 1 year from install date.

      GSC warrants to WaterFurnace that the above GeoLink® piping system will be free from leaks due to GSC’s workmanship for a period of three (3) years from the date of purchase.

    If pipes leak, it is usually the fusion joints where the installer incorrectly fused them together. The installation is something out of WFs control.

    What you described as your technician raises flags, how do you know there is dirt in the pipes? If you have indeed dirt in the pipes, your loop will likely loose it's content within days, if not hours. A leak with topping off needed every couple of months does not have dirt in the loop, at least not from a pinhole leak or a leaking fusion joint.

    Part of it that the installer has to warrant his work to WF for 3 years, and he has to purchase the warranty. That you have to find the leak is nonsense. BS meter is on high alert.
     
  20. GeoDosch

    GeoDosch New Member

    Update on my issue: my fluid loss rate continues to drop. When the system was first back up and running, it was losing over 18 cups/day, which dropped to about 6/day after 24 hours, so I assume that was the sealant doing its job. It continued to gradually drop to about 3/day, then held steady at that rate. Then I dropped the loop pressure a bit, to where it's running between high- to low 30's psi (it's not a single pressure, since when it drops too far, the Geo-Booster pumps it back up to the higher pressure.) Now my loss is down to 1.2 cups/day. I don't know if that's completely due to the lower pressure, or the sealant continuing to be more effective as time goes on, or maybe a combination of the two. It will be interesting to see if it continues to drop, or if this will be a steady rate. If the latter, I may drop the pressure a bit more. But even at this rate, I could go almost 2 weeks before needing to top-off the Geo-Booster tank, which is something I can live with.

    I've been pretty much guessing at the ratio of antifreeze to water to add, so I'm soon going to need to draw a sample from the loop and check the concentration. I'll also have to get some more antifreeze from the service dealer, since I don't know for certain what is being used (though from what I've read and observed, I'm fairly certain it's Environol.)

    I'm very happy with the Geo-Booster. It makes it easy for me to keep track of exactly how much fluid I'm losing, as well as being able to add both antifreeze and water to the loop. The service tech originally proposed a much more expensive unit that would just add tap water, plus it would have been an extra $450 for a meter to keep track of usage. I would certainly recommend this to anyone with a similar problem (no, I don't have any financial interest in Geo-Boosters or the dealers.) :)
     

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