Ohio Insufficient Loop Field?

Discussion in 'Maintenance and Troubleshooting' started by OhioLanes, Jan 19, 2016.

  1. OhioLanes

    OhioLanes New Member

    Hi! Been trolling this forum the last few day and have found some very helpful information - decided to give it a go.

    A little background. We purchased a home just west of Cleveland, OH in Summer of 2014. It had a geothermal unit (5 ton WaterFurnace) already installed (great selling point) in 1998. Winter of 2014/5 - our blower motor breaks - but seems to work ok to get us through a pretty cold winter. Fall of 2015 - Low Pressure Fault comes on - repairman (initial installer) says system is old - there is a leak, it's only a matter of time until system dies. Panicked with holidays and house guests approaching - we get 6 quotes and ended up replacing all of our interior components with a 5 ton Climatemaster T30 with a different installer - not the same one who did the first.

    Here we are about 6 weeks in and we keep getting locked out of the system (low water temp) and are pretty much running on aux heat (which is not big enough for our house - averaging 62 when we keep it set at 68) when the temperatures are less than freezing. The days it gets above 30F - we seem ok - guessing that it's because the system has some "downtime." I find myself putting it in emergency heat setting for a few hours to try and give it that rest and then that will buy us a little more time with the compressor - but then the cycle keeps repeating.

    The installers are standing by that the unit is doing exactly what is it supposed to and that it is an issue with our loop field. I have to note here that they never once asked anything about the loop field prior to install or even prior to this week(the previous owners did leave us with paperwork that shows what we have - 750', 5 loops @ 150' ft, vertical system.)

    Their solution is to drill more loops and charge us an arm and a leg. From research I do see that if it were a new system we'd probably have closer to 1000' and maybe a little deeper - but we're not grossly far off - are we?

    Am I missing anything? Other than being extremely frustrated that they never thought to review this information (and I guess I never forced it.) What else could be happening? The installer keeps saying our loop is terrible - but no specifics.

    Please help!! Thanks in Advance!!
  2. stevelion

    stevelion New Member

    I'm no expert, but do believe 750' is generally inadequate for a 5 ton system and that 200'/ton is a general guideline. In comparison, my relatively new 3.5 ton system in SE Pennsylvania has about 760' of ground loop length. I only caught your post because I just posted a similar problem several minutes ago.
  3. waterpirate

    waterpirate Well-Known Member Industry Professional Forum Leader

    Calling Mark for a consultation.
    I would like to know what the loop temp is when it locks out. That is a critical data starting point. The field also needs to be tested for the amount of freze protection present, i.e. how low can it go? The installer also needs to verify that the unit is set up for closed loop and not open loop. Is it a package unit or a split? Either way there are some things to be verified on the gas/compressor side before you spend any monies on more drilling.
    Keep us posted
  4. moey

    moey Member

    If the loop field worked before it should work now.
  5. Mark Custis

    Mark Custis Not soon. Industry Professional Forum Leader

    OUCH, OUCH, you should have been lerking sooner.

    I like Cleveland, I was born here in 1949.

    Any idea who drilled the holes?

    If it worked before it will work now.

    I do not think the failure was on the equipment, unless it was a refrigerant leak. We need to look at the ground loop side.

    I am sorry they sold you new stuff that does not work.

    I can look, and maybe fix this without breaking the bank.


  6. OhioLanes

    OhioLanes New Member

    Thanks all for your help. Last night I thought (the installer even thought) that this was all over. They found low levels of refrigerant - so they added more and were convinced that was the fix. Alas - here we are in the AM in a cold house - locked out and running in aux heat again :(

    To answer some of these questions - they now think the faults were from the low refridgerant - something about a coil error (I've been reading all about these iGate controls - but I can only see there is an error on my thermostat - I have no other data or information to go off of.) Our EWT has been around 29/30F when they have checked and I thought they said we should be protected to 20F? It is a package unit, it is set to closed.

    Yoder did the initial drill.

    The condensation drain also sounds like it is constantly draining water (noticed before but a lot more today.) They checked for leaks and didn't find any - but what else could this mean?
  7. geoxne

    geoxne Active Member Forum Leader

    There should be no condensate flow while heating. You are most likely hearing slurping from the condensate trap as the fan is sucking on it while water level (left over from last AC run) is low enough in the trap to allow air by. You can check by filling the trap.

    It is also possible the trap is not deep enough.
  8. docjenser

    docjenser Well-Known Member Industry Professional Forum Leader

    First thought would be lack of enough antifreeze, with the source coil freezing, which can mimic as a low refrigerant. Did you say that the freeze protection is set to "antifreeze"?

    Loopfield size and EWT 29-30F seem appropriate. Do the basics:
    1) do you have enough flow (a freezing coil can suggest too much flow or "ok" flow due to increased pressure drop)?
    2) do you have an acceptable EWT?
    3) Is your antifreeze level ok?

    Then, and only then, check the refrigerant side.
  9. Mark Custis

    Mark Custis Not soon. Industry Professional Forum Leader

    Call me.


    I know this can be fixed.

    You have a system that the loop field was designed for R-22. R-22 is no longer available. I guess that your new system uses R-410A. The same size. length and volume of piping should work if.

    Did the new guys re-purge the loops and test the antifreeze safety level? If not then it is their bad that you are cold. Do not give them any more money for they know not what they do.

    Tim Yoder records everything. He will know what the loop field was good for when installed. I have Tim's number in my phone.

    good luck,

  10. OhioLanes

    OhioLanes New Member

    Thank you Mark. They've been here today and are doing just that (I think - is flushing the same as purging?) Although they did flush the system when the new unit was installed - so that is why I guess they didn't want to do it again. And yes - I was educated about the R-22 v R-410A and that is correct for our systems.

    And I actually have been trying to learn all I can and did talk to Tim this week! But he was happy to quote me to expand our loops 350'?!

    If we fault out again tonight - I will give you a call tomorrow - but I'm praying hard this is will do it.
  11. Mark Custis

    Mark Custis Not soon. Industry Professional Forum Leader

    Prayer might help, but I would bet on Tim and me.

    I do not think you need more loops yet. I think that you need measurements to see what is going on.

    It is Wednesday in Willard so I guess today is ok for purging or flushing.

    I am a recovering disabled person and can get what day it is confused with what day I want it to be.

    Do not give these guys a check unless they can show what the freeze protection in the loop field is to a T. The freeze number is what will make or break this job.

  12. docjenser

    docjenser Well-Known Member Industry Professional Forum Leader

    If your temp is 29-30F EWT, why would you need more loop? And why would any reputable installer want to install more loop? If the units faults at an EWT of 29F there is something else going on. Climatemaster publishes operating parameter at 20F EWT, and specifies the operating range between 20-120F EWT.

    Antifreeze level, dip switch set to the wrong freeze protection setting, or low flow etc are likely reasons.
  13. OhioLanes

    OhioLanes New Member

    We made it through the night without a lockout - although the aux is on a lot and it appears we still used over 100 kwh of electricity overnight (to add to our growing total of over 3000 for the last 15 days.)

    I'm having a hard time understanding why they can't identify the faults better - it seems like they can see it faulted but then have to look at the numbers and figure it out? They are now saying it probably wasn't the EWH but either refrigerant, or pressure or possibly ice blocking the lines.

    Back to the antifreeze. In my research online - this was my first question as to what could be wrong. The answer I received was that it should already be in the loops. Our loops were drilled 18 years ago - should it be? And they did flush the system upon install 2 months ago - should they have checked the level then or added more at that point? What is the freeze protection I should be looking for?

    Thank you all for your continued help as we hopefully get to the bottom of this.
  14. docjenser

    docjenser Well-Known Member Industry Professional Forum Leader

    When they flushed out the loops, the might have introduced more water which brought the antifreeze levels down.

    Nothing terrible about your loops if EWT is 29-30F.
  15. nc73

    nc73 Member Forum Leader

    If you do the math, if there are 5 loops, 150ft deep, it should be 1500 ft and not 750ft. Which should be sufficient. I have lockouts at 38 degrees because my HP wasn't really designed for closed loop. I bypassed the low pressure switch and it runs fine. Of course I have the very basic miamihp 3 ton. waiting on a lower rated pressure switch.

  16. docjenser

    docjenser Well-Known Member Industry Professional Forum Leader

    I guess I have not heard of a geothermal heatpump not being designed for closed loop?

    Obviously if the EWT is 29-30F, his loop is doing ok, specifically with a newer and more efficient heat pump. I took the 750' by the OP as borehole length.

    Sometimes it is confusing if one means borehole length or pipe length. What matters most is how much energy is harvested from the ground over the season, not so much what the size of the heatpump is, for the judgement if a loop field is adequate.
  17. nc73

    nc73 Member Forum Leader

    It's really designed for florida from the looks of it. They balked at 38 when I told them. You'd think they'd ask the right questions and installed the correct pressure switch from the factory. Oh well I like it simple, it doesn't even have a circuit board, no dip switches, nada. Nothing but contactors, 24v transformer and relays.


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