Minnesota New house

Discussion in 'Maintenance and Troubleshooting' started by jmcnelly85, Aug 30, 2016.

  1. jmcnelly85

    jmcnelly85 New Member

    My wife and I recently purchased a home with an econar geosource 2000 system installed around 1993. Before purchase, the unit was serviced on June 30th where an expert familiar with the system signed off that it was in working order. He noticed the psi on the system was low (30-40?) and was able to get it back to the recommended psi of 70. Once we started moving into the house a month and a half later, we noticed the system wasn't working. Upon returning to recheck the system he found a transformer wasn't working properly in the unit; however, once a new transformer was put in he found the psi of the system to be at zero regardless of what he did. His theory was that whenever the former owners installed either a new septic or radon mitigation unit, someone must've hit something in the loop field to cause a leak; however, both of the septic and mitigation unit were installed prior to the first service visit. The field loop and septic system are on completely different sides of the property and the mitigation system is inside the house.

    One of the pumps would slowly drip dirty water when he opened it and it set off his carbon monoxide detector, while the other one was full of clay. We haven't even moved in fully and are looking at what he estimated to be a $40,000 repair, does anyone have any advice as to what to do next? We wouldn't have bought a house with a defective hvac unit, would it be worthwhile to consult a second opinion to find if the serviceman was trying to cover his tracks from something he potentially missed during the initial service call or does his theory seem valid? I have a hard time wrapping my head around the idea of "something has already happened that has made the unit ineffective, but it is signed off in proper working condition."

    We are in Minnesota and winter is right around the corner, we just spent nearly all of our money on the house and would struggle to replace the entire system with a cheaper, albeit expensive, different system. Any and all advice is appreciated.
     
  2. urthbuoy

    urthbuoy Well-Known Member Industry Professional Forum Leader

    This is a tough one. I do inspections in the same manner as above. I just did one today. But I can't vouch for any longevity in any of the systems I look at. I can only comment on the current system and any deficiencies I noted.

    So as to loop pressure - 30-40psi isn't low. I would have been fine with that value. I often charge up to 40psi for that matter. Take that in whatever context you want but I would wonder why someone would boost the pressure above that during an inspection.

    My first thought is definitely confirm whether or not your system can hold pressure. If it's leaking water as quickly as it can be added, then there is some large failure in the system. If it leaks and loses pressure over a month or so, then converting to a non-pressurized system may be the answer.

    This is a tough one. I have been hired for insurance purposes in the past and I need to see the numbers. Often the result is people get assigned a % responsibility.
     
  3. jmcnelly85

    jmcnelly85 New Member

    He attached a hose to what the manual refers to as the Out (from heat pump) for some time, he said you can sometimes find bubbles in the yard where the leak is located. We were unable to find bubbles but after wandering around the yard for a while, he detached the hose and immediately checked the pressure. It showed zero to slightly below zero. I'm assuming this confirms the large failure.

    Further reading the pump pack manual, it says to maintain 30-40 psi, and may need to be charged to 60-65 initially during the initial pressurization. Could charging the system to 70 psi be enough to rupture the loop?
     
    Last edited: Aug 30, 2016
  4. urthbuoy

    urthbuoy Well-Known Member Industry Professional Forum Leader

    HDPE SDR 11 is rated to 200+ psi. And I'm assuming that is what you have.

    Charging the system to 70psi would not have caused an issue but it could have exacerbated a previous existing condition. Still not the the problem really.

    If you do truly have enough of a leak that you can "find the bubbles" you can likely get some people with shovels to dig you a hole and find it. You can then repair it for a small portion of the costs of replacement.

    You'll find out what kind of leak it is as well.

    edit - Sorry. Realized the bubble thing wasn't your system. You can charge with air and listen for it.
     
  5. docjenser

    docjenser Well-Known Member Industry Professional Forum Leader

    Not sure either if a $40,000 repair is warranted. Most of the time you can dig up the header, since most leaks are with incorrect fusion on the header. Worst case you can isolate the failed circuit, and run the system with one less circuit and see how it performs.
    I think what you describe also warrants a second opinion. For a loop to have 30-40 psi in June, and then going to zero without the system much running is unusual. I am with Chris, not sure why he even touched it when it has 30-40 psi in the summer. Normally the pipe expands and pressures go down in the summer, due to warmer water in the pipes. Pressures are the higher in the winter. So it would be perfectly normal to have 30 psi in the summer and 60 psi in the winter.
    Get a second pair of eyes ...
     
  6. Tamar

    Tamar Member Forum Leader

    Are you in/near the Twin Cities? The wrong second opinion might make things worse....but I know several qualified individuals who I could refer you to if you want some names....(I'm a homeowner, just offering since I spent a lot of time researching my own issues in the past 5 years).
     
  7. jmcnelly85

    jmcnelly85 New Member

    I'm roughly 40 miles from the metro, I'll be contacting an hvac specialist that my parents have worked with and trust; however, at this point I'm unsure if they work on geo systems or service my area. I would love to hear of trustworthy contacts familiar with some of the quirks these systems have. I'm currently working on contacting the previous owners for any and all information on the system, especially pertaining to the installation and history. This forum has been incredibly helpful so far, thank you all for taking the time to help me understand this process. I'll keep you all in the loop going forward, at the moment this all seems like a giant puzzle.
     
  8. Tamar

    Tamar Member Forum Leader

    I just sent you a message with info on how to contact a well contractor as a start.
     
  9. Stevethomas

    Stevethomas New Member

    I am curious but, if the system was installed in 1993 or 23 years ago, isn't that near the expected lifespan of the GSHP equipment?

    Regarding a potential issue in the loop field, if the system lasted that long then shouldn't the loop field be ok (assuming the former owners didn't hit anything during their recent fixes to the house?) If it is a loop field problem then a couple thoughts: 1) a contractor did hit something or 2) there probably were issues that would have presented themselves prior to now and should have been disclosed to the new owner before the sale. I don't know but those are my initial thoughts.

    I'm sorry you are having to deal with this jmcnelly.
     
  10. docjenser

    docjenser Well-Known Member Industry Professional Forum Leader

    Again, this might be a tough one to give advise.

    Heat pumps can go a long way, we have some over 40 years old going strong. Yes, it is unusual that you suddenly have a leak after 23 years. Not sure if I buy everything I hear about the current you had there contractor. It is a mystery to me to, as Chris mentioned, why one would increase the pressure in the summer from 30 to 70 psi.

    "...he detached the hose and immediately checked the pressure. It showed zero to slightly below zero. I'm assuming this confirms the large failure. " Not sure if that would be a good methodology either. Did he put compressed air in the loop? And then? Filled it up with water and antifreeze again? Did he collect the water/antifreeze mix? How exactly did he do this?

    Also, a conventional HVAC person, although trusted, might be of very limited help.

    Follow Tamar's advise. She has been through it!
     
  11. Mark Custis

    Mark Custis Not soon. Industry Professional Forum Leader

    Tamr was under designed, but she knows everyone with in 150 miles in any direction and if they know their stuff.
     
  12. jmcnelly85

    jmcnelly85 New Member

    It was water from a hose going through a nozzle designed to fit the same part that the same the psi reader was inserted into (sorry these aren't technical terms). There was no collection of old water, (unless you count tge fact that he kept his dirty towel) and no addition of antifreeze or utilization of pressurized air or water.
     
  13. docjenser

    docjenser Well-Known Member Industry Professional Forum Leader

    So what should make bubbles coming out of the ground?
     
  14. jmcnelly85

    jmcnelly85 New Member

    Touché. I'm starting to doubt more and more the claim of expert.
     
  15. jmcnelly85

    jmcnelly85 New Member

    I consulted with a second expert. He confirmed the problem and stated that the 40,000 is an accurate estimate of an entire new system from top to bottom factoring in getting it done before winter. It's unfortunate, but that's life, I thank you all for taking the time to address my problems.
     
  16. Stevethomas

    Stevethomas New Member

    $40K sorry to hear that. I'd be interested in what they are quoting and planning to do for you.
     
  17. docjenser

    docjenser Well-Known Member Industry Professional Forum Leader

    How did the expert confirm the problem?

    Well....why don't you dig up the header, find out if the leak is within the header, then fix it, or in one of the loop circuits, then cap it and see how it goes next winter with one less circuit. Usually not the end of the world.

    Should take a skill small excavator operator a day or so, maybe 2 days with the fixing. A new loop field should not be more than 10K. Not saying that your old Econar might not have seen the days, but it sounds like you are on a tight budget, so why not fix the loop field?
     
  18. mrrxtech

    mrrxtech Member

    jmc,
    If you are a Do It Yourselfer, I have a suggestion.
     
  19. Conrad Stanley

    Conrad Stanley New Member

    If you have done with an insurance of the machine, then you can directly call your insurance company agent to manage the further process for repairing the machine. You can try to run the machine by keeping the failed circuit out of the machine and running it on a single circuit. If the insurance company is asking you for the proof of damage then you should be ready with the pictures of cutting circuits, and call the public adjusters from the website to talk with an insurance agent on your behalf.
     
  20. Conrad Stanley

    Conrad Stanley New Member

    If you have done with an insurance of the machine, then you can directly call your insurance company agent to manage the further process for repairing the machine. You can try to run the machine by keeping the failed circuit out of the machine and running it on a single circuit. If the insurance company is asking you for the proof of damage then you should be ready with the pictures of cutting circuits, and call the public adjusters from the website to talk with an insurance agent on your behalf.
     

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