New to me Home with 2 - 5 series waterfurnaces- figuring stuff out

Discussion in 'General Discussions' started by Neil Heuer, Aug 20, 2021.

  1. Neil Heuer

    Neil Heuer New Member

    Hey guys I bought a house in December and just moved to it and dealing with getting everything set up. The house has two 5 series water furnaces which are only a couple of years old. I do have the symphony service set up so I get some alerts and I can control thing with the app.

    Here are some issues I have found and hope I can get some advice:

    1. My thermostats and all don't really integrate well with Home Assistant. I have the fancy thermostats from water furnace and I am told by Waterfurnace directly that I need to retain these thermostats for all the features and notifications. I do have an AWB box for each unit. I was hoping to find some thermostats I could control remotely and monitor in Home Assistant.

    2. When talking to Water Furnance It came up that my loop temp was high (103 degrees). The AC was reducing temperature so this might not really be a problem but more of a concern. The guy from WF was able to see the in-and-out temps. I don't think that was available to me directly - that I know of unless there is a super-secret code for it?

    3, THE BIG ONE: I have horizontal loops here in North Carolina. Heavy clay soil. I was told the loops are "somewhere over there". Well that sucks. There is no tracer line that I see so I don't know how I can locate these lines to avoid them. Any thoughts? I did call a GPR company and they said oh its not in concrete? I said no just the earth, and they said oh we can't help you. That didn't make sense to me but I will have to look for another. I was looking to see if anyone had a clever way to try to find the lines. I thought about draining them, suck a line through it, tone it out and then refill it. Seems crazy - but that or a divining rod- I don't know?

    Thanks for reading past my blabber. Any insight is appreciated!

  2. SShaw

    SShaw Active Member Forum Leader

    1. You can integrate Symphony with Alexa, but I don't know about anything else. Symphony lets you monitor and control the system remotely. Depending on your 5 Series model, Symphony also records performance data on the air, water, and refrigeration circuits that your installer can see remotely to diagnose problems. I don't see any advantage, but numerous disadvantages, to going with another thermostat. What's the benefit of Home Assistant?

    2. A properly designed and functioning loop should stay between 30F and 90F. Your loop could be undersized, or could have trapped air blocking part of it. If you have a load calculation for the house and a record of the loop configuration you could calculate whether it's undersized or not. If it has trapped air, a contractor can flush the loop.

    Your unit can operate with entering water up to 120F, but it's inefficient and not recommended.

    You can see the entering and leaving air temp, entering water temp, and power usage on the Symphony app and web dashboard. Other data requires using an AID tool or having access to the dealer portal online.

    3. Clay soil is good for geo. The lines should be 5' to 6' deep, so not much chance of hitting them. My trenches have both a magnetic tape and a copper tracer wire to facilitate locating the trenches later. I recorded the trenches with GPS as well. My installer supposedly kept some records too. You could try to speak to the previous homeowner or the installer and see what they know.

    There might be some company out there with GPR technology that could locate the lines, but clay soil is one of the worst for attenuating the radar signal and plastic is one of the harder to detect materials, so it might be difficult.
  3. bpsmicro

    bpsmicro New Member

    You can integrate Symphony with Home Assistant. I haven't done it myself because I don't have Symphony or the hardware to drive it on my WF5. But I did read up on it:

    If I had the ability, Home Assistant would be useful for monitoring, but I can't see any reason to control the WF. Little benefit, but if your automation goes awry, lots that can go wrong. I have separate temperature sensors at various spots hooked into my HA, but it's mostly "interesting factoids" to me.
  4. Neil Heuer

    Neil Heuer New Member

    9:40 at night and my loop is 106 degrees :( Kinda discouraging. I think the units are sized properly. Just don't trust the loop is long enough. There is really no way to determine length or capacity after its buried and undocumented?

    The tracking of your loops seems very good. Wish I had a time machine, builder / owner is radio silent now and really doesn't know. Supposedly a neighbor was involved in the burying but had a foggy memory 13 years later where they extend to...

    HA lets me manage the entire home, and I could adjust set points based on things like arming the alarm, schedules from a calendar etc. The guy from water furnace basically told me geothermal is set at one set point and forget it.

    If I want to build my garage and the loops are there - I will probably find them when putting footers in :( Does the 106 degrees indicate a loop length issue or a depth of ground issue or both? Still learning about this.

    Thanks for the insight!
  5. ChrisJ

    ChrisJ Active Member Forum Leader

    Try checking with your town building dept.

    My loop contractor had to file an as built form with the town. It was just a sketch but it's something.

  6. bpsmicro

    bpsmicro New Member

    That's basically what I was taught. Or if you are going to vary the set points, it should be by less than a couple of degrees. The explanation makes most sense related to heating. If you lower your temp (say, at night) by more than 2 degrees, then raise it by that much in the morning, the system may jump into auxiliary to try to rapidly compensate for the sudden perceived coldness. So if your aux is electric (the more common option), firing up the electric heater to compensate will blow away any cost savings you think you made lowering the temp in the first place. Geothermal is generally a slower "recovery" than traditional heating/cooling.

    What you can do, though, is graph a few key indicators over time and learn some cool things about what your system is doing. Then decide how much you want to tweak the settings based on that info. Since I don't have Symphony, I can't compare the data collection & graphing capabilities.
  7. m159267

    m159267 New Member

    If you haven't already, take a look at Google maps and zoom in on your residence. You might see an indication where the lines are buried. I can see my runs after 17 years (5 lines - lower right).

    Attached Files:

  8. Neil Heuer

    Neil Heuer New Member

    You might be right. Look in my upper right corner?

    Attached Files:

  9. SShaw

    SShaw Active Member Forum Leader

    I was also going to suggest aerial imagery, or going out after a snow, if you get any snow.

    I don't know what you are looking at in the upper right of your yard, but that area looks too small for horizontal loops.

    Nominally, you'd need something on the order of 150 feet of trench per ton. For example, I have 700' of trenches for a single 4T 7 Series. I don't think my EWT gets above 80F in summer.

    My bet is the loops are on the inside of your circular driveway. Looks like you might have five curved trenches out there at about 150' each.

    See your yard here.

    Attached Files:

  10. Neil Heuer

    Neil Heuer New Member

    That is septic so it is definitely not there. I was told by the previous owner the neighbor who helped bury it was in that vicinity.

    I thought there were some diagonal parallel lines but I have no idea. Today the lines are at 106 again.
  11. SShaw

    SShaw Active Member Forum Leader

    The area I'm talking about is about 4,500 square feet. Since that's 10X the size of a typical septic field and about the size you'd need for your ground loop, I hope that's not your septic.

    See annotated photo.

    Attached Files:

  12. geoxne

    geoxne Active Member Forum Leader

    Just a thought.
    Before you assume having an underperforming loop, listen to SShaw in his first post. It may save you from "chasing your tail"
    You say the loopfield is 13 years old. The geo units are 2 years old. Perhaps the loopfield was not properly flushed after the installation of the new 5 Series equipment.
  13. Neil Heuer

    Neil Heuer New Member

    That is my septic.
  14. Neil Heuer

    Neil Heuer New Member

    That is possible. My understanding is the installing vendor is newer to the geothermal game. I believe my system is just water - nothing else. Is a filter typical on these systems? I don't have any insulation on the plumbing coming out of the ground so that seems bad to begin with and probably something kinda easy to correct. The two 5 series are in parallel to one another if that matters as well.
  15. Neil Heuer

    Neil Heuer New Member

    Does not flushing the loops causes problems? I know since I have owned the property we had to add some water (the system is plumbed in so adding water is easy). Again forgive my ignorance. I looked at older pics and I see lines but that's where a pool now sits so I expect they didn't cut them out but you absolutely never know :)
  16. geoxne

    geoxne Active Member Forum Leader

    The purpose of a flush and purge is to force the air out of the closed hydronic system. Any time the system is opened, chances are that air has been introduced. Air can stop or reduce flow through segments of the system. A flush cart is required, details on the procedure is included in the manual below.
  17. Neil Heuer

    Neil Heuer New Member

    Do you guys use the water furnace to product hot water? I replaced the old tanked systems with tankless. I found the guy who designed my geothermal system originally. He said not using that would be a big mistake. My plumber didn't know anything about it and I don't have a ton of room for a tank so we decided not to. Now I was thinking of installing a marathon tanked heater to heat the water from the water furnace and basically never kick on the tankless unit? It would be practically free right?
  18. SShaw

    SShaw Active Member Forum Leader


    You need to have a 50 gallon unpowered buffer tank fed by the heat pump to get the most out of the heat pump's desuperheater (DSH.) You cannot hook the DSH directly to a tankless.

    You use the buffer tank to supply preheated water to your water heater (tank or tankless.) If you have electric tankless, the best would be something like the Steibel Eltron models that modulate the amperage based on the incoming water temperature. The incoming water temp will vary from the buffer tank.

    The DSH will provide 65% or more of the water heating either for free or at a very high efficiency. You still need a water heater because the DSH output depends on the geothermal run times and entering water temperature from the ground loop.
  19. Neil Heuer

    Neil Heuer New Member

    Right I just put in a navien tankless. I figured the tank would be before the tankless - the guy who setup my original system said to be careful because if water is TOO hot or high going in to the tankless it could be a problem for that tankless. My other pickle is that the tankless is going the recirculate. Its thermostatic so I'm afraid I should recirc in to the tank? I called navien, they called me back on his IP phone- it died and he never called me back :(
  20. Neil Heuer

    Neil Heuer New Member

    I got a drawing from Navien on how they say it should work - tank before their hot water heater so it wouldn't get used. Only problem is the recir line.

    The guy had a vague idea where the lines were but told me they are 5 feet deep and I shouldn't worry too much :)

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