Running on auxiliary heat and lockouts

Discussion in 'Maintenance and Troubleshooting' started by jcottrel, Mar 23, 2014.

  1. jcottrel

    jcottrel New Member

    Greetings! I live in upstate NY and it has been quite a cold winter here. We installed a ClimateMaster 4 ton unit in the summer of 2012 with glycol in a closed loop system.

    In January of this year, our system started to blow cold air and I had to get it repaired. At that time, the problem was that although the thermostats were calling for auxiliary heat the heat pump was not aware of that. The reason was that they were not wired correctly to the control panel (we have a 2 zone system). The contractor corrected the wiring and all was good for about 6 weeks. At that time, the EWT was 37 degrees and the LWT was 31 degrees. I asked if those temperatures were okay and I was told they were.

    However in mid to late February, the geothermal was blowing cold air once again. So once again I called the contractor. I was told that the geo pump was locking out as the EWT was too low (I do not remember the temperatures this time around). I was also told that pumps were quite frozen. One pump was only 30% effective and the other pump was 0% effective. We were told to wait till the temperatures were between 35 and 50 degrees for a few days before swapping out of the auxiliary electric heaters. A couple of weeks later we were above the threshold for a few days so we switched back to "normal" geo mode. All was good for about 2 weeks and then the heat pump started to blow cold air again. So now we back to auxiliary heat as of last night.

    Is it is a concern for the pumps to be frozen? Will this cause any problems in the loop field? Anything that can be done to help prevent his from occurring? I know that we have had a very cold winter here with average temperatures for much of Jan and Feb sometimes barely in the lower 20s and lower.

    Thanks for any help you can provide.
  2. urthbuoy

    urthbuoy Well-Known Member Industry Professional Forum Leader

    Actual loop temperature measurements would help. Pumps should never be frozen. You may not have enough glycol, among other things.
  3. jcottrel

    jcottrel New Member

    Sorry for a newbie type question as I am new this type of stuff. How would I go about measuring the loop temperatures myself? Do I need special equipment to do this?
  4. urthbuoy

    urthbuoy Well-Known Member Industry Professional Forum Leader

  5. jrh

    jrh Member

    "One pump was only 30% effective and the other pump was 0% effective."
    This does not sound right. Closed loop systems in Upstate NY should have a minimum of 15 deg frost protection, if your pumps are freezing any where in the 20's, your antifreeze levels are too low.

    I would ask your installer what type of anti freeze he used and what the concentration is?
  6. Mark Custis

    Mark Custis Not soon. Industry Professional Forum Leader

    This winter is bring out rodents in the woodpile.

  7. AMI Contracting

    AMI Contracting A nice Van Morrison song Industry Professional Forum Leader

    Wait until it's warm to run the heat?! Your installer owes you much more than that. My systems didn't freeze while running in temps 20F below design temperature and theirs shouldn't either.
  8. Tamar

    Tamar Member Forum Leader

    Correct me if I am wrong, experts, but if the EWT was 37 in January it would not likely drop below freezing in February, would it?
  9. urthbuoy

    urthbuoy Well-Known Member Industry Professional Forum Leader

    Ground temp is roughly a month behind average air temp. Climate dependent.
  10. dgbair

    dgbair Just a hobby Forum Leader

  11. Mark Custis

    Mark Custis Not soon. Industry Professional Forum Leader

    Hey Tamar.

    Loops are what they are. Piping, depth, ground materials, makes the heat transfer what it is. BTUH.

    Chris is correct. loops are behind ambient temps by at lest a month. There are charts that track that, I just do not know where.

    I would ask if you are comfortable in your home.

  12. Tamar

    Tamar Member Forum Leader

    I'm fine, thanks Mark. I'm not worried about my loop, I just thought it was odd that jcottrel's pumps would be freezing if the EWT after several months of winter had only dropped to 37. I didn't think another 6 weeks would make that much of a difference. I missed that there was another thread where some of this was already discussed.

    I finished my taxes yesterday and today I didn't know what to do with all my spare time so jumped in on this thread. o_O
  13. jcottrel

    jcottrel New Member

    Thanks everyone for all of the info.

    I'll need to get a thermometer from one of the previously mentioned websites to check the current EWT and LWT. I also thought it was strange that the EWT and LWT would drop that much in about 6 weeks but the explanation that the ground temp lags the air temp by about a month makes sense. The original temperatures were measured on Jan 8th and the servicing company came back on Feb 21st after the unit was blowing cold air again. I really wished I got the EWT and LWT at that time. Usually they write the temperatures on a sticker on the unit or tell but they did not this time. I should have asked for it and that was my fault.

    The company that installed the unit is no longer around so I do not know the concentration of glycol. I do recall the servicing company doing a test with a refractrometer about a year ago and I believe the freeze protection was about 25 degrees. However it would probably be a good idea to get another test done just to be sure.

    Now if the glycol concentration is not good enough would it be possible to simply add more glycol? Or would it require a flushing of the entire system to get the glycol concentration correct and better able to handle colder temperatures? Of course maybe there is more to it than that. Would know more with current EWT and LWT.
  14. Mark Custis

    Mark Custis Not soon. Industry Professional Forum Leader

    A year ago your loops were good to 25*?

    That is not enough for a couple of reasons.

    Yup you can freeze pumps and more importantly your heat ex-changer at 25*.

    Most glycol products want to be at least a 25% mixture in your loops, otherwise the fluid would not have enough inhibitors. Inhibitors keep growy thing from clogging up the whole works.

    If I did the job I would blow the field out with air then clean it with Fernox cleaner. Next would be a good flush the empty with air. Last I would add new glycol and Furnox inhibitor/treatment.

    I would then test annually for percentage of the fluid and the PH. You can get test strips from Hercules Chemical Company.

    That just me.

  15. ACES-Energy

    ACES-Energy Member Industry Professional Forum Leader

    I know who put your system in and the stuff they used was good for the 25F at best. We have either flushed many of these systems out in Upstate, NY or added more concentration as we figured out what they used.

    Also, the contractor that said to wait to turn you system back on, were they a geo company?

    I am in Upstate, NY and might be worth having me come out and look at this.

    Depending on where you are in "upstate NY" I might come out at no charge if I am driving bye! We can do some quick calculations and see whats really going on!
  16. jcottrel

    jcottrel New Member

    Hello ACES-Energy,

    I live in Canandaigua and it looks like you are in Honeoye Falls which isn't too far away. If you are in the neighborhood, you are more than welcomed to stop by. I wanted to get opinions from people that have no financial incentive to figure out what a good course of action may be before contacting other local companies. It sounds like it maybe necessary to do a flush of the system based upon the concentration that is currently in the system.

    I'll try to give you a call later today. Thanks a lot!
  17. ACES-Energy

    ACES-Energy Member Industry Professional Forum Leader

    Nice chatting today. As discussed, I should be passing by mid morning this Friday and will call ahead of time to make sure your home!
  18. ACES-Energy

    ACES-Energy Member Industry Professional Forum Leader

    Visited this job Friday morning briefly and as expected, typical company XYZ*((& installation.

    Freeze protection was between 26F and 29F in loop.

    I emailed over 5 recommendations last night. Let me know if you did not receive them in your email.

    Went on a job visit yesterday that we serviced for a different issue last year that company XYZ*((& had installed and their freeze protection was about 27F so we going to do the same thing I recommended, flush out that cryotec antifreeze, clean system and put methanol in with freeze protection to 15F while adding flushing and fill ports in the HDPE piping and PT ports on unit.

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