Waterfurnace Installation Issues

Discussion in 'General Discussions' started by bjnm, Dec 20, 2008.

  1. urthbuoy

    urthbuoy Well-Known Member Industry Professional Forum Leader


    We install tridicators (pressure/temp) on almost all our systems. We're still talking with CGC requiring their requirement to have P/T plugs as well. The plumbing looks a bit messy when both are installed.

    The benefit in this analog meter is client's can call with some concrete numbers that help in us diagnosing issues prior to our travels. Especially useful on more remote locations.

    One side effect is, and I see it here, some clients love to monitor these gauges like a newborn and it can really keep us on our toes having to explain daily cycles, temperature drops, pressure changes, flow concerns, etc...etc... Good for us too, but temporal changes are not as reflective of system performance as longer term trends.
  2. Waukman

    Waukman Member

    I wish my installer would have done this. I will have to check out the units you mentioned. Of course, being a software engineer by trade, I am looking for a pressure sensor that I can monitor from my computer. I already wrote a small application that monitors and records the in/out water temps of the system. This allows me to capture the long term trends.

    I do understand that some clients might go crazy with this info. I think a simple solution is a setup of indicators that gave a 'normal' range (like my car temp gauge) but also indicates the temps that are seen. If I see something is in the normal range I don't get worried (add to that I have heat).
  3. waterpirate

    waterpirate Well-Known Member Industry Professional Forum Leader

    PT ports

    PT pots are an easy add on to any unit. Either at the initial install or retro-fit. With a functioning PT port you can access the loop/ coil incoming and outgoing, and get everything you need. Temp,Pressure.
    With these two readings and the cut sheet for your unit you will know everything you need to know about performance of the loop field.

    About footages.

    Talking about gross linear footage from Wisconson to NJ does noone any good. What diameter loops were installed, how many loops, how deep were they installed, were they vertical, or horizontal?

    I know this a lot of technical info for harry homeowner, but if you have an issue, you need to find out. With this info you can find "on paper" if there was a mistake made, what it was, and move forward with correction.

    Where in NJ are you? The geology in NJ is devided into two types with the line being on or about Fort Monmouth.
    Hope this helps
  4. Barlow

    Barlow New Member

    I'm new to this site. But when I saw that Jen lives close to Indianapolis and has similar issues, I thought to chime in with my experience. I live close to Indianapolis too.

    I have an Envision NDV08A111CBL that was installed late Nov '07 replacing my gas furnace and water heater. My first heating season my gas+electric bills dropped 42%. So I was happy. Being an engineer, I couldn't resist and just had to measure my ground loop temperatures. But I didn't get around to doing that till the summer. I was shocked that my summer temps were nearly as hot as the great outdoors. That didn't seem right.

    In April and past the heating season, my electric utility made me an offer I couldn't refuse. A fixed rate bill. A ridiculously low rate considering they didn't know I was all electric now. (They'll catch up with me.) So I couldn't compare my utility bills directly and I've been too lazy to spreadsheet energy use from '07.

    I did notice my first heating season that the Aux heaters didn't kick in till it was 5 degrees outside. Later in the heating season, 12 degrees would do it. (Or if I try to ramp up the set point 2 degrees or more at once. I was told daily lowering and raising the setpoint to save energy doesn't with a ground loop geo unit since the aux heaters kick in.)

    Now for this heating season. My in and out loop temperatures have been around 28 and 32 for most of Dec now. That's not right. We had a cold snap when it was below 5 overnight and the Aux kicked in again. At that point the in and out loop temps were 24 and 31. This all seems way too cold.

    The unit seems to operate correctly. The status light flashes green all the time.

    During installation I asked why did they use anti-freeze. Answer: Sometime the loop temp drop below freezing. Hmm. And now I know why the salesman said I'd save just as much electricity with an air-to-air compressor with aux power than with a geo-unit. At least when the outdoor temp goes up some during the winter, an air unit isn't trying to heat with ice water.

    I was told it requires 300 ft of ground loop per ton capacity. They installed for 3.5 ton worth of loop to cover my 3 ton unit. The loop is three parallel lines out and one collector back. My total drench was 350 feet for at least 1050 feet of loop tubing (not counting the return line). I have a crawlspace house, so the loop enters the house much closer to the surface than the 5-ft trench. There's one loop pump that the tech says pumps 9 gpm. The house is well insulated (12 inches of blown insulation added in '06), 1900 sf, and one story.

    This Tuesday, I'm having routine maintenance done. I will press them on these cold temperatures -- and hot summer temps. I'd say if this how the unit is supposed to work, then they are leaving a lot for free energy on the table, or should I say, in the ground.

    It is this problem that drove me to find this site. Lots of good stuff here. Just have to weed through it all.


  5. Palace GeoThermal

    Palace GeoThermal Well-Known Member Industry Professional Forum Leader

    Hi Barlow,

    Welcome to the forums. Sorry to hear about your situation.

    There seems to be a rash of short looped systems showing up this winter.

    I assume from your description that you have a horizontal system?

    We usually install 800 - 1000' of horizontal pipe per ton.

    A properly designed and installed loop will not drop to 30° until the end of the heating season. If yours is below 30° in Dec, then your loop was either not installed correctly or had a faulty design.

    My EWT is at 46 right now and it was 0° this morning.

    Water Furnace has not been very responsive to Home Owners, good luck in getting them to respond to you.
  6. Barlow

    Barlow New Member


    Your comment about 800-1000 feet made me go double check 'cause 900 sounded familiar. It was $900 per ton installed and 300 feet per ton.

    Could there be a big difference in soil conductivity between Indiana and Utah?

    And yes, it's horizontal. I do wish I had paid the different and had verticals put in instead. If for anything less yard destruction. I may still have the opportunity.

  7. Palace GeoThermal

    Palace GeoThermal Well-Known Member Industry Professional Forum Leader

    I doubt that there is much difference in soil between there and here unless you are in saturated soil.

    My loop is horizontal. Depth plays a big factor.

    If your unit is still running and not using aux heat, things are not too bad yet.

    JRBGEO Member Forum Leader

    Hi Palacegeo....I have a thread named "freezing in CT" along issues related to Waterfurnace as well. I had the following Envision model - NDV049A111CTL - installed in my house in October of this year and I have been experiencing issues all winter with the system. To make a long story short the "Water Flow" indicator comes on and the status light on the system shuts off. My unit is a 4 ton unit but I only have 450 feet of borehole length (1.25 black poly tubing inside and well borehole filled with bentonite grout).

    I was told by WaterFurnace that I have adequate loop length but I have also been told by WaterFurnace that the reason the unit locks out on us is due to a loop problem. The contractors that did the well drilling at our house have a good track record and if you go to their website they clearly state "you need anywhere between 180-200 feet of loop per ton...if I go by this number I am short by 270 feet of loop - 180 times 4 ton = 720 feet....

    The contractor that installed the system has come back already 4 times to work through the issues. The next thing they are going to try is replacing glycol with environol as per WaterFurnace you get a 20% boost in heat transfer performance.....I'd like to get your opinion on this if you can as I wonder how much help will the new antifreeze will be to us?

    Another possibility we have been told is that we have a "thermistor" problem....

    Just to give you an idea...during New Years eve we had temps in CT of 10 to 20 below zero and both in/out PT ports were frozen solid....the unit locked out on us at at 65 degrees!!!! My EWT (entry water temp) was 27.5!!! Based on some of your comments on this issue this is way too cold. I am not a rocket scientist on this but it is clear to see what is happening here....my loops are freezing because they are not properly sized. By the way the loop has been flushed 3 times to ensure we have no air pockets....

    In your opinion:

    A. Do you think that using Environol will compensate for the lack of loop length?

    B. Do you think a "thermistor" problem will trigger the lockout events we are experiencing?

    Your answers to these questions will be greatly appreciated as I am trying to expedite a resolution of our problems....

    By the way...the more I look at our situation I feel we were given a fairly good price (not cheap by any means) but if the system had been designed properly - more loop length - it would have been more expensive and maybe the sale would have not gone through...
  9. Palace GeoThermal

    Palace GeoThermal Well-Known Member Industry Professional Forum Leader


    I can't say if changing to Environol will help you out, I have no experience there., but I doubt it.

    Same with the thermistor.

    I can tell you that your system is short looped. The fact that your loop temp is 27° and your system locks out on low flow is proof of that!!! The reason the low flow indicator is coming on is your loop is freezing which blocks the flow. This obvious to any body with a brain cell.:mad::mad:

    I am quite annoyed at the installers who short loop a system to make the sale and leave the homeowner with higher utility bills than the old system.

    Now you have spent the money for the geo system, plus you are paying higher utility bills. This borders on criminal in my book.

    Do you have only one bore hole 450' deep? If so, that violates every principle of loop design.

    I am more than annoyed at installers who short loop a job and say the loop is good and I am really P O ed at WF for standing behind these jerks.

    Sorry to rant, I hope I am helping.
  10. JRBGEO

    JRBGEO Member Forum Leader

    Palacegeo....I agree with you 100%....I am also pissed off with WaterFurnace because they are not giving me a straight answer on the new refrigerant.....both wells are 225 feet deep......

    This is what I sent to the top folks at WaterFurnace this weekend regarding my house and the project - these are some details on my house and the installation.....CHECK THE REPLY I GOT FROM THEM BELOW....

    First a few quick facts about our house:
    Year built : 2002
    Style : Colonial, 2 floors
    Framing : 2 X 6 studs exterior walls - 16 inches on center
    Insulation : Exterior Walls R-19 rating, attic R-30 rating
    Windows : Andersen High Performance tilt-out double hung units
    Total square footage : 2500 sq feet
    Number of heating zones : 2
    Quick facts about new Geothermal System - per sales contract:
    1 Waterfurnace model #NDV049A111CTBL, 4 ton packaged heat pump unit
    1 Waterfurnace model #EAL-10 auxiliary heater
    1 Waterfurnace model #FC2FPT, 2 pump flow center
    2 Waterfurnace model #TA32W01 electronic digital thermostats
    450 feet of vertical bore hole will be drilled in the yard with closed loop heat exchanger installed to the bottom using 1.25" polyethylene tubing. A 4 feet deep trench must be excavated from the drilling site to the house in which the tubing will be laid and brought into the basement, from there it will be connected to the flow center pumps. The bore holes will be backfilled to the surface with Bentonite grout and the trench backfilled and rough graded.
    The new system will have capacity to maintain 70 degrees Farenheit indoors with an outdoor temperature range of between 0 F and 90 F. The system is started, tested, and set up to operate at peak efficiency.

    What do you think about the statement above?

    By the way....my system locked out last night again....EWT was 28 degress a few minutes after I did the reset...so it could have been lower when the lockout occurred.....I am freezing in my house!!!! Also - per loop installer website for a COP rating of 4-5 which is what my Envision model has you need a minimum of 180-200 feet per ton. So my unit is 4 tons and I only have 450 feet of loop that leaves me 270 feet short of loop length.....I needed anywhere between 720 feet to 800 feet of loop....I can';t believe WaterFurnace does not audit their installers when they submit a purchase order. The first question they should be asking when the purchase order comes in is....How many tons the unit is? How many feet of well you are giving the customer? As you stated....this is borderline criminal!!!!!!
  11. Palace GeoThermal

    Palace GeoThermal Well-Known Member Industry Professional Forum Leader

    Their loop sizing software is theory. You loop temps are real data. Real data always trumps theory.

    Don't let them pass you off by saying we feel that your system is OK. The data proves that your system is not OK. Your power bills prove that your system is not OK.
  12. JRBGEO

    JRBGEO Member Forum Leader

    Thanks for the info. They are going to have to come clean on this one. You have been more helpful with these postings than WaterFurnace or my contractor or the well driller. I think I know which direction I am going....thanks!
  13. Palace GeoThermal

    Palace GeoThermal Well-Known Member Industry Professional Forum Leader

    This is like an engineer who designs a bridge using a computer program.

    Later the bridge collapses. The engineer says " this is not my problem...the computer said it was ok"
  14. engineer

    engineer Well-Known Member Industry Professional Forum Leader

    I think the "thermistor" referred to earlier might be the sensor(s) used to shutdown the unit on low loop temperature.

    I believe Waterfurnace has a dip switch setting either 30 deg or 15 deg for cut-out, depending on whether straight water or antifreeze is used in loop lines. The dip switch may be incorrectly set or the underlying sensor(s) defective or out of calibration.

    I don't believe either is the problem here - loop line icing and low EWT trumps that. WF and / or contractor may be buying time and / or hoping for a cheap fix.
  15. JRBGEO

    JRBGEO Member Forum Leader

    I agree with this assesment from "engineer" as well. I have also asked WaterFurnace for performance data on Environol....they claim you get a 20% boost in heat transfer ability....also asked for "before and after" info on systems that were running on glycol originally and then went to Environol....they have not replied to me yet....this all seems like switching your car gas from 87 octane to Premium you are going to get maybe better mileage but tha's it...I can't imagine any antifreeze making up a 20 degree differential and prevent your system from "lockouts". Our problems occur when temps go below 30...that difference from 20 F to 0 F is what the antifreeze has to make up for lack of proper loop (borehole) depth....wish me luck! My contractor states that in the 26 years he has been in business he has never...ever...ever....short looped a job...I am trying so hard right now to believe him!
  16. JRBGEO

    JRBGEO Member Forum Leader

    Trying to get to the truth on borehole depth

    I took this off the website of my well driller...I am trying to figure where the truth is given the fact it appears that for my 4 ton Envision unit I may be short on borehole depth...currently have 450 feet grouted....check the statement in bold and underlined...it would seem that the higher the COP rating the less borehole depth you need...does this makes sense?

  17. engineer

    engineer Well-Known Member Industry Professional Forum Leader

    High or Low COP

    Though a higher COP pump can transfer more heat for less $, the heat still has to come from someplace - the ground. Actually a higher COP HP needs to pull slightly MORE heat from the ground than a lower COP pump in order to supply the same heat to the house.

    This is because total heat = ground heat + heat pump power consumption. Higher COP means the ground heat is a larger fraction and therefore more is needed from ground.

    For an Envision 038 to deliver 4.5 COP(middle of the advertised range) in high stage it needs EWT around 50 degrees, depending on flow. An 049 is a bit less efficient, so it needs 55-60 degree EWT.

    At 30 EWT both give COPs in the high threes.
  18. Palace GeoThermal

    Palace GeoThermal Well-Known Member Industry Professional Forum Leader

    The way I read that it says "linear footage must be added to help absorb that temperature" .

    So the higher COP needs more more footage not less.
  19. engineer

    engineer Well-Known Member Industry Professional Forum Leader

    yes indeed
  20. Looby

    Looby Member Forum Leader

    Not exactly. For a given heating load, a high-COP unit will initially pull more
    heat from the earth loop, thus lowering the EWT more rapidly -- but as EWT
    drops, so does COP. In the limit, the high-COP unit's efficiency will approach
    that of a low-COP unit -- and both will end up extracting the same amount of
    heat from the earth. As a practical matter, I don't think it's possible for the
    efficiency curves to cross -- so the high-COP unit will always be (marginally)
    more efficient for a given footage.

    OTOH, additional footage should yield greater bang-per-buck (i.e., quicker
    payback) on a high-COP heat pump.

    ...have you hugged an engineer, today?


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