Western NY Geothermal Install

Discussion in 'Quotes and Proposals' started by johnny1720, Jan 17, 2012.

  1. johnny1720

    johnny1720 Member

    I live in a 2500 square foot home that was built in 1860. I have done extensive remodeling in my home. My house is plank so I am studding out each exterior wall and installing either R19 or R15. Then drywalling and trimming out each room. I am half done remodeling but I recently replaced all 34 windows with energy star units. I also blew in about R90 in the attic. I currently heat with oil fired forced air and wood pellets. I usually pay about $3500 to heat this house each year. It is funny over the last 5 years my oil and pellets consumption is down but the price of fuel keeps increasing so I feel like I am in a losing battle.

    I did the NYSERDA home energy audit and I am awaiting the results. The contractor that came to my home performed an inspection, blower door test and is calculating a manual j. I am planning to update this thread as I move through the install process. I will have a contractor install horizontal loops.

    I am very excited about this project
  2. docjenser

    docjenser Well-Known Member Industry Professional Forum Leader

    Sounds exciting. Let people here know how they can help, make sure you check out your contractor's track record, especially with old houses. Western NY climate can be tricky. The monthly low we had so far in Lewiston NY was 14F, 60 miles south in Weathersfield it was -10F....

    The impact of those kind of climate variations multiply with older homes. Which brings up the question where you are located.
    Last edited: Jan 22, 2012
  3. johnny1720

    johnny1720 Member

    I had a BPI certified come to my home and perform the manual J calculation on my house. He said that I have an air infiltration rate of like 4100. For me to do anymore air sealing on my home it becomes extremely difficult and expensive. When I say extremely I mean I have to move toilets, tubs and electric boxes. I have to move them all out and then install studs and insulate and drywall.

    They suggested that I purchase a 5 ton unit. I am really excited to get the oil burner out of my basement.
  4. Mark Custis

    Mark Custis Not soon. Industry Professional Forum Leader

    I am a sizing nut

    I have been doing geothermal work since Jimmy Carter was president. I size heat pumps the old way; to the cooling load, then add what is needed for design day heating. I have been playing with Oil fired systems for just as long.

    Of late I have been stretching geo systems using water to water and zoning.

    If you lived in the Cleveland weather area I would use a 4 ton system in your home based on square footage. So I think 5 tons is too much. How ever if you use water to water the over-sizing goes away. If you use water to air the issue becomes you can hang meat in the parlor but you will not feel comfortable do to the short run times not being able to remove moisture from the conditioned space or what is called latent heat.

    I am in favor of your enthusiastic desire to be rid of oil heat, and encourage it. You have chosen a great place to gain knowledge by typing here. We all share what we have learned and share it here without your having to pay the price required to gain the knowledge.

    Just keep learning.

  5. johnny1720

    johnny1720 Member

    Should I ask for a copy of the manual j? If I can't install anymore insulation or do anymore sealing what are my choices? I have a forced air system now and I keep downstairs at 71 and upstairs won't get above 62 or so.
  6. Mark Custis

    Mark Custis Not soon. Industry Professional Forum Leader

    I have not had boots on the ground

    so I am not sure what can be done. Sealing the envelope is usually most cost effective. I have not seen the report so I can not address if the leaks are big or small and what would be needed to fix them.

    When I charge a fee for a job the intellectual property i generate belongs to the customer. I think you own a manual j calc, if it was done.

    The system you have does not do what you want it to do. That happens a lot. I do not have enough information to offer solutions, but it is possible that the duct system could be adapted to a zoned system. Zoning may not save fuel costs, but it can improve comfort.

    There are also other heat delivery systems besides scorched air.

    Last edited: Jan 31, 2012
  7. engineer

    engineer Well-Known Member Industry Professional Forum Leader

    Downstairs 71, upstairs 62...that's a strange circumstance. I'm not saying it is impossible, just odd given warm air tendency to rise.

    If by 4100 you mean 4100CFM50, that's alotta leakage for a 2500 SF house. Not only is it expensive to heat, I imagine it is a bear to keep comfortably humid in winter.

    I'm sure 36 E-Star windows and R90 attic weren't cheap.

    Maybe more blower door testing assisted by theatrical smoke or an IR scan could highlight some low hanging fruit to reduce that infiltration figure. That might knock a ton off the required system size. It seems a shame to have to oversize the system owing to envelope problems.
  8. johnny1720

    johnny1720 Member

    Funny thing that the guy doing the blower door test was giddy that my house was only leaking that much air. I assumed from his response that 4100 was a good thing. What should the number be like?
  9. engineer

    engineer Well-Known Member Industry Professional Forum Leader

    A 2500 SF house with 4 bedrooms would only need to leak about 1000-1500 CFM50 to ensure reasonably fresh air for its occupants without mechanical ventilation, so any number much above that means wasteful heating and cooling of outside, rather than inside air.

    Those with more use of and experience with forced ventilation, Heat and Energy Recovery Ventilators would argue that driving leakage even lower garners further advantage, even considering the extra cost and complexity. That's a discussion for other threads.

    I admit I don't evaluate many 1860 houses...maybe 8000CFM50 is a average, making yours seem excellent by comparison.
  10. johnny1720

    johnny1720 Member

    I got a revised suggestion from the contractor that performed the home energy audit.

    "The Geothermal sysetem would need to produce 44,605 BTU's per hr. Min"

    What would you size that at?

    He suggested a 4 ton
  11. ssmith

    ssmith Member

    Have you sealed the rim joists and any places where the plank walls leak into the cellar? Just curious, as the cellar was something I overlooked for a long time. Any places where the plank walls can vertically open up into the cellar, such as over center walls in the cellar where, for instance, a house was added to and the old plank has gaps leading into the cellar, is an air leak vertically, right up the house and into the unconditioned attic or crawl space taking warm air with it. Sounds like you're doing all you can with the remodeling and sealing you're doing while remodeling. Just wondering if it's a case of lots of small leaks you might be missing in the cellar. I'd be a little careful of actually sealing in the the sill beams with spray foam or rigid foam if they can wick in moisture up from the foundation.

    On my old 1840's vintage house, I foam sealed just the joints between the sill beams and floor, the joints where the joists are rabbeted into the sill, and spot sealed any places where there was leakage between the foundation and sill. Also sealed any cracks I could find between planks on one interior wall that extended down into the cellar. On the conventionally framed additions, I used xps pieces on the rim joists and foam sealed them in place and around the edges. Also sealed any penetrations into the 1st floor from the cellar. I replaced the weather strip on the basement door and sealed a leaky window down there too. The last part of the project was sealing 1 leaky plank and clapboard wall, between my kitchen and attached garage, from the exterior, with thermax sheets. This was a fairly cheap DIY project and seemed to make heck of a difference.

    I'd like to do an "after" blower door test to put a # on it, but probably never will. Before the air sealing in the cellar, our test showed 2675 cfm-50 for our 1400 sq ft house. This is a house that I've replaced all the windows in, over the years, and done a lot of remodeling/ sealing work to. Most of the air leakage we noticed during the blower door test was in the cellar. So even though it seems much improved, it will always probably be a somewhat leaky old house, but the 2 things that made the most difference in the place (other than the geo, of course) was blowing more cellulose in my overhead crawl space a couple of years ago and the air sealing in the cellar.
  12. engineer

    engineer Well-Known Member Industry Professional Forum Leader

    A 4 ton might make sense (they actually produce only about 10k Btuh per nominal ton in northern states), but it would be prudent to run the numbers on a 3 ton system. Chances are it would need extra help relatively rarely, would be much cheaper up front, and likely would be better suited to meet cooling demand with reasonable dehumidification.

    That's internet conjecture, not based on review of actual circumstances.
  13. johnny1720

    johnny1720 Member

    I have went through and used cans of spray foam anywhere there was a penetration from the basement into the 1st floor. I pushed in R19 into the Rim Joists of my basement and immediately the furnace ran less. I know I should spray foam it but for right now I am going to cheap out. I wanted to sprayfoam the basement ceilings but the BPI guy said that was a bad idea and it would make no difference with my heat bills.

    The installer is going to be doing his own calculations on the house as well.
  14. docjenser

    docjenser Well-Known Member Industry Professional Forum Leader

    I matched your oil consumption with the Buffalo Airport weather data, and it turns out to be around 45 KBTU, so you are right on target.
    Following Curt's suggestion, a 3 ton might be suitable. Heatpump operating costs would be about $75 more due to more aux heat, but it save you about the same due to the fact that you need only one circulation pump for the loopfield, instead of 2. So it is a wash. However, this is with Buffalo weather data. It makes a big difference where you are located in Western New York.
  15. johnny1720

    johnny1720 Member

    I am located in Allegany, NY. In most cases it is 8-10 degrees colder here than it is in Buffalo on any given cold night.

    The pipes are being delivered tonight, and the excavator may show up this weekend.
  16. Mark Custis

    Mark Custis Not soon. Industry Professional Forum Leader

    Good Luck

    We are having a warm winter in Cleveland. It is slowing down jobs here.

  17. johnny1720

    johnny1720 Member

    Pipe was delivered today and the Komatsu PC200 will be delivered in the morning. They should be laying pipe quickly.

    The heat pump should arrive the middle of next week.
  18. johnny1720

    johnny1720 Member

    Guys came today and core drilled the foundation to prepare for trenching tomorrow. Excavator delivered and sand was also delivered to bed the pipes in.
  19. docjenser

    docjenser Well-Known Member Industry Professional Forum Leader

    Your are with a 45KBTU/H load I would not do with a 3 ton system. 4 ton appears to be right on target, especially with an old house like that, which you might improve a lot, but will never get really tight.

    The closest to you we have done is in Farmersville, NY, but only used occasionally on the weekends.

    Check it out:
    Temperature and Energy logging by: Web Energy Logger

    We have also done the Benjamin Franklin Gates house in Barre, NY. It was a stacked plank house built in 1830, no wall insulation, 4 ton Climatemaster is right on target, 2075 sqf.

    Benjamin Franklin Gates House - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    You sound excited, keep us updated.
  20. johnny1720

    johnny1720 Member

    Hey Doc, just curious how is someone in Farmersville able to get internet so that WEL works?

    How much does that WEL cost?

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