Questions and Answers
"Q: I have ductwork, but will it work with this system?"
A: In all probability, yes. Your installing contractor should be able to determine ductwork requirements and any minor modifiations if needed" (GTJ, 03/08).
"Q: Do I need to increase the size of my electric service?"
A: Geothermal Heat Pumps don't use large amounts of power, so your existing service may be adequate. Generally, a 200-amp service will have enough capacity and smaller amp services may be large enough in some cases. Your electric utility or contractor can determine our service needs" (GTJ, 03/08).
"Q: Do I need a Backup Heat Supply?"
A: Geothermal systems used in climates where temperatures drop below freezing are generally installed with an auxillary backup electric resistance heater. This component is mounted either inside the unit or in the supply duct just outside the unit. The auxiliary heater serves two purposes: To supply backup heat during cold outdoor temperatures, and to provide emergency heat if the compressor fails. Your geothermal unit will generate the largest majority of your heating needs; the rest of the heat would be supplied by the auxiliary heater. Generally, sizing the unit in a northern climate to provide 100% of the heating does not make sense economically because the added initial cost of the larger unit and earth loop may not be recovered in energy savings over a reasonable period of time" (GTJ, 03/08). (In Louisiana, we don't see the kind of freezing temperatures that would necessitate having a Backup Heat Supply).
"Q: Can I install an earth loop myself?"
A: Properly designing and installing an earth loop requires extensive training. In order to obtain optimum system performance, the earth loop size, design and configuration need to be carefully considered. In addition, special pipe, fittings, and tools for heat fusion and system flushing are required" (GTJ, 03/08).
"Q: Will an earth loop affect my lawn or landscape?"
A: The actual process of installing the loop will disrupt the surface to some degree. With proper restoration, most loop fields are "invisible" after a couple months. After the initial installation, the loop will have no adverse effect on grass, trees, or shrubs. Nor will roots from trees cause a problem with the pipe" (GTJ, 03/08).
"Q: How long will the loop pipe last?"
A: Close loop systems should be installed using only high-density polyethylene pipe. This pipe does not rust, rot, or corrode, and is inert to chemicals normally found in soil. Properly installed, these pipes will last for many decades. Actual life expectancy of the pipe is over 200 years, and PVC pipe should never be used.
"Q: How are the pipe sections of the loop joined?"
A: Pipe sections are joined by thermal fusion which involves heating the pipe and fitting, then connecting them to form a joint that's stronger than the original pipe. This technique creates a secure connection to protect from leakage and contamination" (GTJ, 03/08).
"Q: Can I reclaim heat from my septic system disposal field?"
A: No. An earth loop will reach temperatures below freezing during extreme conditions and may freeze your septic system. Such usage is banned in many areas" (GTJ, 03/08).
"Q: Are there any laws that apply to open loop installations?"
A: All or part of the installation may be subject to local ordinances, codes, convenants or licensing requirements. Check with local authorities to determine if any restrictions apply in your area" (GTJ,03/08).
"Q: Does an open loop system cause environmental damage?"
A: No. They are pollution free. The Heat Pump merely removes or adds heat to the water. No pollutants are added. The only change in the water returned to the environment is a slight increase or decrease in temperature" (GTJ, 03/08).
"Q: How can I discharge the water when using an open loop system?"
A: There are a number of ways to dispose of water after it has passed through the Heat Pump. The open discharge method is the easiest and least expensive. Open discharge simply involves releasing the water into a stream, river, lake, pond, ditch, or drainage tile. Obviously, one of these alternatives must be readily available and have the capacity to accept the amount of water used by the Heat Pump before open discharge is feasible. A second means of water discharge is the return well. The return well is a second well that returns the water to the ground aquifer. A return well must have enough capacity to dispose of the water passed through the Heat Pump. A new return well should be installed by a qualified well driller. Likewise, a professional should test the capacity of an existing well before it is used as a return" (GTJ, 03/08).
"Q: With an open loop system, what problems can be caused by poor water quality?"
A: Poor water quality can cause serious problems in open loop systems. Your water should be tested for hardness, acidity, and iron content before a Heat Pump is installed. Your contractor or equipment manufacturer can tell you what quality of water is acceptable. Mineral deposits can build up inside the Heat Pump's Heat Exchanger. Sometimes a periodic cleaning with a mild acid solution is all that's needed to remove the buildup. Where well water does not meet the requirements for an open loop Geothermal system, a closed loop would be used.
Q: What other uses for Geothermal energy are available for my home?"
A: "DOMESTIC HOT WATER. Homes with large demands for domestic or pottable water heating will benefit from the exceptional efficiency of Geothermal units. . .
POOL HEATING. Units can also be utilized to heat water for pools and spas. You will find a Geothermal unit will heat your pool or spa for much less than an ordinary pool heater" (GTJ, 03/08).
COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS. In addition to being a smart choice for residential installations, many commercial and institutional buildings utilize Geothermal systems including offices, retail, hotels, appartments/condos, resorts, schools, hospitals, assisted living centers, and manufacturing facilities" (GTJ, 03/08).