Geothermal Heat Pumps are the most advanced way to heat your home. They are also one of the most expensive ways to heat your home, so you want them to work properly from the start. If it’s been a while since you installed or replaced a geothermal system, there might be some unfamiliar terms that can trip up you as you try to troubleshoot problems with your system. Below is an overview of what you should know about geothermal systems before you get started.
There are two basic types of geothermal heat pumps. The first is the Ground-to-Air (GTA) configuration. In this type of unit, hot groundwater flows through an insulated pipe in the ground. A fan blows air across the outside of the pipe, transferring heat to the air. That warm air then circulates through your home, providing heat for you and your family. The second type of geothermal unit is the Air-to-Ground (AG) design. Here, fresh air enters the house, where it is cooled by passing over the earth’s surface. That cold air is used to heat a secondary pipe, which delivers heat into your home. There are other variations on these basic designs, but those are the common two.
The main benefit of geothermal units is their ability to extract heat from the earth itself rather than using fossil fuels. However, they do have limitations. You will need to pay close attention to certain details when installing or replacing a geothermal system, because they must be installed correctly to work right.
Here are some important points to consider when installing or repairing a geothermal system:
- Make sure all electrical service in the area is connected safely. Geothermal units require electricity to run. If you plan to replace an existing system, make sure you check with local authorities to confirm that your new system will not cause interference with any nearby lines or power sources.
- Make sure the ground is stable. If it’s not, you may need to install a foundation under the unit to prevent vibration damage. It’s best to hire a professional if you don’t feel comfortable digging holes yourself.
- Check the soil temperature during the winter months, especially if it’s below 32 degrees Fahrenheit. This ensures that the pipes remain at a safe operating temperature.
- Ensure that you have enough room around the piping to allow for proper circulation of air.
- Make sure that the unit has adequate ventilation.
- Keep the unit insulated from the outdoor environment. This will help reduce condensation inside the unit.
- Make sure that the unit is sealed against water infiltration. Water intrusion will affect the efficiency of the system.
- Consider placing the unit in a location that allows access without having to climb ladders.
- Install the unit in a location that will maximize its effectiveness.
- Avoid overhead obstructions. They could block the flow of air, causing the unit to lose efficiency.
- Make sure the vents are located away from walls, windows, doors, or any other openings. These locations can trap warm air and reduce energy transfer.
- Be sure to follow instructions carefully. Misuse of a geothermal unit can lead to serious injury.
- Don’t forget to keep the unit clean and clear of debris. Dirt and grime can clog up the unit and reduce its efficiency.
- Replace old filters regularly. Old filters will restrict airflow and decrease performance.
- When purchasing a geothermal unit, make sure you purchase the correct size for your home. Larger houses will need larger units.
- Always use the appropriate amount of antifreeze to maintain proper pressure in the ground loop.
- Make sure you follow the manufacturer’s recommendations regarding maintenance. Failure to perform regular maintenance can result in poor performance and premature failure.
- Follow local building codes. Some regions require specific requirements for geothermal installations.
- Consult with your local utility company to ensure that the geothermal unit meets state requirements.
- Never add salt to the system. Doing so will lower the temperature of the system, which will reduce the efficiency of the system.
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