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Lucasmrs 01-04-2013 07:15 PM

Geo thermal nightmare.
 
My mother lives in southwestern Michigan. She recently had a Geo Thermal furnace installed. It ran continuously, after several visits from the contractor, they replaced the thermostat. It no longer runs constantly, however it takes hours for the house to warm up two degrees. It NEVER gets above 68 degrees even when it is set at 70. Her electric bill is higher than it has ever been. She has contacted the regional rep and he basically told her to deal with it. Her neighbor (who has a geo thermal furnace which has no problems) suggested that she get a gas furnace as a back up to heat the house. She has paid 14,000 + dollars for this furnace, she is cold all the time. She is 72 years old and health wise this stress is compromising her significantly. What can we do?

carmon 01-04-2013 09:24 PM

i do zero geothermal and really don't care for it..... it does work well if sized and installed properly.... heard lots of good things as well as horror stories as well..... get the contractor to fix it or bite the bullet and have another contractor check it..... i know your mother paid lot's of money but you can't let her suffer..... again insist the contractor fixes it.....

beenthere 01-05-2013 09:23 AM

Is it a 2 stage geo? If so, is it wired to run both stages?

Brand and model number would help.

Fisher 01-17-2013 09:36 AM

I have geothermal and live in northern MN, coldest part of the nation, usually.

I have a 5 ton system that runs underfloor heat that is on off peak and a 3 ton forced air unit.

We can see temps down into the -30 for lows and highs that may be -20 for several days at a time. We are heating 3670 sq. ft. with the gargage heated to 62 and the house set at 70. We do have a 2 stage system and propance back up for the forced air. I have yet to have the propane kick on, it is set for a 3 degree set back. Our stage 2 has ran all night and held it 68 when set at 70, that happens on -30 plus nights or nights that are -20 with some wind. We dont have spray foam insulation, just fiberglass with blow in on top.

I am very happy with this system and our heating bill for the last 2 winters has averaged through out the heating season, usually 7 month - $90/month for the add to our elec. bill. highest was $150 for the coldest month.

Something is not running correct, that is for sure. Hope you can get it fixed.
Thanks

bobinphx 01-18-2013 07:00 AM

Three words.......registrar of contractors. An additional word would be lawyer. 14 grand wow. I would get some aux heat in there, quick.. My mom had a home built 22 years ago. There have been 7 trips to the registrar, each time she has won. The builder was really good at lipstick, not very good at all other systems. And just to set the record, she has never had any other legal dealings in her 80 years, so she is not sue happy.

Blondesense 01-18-2013 04:11 PM

I know it is frowned on to send people off site, but this seems to be such a specialized area.
Have you checked out http://www.geoexchange.org/forum/ ?

jagans 01-18-2013 04:28 PM

I recommended Geothermal to my Brother for his new house he built 25 years ago in western NJ. House is about 3200 square feet. His heating or cooling bill has never been over $110 per month. Whoever did your moms system is a hack.

My Brother tanks me every time I see him. :drink:

redneck_savant 02-08-2013 09:51 AM

Hvac
 
Conventional HVAC heat pumps and Geothermal HVAC have basically one difference - where you get the heat from/to. With conventional, the heat in winter is extracted from air, and in summer - pumped back out to the air with a radiator that's outside. (The outdoor part with the big noisy fan.)

Geothermal uses ground temp water to get heat from, and in summer pumps the excess heat from the house into the ground water.

The big advantages for geothermal are as follows:
1) it takes less energy to transfer heat to/from water than air
2) ground water is usually closer to the temp you want your house than the air around your house (so it takes even less energy to pump the heat back and forth)

In detail, a conventional system in winter might have to pump air from 0F to get the heat up to 70F - the pump has to make up a 70F difference. But a geothermal system takes water from around 60F warm the room to 70F - that's a TEN degree difference. It's pretty easy to see that causing a ten degree increase in temp is a lot easier than causing a 70 degree rise.

A well installed geothermal system will always outperform a conventional heat pump.

That said, if you are used to gas and get a heat pump - you're in for a surprise. The air coming out is WARM, not HOT. If you take two comparably sized units one gas one a heat pump - the gas will run hotter and for less time, the heat pump will be warm and run longer.

Think of a heat pump like you do your refrigerator. It gets cold all right, but if you shut it off you'll want to wait a day before putting groceries in it.

Your geothermal company isn't doing it's job helping you here, but some of this may be due to your grandmother's habits. If her bills are high and she doesn't mess with the settings, then look at legal satisfaction. But if she's turning it off at night to save money - it's getting too cold and the heat strips (like the oven heat elements) are being called in and that costs a lot of money in energy. Make sure she's leaving it on all the time before you find that lawyer. You can't turn a heat pump off overnight and expect it to heat the house right up.

old_squid 02-08-2013 11:17 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Lucasmrs (Post 1086448)
My mother lives in southwestern Michigan. She recently had a Geo Thermal furnace installed. It ran continuously, after several visits from the contractor, they replaced the thermostat. It no longer runs constantly, however it takes hours for the house to warm up two degrees. It NEVER gets above 68 degrees even when it is set at 70. Her electric bill is higher than it has ever been. She has contacted the regional rep and he basically told her to deal with it. Her neighbor (who has a geo thermal furnace which has no problems) suggested that she get a gas furnace as a back up to heat the house. She has paid 14,000 + dollars for this furnace, she is cold all the time. She is 72 years old and health wise this stress is compromising her significantly. What can we do?

The first thing I'd suggest you do is take a deep breath. The main thing that has to happen is your mother's issues need to be resolved and that outcome will best be served with you thinking clearly. Do whatever you can short term to get and keep her warm.

There can be problems with any install and those can range from malfunctions of the equipment right out of the box to a poorly designed and/or installed system.

As much information as possible increases the chances that someone can potentially help you.

You mentioned the system was installed recently. Fall of 2012 or spring of 2005? What kind of loop or well is the system using? Did the contractor that installed it relay any information to you or your mother as to why they believe it can't maintain set temperature? Were all components of the system verified as working correctly? Is there auxillary heat (electric or gas) installed on the system and is it being used during the cold weather? You mentioned that her electric bills were higher than they've ever been. Does this "time" include only since the geothermal was installed or is it being compared to before also? Does your mother turn the temperature down at night and then back up in the morning? If so, how much does she setback the temp? What kind of system did the new system replace (size, fuel, new ductwork or reused what was there)? Has the installing contractor stopped trying to help?

Get your mom warm and take things step by step. A good contractor will do whatever it takes to make your mother happy, but only a great contractor will respond to an excited relative.

Missouri Bound 02-08-2013 08:03 PM

It's time to get the mfg. involved, or a lawyer....possibly both. There are a lot of contactors doing geothermal that frankly do not know the proper way to size or install. Several companies in this area have buried loops no more than 3-4 feet underground and the result is very poor operation. You will have to step up and take care of this, it's what a son does. It's obvious that the installer either neglected simple procedure or just doesn't give a damn.:yes:


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