Geothermal Earth Loops for Charleston

In part three of our Introduction to Geothermal series, we are going to discuss geothermal loop systems and how each type works.

A geothermal loop is the series of underground pipes used to move heat to and from the earth. The pipes are formed out of high-density polyethylene to secure a durable, long-lasting system. They are joined together by the process of thermal fusion which will forge a bond that is far stronger than the original pipe itself. In fact, a properly installed loop can last up to 200 years.
 
There are two main types of geothermal loop systems that are almost always used in today's installs: open loop systems and closed loop systems. Both systems have unique pros and cons for your heating or cooling solution. We at Custom Climate Heating & Air have the training and expertise on both types, and we will guide you step by step in the process of determining the best option for your geothermal installation.

Open loop geothermal solutions are designed to maximize the natural groundwater from beneath your home. Using a well, water is pulled from an existing aquifer and transferred to the geothermal heat pump where its heat is extracted and the water is pumped back into the ground or to an assigned runoff. Since the water that you are handling is not being treated in any way, the only thing that is being returned to the ground is water that is just a little warmer or cooler (depending whether you're in heating or cooling mode).

One thing to keep an eye on with an open loop system is water quality. Mineral build-up can arise from poor quality water. This can be kept under control with an occasional cleaning. If the water in the ground has higher iron content, you will need to make sure that the used water is kept away from air before it is returned in order to prevent clogs.
 
Closed loops are precisely as they sound. Rather than pumping water from a well and depositing it elsewhere, water is circulated in a entirely sealed circuit with a small amount of environmentally-friendly antifreeze.
 
There are two primary types of closed loop installations: horizontal and vertical. Installing the system horizontally needs a good chunk of land. The piping is embedded in trenches between 4 and 6 feet deep and can be up to 400 feet long. If you reside on a smaller lot, the loops can be installed vertically by boring straight down using drilling equipment. This form of installation can be installed in as little as a 10ft by 10ft  area.
 
In either case, the larger the building, the larger the geothermal heat pump and loop needs to be. A good ball park figure is that for every ton of system capacity, you will need 500 to 600 feet of pipe.
 
Contact Custom Climate Heating & Air today to learn more about what system options are available to you here in Charleston.