Geothermal Earth Loops for Columbia

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 made out of high-density polyethylene to create a dependable, long-lasting system. They are fastened together by the process of thermal fusion which will produce a bond that is much stronger than the original pipe itself. In fact, a properly installed loop can remain up to 200 years.
 
There are two leading types of geothermal loop systems that are almost always used in today's installations: open loop systems and closed loop systems. Each system have different pros and cons for your heating or cooling solution. We at WaterFurnace have the knowledge and experience on both types, and we will help you by selecting the right choice for your geothermal installation.

Open loop geothermal solutions are designed to utilize the natural groundwater from beneath your home. Using a well, water is 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 a designated runoff. Since the water that you are using is not being altered in any way, the only thing that is being returned to the earth is water that is slightly 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 take place 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 may want to make sure that the used water is prevented from coming in contact with air before it is returned in order to prevent clogs.
 
Closed loops are just as they sound. Rather than pumping water from a well and depositing it elsewhere, water is circulated in a completely sealed circuit with a small amount of earth friendly antifreeze.
 
There are two primary types of closed loop installations: horizontal and vertical. Installing the system horizontally needs quite a bit of land space. 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 sort 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 WaterFurnace today to learn more about what system options are available to you here in Columbia.