New York Geothermal was a $50,000 mistake

Discussion in 'Maintenance and Troubleshooting' started by kmheins, Oct 3, 2014.

  1. kmheins

    kmheins New Member

    We installed a Carrier ground heat pump in our upstate NY 1430 sq ft weekend home. 2 years ago (slinkly pit configuration). Contractor installed $15k worth of insulation; assured us this was all that was needed. Results have been dismal; $3000 a year electric bill and we have been freezing cold; have closed off half the house. We are there only on weekends! Contractor promised us $100/mo electric bills. Nothing but excuses from contractor (says add more insulation, although we added all the insulation recommended at time of install). Last winter system failing by Jan 15 and geothermal "froze"; no heat at all by March. Overall cost was $75k, $25k back from government. We are experienced professionals and never have been taken like this in our combined 110 years on the planet. We got references. We talked to local professionals. Do not retrofit your home for geothermal. Give to environmental charities and keep burning fossil fuel.
  2. Mark Custis

    Mark Custis Not soon. Industry Professional Forum Leader

    I am sad for you.

    We will need more information than your anger level to be of any help.

  3. docjenser

    docjenser Well-Known Member Industry Professional Forum Leader

    We are in Western New York, Buffalo to be precise. Let me know if we can be of any assistance.
  4. geoxne

    geoxne Active Member Forum Leader

    I just spend a week, plus more than a few sleepless nights, fixing a poorly installed 5 yr old geothermal system. The original installer showed no evidence of even the most basic knowledge (piping and controls) required for a successful geothermal system. All the right parts were there, they were simply put together wrong and controlled wrong. Long story short, a 2 unit system with backup heat was fighting against it self, trying heat and cool at the same time. That and a partially failing 3-way valve resulted in a $800 electric bill. The homeowner for four years was forced to manually shut down a unit and backup depending on whether he wanted to heat or cool. All the while never optimized for either mode.

    As a geothermal proponent and professional, in that and knowing the potential of a well designed and implemented geo system, I take offense to your expression that
    "Geothermal was a $50,000 mistake".

    Respectfully, I suggest to you the Installer was a $50,000 mistake.

    Actually, the installer made off with $75,000. $25,000 was "ours". Now I am angry and offended.

    You would be very wise to take docjenser up on his offer (even if only to evaluate your systems potential). Sometimes it only takes flipping some switches, rewiring controls and/or reprogramming thermostats or controls properly to make the right parts work together, if they are put together properly. It would be prudent to spend some money to help recoup your investment, a better alternative than "tossing out the baby with the bath water".
    Last edited: Oct 4, 2014
  5. AMI Contracting

    AMI Contracting A nice Van Morrison song Industry Professional Forum Leader

    Geothermal by itself is viable technology if properly implemented. If you have the correct components, all is not lost. If you truely wish help vs to vent, you are in a good place to find assisstance. Besides being an industry leader that educates engineers with his designs, Doc spent a good deal of time remotely helping a consumer in MN with a botched install.
    That said geoxne is correct, we here pride ourselves on good design and saving, not costing our customers money. If criticism of our product is your goal than we can't help.
  6. SeekingAdvice

    SeekingAdvice Member

    Sorry for removing words, buy I wanted to quite the key points....
    So, 1430sqft with $15k worth of insulation total cost $75000

    What size system was this? is the $15k insulation included in the $75000 or separate? how large/deep was the loop? where in NY (big difference between Buffalo or Watertown or the Long Island)
    My house is twice the size and my quote is less than half as much (I am not getting any insulation done at the moment, as the house is decently insulated for it's age).
    I am hoping the house is in an extraordinarily remote location to justify the cost, but something seems "off"
    And regard to the electric bill, how much of the $3000/yr is geothermal? (what was your bill before geothermal?).
    Last question, how cold was your system designed for? Last year was very cold, I assume everyone's heating bills were high last year.
  7. Tamar

    Tamar Member Forum Leader

    KM, I'm sorry to read about your issues. I hope you come back and provide more details. As Joe and Geoxne mentioned, it's possible that you have the right components, but need some reconfiguration to make the system work, and work efficiently. You are in the right place if you want good advice on next steps!
    Last edited: Oct 4, 2014
  8. kinglerch

    kinglerch Member

    Compared to any other way to heat/cool your home, I think geothermal technology has the largest performance dependant on the installer. This is one reason why some people shy away from geothermal. They hear horror stories caused by poor installation, and there is no geothermal accreditation that guarantees they won't be the next victim. I had to have my geothermal system inspected, but the inspector had absolutely no idea what he was looking at. Whereas if you have a standard furnace installed, unless something very drastic and unsafe was done in the installation, it will vary more based on the product than the installer.

    It reminds me a little of the log home industry. You can find huge differences in the results, as well as contractors who feel that like lincoln-logs they can certainly figure out how the house should go together. And despite large differences in prices, the homeowner has no guarantee that their installer is one of the "good" ones.
  9. docjenser

    docjenser Well-Known Member Industry Professional Forum Leader

    A few questions arise:
    1) Why is a 1470 sqf home in Upstate New York with a horizontal loop field a $75K system? It should be much less than that.
    2) Is this forced air or radiant?
    3) What did "freeze"? The loop? The heat exchanger? Or did the unit just go into Freeze protect lockdown? How do you know something was frozen.
    4) What size is your system? Ton?
    5) Did you get multiple quotes and proposals?
    6) Where are you located?
    7) Most importantly, leave the emotions out of the conversation (I know it is easy to say). Analyze your system, chances are that a lot can be salvaged. System might "froze" up because the lack of antifreeze, and ran on electric heat, explaining your high electric bills. Might be fixed with $200 worth of antifreeze. Or just a wrong dip switch setting, assuming the lack of antifreeze, shutting down the compressor. $0 costs for flipping the switch! All speculation at this point.

    Apparently your installer was unable to investigate, but your description is not very precise either.
    Need more information.
  10. ACES-Energy

    ACES-Energy Member Industry Professional Forum Leader

    Between Doc and myself...we have Western & Upstate, NY covered. We talk on a regular basis and probably know your installer (who is out of business) and both have been on dozens of these alike jobs....and typically made the necessary modifications as needed...give some more detail, location and if within my area, ill come check it out at no cost....
  11. AMI Contracting

    AMI Contracting A nice Van Morrison song Industry Professional Forum Leader

    Nice of you ACES, but I think OP was in it for the hit and run. Getting help was never the goal because kmheins has already decided geo was a mistake.
  12. ACES-Energy

    ACES-Energy Member Industry Professional Forum Leader

    Offer still open and stands..I'll even bring t-shirts!
  13. docjenser

    docjenser Well-Known Member Industry Professional Forum Leader

    Looks like "the experienced professionals" did not asked for advise or help, but just wanted to vent and then disappeared.
  14. ACES-Energy

    ACES-Energy Member Industry Professional Forum Leader

    Hey Doc - I guess I will send the shirts I was saving for kmheins to you!
  15. docjenser

    docjenser Well-Known Member Industry Professional Forum Leader

    Sure, my kids will love them!
  16. Tamar

    Tamar Member Forum Leader

    I would take a shirt...... :D
  17. ACES-Energy

    ACES-Energy Member Industry Professional Forum Leader

    I can trade u some shirts for those pumps u r trying to get rid off. We do a lot with local Boces and might come in handy
  18. Tamar

    Tamar Member Forum Leader

    Sounds like a plan. Let's see what I have after re-work is done next week, and then what fits in USPS flat rate boxes (unless you suggest shipping some other/cheaper way). I had to google Boces. We don't have that word here in flyover country. I'm glad they'll be used for education.
  19. AMI Contracting

    AMI Contracting A nice Van Morrison song Industry Professional Forum Leader

    Well if we can't educate the OP then perhaps ACES can educate someone.
  20. ACES-Energy

    ACES-Energy Member Industry Professional Forum Leader

    We can pay for shipping, no worries there.

    Yes, BOCES is big around here. I am on my four geothermal house with them and have done 1 solar project to date. I have gone into their classrooms and had them on our job sites. The past two summer, I had two summer helpers who did a variety of tasks for me. The houses are actually paid for by the future homeowner, BOCES supplies the labor.

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