New geothermal user, filtration question

Discussion in 'Geothermal Heat Pump Testimonials' started by Jasonr114, Mar 16, 2014.

  1. Jasonr114

    Jasonr114 New Member

    Hello. We recently purchased a 12 year old 3,000 sq foot house with a pump and dump geothermal system. We have only owned the house for 3 weeks and can only visit the house on the weekends - we are relocating 100+ miles. The house is located on the side of a mountain in the central PA area.

    I know little about the system and plan to call the installer tomorrow.

    There was no filter in the small whole house filter. I installed new one two weekends ago. It is shot after two weeks. Picture is attached. There is also a filter about 1/3rd of that size that is also shot. There is also white build up on fixtures around the house, calcification?

    There is what appears to be a water softner that has been disconnected in the basement. I now believe it a large filter or filter/softner combination.

    When the heat exchanger is running we have very little water pressure/flow. When the filter is removed things seems to work fine.

    Can anyone give me guidance? What questions should I ask the installers. What is the correct terminology of the filter/softner that I should have installed? Thank you in advance.

    Attached Files:

  2. urthbuoy

    urthbuoy Well-Known Member Industry Professional Forum Leader

    You have an open loop geo system tied in to your domestic water system. There are many ways folks try to make this work and we don't know how your system is plumbed.

    The problem is you have a pump likely sized to provide 60psi to your domestic system that is required to run a lot more for your geo system that doesn't care at all about pressure (this means you have an oversized pump for your geo unit).

    Now add water treatment. If you put your treatment downstream of your geo and domestic you will be seeing a lot of usage on it. If you put it downstream of your domestic only then you will likely use it for what it is designed for.

    Now if the open loop water is nasty enough to effect the coil in your heat pump, you may have to treat the water for it.

    Here is what I would ask:
    - How is my system setup? What pressure is it set to shutoff at?
    - Does the geo side have a flow regulator to limit the amount of water use?
    - What is my water quality?
    - Does the discharge side maintain water in the heat pump when off? Or does it siphon/drain?
    - Are there solenoid valves to the geo and domestic side to direct flow?

    Lastly is the filter. Sounds like your turbidity is going to be requiring a lot of filter changes if your treatment dictates it to be on the overall incoming line.

    edit: You may be thinking closed loop by about now:)
  3. Jasonr114

    Jasonr114 New Member

    Chris - Thank you for all the information and feedback. The filter is definitely after the pressure tank and all the water from there feeds the domestic and the geothermal. The amount of water is definitely overwhelming the filter.

    If I am understanding you correctly, I need to determine if the sediment/chemistry of my water will damage the geothermal unit. If that is the case, I need to look at filtration(or something) options that will handle this issue for both the domestic/geothermal usage. Otherwise, I can just have filtration(or something) for the domestice hot water.

    There is an uninstalled something(presumably broken), I thought it was a water softner, but I now think it may be a backwash filter, sitting in the basement. I think that is is broke and the previous owner did not have the $$ or desire to fix it correctly. The whole house filter appears to be new, so it appears to be a stop gap measure installed - perhaps with good intentions.

    I plan to call the installer and previous owner today and ask the questions you listed above. I will repost as I gain more information and will post pictures of the entire setup this weekend.
  4. AMI Contracting

    AMI Contracting A nice Van Morrison song Industry Professional Forum Leader

    Generally you do not treat water for open loop geo (due to the amount of water you use). Get a pro to look at the system and see if you can run it without the filter.
  5. Calladrilling

    Calladrilling Member Industry Professional Forum Leader

    That filter will NOT work on a open loop system. That is a sediment filter for small domestic useage only!
    We do not ever treat open loop systems for water quality..the price for a system sized to handle that amount of water would not be feasible (or legal here in NJ).
    Your geothermal should draw water from your well before any filters or anything else.
    Judging from your filter after only 2 weeks, you have high iron content and hopefully your installer took this into account when designing your system.
  6. Jasonr114

    Jasonr114 New Member

    I spoke with the original owner who has used the system since it was installed.

    He said that the water softner needs repaired/is broke because it is full of sediment. The water softner was removed from the system. The person who removed the water softner installed the small whole house filter. The original owner said he used changed the filter a few times but simply stopped using it because, as everyone noted, it was outmatched by the sheer volume of water required by the geothermal unit.

    I have called the installer that is responsible for the well, and now have a call in to the person who installed the geothermal unit.

    Dan - What should the installer have done due to the high iron content?

    Thank you.
    Last edited: Mar 18, 2014
  7. ChrisJ

    ChrisJ Active Member Forum Leader

    I have a well that I use for domestic water only, so I can't really help with open loop geo.

    I purchased an iron filter. Well guys told me all I need is a water softener. The problem is they are designed to soften water not remove iron. Sure they can remove iron, but the media does not last as long as it would if it was just softening.

    I got it at, nice people to talk to. You would have to see if they even have a system that could handle the water volume an open loop uses.

  8. moey

    moey Member

    How long has the system been operating. If its original to the house you may just be making work for yourself.
  9. Jasonr114

    Jasonr114 New Member

    Moey - I think you are right. I originally thought the system was 12 years old. It is actually 14.

    Other than the broken water softner, the owner told me he replaced the "orange valve" on geothermal unit 1-2 years ago. I am am not sure what he was talking about.

    Now that I have a better understanding, it seems like the whole house filter was installed incorrectly by the person who removed the broken water softner.
  10. urthbuoy

    urthbuoy Well-Known Member Industry Professional Forum Leader

    Orange valve is commonly a slow-opening taco valve. It opens to allow water to flow to geo.

    If you are catching a lot of sediment, what is your discharge? You may end up having issues on that end.
  11. Jasonr114

    Jasonr114 New Member

    The pump well is 714 feet. The well head is at 500 feet.

    The dump well is 300 feet.
  12. Calladrilling

    Calladrilling Member Industry Professional Forum Leader

    We would have not given you option for open loop if it was our job to bid.
    I would never try to treat an open loop well.
    If you need treatment on an open loop well, then in all honesty you don't want an open loop system.
    What I suggest is to fix the domestic water to handle the house ONLY, then get rid of that cartridge filter all together. Try to run the system normally and see if you have any issues with iron fouling of the coils, valves, or dump well.
    Your iron may be at a low enough concentration and not harm anything(not ideal).
  13. My 2 cents worth. My system is somewhat similar.

    First let's make sure we compare apples to apples.

    I found that installing a Whirlpool wholehouse water filter bowl had pros and cons. There is nothing wrong with Whirlpool (or other's products) but it is designed to filter household water to sinks and showers. Filters introduce some kind of restriction, always.

    Question is, does that restriction affect you ? Heat pumps flow a bit more water, than domestic use, in higher tonnages, a lot. If you use the standard cartridges you will likely have water flow affected, especially as they clog up. That is more serious in the winter than the summer.

    My answer is twofold. First I experimented with a substitute, hollow, drilled out, pvc center blocking core to reduce restriction, and cause the sand to "fall down". But I wasn't pumping sand. I just have trace amounts of sand, which by the way may help to keep your coils clean.

    Then I had a brainstorm and tried removing EVERYTHING and just letting water go in one side and water go out the other. Since my water is very pure, there was no down side. Water does not travel perfectly horizontal. Any sand that travels from my well source to the house arrives at the bowl and bounces off the lexxon bowl and drops harmlessly to the bottom (sorta like water in a diesel system fuel bowl stays at the bottom). This allows you to judge whether you are picking up just a little sand (like me) or a lot. My Taco slow opening valves which I remounted from the horizontal to up/down / vertical are now holding up much better. They pretty much stopped failing.

    My well guy services a lot of farms and he recommends what is almost a commercial sand / sediment strainer. The price is not prohibitive. He commonly installs them in farm applications, and they hold up. The cheaper plastic strainer types sold by Lowes and some others are absolute junk.

    If you need whole house carbon filtering, then run the heat pump leg "straight" and run the whole house part in parallel through your fancy filter. Then there will be some restriction on the household side (which you won't notice) but no restriction for the geo heat pump.

    Tip: Who would want to change any filter UNDER the house unless you have a standup basement ? Install your filter / sediment bowl / strainer with two isolation ball valves in a place that is easy to get to and make sure the filter housing is SECURELY fastened to concrete or wood or bricks or something. (Otherwise you could break the lines trying to remove a stubborn water filter bowl. I mounted mine outside the house next to a water faucet near where my water enters the house. If I froze a line in winter, for example, I can go outside the house and shut off all the water entering the house in 10 seconds, useful.

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