Connecticut Replacing a 20 yr old 4 Ton WF geothermal (forced air) for a ground loop system

Discussion in 'Quotes and Proposals' started by Sam Gow, Dec 25, 2019.


Can I replace a 4 Ton geothermal system with a 5 Ton one for a ground loop (closed) ?

  1. Yes

    0 vote(s)
  2. No

Multiple votes are allowed.
  1. Sam Gow

    Sam Gow New Member

    Hi, I bought a house recently for a good deal (time will tell if it’s a good deal or not). I was excited to know that we had a geothermal system to heat and cooling the house, it’s a forced air. The previous landlord put in a 4 Ton water furnace system in the basement and a 2 Ton water furnace in the attic for the 2nd floor in 2001, it’s a ground loop, both units have their own loops that come from outside the house. They are R22 heat pumps. Total heating/cooling area = 4500 sq ft. The 4 Ton in the basement has additional features - electric supplementary heating and hot water for radiant heat. I tracked the radiant tubings, it’s used for the kitchen floor and basement floor heating. Last month, the day after thanks giving, my 4 ton system gave up on me, I could smell some plastic burning but don’t know where it came from. Water furnace certified mechanic came home and tested the system and told me the system is grounded and compressor might be burnt out. we tried turning it on, the power immediately tripped at the main box. The system has two fuses on the main box, one is dedicated to the heat pump and water pumps and the other fuse is for electric heating. It’s currently running on electric to keep the house warm. To back it up we are using a wood stove to compensate ‘some heat’. I asked the mechanic how much it would cost to replace the system with 410a heat pump. He suggested to replace the entire system because the radiators might be contaminated and flushing is not easy. He gave me a $13K price for full install with no radiant heat option. I can’t afford $13K to get this going. I have decided to install by myself. I am a handy guy but will have to learn as I go as I have not worked on geothermal before but can quickly pick up know hows. I have attached the images of my current 4Ton system.

    The 2 Ton attic one is running fine but I am worried that it might fail eventually if it continues to be overloaded.

    Can someone please guide me in the right direction . ... should I replace the compressor from R22 to 410a or replace the entire system ? I looked up online, the entire system is costing between $ 4300 - $7000. And Compressor alone costs around $1500. Also can I use a 5 Ton system instead of 4 Ton one with hot water assist for radiant heat. I can’t find the specs that was used for the ground loop (closed system). Couldn’t find any excavation info for the ground loop install at the township office either. Does it really matter if I change my system from 4 Ton to a 5 or a 3.5 Ton system ?

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  2. SShaw

    SShaw Active Member Forum Leader

    Based on the serial number it looks like your heat pump was built in 1999 and is therefore over 20 years old. Major repairs to a 20 year old unit usually don't make sense because the unit is near the end of its life. Regardless, I don't believe you can replace just the compressor with one designed for 410a, because the rest of the system will be designed for R22 and will not work properly with 410a.

    If the 4T is appropriately sized for the heating and cooling load of your house, then you shouldn't replace it with a 5T. An oversized system won't be as efficient due to shorter run times, won't provide as much comfort, and could have problems removing humidity in summer. A variable speed unit could ramp down, but it would be a waste of money to install a 5T if only 4T was needed.

    Where did you get your prices? I've never seen Waterfurnace prices online, except for a catalog from 2015 posted on this forum. Based on that, the figures you posted seem low by at least 50% compared to list price.
  3. Sam Gow

    Sam Gow New Member

    @SShaw... Thank you for your feedback. I was thinking the same that I will replace the entire system then. My next question is whether to replace it with a 5 Ton or not, here is more info on this. I can have a 5 Ton system for the house and still be efficient, however I don’t know if there is any ground loop requirements to run a 5 Ton system. The question would be ... is my group loop compatible (if there such a thing) with a 5 Ton system? And I am not worried about summer as it’s doesn’t get hot that much in Connecticut, I am more worried about winter.

    Regarding your question on the price - I have been googling for geothermal systems that I can buy online, and you are correct Water furnace doesn’t offer equipment and you have to go through their dealers to get it installed. So I found out that there are other companies that sell these units with similar features. Ex: GeoCool 4 Ton 2 stage system is selling for $5k, Climatemaster tranquility 4 Ton is selling for $5.2K and so on. The only reason I asked about 5 Ton is because I found a system online that was selling for less than $5K, surprisingly it’s lesser than a 4 ton system, it has all the things I need and it’s a left hand air return which is compatible with my current vent access. It’s going to be a plug and play. It will make my life easier to install. I called the company and they said it’s selling for less because they want to get rid of the inventory. They also gave a me quote for 4 Ton. They quoted me $7.7K. And yes, you are correct other companies are selling these systems for much lesser price than Water Furnace. I was originally quoted for $13K with full install without hot water assist. And I am not ready to spend $13K.

    I don’t understand what variable speed and 2 stage means. What is it ?
    Also can you help me understand what do you mean by shorter run time ?
    People say the ground ( @ 9 or 10 feet below ground) gets colder by Feb to 32 deg. Is this true ? And do I need a supplementary electric heater attached to the system ? Can the heat pump do it’s job to keep up with the temperature difference without overloading if I running my thermo settings at 68F ? i.e., keeping the house at constant 68deg F. May be 64 in the night.
  4. Sam Gow

    Sam Gow New Member

    Correction - Also can you help me understand what do you mean by shorter run times?
  5. SShaw

    SShaw Active Member Forum Leader

    Your Synergy heat pump is a hybrid unit that provides both hydronic water-to-water heating and forced-air operation, and switches between the two as it operates. This complicates the design of your system. The Synergy is not the same as a unit with hot water assist (desuperheater). The Synergy water-to-water heat output is far greater than a unit with hot water assist. It's unlikely that any of the units you priced online would be a compatible replacement to the Synergy.

    Unless you're willing to spend a ton of time educating yourself thoroughly, and willing to install something that might not work properly, you would be better off paying a qualified installer to replace your unit. The current Waterfurnace Synergy3D is probably the closest to a drop-in replacement.
  6. Sam Gow

    Sam Gow New Member

    Vow! I did not realize Synergy name had a meaning [ with Water Furnace systems]. I had no clue it operated the way you explained. If I track the water lines connecting to the water tank and back what you explained above totally makes sense. This eliminates desuperheater option I had in mind.

    I want to give one last try in finding a Hydronic water-to-water and forced air system online before I bow my head to Water Furnace. I just feel Water Furnace is over priced, I may be wrong as I am new to this. Do you happen to know if anyone sells Water Furnace (Synergy 3D) system to consumers directly and not through distributors or mechanics? Sorry, I am trying to save some money by installing it by myself, but don't want to be penny wise pound foolish either as you mentioned.
  7. mrpac

    mrpac Member

    Hi Sam,

    I will answer a couple of your questions, it seems like you have some good advice provided by Mr. Shaw

    2 stage systems are simply 2 stages of control with the compressor. My system is a 3T climatemaster, and runs mostly in stage 1, until the setpoint temperature cannot be maintained - then stage 2 kicks on (2 speeds) they generally use more hydro consumption, are not as efficient, and are less expensive.
    The distribution pumps are generally dual speed units, working in synch with the compressor speeds. Blower fans are variable speed in most cases.

    Variable speed systems are just that - the compressor runs with a variable speed drive, in addition controlling the distribution pumps in a much more controlled manner. (PID)

    These systems are relatively new on the market in this industry, but have been used in other electrical applications for decades. Systems are much more efficient, accurate and more expensive - but are the future.

    Supplemental Heating is usually done with "Toaster Strips" which are essentially electric elements across 220vac. They draw LOTS of power, and are really only utilized when Stage 2 cannot deliver.
    My AUX - or Toaster Strip mode only turned on twice last winter....and only for about 5 min. House heated fast, and the air blower really ramps up when this happens!

    I am not an expert in the Geothermal Industry, and dont pretend to be - I simply have one of my own and have been a PLC Process Engineer for decades. I find it very interesting, and very enjoyable to learn the HVAC principles used in these systems. They are the way of the future....

    I too - was looking for a plug and play this field it seems not to exist - not too many people on board in Ontario yet

    Take some advice from Mr Shaw, and do some more research - if there is time.
  8. Sam Gow

    Sam Gow New Member

    Thank you Mr. Shaw and mrpac . I will do some more research. Will post it as I learn more.

    Currently I am running my 2T Geo unit[water furnace] that's in the attic (has no toaster strip in it), Vermont Defiant wood stove (8am - 11pm) & my 4 Ton unit is set to 57 deg. Only toaster strip kicks on when it goes below 57. Most of the time the house is above 57 deg. Hoping to manage for a month or two until I find the right system to install. At least now I know my best case [more expensive option] is to go with Water Furnace Synergy3D.
  9. ChrisJ

    ChrisJ Active Member Forum Leader

    I originally had a hybrid/combination heat pump, it was made by Hydro Temp. Replaced after less then 7 years, refrigerant leaks. I replaced with just a water to air unit and I don't use the basement radiant heat.

    When I was researching a replacement, 1 possibility was a hybrid from Modine, they can be purchased from a plumbing and heating distributor.

    Hydron Module makes one also but not sure you can get one without a dealer (like with Waterfurnace).

    I still hope some day to add a separate water to water unit.
  10. Sam Gow

    Sam Gow New Member

    Thank you Chris. I will check out Modine & Hydron module.

    Today I called and left a voicemail to Ingram's, two Water furnace suppliers and GeoMax. Waiting for them to reply. One of them [Water Furnace technician] has confirmed his visit for coming Tuesday to give an estimate. Will keep you posted.

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