Posts Tagged ‘Geothermal’

Geothermal Air Conditioning is Good for the Environment

Monday, August 1st, 2016

You may have hear about geothermal systems in passing, and admittedly, it’s not a system for everyone. But if you have a large piece of property and can pay the installation costs, there are a huge number of benefits to be gained from the geothermal heating and cooling system. It draws upon the ambient power of the earth itself — which never changes temperature once you dig down past 10-12 feet or so. The system merely takes advantage of that fact to provide you with cheap, plentiful and environmentally friendly heating and cooling. Here’s how: (more…)

Common Problems with Your Geothermal Heater

Monday, December 21st, 2015

“Common” is actually a misnomer when talking about geothermal systems. Part of the attraction of the system is its reliability: using coils full of liquid to pull heat from the unchanging temperatures beneath the ground (or to release heat from your home and cool the air in the summer). Here in Portland, OR, the system matches our environment quite well and with proper maintenance you shouldn’t expect many problems from your geothermal system. Having said that, no system is perfect, and issues with your heater may crop up from time to time. Here are a few of them for you to consider. (more…)

Is Geothermal Heating Right for Me?

Monday, September 28th, 2015

Geothermal heating is an exciting alternative to traditional forms of heating. It uses a physical constant to provide warmth for your home: once you get more than a few feet below the ground, the temperature of the Earth never changes. A geothermal system simply runs a series of tubes below the ground on your property, then pumps a mixture of water and anti-freeze through it. The mixture facilitates a heat exchange with the ground, allowing you to warm or cool your home by drawing on an infinitely renewable natural resource. Geothermal heating can save you a great deal of money over the life of the unit, and a lot of Portland, OR residents will appreciate its environmentally friendly format. That being said, there are some factors involved which you should consider carefully before pulling the trigger. “Is geothermal heating right for me?” you ask. Here are some things to think about. (more…)

3 Common Geothermal Repairs

Friday, August 15th, 2014

One of the major advantages of having a geothermal system to provide your home with heating and cooling is that it will last for many decades; the ground loops will often endure for more than 50 years. Geothermal heat pumps require fewer repairs than most other home comfort systems, but they will still need occasional professional attention, as well as annual maintenance.

If you detect problems with your geothermal heat pump—such as a drop in cooling or heating power, strange noises from the indoor cabinet, or indications of leaking from the ground loops—call for repairs immediately from technicians experienced with geothermal work. At Clean Air Act, we provide air conditioning repairs in Portland, OR that can take care of your geothermal system, no matter what is wrong with it.

Some of the More Common Geothermal Heat Pump Repairs

  • Acid flushing the ground loops: Geothermal heat pumps can work in closed-loop configurations, where the same refrigerant circulates through the loops; or in open-loop configurations, which connect to the water line that brings in fresh water. An open-loop configuration can develop an accumulation of deposits that will increase water pressure and even block the loops. Technicians can use an acid-flush to eliminate the obstructing build-up in the loops.
  • Sealing ground loop leaks: The plastic ground loops are designed for decades of service, but they can still suffer from leaking at times. Fortunately, sealing a leak will only require targeted digging that can be done quickly and with little interruption to your life. The technicians will first place a colored dye into the refrigerant, and then locate where the dye color reaches the surface of your property. This will identify where they need to dig to seal the leaks.
  • Standard heat pump repairs: Geothermal systems are heat pumps that use the earth for an exchange medium, and therefore they can require the standard repairs for the indoor cabinet that other heat pumps encounter: burnt-out motors, failed capacitors, stuck reversing valves, iced-over coils, damaged fan blades, etc. These repairs are no more difficult for a geothermal heat pump than they are for a standard heat pump.

Geothermal heating and cooling systems are more extensive than standard air-source heat pumps, so they need to have experts familiar with their layouts perform any necessary repairs. You can’t simply turn to any HVAC company that handles heating and air conditioning repairs to handle the work. Look to a company like Clean Air Act. We have more than a decade of experience working on geothermal systems in Portland, OR. Along with repairs, we also do installation and maintenance work.

3 Problems That Can Happen with Geothermal System

Wednesday, July 23rd, 2014

When it comes to reliable heating and cooling for a house, geothermal heat pumps offer one of the best options available today. Using the stable heat of the earth as a medium for exchange, a geothermal heat pump can provide heating and air conditioning that is far more efficient than that of an air-source heat pump. No matter the temperature outside, you can turn on your geothermal system and receive the comfort you need.

Although geothermal systems have remarkable durability (the ground loops can last for more than 50 years), they can still sometimes run into problems. When any of these problems occur, you need to contact professionals in geothermal air conditioning repair in Portland, OR to handle the work. Clean Air Act can handle the geothermal services you need to restore your system whenever you encounter any of the problems below.

  • Leaky ground loops: This is thankfully uncommon, because the plastic loops that circulate the water through the system (or circulate a solution of water and anti-freeze) are made from strong materials and will not corrode like metal pipes. But leaking can still occur, and if you notice a loss of heating or cooling, leaks along the loops may be the issue. Repair technicians can track leaks by placing a dye into the system and then locating where on the surface the water is escaping. The technicians can then excavate a small area to reach the damaged loop and seal it.
  • Scale build-up in the loops: If you use an open-loop system that circulates water from the municipal system, the loops can begin to pick of mineral scale from impurities in the water supply. This scale can eventually cause the loops to develop clogging and high water pressure. Technicians will use an acid-flush to clean out the loops.
  • Standard heat pump problems: Keep in mind that for all its advantages, a geothermal system is still a heat pump similar in many ways to an air-source heat pump and can suffer from the same types of repair problems. The interior cabinet components could suffer from breakdowns due to wear and tear, such as broken blower motors, electrical connection failures, and frost appearing over the coils. Most of the time, the repairs that you will need for your geothermal systems won’t have anything to do with the buried loops, and your technician will be able to take care of the necessary work above-ground.

If you detect a drop in the heating or cooling reliability of your ground-source heat pump, call for professional repair work right away. Installing a geothermal system is not a DIY job, and neither are repairs for one.

Clean Air Act is available 24 hours a day with emergency heating and air conditioning repair in Portland, OR. We specialize in geothermal repairs and replacements, so make us your first choice when you need help with your ground-source heat pump.

When to Replace Parts of Your Geothermal System

Tuesday, September 4th, 2012

A geothermal system isn’t much different from other Portland heating and air conditioning systems in that it will require regular preventive maintenance visits, may need repairs on occasion, and eventually certain components will need to be replaced. But when will those replacements be needed and how will they compare to the frequency of part replacement on systems such as those for a furnace or air conditioner?

 The Condenser

A geothermal system may draw heat from a unique source, but the technology used to extract that heat and distribute it throughout your home is largely the same as in a traditional heat pump or air conditioner. So, you will have a condenser unit outside your home, coils inside your home and an air handler to distribute the air that is heated or cooled.

Each of these components needs to be properly maintained over a period of time to keep it from breaking down but there will be times when certain things need to be replaced. For reference, the average condenser unit has a limited warranty of up to 10 years. The system will likely last beyond that if well maintained, but it will probably need replacement sometime between 10 and 15 years of age.

Your indoor coils will likely last longer, though if they are not cleaned properly or if your system runs a lot, they may need replacement between 15 and 20 years. The air handler is different because different models are rated for different lengths of time, but it should be inspected and checked as often as your condenser and replaced when it gets old.

 Other Components

For the most part, the piping installed under your property to gather geothermal energy is likely going to last for many years – between 20 and 30 in most cases. However, there are situations in which piping may need to be replaced. Root growth from a nearby tree, damage from a natural disaster or improper installation of the system can all lead to early replacement.

Whatever your Portland geothermal component replacement needs, make sure you take action as soon as you suspect a problem to minimize the potential cost of such replacements. Call The Clean Air Act, Inc today for service!

A Brief History of Geothermal Energy

Wednesday, January 25th, 2012

Geothermal energy is nothing new – it just gets more ink because of its increasing use to naturally heat and cool buildings in Gladstone, leaving a smaller carbon footprint and providing for an efficient, more cost-saving method to achieve indoor comfort.

History shows that geothermal energy dates back over 10,000 years when American-Paleo Indians used hot springs for bathing and heating, possibly even as a source for healing. And geothermal energy is not just a North American idea either. The oldest known hot springs spa was built in the Qin dynasty in China in the 3rd century B.C.

Romans used the water from hot springs for their public baths. Geothermal water was also used by the Romans for treating skin and eye diseases. Minerals found in hot springs water has been long believed to have healing qualities. Geothermal water was also used to heat the buildings in Pompeii. Subsequently, building heat was obtained from under floor systems.

History notes that France is home to the world’s oldest known geothermal district heating system. The system in Chaudes-Aigues has been in use since about the 14th century. And starting in 1960, France began using geothermal heating for homes in other areas. Up to 200,000 homes in France are heated by geothermal means.

History also shows geothermal energy use during the late 18th century near Pisa, Italy. Geothermal energy had been used to extract boric acid from the Larderello Fields through the use of steam. In 1904 at Lardello Fields, steam was successfully used to generate power for the first time. At the time, geothermal energy was seen as the power of the future.

In the U.S. in 1892, the first district heating system in Boise, Idaho was powered directly by geothermal energy, and was soon copied in Klamath Falls, Oregon in 1900, where geothermal water was pumped under sidewalks and roads to help prevent freezing and ice build up. In New Mexico rows of pipe were placed underground to keep soil warmer for agricultural purposes.

A deep geothermal well was used to heat greenhouses in Boise in 1926.

For the residential market, an inventor built a “downhole heat exchanger” in 1930 to heat his house. The heat pump, which was invented in 1852, was patented to draw heat from the ground in 1912. However, it was not until the 1940s that the geothermal heat pump was successfully launched. Records show that the first commercial heat pump was put into use in Portland, Oregon in 1946. The first residential open loop system was installed in 1948.

In the 1960’s, the first large scale industrial geothermal energy power plant was constructed, producing 11 megawatts of geothermal electricity. From the 1960’s to the present day organizations and governing bodies have been set up to manage, research, and develop new and improved geothermal energy sites and technologies.

Today, there are many geothermal power plants in working order in the U.S. and across the globe.

How Does Geothermal Energy Work?

Wednesday, January 11th, 2012

Geothermal energy is energy extracted from the ground. This energy is in the ground in the first place because the ground absorbs the heat coming from the sun. This heat is always there, even when it is very cold outside. In fact, even when the ground appears to be frozen, you can actually extract plenty of heat to keep your Tualatin home nice and toasty.

While this may at first appear to defy logic, the way that geothermal energy can be used for heating your home is actually quite simple. A geothermal heating system typically consists of an indoor air handler with a fan, a series of air ducts for the heated air to travel through and a closed loop of pipe that extends into the ground below and around your home.

This closed loop of pipe is actually where the geothermal heat is collected. Some type of liquid, usually water or antifreeze, will be continuously run through this pipe loop. As the liquid passes through the area of pipe that is below ground, it will absorb the heat from the surrounding soil. Once the liquid makes it back up to the air handler, the heat is able to disperse, heating the air in the chamber.

This heated air is then circulated throughout your house through the ducts by a fan. After it has released its heat into the air in your home, the liquid will cycle back into the ground to absorb more. This allows a geothermal heating system to provide you with a constant supply of warm air.

Unlike a furnace, which mixes in blasts of very hot air with periods of inactivity to try and keep your Tualatin house at a constant temperature, a geothermal heat pump is able to provide a more consistent flow of air that is just the right temperature to keep your home comfortable. This means that these types of heat pumps are running just about all of the time as opposed to furnaces, but they are designed to work this way and the constant operation does not cause any excessive wear and tear.

Another great benefit of geothermal heat pumps is that they are able to keep your house cool in the summer as well. Just as the ground is warmer than the air in the winter, it is also cooler in the summer. That means that heat removed from your indoor air can be transferred to the ground in the same way that it was transferred in during the winter.

Is Geothermal Energy Renewable?

Friday, November 18th, 2011

Geothermal heating systems take heat from the ground and transfer it to your Gresham home. But how does this heat get into the ground in the first place? Conventional heating systems like furnaces use energy sources like oil or natural gas to generate heat. These energy sources are not renewable, and neither is electricity which is typically generated by burning coal or another non-renewable resource.

The renewable resources we usually think of first are solar and wind power. The sun, of course, will continue to shine and provide heat year in and year out whether we make use of it or not. Similarly, we cannot use up the wind. It will continue to blow no matter how many times it has blown before.

But what category does geothermal energy fit into exactly? Well, it is actually a renewable resource just like solar or wind energy. In fact, geothermal energy is a direct result of the sun’s heat relentlessly pounding the ground. The ground actually absorbs a considerable amount of the heat from the sun that reaches the earth every day, and that is the heat that your geothermal heating system is using to heat your home.

Of course, a geothermal heating system cannot run on geothermal energy alone. The indoor components of this heating system that keep the air flowing throughout your house must be powered by electricity. But the amount of energy needed to do this is much less than what you would need to use to run a furnace or other type of more conventional home heating system.

Over all, geothermal energy is an excellent and renewable source of energy. And once you have the heating system in place, you will need to spend very little to keep it up and running. It is an excellent option for many people, and can help to keep your home cool in the summer as well.

What Is Geothermal Heating?

Wednesday, November 16th, 2011

Having a geothermal heating system installed in your Hubbard home means that you will actually be able to heat your home with heat extracted from the ground. If this sounds a bit preposterous to you, you are certainly not alone. But this type of home heating does actually work and the technology is not actually that much different from what is used in a standard heat pump system.

Regular heat pumps are able to remove heat from the outdoor air and transfer it into your house to maintain a comfortable temperature in the winter. You may think that there is no heat in the outdoor air in the winter, but that is not actually the case.

Air contains a substantial amount of heat even at very cold temperatures, and heat pumps are able to work quite well, particularly when the outdoor temperature is above freezing. Conveniently, the same process used to heat your house in the winter can be reversed in the summer to extract heat from the indoor air, providing you with a year round home comfort solution.

Geothermal heating works in much the same way, except that geothermal heat pumps extract heat from the ground rather than the air. In order to accomplish this, a loop of pipes is installed in the ground near your house and your geothermal heating system will pump a liquid, generally either antifreeze or water, through those pipes.

As it passes through the pipes, the liquid will absorb heat from the ground and carry it back to a heat exchanger within your house. At that point, the heat from the liquid will be released into air, which is then blown throughout your house.

And just as conventional heat pumps can cool your house in the summer by removing heat and pumping it outside, so too can geothermal heating systems. They do this simply by letting the liquid flowing through the pipes absorb the heat from inside air and then release it into the ground as it travels through the pipe loop below your house.

Because the ground is never as cold in the winter or as hot in the summer as the air, geothermal heat pumps are actually able to work effectively in more extreme conditions than many traditional heat pumps. However, because they require an entire system of pipes to be installed underground, they can be quite a bit more expensive initially as well.