Geothermal Earth Loops for Southwest Michigan

In part three of our Introduction to Geothermal series, we are going to talk about geothermal loop systems and how each type works.

A geothermal loop is the series of underground pipes used to transfer heat to and from the earth. These pipes are made out of high-density polyethylene to establish a durable, long-lasting system. They are fastened together by the process of thermal fusion which will develop a bond that is much stronger than the original pipe itself. In fact, a properly installed loop can last up to 200 years.
 
There are two main types of geothermal loop systems that are almost always used in today's installs: open loop systems and closed loop systems. Each system have unique pros and cons for your heating or cooling solution. We at WaterFurnace Michiana have the knowledge and experience on both types, and we will guide you step by step in the process of selecting the best option for your geothermal installation.

Open loop geothermal solutions are designed to utilize the natural groundwater from under your home. Using a well, water is drawn 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 an assigned runoff. Since the water that you are handling is not being treated in any way, the only thing that is being returned to the ground is water that is a tiny bit warmer or cooler (depending whether you're in heating or cooling mode).

One consideration to keep an eye on with an open loop system is water quality. Mineral build-up can arise 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 discharge water is prevented from coming in contact with air before it is returned 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 eco-friendly antifreeze.
 
There are two main types of closed loop installations: horizontal and vertical. Installing the system horizontally needs a decent amount of property. The piping is buried in trenches between 4 and 6 feet deep and can be up to 400 feet long. If you live on a smaller lot, the loops can be installed vertically by boring straight down using drilling equipment. This form of installation can be installed in as little as a 10ft by 10ft  area.
 
In either case, the bigger the building, the bigger the geothermal heat pump and loop needs to be. A good estimate is that for every ton of system capacity, you will need 500 to 600 feet of pipe.
 
Contact WaterFurnace Michiana today to learn more about what system options are available to you here in Southwest Michigan.