Ground Loops in Pittsburgh, PA, Geothermal Applications

You’ve got to have a new heating and cooling system. Maybe you’re partial to the idea of a new Geothermal HVAC. Whatever the case, you very likely want to know a little bit more about how geothermal works.

Geothermal HVACs take consistent temperature from the ground to deliver hot or cool air to your home’s interior. This is possible because of an underground system called a geothermal ground loop.

Ground loops are pretty much just a system of pipes buried in the ground. A few basic sorts of geothermal loop systems are used for heating and cooling most residential and commercial buildings.

Antifreeze fluid goes through the pipes to move heat quickly and efficiently up to a heat pump in your house.

There are four different sorts of ground loops: Open Loop, Pond Loop, Horizontal Loop and Vertical Loop. All four fall into one of two categories: either they’re open loop systems or closed loop systems. The best system for your home is dependent on the specific structure and its environment. Residential systems primarily use vertical or horizontal loops.

Below are further explanations of each type of ground loop.

Closed systems, which include vertical, horizontal, and pond loops, continuously circulate water through them.

Vertical ground loops are used most often in residences because, unlike horizontal loops, they don’t take up much of space. They’re installed by drilling small holes in the ground that go 100-400 feet deep. Then pipes are placed into the holes and connected below ground to form the vertical loop. Next, additional pipes are attached that carry fluid to the indoor system to transfer the needed temperature from the ground.

In comparison with a vertical loop system, a horizontal system needs much more space but typically is less pricey considering it just uses 2 straight pipes set 6 inches in the ground within an area of ¼ to ¾ acre.

If you’re thinking of getting a pond loop system, it should go without saying that you must be in close proximity to a pond, lake, pond, or well. Coils are installed vertically and
secured to the bottom of the water source. Water is then transported through more pipes beneath the earth to a pump, where the heat is withdrawn and cool water is returned to the pond. That said, in order for this system to work, the water can in no way be be acidic or else pipes will decay and filters will need to be replaced often.

The essential difference between open and closed looped systems is the open loop’s need for an ample source of groundwater, like a well or pond. From there, it directly pumps water into the heat pump unit for use in heating and cooling your home or other structure.

There are two ways to take care of used water: through surface drainage or water re-injection. In returning the water back to the earth, it’s worth noting that there’s no pollution. The only difference in water that’s processed through a geothermal heat pump is a minute change in temperature.

Before installing an open loop system, it is essential to know whether a well or pond has enough water to power your geothermal heat pump, and that it won’t use up a neighbor’s well source. Be sure to check with your local contractor on whether there’s enough water in the vicinity to support installing an open loop geothermal heating system.